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Bowling for Columbine

I saw Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine with my sweetie
kyubi last night.

I guess I'm glad I saw it, but I'm sorry that I had gotten the impression from comments read and overheard that it was a "relatively even-handed" treatment. If I'd known it was "typical Michael Moore," I might have been less annoyed by it.

In some ways I feel like it's kind of churlish not to like Michael Moore, and I do find some of his stuff very funny and other of his stuff really thought-provoking. But I just can't stand it when people who are pushing a particular political point of view do so via indirectly making fun of people who have different points of view and via emotional rhetoric ("but the chillllldruuuuuun...") and via unstated ironic juxtaposition (e.g., interviewing a public relations coordinator for Lockheed Martin about the Columbine high school murders with a missile in the background - to Moore's credit, he did eventually ask the guy "what is the difference between the Columbine murders and building missiles?" and showed him giving what some people might consider a reasonable answer).

I got really mad over his treatment of the story of the six-year-old who shot dead a fellow student in Flint. Now, I fully agree with Moore that there are inumane aspects to a welfare-to-work program that requires single mothers to work 10-14 hours a day and doesn't even pay enough to cover their rent. But couldn't he at least have mentioned, in this segment of the movie, that it is a good idea to teach young children to leave guns alone, instead of implying that the welfare-to-work program is entirely responsible for what happened? I'm not saying that he should blame the boy's relatives. But.

I can't really point to a particular part of the movie that gave me this impression, but I came away thinking about the many ways that something not dissimilar to slavery still exists in the US - that is, many people who are stuck not quite making ends meet working 1 or 2 low-wage jobs and thus staying stuck in situation where they don't have very many choices. (Barbara Ehrenreich also covers this in her book Nickel and Dimed.)

Because the movie covered this subject, and also covered the media's overemphasis on crime (crime rates are falling, but crime coverage and fear of crime are rising), I'm surprised that there was no mention of the prison-industrial complex - which is another way that something even more similar to slavery than the welfare-to-work programs still exists in the US, and another reason that there's an overemphasis on crime - because this industry wants to be able to keep on building and staffing more prisons, and because prisoners are a form of cheap labor in the US.

I am definitely going to have to check out the book The Culture of Fear mentioned in the movie. (Moore interviewed the author Barry Glassner.)


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 19th, 2002 10:07 am (UTC)
Nickel and Dimed really gave me something to think about. I'm glad I read it.

I suspect the same won't be true of Bowling for Columbine, plus it's a movie, so I'll skip... but I'm glad to see the comments viewers are posting in their journals.
Nov. 19th, 2002 10:07 am (UTC)
But couldn't he at least have mentioned, in this segment of the movie, that it is a good idea to teach young children to leave guns alone, instead of implying that the welfare-to-work program is entirely responsible for what happened?

The NRA has a responsible gun handling seminar for schools (most of the message is "leave the thing alone and tell a grown-up you found it"). Anti-gun people are prone to act as if the topic shouldn't even be discussed. They seem to think not mentioning it will make it less likely people will do it. It's like the left-wing equivalent of sex education. The right thinks teaching safer sex encourages promiscuity; the left thinks teaching responsible gun handling encourages murder.

I own firearms. I have never joined the NRA due to philosophical problems with their leadership (this was before Charlton Heston took over, but he made it worse). I am sick and tired of the hand-wringing on both sides of the argument by people who can't seem to get past their paranoia toward a tool. From what I've seen, the fear in this culture dwells in the hearts of Heston and Sarah Brady alike. It just manifests in different ways.
Nov. 19th, 2002 12:30 pm (UTC)
Moore did mention, via quoting a speech of Charlton Heston's, what the NRA teaches young children about guns. But he didn't mention a seminar for schools.

That's a good point about the "don't discuss this" angle that both the left wing and right wing take on certain issues.

I guess that, more than anything else, is why I don't identify as either left wing or right wing. Each side has issues that they've long since ceased to discuss in any way other than flinging statistics and emotional rhetoric. But in my opinion, policy should be decided via rational discussion, not rhetoric. And the rational discussion should include discussion of "Why do group X and group Y feel so differently about this?" that doesn't conclude with "because the other group are stupid idiots."
Nov. 19th, 2002 01:09 pm (UTC)
My dad teaches that program in the schools as a volunteer. It's called the "Eddie the Eagle" program (I know it's corny, but it's for little kids) - and your summary of the point is correct - don't touch it, go tell a grown-up you found it.
Nov. 19th, 2002 11:05 am (UTC)
I keep meaning to read Nickel and Dimed; I'm gonna go now and check it out.

If I look at Michael Moore as over-the-top performance art, I adore him. If I try to take him as a serious voice in the debate, I'm usually disappointed. But as long as there's a Rush Limbaugh, I'm glad there's a Michael Moore.

Your eloquence and passion (though I suspect we disagree on some of the details) is swoonworthy, as always.
Nov. 21st, 2002 12:41 am (UTC)
exposing the expose-er
Here's a link to a review warning people about Bowling for Columbine.

I heard that Moore supposedly got Heston to shoot himself in the foot, no pun intended. But I haven't heard how or why, and wondered what it was he "got" on Heston?
Nov. 21st, 2002 07:43 am (UTC)
Re: exposing the expose-er
Thanks for the review. I have a few problems with the review too (e.g., it contradicts itself, while complaining that Moore contradicts himself), but it expresses annoyance at many of the same sorts of things I was annoyed by.

Moore interviewed Heston in a manipulative fashion, and Heston acted a bit churlish in the interview. That's all.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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