It's a bit of a rarity in this day and age that a film comes out that actually gets you to think. ... And listen to me now; I sound like Leonard Maltin, Gene Shalit or one of those other "critics" who say things solely as part of a metaphorical dick-measuring contest over who can get their names in movies' ad-campaigns more often.
So here I am, having just finished watching Bowling For Columbine, trying to think about what the hell it is that makes America so violent, and why I'm not living in a more civilized country right now. Granted, America might be the best country in the world, but we're certainly not the most civilized. And the fact that I even came to this realization means that Michael Moore has done his job properly.
And I'm sure that there are a lot of people who are going to read this (actually, I'm not sure that anyone at all is going to read this) who are going to say, "Michael Moore's an asshole! He's against the President! He's against the war!" and all of that crap. And to those people, you're entitled to your opinion, but you got Ken Starr. Michael Moore's all we've got.
Now, it's not really a one-sided movie. Michael Moore just asks questions, and even members of the Michigan Militia come off as generally sane individuals. Charlton Heston, on the other hand, is a little off-kilter. Terry Nichols' (Timothy McVeigh's partner) brother is absolutely insane. Really, the power of any documentary lies in the editing process. As long as someone has the capacity to fuck up on their own, there's always the capacity for entertainment.
And it's not all funny. The movie is certainly, at some times, absolutely hysterical. But then you've got black and white security footage from Columbine High School and 911 calls, and it runs for what seems to be a very long time. Between the security and news footage, it's five minutes where you just sit and and watch and you can't say anything.
Is it fair and balanced coverage (sends a nickel to Fox News Network) of Second Amendment rights? Not really. For the most part, it tries to understand why it is that things like Columbine happen. Joe Liebermann blames Marilyn Manson (which is why he's too stupid to be elected President next year). Matt Stone (co-creator of South Park) blames the society he grew up in, which happened to be Littleton, Colorado. Ranking as the most coherent individual in this whole movie, Marilyn Manson himself.
One of the best laughs I got out of the movie was during an ad for school metal detectors, a kid pulls (I'm counting here) twelve guns out of his pants, including a shotgun he had stuffed down his right pant-leg. Now, with two or three guns, this kid could probably move around fairly normally, but this kid's not going to be able to bend his right leg and probably wouldn't be able to put his (probably explosives-laden) backpack in his locker without blowing his dick off.
At one point, about an hour in, the film explores racism in the media. Susan Smith drove her car into a lake, drowned them, and then said a black man took the car and the kids. Everyone bought it. Guy kills his wife and a black man takes the blame. Killer bees are known as "Africanized bees." Hell, I remember a couple of months back when a rapist or something was running around Chicago and he was described by a police spokesman (and then repeated by the media) as "looking like rapper Ice Cube." So, for a while, the film explores the way that the media perpetrates the bullshit notion that black people are generally dangerous. After all, it's my personal belief that people are dangerous on an individual level, and I've never heard of a black man who did anything like what Timothy McVeigh or Jeffrey Dahmer did.
The media doesn't give two shits about the news they report. This is never more painfully obvious as during a little girl's memorial service when a reporter does his thing for the network, then -the second the camera is off- starts bitching about his hair and technical difficulties. They just don't fucking care about the news they report. It's all about getting the news out to the viewers, making sure the viewers keep viewing so the sponsors can keep paying. The media just reports what gets the best ratings, which is the same reason why Howard Stern and Mancow do whatever they do on the radio. It's all about the Benjamins.
And, regardless of whatever they'd say if you asked them, they don't just investigate and report. The media is not a neutral entity. There's a rule in Physics that states, "anything you observe, you inevitably change." Violence sells in the ratings, so they report more violence. Fuck, I don't know, maybe there are so many shootings in the U.S. because the shooters just want a collective 14 share in the Nielsen ratings.
In the end, I don't think there is a single answer to the film's question of why Columbine and other shootings (in-school and not) happen in America. I think that Matt Stone probably came closest to an actual answer, at least as far as high school students go, in that Stone felt that in high school you get forced into this situation and this thinking where everything you are today and anything you accomplish today has direct bearing on the rest of your life. And if you remember being a freak or how the freaks in your high school were treated, it's a wonder they didn't go on a shooting spree, too.
Actual IM conversation:
Unravel UI: I saw Underworld. Very cool-looking. OK movie besides.
THerbMcC71: I saw some documentary on the History channel that started out being about vampires, and I went, "Who's narrating this? This sounds familiar..." and then two minutes later, it goes into werewolves, "sometimes known as Lycans," and I went, "Oh. It's an advertisement, trying to pass itself off as something else." After all, no one in the history of man had ever referred to a werewolf as a "lycan" before this movie got written.
Unravel UI: Lycan? For some reason I thought they were calling them "lichens"
THerbMcC71: Dude, that was really funny.
Unravel UI: Sad thing is, it's the truth. Until three minutes ago.
Unravel UI: Makes so much more sense now.
THerbMcC71: That doesn't change the mental image I had in my head of lichens.
ICQ, MSN, Yahoo: Yeah, right, like I use those.