“Bowling for Columbine” (2002) is a Michael Moore film about why America is so violent, particularly White America. Until CNN does a “White in America” on violence, which will probably be never, this is as close as you will get.
Some of what you see:
- Moore asks the man who makes “Cops”, the crime show, why he always seems to show black street crime and never, say, white corporate crime.
- Moore asks a spokesman at Lockheed Martin whether having a big defence contractor in town had anything to do with the shooting at the nearby high school: Columbine.
- Moore shows the plane that bombed Vietnamese on Christmas Eve 1972. It is not far from – Columbine.
- Moore takes two of Columbine’s wounded – one in a wheelchair, one with a bullet near his heart – to the headquarters of K-Mart, the company that sold the 17-cent bullets that remain in their bodies.
- Moore asks Charlton Heston why America is so violent. And why he spoke at NRA rallies in Denver and Flint, Michigan soon after terrible shootings took place nearby (Columbine, Kayla Rolland).
- Moore shows a quick cartoon history of violence in White America – from the Pilgrims to the Klan to the NRA to white flight.
- Moore plays the song “What a Wonderful World” and shows 16 cases of violent American foreign policy from the past 50 years. Body count: 4,806,006. It ends with 9/11. Chickens coming home to roost.
Moore points out that:
- Columbine took place on the day America dropped the most bombs on Kosovo.
- The father of one of the Columbine killers used to drop bombs on Iraq. At the time they lived not far from the Nichols brothers, the ones who helped Tim McVeigh bomb a government building in Oklahoma.
Moore does not blame the violence on:
- The NRA, the National Rifle Association, a front for the gun industry that pumps money into enough Congressional races so that Congress never passes strict gun laws.
- Hollywood films, which make heroes of gunmen, from John Wayne to Clint Eastwood.
But mainly blames:
- A culture of fear: From the Pilgrims onwards White Americans have been overly fearful. They deal with their overblown fears through flight and violence: witch burning, genocide, lynching, white flight, etc. But this just leads to more violence and fear – of Indian attacks, slave uprisings, black crime and terrorist attacks. On and on. The media and government feed this fear for their own ends (ratings, foreign policy, defence spending, etc).
Canada: Moore points out that Canada watches the same Hollywood films and has millions of guns – yet few are shot dead. People do not lock their doors, not even in a big city like Toronto. There seems to be way less fear, even among those who have experienced crime. Some suppose it is because Canada is lily-white, yet 15% of Canadians are not white
So what makes Canada different? Instead of trying to get their way through violence, Canadians settle differences through negotiation and compromise.