Wednesday, January 01, 2003
I saw Bowling for Columbine a couple nights ago. It wasn't really my cup of tea, but I'm glad I saw it anyway. I don't regret spending the $7.50. Michael Moore did a pretty good job of tugging at the heartstrings. I suppose I should give him some credit for that. On the other hand, if I was making a movie that included footage of innocent people being killed, that wouldn't be a challenge. Anyway.....
This movie has been marketed as a documentary. It is not. It is a movie. A documentary is defined as follows:
(1) It must attempt to tell a true story in a non-dramatic fashion; (2) it must appear to do so by presenting only factual evidence; (3) it must not attempt to re-create the truth (though some would defend the validity of this method); (4) it must claim objectivity; (5) most importantly, (and perhaps most difficult to ascertain) it must, as closely as possible, present all factual evidence in its original context.
Bowling for Columbine does none of the above. What it does do is serve as a tool to educate the masses of Mr. Moore's left-wing agenda. I can only assume that that was his greatest goal here, at which I'm sure (at least with some) he has succeeded. Calling it a 'documentary' helps to perpetuate the myth that he's 'the good guy', just giving the people the facts. He's on our side and damnit he's going to expose everything that's wrong with this world! All the things those rich white bastards are keeping from us. (Note: Michael Moore is rich, white, and probably, at times, a bastard.)
The movie lost points with me in many areas. Following are my top 3 strikes:
Strike 1: You don't sabotage Charlton Heston. Ya just don't. When you show up at Charlton Heston's house, you ring the buzzer, he answers, you ask for an interview under the guise of discussing the NRA, and he very kindly offers to meet with you the next morning, you don't then show up, talk briefly about the NRA, and then pummel the man with questions as to why there is so much gun violence in the United States. You don't pursue the man on his own property, carrying a picture of a child who was killed with a gun by a 1st grader, who got the gun from his uncle's home, and beg him to just look at the child's precious face.
Try as I might, I could not see what this had to do with Charlton Heston. In attacking Heston, Moore is saying that there would never have been a gun lying around for that little boy to take if there wasn't an organization such as the NRA. That argument, of course, is a shitty one. The connection between the two is minimal, at best.
Strike 2: You don't sabotage Dick Clark. You don't run up to a van that he's sitting in, and ask him why a child took a gun from his uncle's house and shot another child. This is somehow having to do with Dick Clark because the gun-toting child's mother is poor and must take a very long bus ride to go to work at one of his restaurants as part of a welfare-to-work program? Should Dick Clark have taken it upon himself to pick up his restaurant, and drop it next door to the home of this struggling mother so that she could be steps away from work? Is Moore suggesting that if she did not have a long commute to work she would have been home that morning and thus could have stopped her child from taking that gun? That's certainly possible, but how does he know the kid wouldn't have gotten it out of the house without her seeing? He can't know. So, he goes for what he knows. This woman lived in poverty. So did her kids. Let's play on that. Let's make Dick Clark look like a jerk. Because, God knows, we have to blame someone.
Strike 3: As pointed out by the fine gentleman with whom I attended the movie, Michael Moore took on way too many topics for a two hour documentary. One cannot expect, in two hours, to explore the cause, effect, and possible solutions to; gun violence among Americans (especially youth), the media's role in creating a nation full of fear, the United States' agressive nature on the world stage, poverty, racism, and all the ways that rich people suck. What he did was take bits and pieces of all these topics, and show only the statistics and isolated incidences that appeared to support his theories. Again, not a documentary.
In addition to my three strikes, here's another great article from James Lileks.
Go. Read. Enjoy.