Bowling for Columbine
Liberal poster boy Michael Moore comes out shooting with Bowling for Columbine
Directed, written by Michael Moore
Michael Moore is a self-righteous American liberal dick. He’s a new-rich pedant
who makes fun of easy targets in order to make other self-righteous American
liberal dicks feel better about themselves. In his latest documentary, Bowling
for Columbine, the millionaire working-class hero hits the target about
one-third of the time. If we could remove him from his work, that ratio would
Moore’s politics are, for the most part, correct. He’s on the right side, especially
when it comes to corporate accountability. His famous badgering of General Motors
in his film debut, Roger & Me, dovetailed nicely with such culture-jam
godheads as Adbusters and the McLibel defendants in the early 90s.
Just don’t mistake Moore for an altruistic hero of the world’s underdogs. He’s
as much a tragedy-monger as his supposed enemies on the conservative end of
the political spectrum. He’s no less a grandstanding ghoul than the National
Rifle Association’s most famous spokesperson, Charlton Heston, who serves as
the ad hoc bogeyman for this film.
Bowling for Columbine could have easily been called Charlton &
Me, and may have been stronger had it been so focused. Instead, it veers
into all lanes. It attempts to tackle too many issues, and goes for cheap laughs
along the way. The first thirty minutes is an easy mocking of American gun culture,
as embodied by “stupid white men,” to borrow from the title of Moore’s most
recent book. It would seem that the working-class champion learned a painful
lesson in the last decade: America’s working class doesn’t agree with him. They
want jobs, yes. They want a living wage, yes. But they also want their guns,
their cars and their Nikes produced by slanty types in whatever country can
produce the cheapest sneakers.
The privileged white liberal class pays to see Moore lecture at NYU. They watch
the Bravo cable network. They head to the revival house when Roger &
Me plays. And so he’s decided to shit on the working class, especially the
white working class. Hey smart America, let’s make fun of those other Americans,
the ones too ig’nant to know what’s good for them!
Credit where it’s due, though: The middle of this film is fantastic. After taking
potshots at gun-slinging white trash, he turns his attention to the fear culture
that fuels the paranoia in modern America. Moore posits that he and his fellow
countrymen are kept in fear of not just strangers, but also their neighbors
and, now, even their children. Americans are told to fear everything from killer
bees to killer snakes to killer razor blades in Halloween candy. These panics
are eventually proven baseless – or they lose their ratings appeal – and so
the nightly news must invent yet another bogeyman. For almost one hour, you’ll
see Moore at his best, reminiscent of his TV Nation television series.
Moore at his worst, however, comes soon enough. In the last third, he returns
to form: a posturing, self-congratulatory demagogue. He fails to look deeply
at suburban bankruptcy, fails to consider the disintegration of American community.
Instead, he drags two crippled kids to Kmart for a publicity stunt and, later,
solemnly deposits a photograph of a gun-slain girl in Charleton Heston’s yard.
Moore’s efforts would be more useful if perhaps he’d spent a little more time
on genuine examination and less time making fun of people. In the way that Harmony
Korine was affectionate to the subjects of his fictionalized Gummo, Moore
was once affectionate toward the working white class. Remember the rabbit lady
in Roger & Me? The woman who advertised bunnies “for pets or meat”?
Moore got laughs from that segment, but not entirely at her expense. Roger
& Me had a heart large enough to pump blood even through Moore’s hulking
mass. Too often, Bowling for Columbine goes for laughs without the affection.
He also begs:
“If [Bowling for Columbine] doesn’t have a big opening weekend, you can
kiss the film good-bye. Therefore, this weekend, this film must be seen by millions
of Americans. Can you help me make that happen?”
The above comes from an appeal that Moore sent to everyone on his email list.
He wants his legion of fans to believe that if they don’t see this movie – which
he modestly claims may be “one of the best films of the year” – that they’ve
let him down and, by extension, have let The Cause down. He wants them to believe
that Bowling for Columbine – distributed by United Artists and Alliance
Atlantis, two major industry names – is at risk of failure due to limited distribution
due to a lack of audience support.
Truth is, there’s no chance that this film will fail. Unlike a major Hollywood
blockbuster, it doesn’t need a $100 million domestic gross at the box office
to be deemed successful. Show it every night for a month at a major university
campus, and the investors get their money back. It’s more a question of how
successful the writer-director wants to be.
Elsewhere in his email appeal, Moore condemns the Second Amendment of the United
States Constitution by describing the Beltway Sniper as “exercising his constitutional
right to own a high-powered rifle.” Such a simplistic and provocative statement
from the self-righteous Left undermines the long-view determination of the righteous
Left. A murderer with a rifle is not exercising any right other than his right
to break the law, in reaction to which the population will exercise its right
to deal with the criminal.
Does Moore not see the slippery slope before him? When the freedom of speech
(as protected in the First Amendment) is eaten away to such a point that a filmmaker
will no longer be allowed to make a film, Moore will scream bloody murder and
bombard the world’s inboxes with more digital appeals. Yet he’ll fail to see
the connection between that giant-step loss of liberty and the first baby-step
of calling for the Second Amendment to be strip-mined. One must on occasion
defend the guilty, if only to protect the innocent at all times.
As the sawed-off shotgun of the American Left, Michael Moore hits some of the
targets some of the time. Few will deny that the media thrives on tragedy and
seems to disproportionately feature minorities as dangerous bogeymen. But he
also fires wildly, striking those who don’t deserve it. Moore should’ve spent
more time examining the Fear Culture and less time making fun of white trash
and holding up pictures of dead children.
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