The Academy Award winning documentary film “Bowling for Columbine” by Director Michael Moore attempts to find a reason for the Columbine High School, Colorado shootings and leads to an investigation into gun laws and gun violence. Through a series of interviews, stunts, cartoons, commentary and media pieces, we are left at the end of a blunt and revealing journey wanting the answers to the various moral and ethical questions raised. Moore travels across America and Canada to get a broad pool of opinion and not only takes the trip to find a reason for the gun violence in the first place, but he takes the long road by not blaming the usual suspects (video games, angry music, and a bloody history as a nation) and investigating other investigations. Moore reveals disturbing and frightening truths about the US’s gun possession statistics and gun related death figures. Moore shows his skill as a filmmaker in “Columbine” in his ability to keep the audience, not only attentive, but entertained also. Although the film is based around the tragic Columbine Massacre, Moore makes the best of a bad situation and tries (when appropriate) to make the film humorous and light hearted.
The film delves into several truths about problems in America at the moment, for example crime, unemployment, violence, media and economic influences on society, poverty, hypocrisy of US Government and racism. But the most prominent truth Moore reveals is that America is a society driven by fear, a fear that is fuelled by the massive bombardment of media. Moore concludes that the reason for such ludicrous terror is the media’s selection and presentation of material for the news. This media overload reports the dangers in the world and thus encourage citizens to “protect themselves” by purchasing guns for “self defence”. It is out of this mass security armament that we see the extreme tragedies like Columbine and the Oklahoma City Bombing.
Moore reveals his truths through a myriad of documentary techniques, but the most effective being his interview with Marilyn Manson and the cartoon “A Brief History of The United States of America” created by Matt Stone of the “South Park” series.
Moore’s interview with Shock-Rocker Marilyn Manson comes after the wave of negative attitudes of society toward him following the Columbine massacre. Many believed he (and his music; which apparently promotes “drug use, suicide, antisocial behaviour” etc) was partially to blame for the actions of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the two boys responsible for Columbine. We are led to believe he was almost used as a scapegoat or “fall-guy” through Moore’s blended mass media reports making such accusations. Moore’s voice over asks the question “So who was to blame?” followed by a series of short snippets of news reports voicing their opinions “…angry music, violent videogames, rocker Marilyn Manson, Marilyn Manson, Marilyn Manson…” we determine from this that the media all believed he was too blame simply because of his individual appearance and song lyrics. In the subsequent interview with Manson, he reveals his view that America is a fear-driven society, inspired to consume through media. “…It’s easy to throw my face up on the T.V. because in the end I am the poster-boy for fear. I represent what everyone is afraid of because I do and say what I want…the media puts a spin on things and creates a campaign for fear and consumption. If they keep everyone scared, everyone will consume.” (be it cosmetics or, more likely in the US, guns.) This reflects the media and economic influences on the society as above mentioned and the community’s fear of what they don’t know or understand. When asked by Moore what he would say to the two boys Manson replies, “I wouldn't say a single word to them, I would listen to what they have to say and that's what no one did.” Moore’s choice and positioning of...