Many lives taken, but little learned from it


by Bridgette Davis

While President Bush is busy preparing the nation for an attack on Iraq and citizens on the East Coast are finally emerging from their sniper-inflicted hiding, Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine” is taking his aim at the numerous possible causes for America’s obsession with gun violence.

Moore began the film in the waking days of a post-Columbine America. It poses the question, “If we can blame Marilyn Manson and and video games, why can’t we blame bowling (the activity that the two student gunmen completed the morning of the assault on their peers.)?” What Moore’s film sets out to do, more implicitly, is find out why The United States supports a culture of fear that outwardly manifests as a culture of violence.

The film, which is Moore’s third critical documentary (“Roger & Me” and “The Big One” are the two previous films), was not only the first documentary in 46 years to be granted acceptance to the Cannes Film Festival, but also was unanimously awarded the 55th Anniversary Award.

“Bowling for Columbine” has not been limited to critical success. It has also received standing ovations around the world from the selected audiences that have viewed the film.

While Moore’s film shoots pun-intended memorable character interviews, none is more memorable than an intimate talk with the brother of Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols. Ironically, Nichols grows only organic foods while storing large amounts of chemicals that double as bomb-making paraphernalia. He talks of the possible necessity for some regulation for nuclear weapons as he cites the fact that “there are some real wackos out there.” This comes after the frighteningly insane man shows Moore the automatic assault rifle stored permanently under his pillow.

Moore truly outdoes himself with this film that took almost three years to make. The possible conclusions provided about American society range from an overwhelming element of racism, a fear and violence-driven media, starting with the “if it bleeds, it leads” policy of major news networks and a government that turns to military action as a means of conflict resolution much more often than its peer nations.

While many may call Moore just another one of “those crazy liberals,” he forgets no one in his relentless pursuit of answers. By comparing Canada, a nation that has 10 million households and 7 million guns, to the U.S., Moore shows gun control supporters that the number of guns is not the real problem. This is made obvious by the fact that while Canadians have as many guns as Americans, they only have 65 deaths per year from guns, while the U.S. has over 11,000 deaths per year.

While Moore has frequently been escorted off the premises of many major corporate offices across the U.S. in his quest for discussions with CEOs (Phil Knight of Nike) about global policy and the ethical compromises that cut American jobs only to exploit foreign workers, this time Moore met success with the Kmart corporation on the issue of guns.

By taking two survivors of the Columbine attacks to the Kmart corporate offices and asking for a return on the “defective” bullet fragments that were embedded in their bodies, Moore ended up with a great victory. Kmart agreed to stop the sales of weapons ammunition in their stores.

The variety of gun-toting Americans that Moore speaks with offer great laughs, while at the same time giving great alarm to audience members as to the profound problems that exist around the country in our attitudes about guns and violence.

As a life-long member of the NRA, Moore takes a well-balanced look at the issues surrounding gun control, violence, and freedom in the U.S. He even speaks to an aging Charlton Heston about his insensitivity regarding visits to cities plagued by recent school shootings.

While Moore’s film will make a great rental, everyone should take the opportunity to see this film in the presence of a theater full of their fellow American citizens. The impact of the film is all the more dramatic when you realize that the anonymous person sitting behind you has had as chilling a response to the film as you have. Overall, you’ll leave the theater with a stomach that aches from both laughter and sickness due to the ills of our society.

This is the must-see documentary for all participating members of Generation X, as this is a problem we will be forced to solve.