“Bowling” for Dollars
Rather than tweaking the establishment, or giving a journalistic pantsing to blowhard executives, Moore has decided these days to pander to left tilting extremists by showing them what they want to see, even when the proverbial “it” isn’t there. When Bowling for Columbine was released, the harshest criticisms stated the film offered more questions than it answered, but most were still in agreement that it was an “important” movie. With Hollywood being the bastion of many liberal opinions—and any opinions approved by Barbara Streisand–the gun control message at the film’s core was sure to be embraced. However, Moore’s treatment not only needs to be questioned, but his tactics as well. With a documentary, you come to expect a sober presentation of facts without the distillation of editorial voices, yet with Columbine there are practices that certainly call into question his objectivity if not his journalistic ethics.
One reason Mike garnered approval from Hollywood’s elite may derive from the fact that he bypasses the standard maxim that popular culture is an inspiration for gun violence. Instead, he drops the dead bird of blame on the lap of our nation’s military complex and our media’s over-reporting of gun violence. His contention is that this nation is roiled into a violent frenzy by the media salaciously hyping gun deaths, particularly those at the Columbine massacre. But what can be said of his own film, then? He employs the Colorado school’s tragedy to hype his own film, using the title to refer to a school event the two shooters were said to have attended that day. The problem with this is that both Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris had skipped school entirely that fateful day before arriving later to inflict their violence. Still, that title on the poster makes for a real grabber, doesn’t it? It is sure to fill some seats.
The movie uses this tragedy as a springboard into the great gun debate, but the Columbine massacre is obviously about more than guns. A quick look at the story shows these two ghouls were plotting the event for some time and their acquisition of guns was a late bit of fortune for their designs. Along with firearms, this aberrant duo brought with them a propane tank modified into an explosive device, as well as a quiver of napalm fueled pipe bombs. It is doubtful the absence of guns would have stalled their quest for long.
Also ignored here is the home life that allowed this sociopathic mindset to thrive. A telling news item had the parents of one of the attackers so oblivious to what their son was up to that when the FBI arrived at his home, they found the sawed off barrel of his shotgun sitting on his desk. They professed to not even knowing what kind of computer he used, yet at my own home that night, we managed to log on to his personal web page, before the Feds closed it, and in minutes found out what kind of system he was using (think cows). I make this statement only to illustrate how little effort was involved to learn something about the youth, and I don’t live down the hall.
Moore also cites our international conflicts abroad as inspiration for our violent youths, and this begs for harder proof. I have a tough time believing our teens are less influenced by what they choose to see on MTV, or at the movies than what they see on the newscasts—that jet fighters are more to blame more than Jet Li. Moore also tries to posit that the U.S. gave $245 million to the Taliban government just prior to the 9/11 attacks, but the easily researched detail is that the U.S. gave that amount to the country of Afghanistan in the form of humanitarian aid, supervised by the United Nations.
During a tour of a Lockheed-Martin plant that employs many of the citizens of Littleton, Moore tries to draw the conclusion that the manufacturing of missiles used for weapons of mass destruction in the shadow of the town led to the youths thinking that killing in a school was acceptable. How could Moore, after visiting the plant and interviewing a PR flak, miss the fact that the plant in question manufactures products for America’s aerospace program and not weapons designed to carry nuclear payloads? The rockets (not missiles) are in truth made to carry satellites into orbit. Moore was forced to offer up a wan explanation to this question on his web site, stating they were “once” used for weaponry, and that the satellites are often employed for military use, but this is a far cry from the “weapons of mass destruction” tag he used.
Another target in the film is the NRA, and specifically, its president Charlton Heston. The movie uses creative editing and a fluid timeline to paint Heston as a reactionary, who rushed into towns in the wake of shooting deaths of children to hold pro-gun rallies in an effort to stave off anti-gun sentiments. We get to listen to Heston’s Denver address, in which he sounds like a heartless boor in light of the current events in the region, but what is actually broadcast is a judiciously edited version that also contains segments from another speech that was given across the country, nearly a year later. Heston’s original speech was somber and conciliatory, but the audio cut-and-paste transforms him into a state of bloodlust. Moore not only fails to make this distinction, but he edits the scene with visuals so that the audio sounds to be seamlessly delivered from the Denver podium.
Get the rest of the story in part three of THE FICTITIOUS TRUTHS OF MICHAEL MOORE>>>
Posted on March 28, 2003 in Features by Brad Slager
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