I wouldn’t say any of the Saw movies are good, except maybe the first, which is moderately clever. The rest are pretty bad. Many reviewers have picked up on the fact that the sixth one is a commentary on the evils of the insurance industry. Most seem to think the politicization of this film renders it more cheesy and awful then the rest, but I believe the Jigsaw Killer is just the right spokesman for Obamacare.
John Kramer, the killer, complains in one scene that people say that doctors and patients should make health care decisions, not the government, but it is the heartless insurance companies that actually decide who lives and dies. The film and its anti-hero condemn as immoral these insurance officials, who find themselves in mazes and games of torture and murder to teach them all a lesson in compassion.
It is important to recognize that the ethics of John Kramer are the ethics of the state. Going after true criminals and mere social degenerates with equal cruelty, throughout the franchise Kramer, speaking pedantically and self-righteously, pits his victims against one another, forces them to focus on each other’s sins and their own, and compels them to torture and murder one another, or disfigure themselves, as part of a perverse morality play.
Thus does the main victim of the movie, an insurance agent, who makes a living in a world of scarcity, having to decide which patients should receive money for treatment, winds up overseeing actual death panels when Jigsaw has his way. In the market, he can only withhold payment. He is portrayed as cruel for not allowing massive funding for a long-shot treatment in Norway for Kramer, a man at the end of his life anyway, who incidentally says he could afford it himself but wants the company to pay as a matter of principle. For this the insurance agent is demonized, put through hell, forced to witness the deaths of his friends, and ultimately murdered.
In the market (putting aside how regulated and messed up it is), we see the insurance agent as a careless economic actor only concerned about the bottom line so as to keep his job. But once the coercive apparatus of Jigsaw is involved in the mix, the violence becomes immediate, the deaths as inhumane as possible. The tough choices of who lives and who dies are not in any way eliminated, but made all the more gruesome, with people dying before their natural time, adding up to far more misery than would exist without the moralizing Jigsaw’s intervention.
So it is that the insurance agent temporarily empowered even further over people’s lives, whether he wants the power or not, only to be betrayed by Jigsaw in the end. It is much the way the state usurps big business to the detriment of the little guy, only to ultimately turn against the capitalist class, treating it as scapegoat and channeling all public anger against business, rather than itself.
The whole time, as in all the Saw movies, Jigsaw acts as though his victims only have themselves to blame for the situation he put them in. He pretends the killing and interpersonal conflict he creates are not his fault, even though it’s entirely his fault. Just like the state, he has pretenses of moral superiority and blames human misery on the greed and moral failings of his subjects. But we see that in fact it is all personal. Jigsaw, like all state actors, also has personal self-interest, and the whole contrived killing spree is conducted to serve his own ego and to quench his thirst for revenge.
Even if the health insurance companies were precisely as wicked as Saw VI makes them out to be, we see that the alternative offered by the morally indignant John Kramer is far worse, far less humane, and has the effect of corrupting all his subjects and pitting them against each other, when they should all be focusing their animosity on the violent forces that put them there. It is a perfect analogy for the state, which divides people on the basis of class and creates animosity among consumers, producers, and middlemen, when a true free market harmonizes their interests for the greater good.
We could follow Jigsaw’s lead toward an even more violent and tragic health care situation in America, we could keep the status quo, or we could move toward an actual free market that would maximize humanity in the health care sector and minimize needless death. Those are the true alternatives, America. Make your choice.
The movie is not at all good, but I must say the fact that the Jigsaw Killer is pro-Obamacare does not at all bother me. He is a perfect representation of the state moving in to punish alleged immorality with outright violence, butchery and far more immorality. I just hope Saw VII addresses Cap and Trade.12:01 pm on October 29, 2009 Email Anthony Gregory