Bowling for Columbine
Moore is a self-righteous American liberal dick. He's a
new-rich pedant who makes fun of easy targets in order to
make other self-righteous American liberal dicks feel better
about themselves. In his latest documentary, Bowling
for Columbine, the millionaire working-class hero hits
the target about one-third of the time. If we could remove
him from his work, that ratio would increase significantly.
Moore's politics are, for the most part, correct. He's on
the right side, especially when it comes to corporate accountability.
His famous badgering of General Motors in his film debut,
Roger & Me, dovetailed nicely with such culture-jam
godheads as Adbusters and the McLibel defendants
in the early 90s.
Just don't mistake Moore for an altruistic hero of the world's
underdogs. He's as much a tragedy-monger as his supposed
enemies on the conservative end of the political spectrum.
He's no less a grandstanding ghoul than the National Rifle
Association's most famous spokesperson, Charlton Heston,
who serves as the ad hoc bogeyman for this film.
for Columbine could have easily been called Charlton
& Me, and may have been stronger had it been so
focused. Instead, it veers into all lanes. It attempts to
tackle too many issues, and goes for cheap laughs along
the way. The first thirty minutes is an easy mocking of
American gun culture, as embodied by "stupid white men,"
to borrow from the title of Moore's most recent book. It
would seem that the working-class champion learned a painful
lesson in the last decade: America's working class doesn't
agree with him. They want jobs, yes. They want a living
wage, yes. But they also want their guns, their cars and
their Nikes produced by slanty types in whatever country
can produce the cheapest sneakers.
The privileged white liberal class pays to see Moore lecture
at NYU. They watch the Bravo cable network. They head to
the revival house when Roger & Me plays. And
so he's decided to shit on the working class, especially
the white working class. Hey smart America, let's make fun
of those other Americans, the ones too ig'nant to know what's
good for them!
Credit where it's due, though: The middle of this film is
fantastic. After taking potshots at gun-slinging white trash,
he turns his attention to the fear culture that fuels the
paranoia in modern America. Moore posits that he and his
fellow countrymen are kept in fear of not just strangers,
but also their neighbors and, now, even their children.
Americans are told to fear everything from killer bees to
killer snakes to killer razor blades in Halloween candy.
These panics are eventually proven baseless--or they lose
their ratings appeal--and so the nightly news must invent
yet another bogeyman. For almost one hour, you'll see Moore
at his best, reminiscent of his TV Nation television
Moore at his worst, however, comes soon enough. In the last
third, he returns to form: a posturing, self-congratulatory
demagogue. He fails to look deeply at suburban bankruptcy,
fails to consider the disintegration of American community.
Instead, he drags two crippled kids to Kmart for a publicity
stunt and, later, solemnly deposits a photograph of a gun-slain
girl in Charleton Heston's yard.
Moore's efforts would be more useful if perhaps he'd spent
a little more time on genuine examination and less time
making fun of people. In the way that Harmony Korine was
affectionate to the subjects of his fictionalized Gummo,
Moore was once affectionate toward the working white class.
Remember the rabbit lady in Roger & Me? The woman
who advertised bunnies "for pets or meat"? Moore got laughs
from that segment, but not entirely at her expense. Roger
& Me had a heart large enough to pump blood even
through Moore's hulking mass. Too often, Bowling for Columbine
goes for laughs without the affection. He panders.
He also begs:
[Bowling for Columbine] doesn't have a big opening
weekend, you can kiss the film good-bye. Therefore, this
weekend, this film must be seen by millions of Americans.
Can you help me make that happen?"
The above comes from an appeal that Moore sent to everyone
on his email list. He wants his legion of fans to believe
that if they don't see this movie--which he modestly claims
may be "one of the best films of the year"--that they've
let him down and, by extension, have let The Cause down.
He wants them to believe that Bowling for Columbine--distributed
by United Artists and Alliance Atlantis, two major industry
names--is at risk of failure due to limited distribution
due to a lack of audience support.
Truth is, there's no chance that this film will fail. Unlike
a major Hollywood blockbuster, it doesn't need a $100 million
domestic gross at the box office to be deemed successful.
Show it every night for a month at a major university campus,
and the investors get their money back. It's more a question
of how successful the writer-director wants to be.
Elsewhere in his email appeal, Moore condemns the Second
Amendment of the United States Constitution by describing
the Beltway Sniper as "exercising his constitutional right
to own a high-powered rifle." Such a simplistic and provocative
statement from the self-righteous Left undermines the long-view
determination of the righteous Left. A murderer with a rifle
is not exercising any right other than his right to break
the law, in reaction to which the population will exercise
its right to deal with the criminal.
Does Moore not see the slippery slope before him? When the
freedom of speech (as protected in the First Amendment)
is eaten away to such a point that a filmmaker will no longer
be allowed to make a film, Moore will scream bloody murder
and bombard the world's inboxes with more digital appeals.
Yet he'll fail to see the connection between that giant-step
loss of liberty and the first baby-step of calling for the
Second Amendment to be strip-mined. One must on occasion
defend the guilty, if only to protect the innocent at all
As the sawed-off shotgun of the American Left, Michael Moore
hits some of the targets some of the time. Few will deny
that the media thrives on tragedy and seems to disproportionately
feature minorities as dangerous bogeymen. But he also fires
wildly, striking those who don't deserve it. Moore should've
spent more time examining the Fear Culture and less time
making fun of white trash and holding up pictures of dead