I recently watched Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine. So many thoughts stormed in my tiny head after watching the documentary. Bowling for Columbine talks about USA's gun culture and subsequently reflects on the fear psychosis which has gripped the nation. I thought it was a well made documentary. More on it later...
Bowling for Columbine starts with the basic premise of Columbine school bombings. For those unaware about the shootout at the high school in Columbine, here it goes....
On April 20, 1999, in the small, suburban town of Littleton, Colorado, two high-school seniors, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, enacted an all-out assault on Columbine High School during the middle of the school day which resulted into the killing of 12 students and a teacher. Later they shot themselves. Read more.... This incident shocked the nation and also the world coz never in the wildest dreams did anyone think that children in a school would be a target of gunmen who were children themselves.
Ok....The documentary starts with the Columbine school shootout. Moore delves into the issue in detail. He shows how everybody in Littleton possessed guns apparently for self defense and how arms were so easily accessible. Some of the scenes are heart wrenching. For example, he shows the scenes where the school librarian calls up a TV Show crying out in anguish narrating the shootouts and screaming for help. The juxtaposition of such scenes is remarkable. But I was disappointed that Moore does not go deep into the psyche of the 2 accused viz. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. He speaks to some of their classmates who describe them as "WEIRDOES, INTROVERTS" etc.. But the fact is that both of them maintained personal diaries. It has not been explored at all. One could have got a fabulous insight of the minds of the teens who committed such a heinous crime. Moreover even their families feature nowhere in picture.
I thought Moore wasn't objective at all throughout the whole movie but well, he took a stand at least. The scene where the then president Clinton announces about the bombings in Kosovo with such a firm demeanour and his change of tone as he hears about the Columbine school shootout is amazingly put. I mean it was an awesome display of the hypocrisy. Their attitude of Hamara khoon khoon, doosron ka khoon paani....is so aptly shown. I loved Moore for that. I like the way he fearlessly takes stands.
Moore showed how the USA society is such an insecure society. Media also was responsible to a large extent. He showed how media plays an important role in cashing in on the inherent fear of the American public. It was interesting to note when Moore says that during a particular year (I don't remember now)how the crime rate in USA actually fell but well media thought totally otherwise and if one were to go by the USA media, USA was the unsafest place in the whole world. Moore showed how TV news cameraman waited for an encounter, a police chase everyday at a particular place but well weren't bothered about the rising pollution in LA coz of which even the HOLLYWOOD banner wasn't visible at all. It simply wasn't of any news material. He also talks about the shows like COPS etc and the generalisation In the USA media where every criminal was a black man.
In order to show something was really wrong with the USA society Moore goes to Canada to show how safe a society it is inspite of an easy access of arms and ammunition. There are more guns per household in Canada than in the United States, yet the death toll, even when adjusted to consider the unequal populations, is much lower. He shows as to how Canadians don't keep their doors closed at all and how safe they still feel. To emphasises this point Moore barges into people's houses to show how the doors arenÂt closed at all. But how do I believe him? It could have easily been pre arranged before the shoot. There's an obvious loophole.
He also delves into the issue of a 6yr-old killing his classmate. It was a horrific piece of news. But well, we don't get to know what happens to the boy at all. Its really weird coz both the times, the perpetrators of the shootouts have not been covered at all. I mean there is always a question mark hanging in there. It is shown that immediately after the shootout Charles Heston, the chairperson of National Rifles Association (NRA) has a public meeting in Littleton asserting the fundamental right to own a gun to safeguard our lives thereby completely ignoring the protests of the local public and the media. Michael Moore grills Charles Heston in an interview in the movie so much so that Heston walks out mid way even without answering the questions. The interview was a tad dramatic and I felt Moore did go overboard. Moore condemns the role of NRA throughout but it is really ironic that he also is a very member of NRA.
This documentary touches upon several issues. Columbine school shootout, Gun culture in America, fear psychosis, Role of American media, Canadian society, National rifles Association, Okhlahoma Bombings, Role of USA in the bombings of other countries etc. etc. But well the audience doesnÂt get lost and well....the point is well conveyed. This documentary makes more sense now especially in wake of the stringent and may I add stooped security measures adopted by the USA government. This is just one of the articles which reflect the growing paranoia. I like it when Brazil openly challenges USA and starts finger printing USA citizens visiting the country. TIT FOR TAT. Really cool! I sometimes just wonder what all measures should India resort to especially after being the victim of several terrorists' attacks. But well different rules apply to USA and the rest of the world, don't they?
People who haven't yet seen the documentary, do see it. Makes a very good viewing despite the loopholes. I am now desperately waiting for Fahrenheit 9/11 to release in India.