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Bowling for Columbine
Warning this cartoon contains extreme violence, adult language, and adult situations. Parental discretion is advised.
Are we a nation of gun nuts? Or are we just plain nuts?
"Bowling for Columbine" is perhaps one of the deepest documentaries, ever to capture the violent nature of American life. Michael Moore's documentary, "Bowling for Coumbine" is based on the tragic events at Columbine, where two high school students shot their classmates before pulling the trigger on themselves. From this event Moore goes over other tragedies like a boy shooting a girl at an elementary school and many others, in an attempt to explain our violent nature. Of course, like most of Moore's documentaries, this one partially serves for his own political agendas like his stance against the NRA and Wal-Mart, but he's able to raise a lot of key questions about our society. Going over how the media overblows everything to be more dangerous than they actually are, and how it causes us to learn how to descriminate against minorities (specifically African Americans). Even offering enlightening interviews that offer various people's opinions on our violent nature from the likes of Marilyn Manson to Charleton Heston. Indeed, Moore's documentary offers several possibilities as to why our country is so violent. However, despite all of Moore's statistics, like the U.S. having the most recorded deaths by guns in world history, to even mention that our violent history may be the problem. Yet, is our history more violent than "Nazi Germany" or France, during the "Napoleon era?" Is it because of our violent cartoons, video games and movies? Yet, Japan has the same violent video games and films, but they don't have a high death rate by guns. Is it because we own so many guns in America, yet Canada has almost the same amount of guns we do; without a high death rate by guns. "Bowling for Columbine" doesn't give us an answer to our violent nature, but who does have the answer? Rather, it asks a lot of the right questions. Moore's famous question during the film sums up the theme of it entirely, "Are we a nation of gun nuts? Or are we just plain nuts?"
During some of Moore's interviews, I was shocked by some of the responses as he asks them various questions, about the tragedy at Columbine, and about our violent nature. As it seems in the documentary, Marilyn Manson was mostly blamed for influencing these kids at Columbine to shoot their classmates. Mainly, having the mayor of Columbine, in his speech, declaring that Manson's satanic lyrics influenced these poor kids into a murderous rampage, and said his concert in Denver should've been cancelled out of respect for what happened. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a huge fan of his either because of his beliefs but if that mayor or any moron for that matter actually listened to Manson's lyrics, would know that none of his songs suggests violence against others. Surprisingly, when Moore interviewed him, he seemed to have a more firm grasp about the incident than the mayor did. Even adding to Moore's suspicion that the media has played a heavy hand in shaping our violent society. Even in Manson's final statement your able to tell how sympathetic he was when asked what would he have done to stop those kids. His reply was, "I wouldn't say anything. I would sit back and listen to everything they had to say because no one else did that for them." I remember a couple of years ago, when I read an article about how one news reporter blamed the way high school system is governed by the more popular students. Even though this author brought up a lot of interesting points like how most school's celebrate athletic achievements, yet you never hear about the honor roll students in the school paper unless they're popular (i.e. the class president or the prettiest girl in school). However, even that paper was biased by blaming the entire incident on that school. But, where's the proof in that? I do agree with it, to some degree, because I was a victim of this kind of system in high school too, but I was never tempted to shoot my classmates. Who's to say that the parents might've had a hand in these kids psychological development? Maybe their parents were abusive and didn't spend time with them as they grew up. Blaming the school system does seem logical; probably just as logical as blaming Marilyn Manson for the tragedy at Columbine.
In one part of the film, Moore goes over how the media might have a lot to do with our violent society. Overblowing things to a point where we as Americans think of the world as a more dangerous place than it actually is. Using examples like the Y2K problem or the African killer bees that were supposed to come to the U.S. However, as we all know, none of these events happened, but it caused the nation to panic. I remember on December 1999, tons of people stocked up on supplies because they were worried about the Y2K bug ruining society, yet nothing happened. Or how about Bush when he used the alert level orange to make Americans so scared to vote democratic, he ended up winning again despite the controversy surrounding his office. Yes, it's like Marilyn Manson suggested, the media isn't concerned about reporting the news but to try to scare you into a frenzy to boost ratings. I even agree with Moore's assessment that most minorities aren't portrayed well on T.V. If you ever watch a cop show, it's usually a minority (specifically African Americans) getting arrested. You rarely see any Caucasions getting in trouble, so it causes us to develop these racial stereo types. And, creating so much racial backlash through violence.
Even going as far as to attack big corporations like the NRA and Wal-Mart. I do agree heavily with Moore's theory on Wal-Mart being partially responsible. Especially, when they started to ban violent video games like "Grand Theft Auto III", yet they still sold guns to people without checking for gun licenses. I mean what's that about? I personally would rather see a kid kill people in a game, than buy a real gun and shoot people in real life. However, I guess Wal-Mart knows something we all don't, or maybe they're just in it for the money. I mean it does seem strange they started to sell "Grand Theft Auto III", when it became the highest grossing game of all time, after the president of Wal-Mart said they would never sell such a product. However, that's another story. As Moore suggests in this film, they don't care about you, but to them it's all about the money.
As for Charleton Heston's interview, I have some mixed opinions about it. Sure, Heston could've rescheduled his NRA meeting in Denver out of respect for Columbine. I know the NRA probably planned that meeting several years or months in advance, but everyone complained that Manson didn't change his concert date out of respect for what happened, and it's understandable. It almost seemed like he was villainized for it. Hell, the school was blamed for the tragedy at Columbine, yet Heston was never slandered. No, most gun nuts defend him like he had nothing to do with it. Almost like a saint. I'm not blaming Heston for this tragedy, but he never faced the scrutiny that he probably should've. I love Heston as an actor but like the NRA, he never faced the issue. I mean the NRA promotes gun ownership out of fear to protect us from a violent society that the media wants you to believe.
Overall, sure this film doesn't provide any solid answers to this question wrapped in a riddle inside an egnigma. However, Moore does ask a lot of the right questions. "Are we a nation of gun nuts? Or are we just plain nuts?"