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September 27, 2003

Bowling for Columbine

I just finished watching Bowling for Columbine (So, Frank, have you heard about this show "Friends"?).

I like Michael Moore; I was one of the five viewers of TV Nation, and greatly enjoyed Stupid White Men.

My perception of Bowling for Columbine was clouded by the blogosphere, where many pro-gun advocates have tried to take Moore to task for making a dishonest movie, or an unfair movie, or taking advantage of Charlton Heston's senility. Moore has answered most of their criticism in a new post on his weblog.

Anyway, my perception of the movie, based on coverage in the media and the blogosphere was that it was a film about guns, strongly advocating gun control.

It's not. Moore emphasizes his NRA membership, and I don't think he's a member just so he can throw people for a loop. Moore's point isn't that guns cause murders, or that too many guns lead to a high murder rate (some of those he interviews suggest this, but I think Moore disagrees). I base this on the fact that the movie leans so heavily on Canadian society, where 7+ million guns in about 10 million households exist side-by-side with a murder rate that's orders of magnitude lower than that of the U.S.

No, the movie is about what most of Moore's works are about: social justice. To the extent that Moore offers an opinion on the cause of the U.S. murder rate, he suggests it's the gross inequity in our society, with millions of Americans without health care, welfare vanishing through "reform", and the gap between rich and poor widening (now with the help of an administration focused on paying off the fat cats that got them appointed). Every one for himself; anybody else is probably out to rob or kill you. "I stick my neck out for nobody," growled Bogart in Casablanca, and it's practically the American motto.

Update: I'm watching the DVD extras, and Moore explicitly makes some of these points there.

In our neighboring liberal democracy in Canada, as Moore points out, the system recognizes that all of us can do only so well as the least of us, and therefore makes an investment in health care, education and fighting poverty.

Moore takes a social justice approach to international affairs, as well. He clearly believes that (to borrow from Holy Grail) the violence inherent in the system when we invade Panama, or Afghanistan, or Iraq, or back dictators in Iran, Kuwait, or Iraq, teaches everybody that kicking ass is the way to solve problems.

Looking beyond the politics, this is a terrific movie. Moore isn't a journalist. He's a storyteller, happily sacrificing objectivity to deliver truth.

September 27, 2003 in Reviews | Permalink


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» Bowling for Columbine from :: fiercepoet ::
"Bowling for Columbine" is riveting and scary, and its vision of a society racked by fear, riven by inequality and armed to the teeth is neither comforting nor easily wished away. --A. O. Scott, The New York Times "Screamingly funny... [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 17, 2003 5:03:17 PM