Bowling for Columbine
By Michael Moore
Academy Award winner for Best Documentary. I don't really care about or for the Academy. But I like saying "Academy Award winner...".
Michael Moore's Academy Award winning documentary on gun control in America. In interviews, montages, and stunts, he talks about gun control, focusing on Tim McVeigh and the Columbine kids. He tries to answer the question "what would make someone do this" and goes after the NRA (National Rifle Association), welfare, class, and a few other things.
What I Thought
Part of me was dreading this movie because I didn't want to watch 2 hours worth of kids killing kids. But this movie is much more than that. Often humorous, it revolves around America's obsession with guns and violence.
For example, we see Moore open a bank account and pick out a free gun from a large catalog. Yes, in a BANK. They give it to him IN THE BANK and he walks out with the rifle. Or how about the blind guy whose hobby is firing guns? He prefers assault rifles, of course.
We see Moore interview the brother of the guy who helped Tim McVeigh (don't remember his name). When Moore asks him about militias (who are meant to overthrow the government in case it becomes corrupt) and why not pursue a Gandhi-like nonviolent way of overthrowing a government, the guy answers that he doesn't know anything about that.
Or the final interview in the movie between Moore and Charleton Heston, when he asks why the NRA held a rally in Littleton a week after Columbine, and a few months later held a rally in another city a week after that little first-grade boy shot and killed the first-grade girl. Isn't it insensitive and shouldn't Heston apologize for that?
Anyway, Moore raises some very good questions and comes up with some interesting numbers. Canada has around 70 deaths per year via gun violence. Many places in Europe have about 50-100 or so. Canada has 7 million guns in a country of 30 million people. So you'd think that with our 280 million people, we would maybe have deaths in the hundreds. Startlingly, Moore says we have more than 11,000 gun related deaths per year. Wow. And lest you blame it on Marilyn Manson, movies, or video games, the world over listens to punk/goth/violent music, watches even MORE violent movies and plays even more violent video games. So why is it that we specifically have such a problem?
So, his central question is "why?" And by trying to answer this question, he loses me. Remember, this is Moore we're talking about, and whatever your politics (I'm a very lefty-liberal), he is a very lefty-knee-jerk-reaction people. So he TRIES to link the gun deaths on the NRA and gun ownership. But he already said that (for example) Canada has a very large % of ownership. He doesn't see that his conclusions don't add up.
He also tries to link gun violence to welfare and the work-for-welfare program (where people have to work for their welfare $). Apparently, the mom of the 1st grade killer had to take a city bus for an hour each way to work her two jobs. She had to leave her son with her brother, who had the gun which the little boy found, took to school, and shot the little girl. So it's partly welfare's fault, or so he says.
In the end, his movie devolves into stunts. He talks two crippled Columbine boys with bullets still lodged in them to travel to the K-Mart headquarters to "return" the bullets. He accosts Dick Clark (owner of the restaurant where the 1st grade shooter's mom works) and interviews Charleton Heston.
Sorry, but (well, except for SOME of the NRA stuff) he's stretching it. Like I said, I'm a very liberal person, but I can recognize when someone's just fishing for answers, doesn't get them, and knee-jerks a response because of their political leanings. I've done it often enough. :)
In the end, this was an excellent movie that raised very interesting questions. Very well done, often humorous, sometimes shocking & sad. It gives you a lot to think about and will leave you talking afterwards, despite its flaws. Too bad it's the politicians who aren't doing much of the talking.
All photos and text copyright Ryszard Kilarski, unless otherwise noted. Clip art, drawings, paintings are either free domain or copyrighted by the artists.