Saturday, August 11, 2012

My 100 Favorite Films of All Time #99: Bowling For Columbine

Bowling For Columbine is not about guns, but I believe when Michael Moore started making it he thought it would be. Make no mistake, guns definitely play a role in the film, but they are the symptom of what Moore paints as America’s bigger problem: fear.

In full disclosure, I will state I don’t support gun control. I don’t think that is any kind of answer to the problems in America. I also enjoy most of Michael Moore’s work, though I sometimes find it off-base. Not this film, though.

If there is one thing that could have been done better in Moore’s film it would be that he should have went into even more depth on the nature of fear, what it does to people, and how it is used by institutions to control a populace. Fear sells. Fear works. The news media knows it. Governments, religions and schools use it. When Moore managed to capture this in his film (though in a fairly slight way compared to how it works in the real world), he touched upon something most of mainstream liberal America never even thought about themselves. Not only were they victims of it, but they used it, too. And they used it just as well as their friends on the Right. Few would ever admit that, though.

Columbine’s mass school shooting may have inspired Moore, but he’s always been a muckraker. When the Right called “foul” before it saw the film and said it was about the evils of the gun and would push the nation toward greater gun control, it played right into the director’s message. It was one of those moments that defined irony. Moore may not be for everyone, and the way his message got across may rub people the wrong way, but that doesn’t negate it.

Documentaries are powerful when done correctly. This film was done correctly and on such a grand-yet-primal scale that it is impossible to come out of the theatre without thinking about it, and I have yet to hear an effective argument against Moore’s thesis that America runs on fear. Brilliant.

Mandatory FTC Disclaimer: I did not receive this film to review.  Clicking on a link may earn me cash.

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