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14 January 2003 @ 01:53 pm
Bowling for Columbine  
I had heard a lot of rave reports of this full-length documentary film before I saw it, and was therefore interested but wary – so often films that get talked up a lot are a let-down. However, having sobbed and laughed my way through Michael Moore’s two-hour analysis of why America has far more gun-related killings per year than almost any other Western nation (11,000+ in comparison to UK 300+ or Australia (165)), I can say that this film deserves every bit of praise – including the thirteen-minute standing ovation at Cannes – that it receives.
‘Bowling for Columbine’ contains some remarkable footage of interviewees that range from the gun-totin’, gun-lovin’ head of the NRA, Charlton Heston, to Marilyn Manson, who came under scrutiny after the Columbine massacre as the perpetrators listened to his music. As Michael Moore points out, you might as well blame bowling for inciting them to violence: after all that’s apparently what the kids did the morning of the shooting.
Moore points the finger instead at America’s culture of fear (he interviews Glassner) and he demonstrates the effect of media-incited ‘scares’ on the populace. Americans are told on a daily basis that they should live in fear of almost anyone: their neighbours, their kids (after Columbine), and, most especially, black people. Of course so many of them think they need guns! Indeed, as Moore points out, it doesn’t seem to matter what the threat is these days: Americans are conditioned to be afraid. Moore includes a clip of Bush at a press conference announcing a ‘state of alert’ due to a ‘blanket threat’ that ‘has happened in the past and could occur again’ (no details given). And, delightfully, humorously, Moore reminds us of that ‘killer bee’ scare –remember them? Those ‘Africanised’ bees, so much more aggressive than the already-resident European bees, who, it was said, were preparing to sweep the country? They never came.
I found Moore’s comparison of America and Canada (both countries where guns and ammunition are readily accessible) fascinating, as it de-bunks the argument that America has more shootings simply because of the accessibility of guns. He argues that Canadians are a) not bombarded with fear-propaganda to the same degree, b) do not have the same levels of poverty and welfare-deprived low-income families, and c) are not taught that aggression (especially destructive, homicidal aggression) is the way to deal with threats or fear.
The same day as the Columbine massacre, the US dropped more bombs on Kosovo then on any other day during that war. In his interview, Marilyn Manson asks the question: ‘Who has the more influence in this country? I’d like to say it was me, but I’m going to go with the president.’ And the president is such a good role model!
The answer to the question Moore poses with ‘Bowling for Columbine’ is not a simple one. And he doesn’t provide a simple answer. But he does unearth some startling information that portrays the ‘hidden’ side of these issues – not discussed in mainstream media. Neither does he sentimentalise the victims of gun-related crimes, but he does facilitate two Columbine survivors taking action in a moving way.
This is a confrontational documentary that demands that audience members formulate their own opinions about this issue. I say to anyone who reads this: SEE THIS MOVIE! Especially if you are American, please, please, SEE THIS MOVIE! You don’t need to agree with Moore (there are plenty of gun-nutters who get to spout their views in this flick) but I think you do need to know the information he unearths and the arguments he puts forward.
See this movie!
katetheother on January 13th, 2003 10:08 pm (UTC)
Still haven't seen it as am trying to bully two friends in to coming with me. Have you read Stupid White Men? Even once you discard nine tenths of the hyperbole, it's thoroughly scary, especially the section on the US elections. This is how flagship of democracy keeps its own house? *shudder* Although it did create the truly entertaining sight of Albanian scrutineers arriving in Florida to keep an eye on the recent mid-terms.

And what's with the fish?
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katetheother on January 14th, 2003 12:44 am (UTC)
Re: Hello!
No, that's his latest book. It's basically a lament on the current state of the US, and by extension the world, as brought about by the SWM. There was a huge kerfuffle as it was originally set for release late Sept/early Oct 2001, and was promptly pulled and very nearly pulped by Harper Collins after 9/11 as 'un-American'. There was a big, public, grass-roots stink about it, and it was eventually re-released to international success and acclaim, etc.

A lot of it's like listening to your favorite uncle ranting at the pub (if he happens to be articulate, beligerent, left-wing shit-stirrer given to hyperbole), but is well worth a read, if only to reaffirm that not all Americans are George Bush. Will try and dig up my copy and send it to you. Or check his site: www.michaelmoore.com
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K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on January 14th, 2003 06:22 pm (UTC)
Re: Hello!
Mmmm... Yes, I am reading 'Stupid White Men' now, and it is pretty much as Kael describes below. It does contain a dazzling collection of amusing (and terrifying) statistics on America and Americans (I particularly liked the chapter 'Idiot Nation') if you sift through the personal anecdotes to find 'em.

As for the fish (sighs) well, basically I've been trying to be supportive-girlfriend-girl, as Andy developed a sudden interest in tropical fish after being given a Siamese Fighter for xmas. (Not by me, I may add.) Unfortunately his first forays in this field seem to have led to a great amount of MFDs, as the fish lists put it, or: Mysterious Fish Deaths. I (perhaps foolishly) flew into research-girl mode (one of the forms of supportive-girlfriend mode I am most comfortable with!) and started scouring the net for any info/help I could find. Hence the lists.

To sum up: Fish dead. Much online time wasted. Andy in a depression.

I don't think I'm good at this... Thank god I'm not Willow in Buffy. Otherwise all the Buffy cast would be dead or suicidal... oh... hang on...
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K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on January 15th, 2003 04:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Hello!
And not a good one....

When Andy first got his, I thought 'OK - I can exorcise the ghost of boyfriend past by reconciling myself with his new hobby.' Kinda didn't work.
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K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on January 15th, 2003 04:37 pm (UTC)
Re: Hello!
That wasn't a spoil - I ain't watched no more than you kid!
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K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on January 16th, 2003 06:09 pm (UTC)
Re: Hello!
You'll find the movie is much better than the book. Soooo glad you'll be able to see the movie so we can talk about it!