Bowling for Columbine

Posted on September 11, 2003 by Sara Hickman. | 7 Comments

Watch this movie. Right now. Whatever you are doing, if you haven’t seen this film by Michael Moore, please go out and rent it immediately. (On the DVD, there is an additional section in which Moore talks about winning the Academy Award, as well.)

Last year (or was it two years ago?), I was flying home from a performance, sitting on a plane reading “Stupid White Men” by Michael Moore. There was a man in the seat next to me, and I could tell he was reading along over my shoulder. After awhile, I could feel that he was really getting angry. Finally, he asked me, “Why are you reading that book?” and I said to him softly and kindly, “Why are you so angry?” It was as if his anger was filling up the plane, it felt THAT threatening…or maybe it was because the armrest between us seemed incredibly small and of no use in protecting myself if he chose to punch me in the nose.

Thankfully, he started to laugh. He thought it was funny that I had figured out he was pissed off by the book. He told me he was insulted by the title; how dare some guy (…”and a white guy at that!” he exclaimed) write a book called “Stupid White Men”. I asked him if he would be willing to buy a copy and read the book before he came to a conclusion. He replied he didn’t need to read the book, he’d read enough sitting next to me. I told him that he was only getting a small portion of the big picture, and thus, he was reading out of context. Really, I said, I think you would enjoy what the book has to offer. It’s a smart read.

He didn’t want to hear it. The flight was over. I felt exhausted and drained, to some degree, in staying so calm and zen, and yet, I also felt very happy.
He exited as quickly as possible…The thing I remember the most is the smell of his brown leather jacket and the New Jersey accent…and the overwhelming
physical expansion of his rage. When I smell leather jackets now, I think
of that rage. I think of standing strong in a storm, even when I felt like shaking.

I feel thankful to Michael Moore, who may rub some folks the wrong way, because he is listening to a greater source and is convinced in pointing these abominations within our society out until we all are listening. He is right to point out human suffering. He is right to document what we, as human beings, will allow to occur within our human family.

My God. What will it take for us to make this world a beautiful, safe world?
Because, you know, the monster is here and the monster is us.

Speak out. Get involved. You matter. We all do. People across the seas matter.
There is a new song on BIG KID written by Brandon Jameyson…the chorus states simply that we are all pink on the inside.

We are all pink on the inside. Why can’t we remember to look inside, where
our hearts extend blood and oxygen to our brains…

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7 responses to “Bowling for Columbine”

  1. amy says:

    perhaps michael moore’s effort, although sometimes misguided, is still better than an ideological vacuum, where people only think what they’re told to. i personally think that anyone who is willing to speak out, or in moore’s case, “scream” out against the status quo is extremely valuable. even his misrepresentations of facts has created entire new discussions about them. so, either way, at least now we’re at least talking about the prevalance of gun violence and racism in our country. and i think that’s better than blindly ignoring it.

    valuable comments, BigJim

    thanks grin

  2. studioviols says:

    I put my entire viewpoint of 9-11 and the two Invasions of sovereighn nations, the slaughtering of many children, women and men into song here :

    The song is called ‘Why They Hate U.S.’

    Pat Jack

  3. Lindy says:

    Came off the streets, probably just in time. It seemed as though people were more angry and aggressive in their driving habits today than ever. Tailgators, running reds, cutting off w/o signals (the auto makers oughta make em options–since nobody seems to use them anymore..)I thought back to 2001 this day, when our little town was absorbed in the tragedy. And for days after, how folks went out of their respective way to be courteous and accomodating. I thought maybe we had changed forever…Sara, the full moon yoga class Charles led on Mt. Bonnell last night as the storm bodychecked us was really something!

  4. GregD says:

    I just finished watching Bowling For Columbine. I must say that Mr. Moore pushes a lot of buttons, most of which certainly need to be pushed. Buttons like guns, television, economics and racism.

    I have a lot of thoughts here, at this late (for me) hour it is difficult to make them all coherent. But, as they say in America, you must strike while the iron is hot. Isn’t that what we have always been taught?

    I do not, and probably will not ever, own a gun. I have fired a gun only twice in my life. Once as a child, my father showing me how to shoot tin cans off a fence back at the farm (the American way). Again as a college student, again on a farm, shooting bricks off of tree stumps with a friend. I have never carried a gun, and have never aimed a gun at another living being. I have, however, been on the other end of a gun – wielded by a policeman, who thought he was serving and protecting I suppose. It was not a pleasant experience.

    I stopped watching television about ten years ago. Therefore I have not been as influenced by the unceasing efforts of the American news media to instill fear and to subsequently buy all the merchandise to counter that fear (guns, bullets, NRA memberships, alarm systems, etc). I have been quite cognizant of the effect of the media’s brainwashing on everyone around me. It is truly frightening.

    I am a white male. Hopefully not a Stupid White Male but then I haven’t yet read that book. In retrospect my grandparents were racists. My parents even show signs of racism, more often than I am comfortable with. I am fortunate that I was able to form my own opinions about people and of race. I observed there were (at least) two kinds of racism in this country. One type of racism is when people hate people different from themselves. The other is when people fear people different from themselves. Both, in my opinion, are unfounded. My parents and grandparents were racists of the latter kind. And to me this all relates back to this American Ideology of Fear. And in truly disgusting capitalistic form, fear is used to promote consumerism and profit.

    I see the destruction our country has wrought on other countries in the name of our own national security. I see the cost in human lives and in economic liabilities. I see how our leadership is committing us to spend four billion dollars a month to rebuild a country we bombed into the stone ages, while single mothers in this country have to take a three hour bus ride to work two minimum wage jobs so they can pay back the welfare money they were given by that same leadership.

    I found it especially ironic to see this film cover the events of two years ago on this very day. My heart goes out to all those who suffered and lost loved ones on that day. I mean no disrespect to them or to the members of our Armed Forces when I say that, after watching this film, ours is not the great country we seem to think it is. We can – and should – be so much better.

    And finally – I don’t know that I can ever again watch another Charlton Heston film.

  5. BigJimSTL says:

    Just to clarify – I’m not a hater – I used to really like what Moore had to say, especially around the time of ‘Roger and Me’. But I heard many (validated) references to outright lies, and really felt manipulated by him. Don’t know about you, but I don’t like feeling manipulated – especially in something purported to be a documentary…
    So, no, I am not a right-wing nut, just a former fan who felt very betrayed when I found out some of these things…

  6. BigJimSTL says:

    Well, I can’t let this go unchallenged. Mr. Moore does raise some interesting points, and I agree about half of the time with him, but there are many many contradictions in his routine.

    Take a look at, or even better,

    I can’t say I agree with EVERYTHING they say, but they raise some things you’ll never hear Mr. Moore admit about himself:

    After the conclusion of the “Wonderful World” montage — Right after the footage of the airplanes hitting the Twin Towers, Bowling shows a B-52 memorial at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Moore intones:

    “The plaque underneath it proudly proclaims that this plane killed Vietnamese people on Christmas Eve 1972.”

    The point is only half way obvious to most viewers, although even those not catching the direct connection – the understanding is inserted : that the United States government and Al-Qaeda both perpetrate murder by airplane. This phrasing intentionally insinuates that the plaque praises the bombing of civilians.

    In fact, the plaque on the B-52 at the AFA is not quite as Moore describes it. The plaque says :

    “B-52D Stratofortress. ‘Diamond Lil.’ Dedicated to the men and women of the Strategic Air Command who flew and maintained the B-52D throughout its 26-year history in the command. Aircraft 55-083, with over 15,000 flying hours, is one of two B-52Ds credited with a confirmed MIG kill during the Vietnam Conflict Flying out of U-Tapao Royal Thai Naval Airfield in southern Thailand, the crew of ‘Diamond Lil’ shot down a MIG northeast of Hanoi during ‘Linebacker II’ action on Christmas Eve, 1972.”

    Hardly sounds like a proud proclamation of Vietnamese killing. But Moore brushes it off. According to Ebert, Moore’s response to this criticism was as follows: “I was making a point about the carpet bombing of Vietnam during the 1972 Christmas offensive. I did not say exactly what the plaque said but was paraphrasing.” (1)

    However – offering no evidence to support the claim that this historical account was in any way bragging about civilian death – Moore boldly deceives the audience here. Since he supports his opinion of the plaques supposed inferences with nothing, we must rely on grammar – none of which has a hint of anything that denotes pride in death. He of course doesn’t show the plaque so he can get away with the deception, and didn’t expecting anyone to check him on this fact, and thus gets away with it.

    The truth behind the plaque is a much different story, as told by David Hardy of

    “The particular feat was accomplished by Airman First Class Albert E. Moore, who brought down a MiG-21 which was closing to attack ‘Diamond Lil.’ The reason its MiG kill was so celebrated was that a B-52 which got within range of a fighter almost always lost the fight. B-52s were built on the assumption that enemy fighters would be kept at bay by their own fighter escort, and so they had minimal defensive guns.

    A WWII B-17 carried, oh, 10 to 14 (depending on model) .50 machineguns facing in every possible direction; they flew in dense formations so that there were hundreds or thousands of guns covering each direction. Facing WWII fighters, the B-17s still took severe losses.

    A B-52 had only one defensive gun position, in its tail, which could cover no direction save rearwards: early models had four .50s in it, later ones a 20 mm. It had, in short, a lot less defensive capability, yet was up against modern jet fighters with hundreds of knots speed advantage, air-to-air missiles that could kill from miles off, and heavier guns for close-in. If an enemy fighter closed on a B-52, odds of survival were low.

    Diamond Lil was thus commemorated for its rare feat of downing the attacking enemy fighter, instead of being downed by it.

    A feat which Moore apparently finds appalling.”

    Moore thus confirms the absurdity of the blame-America-first position popular among the Hollywood Left, by showing that such views require the ignoring of obvious facts — such as the difference between financial aid to a dictatorship and humanitarian aid to refugees, or between fighting enemy pilots and perpetrating war crimes against civilians.

    Mike Wilson of MSNBC wrote

    I don’t know if you caught it, but Mike Moore was confronted about our film while he was on MSNBCs Buchanan and Press a few weeks ago to promote BFC on DVD. When the hosts pressed him to give me an interview, he said, “I don’t appear in other people’s films, I make my own documentaries.” Note that Moore appeared in the film Lucky Numbers opposite John Travolta and Lisa Kudrow. And if he meant that he doesn’t give interviews for documentaries, he’s lying there as well.

    As we first documented, when “Bowling for Columbine” was released in theaters, it featured a 1988 Bush-Quayle ad called “Revolving Doors”, which criticized a prison furlough program in operation when Michael Dukakis was governor of Massachusetts. Though Horton was furloughed under the program in question, the ad did not explicitly mention him, unlike the more famous ad aired by the National Security Political Action Committee, which had close ties to Bush media advisor Roger Ailes.

    But because this part of “Bowling” attempted to show how portrayals of black men are used to promote fear in the public, Moore apparently inserted the caption “Willie Horton released. Then kills again.” into the ad, using a text style nearly identical to the ad’s original captions. A casual viewer would assume that the text was part of the original ad. The fictitious caption more directly connecting Bush to Horton is used to back up Moore’s statement, which runs over the sequence, that “whether you’re a psychotic killer or running for president of the United States, the one thing you can always count on is white America’s fear of the black man.”

    However, according to the archived video of the ad linked above, media reports and interviews with a high-level Dukakis official and political experts, the caption did not appear in the original ad. Moreover, it was incorrect — Horton raped a woman while on furlough, but he did not commit murder.

    In a tacit acknowledgment that the caption was both phony and factually incorrect, Moore has altered the text in the DVD version. The caption now reads “Willie Horton released. Then rapes a woman.” Clearly, every fact in the film was not true, and critics who pointed the alteration of the Horton ad (among other things) were not committing libel.

    Moreover, Moore’s correction doesn’t make the insertion of text that wasn’t in the original ad any more excusable.

  7. Pat says:

    Om Chanti Om

    Three, gentle, deep breaths.

    I’d like to buy the world a yoga lesson smile

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