Monday, May 12, 2008

PERSONAL FAVES: Bowling for Columbine

Ten jaw-dropping moments from 'Bowling for Columbine':

1) A bank handing out free guns as an incentive to open an account.

2) Michael Moore teaming up with two Columbine survivors who still have K-Mart-sold ammunition embedded in them to petition K-Mart against selling ammunition. The retail chain acts promptly and decisively, promising a phasing out of all ammo sales within 90 days. Slainte, Mr Moore.

3) Moore interviewing Terry McVeigh, brother of convicted Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh; the gentlemen proves a seriously maladjusted individual.

4) Goth bad boy Marilyn Manson providing the most insightful, intelligent and eloquent interview in the entire film. When asked what he would say to the survivors of the Columbine massacre, he replies unhesitatingly, "Not a word. I'd have listened to what they had to say. And that's what nobody's been doing."

5) Moore's deconstruction of the government-manipulated, media-driven culture of fear: reality cop shows on which the suspects are invariably black; the "if it bleeds, it leads" attitude of TV newsmen.

6) The "What A Wonderful World" archive footage montage, culminating in the second plane striking the tower.

7) The NRA and the KKK: that historical connection in full. The first Klan,
established in 1866 by Confederate veterans with the stated aim of restoring white supremacy to America, was effectively outlawed with the passing the Civil Rights Act of 1871. Guess which year the NRA was founded? Coindence? You decide.

8) The NRA holding a rally in Colorado, just two weeks after the Columbine shootings, OAP gun-worshipper and celebrity frontman Charlton Heston tactlessly hefting a rifle and shouting "From my cold dead hands." Knob. (Moore's critics have stated that this rally was planned years in advance. As Bill Hicks would have said, I have four questions: yeah? and? so? what? Cancel the fucking thing. Have some sensitivity. If a major Hollywood studio can postpone the UK release of 'Gone Baby Gone' because of possible similarities to the Madeleine McCann case, then surely the NRA can pull out of a rally after a high school shooting that leaves thirteen dead.)

9) The NRA then topping this by holding a rally in Michigan, shortly after a six-year old boy in Moore's home town of Flint took a handgun to school and shot six-year old Kayla Rowland with it. (Moore's critics use the same argument here. The same counter-argument applies.)

10) OAP gun-worshipper and NRA celebrity frontman Charlton Heston agreeing to an interview with Moore at the end of the film, only to come across as an even bigger knob than he did in the archive footage and a man terminally in denial.*

And two other 'Bowling for Columbine'-connected jaw-dropping moments:

1) Moore using his acceptance speech for the Best Documentary Oscar to lambast Dubya. "Shame on you, Mr President. Shame on you." So say we all.

2) Yours truly reading user comments on IMDb, astounded at how many commentors accuse Moore of being manipulative, a liar, or a propagandist. As if twelve students and a teacher never died, and a further twenty-three were never injured, at Columbine. As if six-year-old Kayla Rowland wasn't killed by a gun in Flint. It puts me in mind of Bill Hicks's comment on the gun-loving psyche of the American public: "But of course there's no connection between having a gun and shooting someone with it and not having a gun and not shooting someone, and you'd be a fool and a communist to make one."

It is currently illegal, in 13 countries, to advocate the opinion that the Holocaust never took place. Moore's detractors, who think that gun ownership is a good thing, have the same mentality as Holocaust deniers. 'Bowling for Columbine' throws their own refletion back at them. No wonder they don't like it.

*You may have noticed that this entry is demonstrably not dedicated to the memory of Charlton Heston.


Seane-Anna said...

In case you haven't noticed, the Constitution gives Americans the right "to keep and bear arms", and it's not for hunting. That right is intended as a check against tyranny, as an armed citizenry is far less likely to be sitting ducks for murderous government shenanigans.

And gun deaths? Well, more people die yearly from car accidents, alcohol, and tobacco than from guns. Also, more children under 5 drown every year than are killed with guns. When you anti-gun activists start demanding the banning of cars, beer, cigarettes, and swimming pools I'll start believing you really care about saving people's lives. And for the record, I DON'T own a gun.

Neil Fulwood said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Neil Fulwood said...

A flawed argument, though, isn't it?

1) "An armed citizenry is far less likely to be sitting ducks for muderous government shenanigans." Hmmmm, sounds like the Nixon, Bush and Bush Jnr administrations to me, and I don't recall arms-bearing citizens marching on the White House.

2) "More people die yearly from car accidents, alcohol and tobacco than from guns." Maybe so, but (i) car accidents are just that - accidents; and (ii) people who die from alcohol and tobacco do so because they used these products to excess - ie. they took their lives into their own hands through their personal choice. Being shot with a gun by someone else is not a personal choice.

3) "More children under 5 drown every year than are killed with guns." As above: these are accidents, and can be attributed to lack of parental supervision. Unless we're talking about someone who was forcibly drowned in a swimming pool - ie. held down by a third party (the swimming pool thus becoming a device used to kill someone) - then the analogy breaks down.

4) "When you anti-gun activists start demanding the banning of cars, beer, cigarettes and swimming pools I'll start believing you really care about saving people's lives." Again, it's an inaccurate argument: notwithstanding that accidents happen, cars and swimming pools are not DESIGNED to kill people; notwithstanding that people who overuse them die from cigarettes and beer, these products aren't DESIGNED to be used as weapons to kill other people with.

Guns, however, are. And it seems fairly clear, in today's fast-paced, stress-addled society where a hornblast in traffic can trigger a road rage incident, that ownership of guns puts the individual just one step away from using them.

And I never thought of myself as an "anti-gun activist", by the way (this is actually a film blog) - but there's just something about a six-year dying after being shot that makes me think that maybe that one little clause in the Constitution merits a re-think.