Repo Men vs. “Obamacare”

Repo Men

Repo Men: Consider Them Your Final Notice

Since I’m currently “fun-employed,” I decided to go the movie this afternoon. I’m always up for a gritty possible-future sci-fi movie, so I took in Repo Men staring Jude Law and Forest Whitaker.

The story takes place in the near future where a large corporation has developed artificial organs and body parts that you can buy to replace your organic ones when they fail or are damaged. Like any good corporation selling really expensive stuff (a liver costs over $600,000), if you can’t pay cash upfront, they’ll help you set up a payment plan (at a 19% interest rate). And as the main character explains during the opening credits, if the bank can repossess your house, why can’t it repossess your synthetic organs? The Repo men even ask if you would like them to call an ambulance (after they’ve tazered you unconscious and you can no longer respond).

As would assume, eventually the main character has a change of heart and decides that sneaking into people’s houses at night (or tackling them in a crowded shopping mall) and performing adhoc surgery isn’t such an ethical thing to do. This prompts the appropriate chase scenes, fight sequences, and tense moments that make for a good “guy movie.”

The political implications of the movie were perhaps the most interesting—especially in light of America’s recent health care debates. Our current debate breaks down to the assumption that a government-run health care system would eventually result in (1) a perfectly Utopian society where everyone is healthy and happy or (2) an American economy crippled under bloated government spending and a society without freedom, subject to “death panels.”

Now, I know the whole thing is much more complicated than that, but the talking heads on MSNBC and FOX NEWS seem to talk primarily in those types on absolutes.

The world of Repo Men offers an interesting counter argument. What if corporations exercised total control of health care with no government interference? Would we allow our society to reach a point where your heart could be “repossessed” for non-payment? Forest Whitaker’s character argues that the most important part of a society is not the rules by which it is governed, but the enforcement of those rules. If people knowingly, and willingly, sign a contract promising to pay for an artificial liver, then don’t they have an obligation to do so? Doesn’t the lender have the right to take back their property at whatever cost to the buyer?

Neither system is perfect. None of the futures foretold—on television or on film—will likely come true. It’s nothing to get all excited about, right?

3 Responses to “Repo Men vs. “Obamacare””

  1. Mom says:

    You went to the movie at the mall? If so, typical setup? Cost?

  2. viclindsay says:

    Hey Mom… Actually, the movie was cheaper here than they were in NYC. Tickets were UAE 30, which converts to about $8. We’re used to paying $10. They do assigned seats (like I experienced in London), so when you buy your ticket you have to tell them where you want to sit. As I was the only person in the theater, it seemed a bit unnecessary. When I got to the door of my theater, an attendant escorted me to my seat. Again, in a totally empty theater it felt like overkill, but certainly a nice gesture.

  3. Michael Hajek says:

    Hi: I recently saw this movie ($12.50 in NYC). I love a good sci-fi, as many of them seem to be “realized” in only a few decades. So, you can imagine how this movie disturbed me! And being a person of a certain vintage I often contemplate the future, my health (or lack thereof), and how I will continue with both. I have a good friend living in Canada who drives to Buffalo every time he has an ailment that requires quick attention. So, while Canada has national health care – they evidently are not as swift with it as in countries that offer fast medicine for a price. In some cases reality can be more frightening than the movies (i.e. Repo Men). For all who have yet to see this movie, STAY to the very end of the film (when I saw it, half the audience got up and started to leave when they thought we had reached the end of this story — there is more, be patient) – be concerned …and enjoy.