Michael Moore's documentary "Bowling for Columbine" was on one of the movie stations today. I had not seen it yet, and got in on about the last hour and 15 minutes. Of course, I had read about some of Moore's stunts, and things he staged for the movie, then tried to pass off as "spontaneous." But, I decided to keep an open mind, and just watch what remained of the movie. I guess I'm even more disappointed in Mike Moore than I was before, but not for the reasons you might think.
I'll start by saying that I think Moore asked some very important questions. For example, why is it that Canada, with 7 million guns in 10 million households, has a murder rate that is less that 1/100th of the rate in the US? There may even be merit to some of the causes he lists, such as the social concerns. I don't agree with his answers, but I do think they bear some attention.
Some people decried the fact that MM "ambushed" Charlton Heston, but I didn't even really have a problem with that. In fact, ever since the NRA has championed the "right to own" cop killer bullets (bullets coated in Teflon, designed to go through body armor) I have hated the NRA. I think it has been taken over by extremist gun nuts. Heston has assumed a very public role as the president of the NRA, and has had some strong words to say about the Second Amendment to the Constitution. If, in such a public role, you want to say these kinds of things, you must allow those who disagree with you the opportunity to "counterpoint" the issues. If you refuse to do so, and grant interviews only to those who agree with you, then you set yourself up for the kind of ambush MM pulled off. (I also agree with MM that to show up in Denver a week or so after Columbine, and then in Flint, MI, less than a week after a six year old is shot to death in a school shows at least a lack of anything resembling a heart. Yes, I know that he has his First Amendment rights to speech and assembly, but try to show a little class.)
Part of the reason I was glad MM took on the NRA was because I have thought for years that this organization has gone too far. We have our Second Amendment rights, but the courts have long held that with each of our rights come some responsibilities. Also, there are no rights enumerated in the Constitution that are limitless. MM's failure to point out this simple fact was one of the reasons that I was so disappointed in the "documentary."
However, within about 10 minutes of turning the movie on, I picked up on some glaring historical errors, so great that they could not have been anything but lies on the part of MM to bolster his message. I can't remember them specifically now, but I was shocked by them. He also sends a terribly mixed message where blacks are concerned. On the one hand, he demonstrates where the media has demonized blacks. It seems that blacks are almost never in the news in any light except as they are arrested. I do see the bias there. However, in the little cartoon (full of gross historical errors, by the way) produced by the guys who do South Park, they tell us that part of the reason for the ending of slavery was that slaves began to outnumber whites, and rose up. Whites had a natural fear of the blacks, (who were supposedly beheading slave owners) and began to buy guns to put down the uprising. Of course, it never happened that way. Blacks did resist, and they did work to gain their own freedoms, but they were not killing whites indiscriminately. They'd seen enough of that from the whites. I know, this was a tongue in cheek cartoon, but even tongue in cheek representations like this do nothing but add to the demonization of blacks.
Overall, I give the movie an F. While Moore does have some very valid questions, the value of those question was lost due to the incredible factual lies Moore told. Additionally, when you factor in that he staged certain scenes, then presented those scenes as though they were spontaneous, he cannot be surprised that his whole movie gets called into question.
Good idea, but the execution was awful.
Last edit by kmchugh on Jun 14, '04
Jun 14, '04
You make some excellent points. Although I do like MM and his movies because of the questions they raise, anyone who is that extreme has to be questioned him/herself. He is valuable because he brings up good points for each of us to ponder and then come to our own conclusions.
My favorite part of that movie is when Marylin Manson is asked what he would say to Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (the shooters in the Columbine massacre) if they were in front of him...
His reply was...I wouldn't say anything to them. I would LISTEN to what THEY had to say, which is something nobody else did.
I thought that part was terrific.
I am looking forward to Farenheit 9/11 and the ensuing debates.
Jun 14, '04
I'm going to have to get that movie from Netflix and watch it again because that is not how I remember it at all. My impression of that cartoon was that it was an exaggeration of the fears of Whites at the time who feared the Black slaves who did outnumber them 2 to 1 or something like that and there were rebellions and uprisings. This does not send any message about Blacks but as I wrote earlier, it was about the fears of the Whites of the time. But I will watch it again to see what you are talking about.
The only problem I had with the movie was when he blamed Dick Clark's restaurant for paying the mother of that 6 year old boy(in Flint) low wages which led to her working long hours which led to her leaving the child in the care of the uncle who owned the gun. That was quite a leap and unfair. It was the fault of the boy's uncle. Period. Other than that, I enjoyed it of course.
Jun 15, '04
On reflection, you are probably correct in that I misinterpreted the intent of the cartoon. Perhaps the fact that the cartoon was narrated by a bullet should have been a clue for me, hmmm?
However, in my defense, that cartoon came almost immediately after a string of outright historical lies. So, I was probably primed to look for that. The cartoon did, as I recall, make a number of assertions that were historically wrong. The Second Amendment was not adopted in order to allow the citizenry to keep each other in check. It was in fact adopted to keep the government in check. The authors of the Constitution knew that (at that time) there was no more effective way to keep the government out of private matters than to keep the citizenry armed.
My main point is that MM did have some good points to make. Perhaps its time that we accepted the right of gun ownership does not mean that we can own guns without any attendant resposibilities. Unfortunately, the lies MM tells to get his point across, and the staged scenes he set up, so distract from the movie that the points he makes are lost.
Jun 15, '04
Kevin despite the "lies" etc he did get his message across - throughout the world and no WE do not have answers for you either. We too are seeing an increase in crime and violent crime at that. We have had our shooting blitzes from maniacs and so it becomes a question we must all answer. Moore by the very fact of asking the question has generated discussion - never a bad thing.
I have to admit that I cannot understand the mentality behind the NRA - at all. I stumbled into a gunowners site the other day and found it disturbing.
Jun 15, '04
Kevin, I'm impressed that you watched the movie at all and I feel that you essentially got out of it the same thing I did - that Moore raised some important questions about gun violence in the United States. The movie was criticized for not providing answers, but I didn't think that was the point and I certainly don't believe there are any easy answers.
The cartoon was grossly exaggerated and satirical, which reflects Moore's writings and attitude. I really don't think he intended for it to be taken as fact, but who am I to explain his intent?
Oct 11, '04
Bowling for Columbine raised a lot of good questions. Plus the cartoon clearly illustrated many good historical points. I am dumbfounded by the school shootings. These situations are somewhat preventable. The Showtime movie Bang Bang Your Dead is also a good movie in this school violence genre. I hate to admit it but since I have graduated from high school and have gotten past all of the bullying and the high school class system I can admit this to my allnurses friends. I had access to a gun in middle and high school and seriously considered using it to harm others at school when I was 13-14. I am greatful that I had friends and teachers who cared enough about me to help me get through that time. A big part of the problem are those "harmless" pranks that "all" teenagers pull, that hurt and embarass other students.
We are becoming so technically focused that we look for one specific answer and sometimes it just isn't that simple.
Oct 11, '04
Kevin, he said whites were afraid blacks would kill them after slavery, but specifically said they never did rise up and kill them. His hypothesis is that was one instance where fear led people to buy arms (and that same fear of black men exists today in our society).
I have to say, I thought his bit on the media was the best part of the movie. We are fed fear on a daily basis, and it's often racially biased. I laughed because a lot of my Canadian family have never lived in the US, but we get US news and that's what they judge the country on. I think they give me a real idea of how the media plays things. Some of them think I'm going to get shot if I walk outside at night!! Nevermind the fact that I live in a nicer neighbourhood now than I did in my last place in Canada...
I also laughed when MM was walking into peoples' homes in Toronto to check if the doors were locked. I never locked my door when I lived there either
(I did think the guy that said Canadians think of locks as locking them inside was a goof though).