Is it the bowling? It must be the Video games? Michael Moore’s award winning documentary; ‘Bowling for Columbine’ explores the reason for the violence in America and the reason for the Columbine High school mascara. In April 1999 two students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went on a shooting rampage killing 12 students and a teacher before committing suicide, Moore looks at the background in which the massacre took place and assumptions about related issues. Moore uses Bill Nichols’ four modes of representation; the interactive, expository, observational and reflexive to convey his viewpoint on gun control in America and the nature of violence in the United States of America. Interactive mode is when the audience is able to acknowledge the presence of Moore and the crew, it forces on the exchange of information through the use of interviews and discussions (Lacey, N 1998). To demonstrate; the movie follows Moore as he goes in to the bank, makes his deposit, fills out the forms and awaits the result of a background check before walking out of the bank carrying a brand new Weatherby hunting rifle. When the transaction is over and done with Moore says, “Here’s my first question, do you think it’s a little dangerous, handing out guns at a bank?” A series of entertaining interactive events follows after. Moore gets a haircut and some ammunition from the same shop; Moore visits the Michigan Military and talks with two Michigan residents, Brent and DJ. As an audience within minutes of Moore’s interaction with these teens, we learn D.J has in fact made bombs and most recently, a five-gallon drum of napalm. These are some examples of how Moore goes into the field, participates in the lives of others, gains material and then reflects on his experience to the audience (Nichols, 2001). What we learn through interactive mode will hinge on the nature and quality of the encounter between the filmmaker and the subject (Nichols, 2001). Through the use of interaction Moore has ‘placed evidence before the audience to convey a particular viewpoint’ (Nichols, 2001), for example with Moore strolling into the bank and leaving with a gun, buying ammunition while getting a hair cut and talking to local high school guys that have the knowledge to make bombs; conveys Moore’s opinion on how he believes that American culture and guns go hand in hand. A case in point; the obvious acceptance of guns as a everyday house hold items, cease banks for example offering incentive schemes and handing out guns, as opposed to New Zealand society where a school backpack is an equivalent offer. Interactive mode is far more beneficial to the audience and makes Moore’s argument more apparent than generalizations supported by images illuminating a given perspective (Nichols, 2001). Moore’s interview with Marylyn Manson illustrates the central theme Moore is aiming to convey in the movie; that the Columbine massacre is largely to do with the ‘climate of fear’ engineered by the American Media. Marylyn Manson shares how he feels that American society is based on fear and consumption, saying “Colgate states ‘people aren’t going to talk to you if you have bad breath.” This interview is very beneficial to the film as Moore ‘places evidence before others to convey a particular viewpoint’ (Nichols, 2001) about how American society is based on fear and consumption, Moore dives into this later on in the film when he questions why Canada has just as many guns, yet only 165 killing per year compared to Americans 11,127. The answer is Canadians are not afraid like American’s. The expository mode directly addresses the viewer, with titles or a voice that proposes a perspective (Lacey, 1998). The expository mode adopts a voice-of-god commentary; and relies greatly on an informing sense carried by the spoken word. Moore opens ‘Bowling for Columbine’ with a montage complimented by voice over; beginning with old footage from the National Rifle Association the voice over...
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