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Bowling For Columbine

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We Cartoon still showing KKK person and gun nutwent to see Bowling For Columbine tonight. It is probably best described as a sarcastic documentary dealing with the question why so many people in the US are shot each year.

While the film criticises the way weapons are handled in the US, it is not anti-American, as some people want to claim. In fact, it seemed to me that, the director/producer Michael Moore, an American himself, just wonders why people in his own country are so fond of shooting each other.

Showing interviews, various statistics and historical facts, he shows that the standard explanations for all the murders in the US (about 11000 per year as opposed to a few hundred in Britain or Germany, say), like a history of violence (also true for most European countries, Japan etc.), many weapons in the public (also true in Canada), poverty (also true in other countries), a mixed population (also in Canada) etc. don't really give sufficient explanation. A conclusion is that fear always seems to be present in America, while it isn't in other places. This is due partly due to TV coverage of crime greatly exaggerating the problem and making people fear the dangerous black man -- Um, so this fear seems to be coupled with a bit of racism as well... Definitely this gives food for though.

There's also an excellent South Park-ish cartoon on A brief history of the USA, bringing the fear and racism aspects together - think KKK and NRA as well as many other points which I don't want to write up here - rather go and see the film. The website is quite useful as well. It has a Flash intro that you can skip before it starts and contains actual additional information and a couple of clips from the film, including aforementioned cartoon scene.

I guess there are many things to discuss in this context. Firstly, judging from the film and things I read, say in a recent interview with Die Zeit, Michael Moore seems to be both a clever and friendly person and I guess I'll get his book Stupid white men soon.

Secondly there's definitely something to the fear aspect. I once read an article that most of modern business is based on fear as well (particularly in the US, again). With businesses making sure their employees are replaceable, at any level of employment, and making sure that you're not only out of work but also without health insurance etc, if they drop you - this creates a constant fear in people, making them more obedient than they would want to be.

Thirdly, most people asked why they to have a loaded gun in their house, immediately talked about amendments to the constitution and pointed out that they are allowed to. Strange isn't it that subtle difference between may and must.

Fourthly, thinking about people owning or carrying weapons, probably it's good that people may not do that in Germany. While probably not quite as paranoid as Americans, Germans seem rather protective, righteous and fearful as well. It even bothers me that the police carry guns. They don't in Britain, which seems much more civilsed to me.

Fifthly, I had to think of Norway when I heard the Canadians in the film say that they don't lock their doors and that they don't see why they should do it. The statement It's not the locks that make the people stay out stuck. Very relaxed, very sympathetic. Also it was very funny to see Michael Moore successfully open random doors of Canadian homes and tell the people looking at him from the inside that he was just checking.

Sixthly, I had to think about South Africa. They have most things that the US have: weapons, racism, people killed etc. and there seems to be more of it. Interestingly friends of ours found an astonishingly rational way to deal with it: Many years ago they used to carry guns with them, say in a handbag (which quite shocked my mum at the stage when she carried her friend's handbag and the answer on how why it was so heave was oh, lots of stuff in there: makeup, tissued, gun, purse, you know...). They carried the guns for self-defense and as far as I can tell never used them. Now, many years later there are much more car hijackings, robberies etc. and they stopped carrying their guns although, following the usual panic they should've gotten a bigger one. Why? The explanation was simple: chances to actually get out of the situation unharmed using the gun are very low. So it's not really useful and it's better if the robbers get only your car rather than you car and your gun.

Just a few things that came to my mind - and there are many more.

[Buy at amazon .com, .uk, .de]

November 27, 2002, 1:52

Tagged as bowling for columbine, film, michael moore.

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