Bowling For Columbine
Ebert:1/2 Rolling Stone: TV Guide:1/2
This movie should be viewed, Clockwork Orange style if necessary, by every citizen of this country. I would recommend it be mandatory viewing from kindergarten through post-graduate studies in all schools nationwide. Comprehension of this movie should be a pre-requisite of anyone invoking the 2nd Amendment.
Michael Moore is right...... about everything. Fans of his movies Roger & Me, The Big One, his TV shows The Awful Truth, TV Nation, and his books Downsize This, Stupid White Men, already know this to be true. Those of you who engage in no media of any kind may not know who he is. Michael Moore is probably best known as the Michigan native who brought world wide attention to the absolute destruction of Flint, MI by General Motors with his 1989 documentary Roger & Me. He continues to expose injustice by both Corporations and The State. His never-ending quest is in all of our best interests.
Bowling For Columbine details America's insane fascination with using guns to kill each other. The centerpiece for his study is the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado. The film offers no new insights into the minds of the killer students or new reaction from survivors and media, instead it shows the Columbine incident as a perfect allegory for our insane national reality. Statistics of gun related death in this country compared to any other country is staggering. I don't remember the exact figures from the film but we are way ahead of the rest of the planet. It's a big problem that we have all accepted as unsolvable and adjusted to.
The fact that American gun violence is "a big problem" is a much larger topic than Michael has ever attempted in the past. His crusades typically have a single target. Nike uses slave labor. GM devastated the City of Flint. However, the gun problem is a hydra. There is no single cause. The complexity of the problem is directly responsible for our societal indifference. Bowling for Columbine attempts to expose some of the larger factors.
I don't want to write an essay, so I will not offer any analysis of each of the specific points made in the film. Highlights include Michael taking two of the boys who were shot, but survived Columbine, to K-Mart Headquarters to ask for refunds on the K-Mart bullets still lodged inside their bodies. He visits Charlton Heston to ask why he attended and spoke at NRA rallies held within days of the Columbine and Flint 1st Grade shootings and asks him why he needs a loaded gun in his very secure movie star compound. He talks to Marilyn Manson to get his opinion on being the public's favorite supposed instigator of violence. He addresses our unfounded fears as a Nation with a hilarious "South Park type" cartoon history of the United States. He flashes some statistics that exemplify the problem and shows how our excuses don't make sense. Canada loves violent movies, TV and video games as much as we do. They love guns too. The difference is that they live in a society where doors are kept unlocked and they are not afraid. Oh...and they don't shoot each other.
Michael Moore rarely solves problems. His job is to expose them in the most horrific way possible. His hope is that we will act. The value of Bowling for Columbine is that it separates some of the causes for the gun problem. It doesn't offer solutions, but it hopes that you will take up at least part of the fight.
The idea of protecting us from ourselves is not easily understood by Americans. It is good for the film that it was released during the recent beltway sniper terror around Washington. Hopefully some will be inspired to action. And just in case you were wondering...yes, I'll still be first in line for tickets when Matrix Reloaded hits the theatres this Spring.