Mar 20, 2011

Bowling for Columbine (2002) - cold world, hot shower

directed by Michael Moore

Bowling for Columbine is one of those documentaries that everyone should see (and I feel a bit bad that I only saw it now myself). I does makes you feel pretty miserable and it surely does not advance your faith in the goodness of our world, but still it's a good reminder that you don't have to go to the third world countries to look for things that suck, hard.

In the documentary Michael Moore tries to get to the bottom of gun violence in America, circling a lot around the 1999 massacre at the Columbine High School in Colorado. As a filmmaker, Moore is excellent: by showing and telling and interviewing he gets his point across in a way that is hard to ignore. I can say I was very upset by the film and cried, too (more than ever when watching Titanic, I might add), for all these things that truly suck in this world and for the cruel and inhumane ways some people have been taught to think. Afterwards I went and took a very hot shower. Maybe I was trying to compensate for all the coldness.

The weapon industry is blooming all over the world, but not the least in the US. Their gun-related homicide rate is higher than anywhere else in the world (the documentary was made a decade ago, but I believe the situation hasn't got much better since), and that should alarm people to do something about the matter. Just last month the news said that Texas is planning on allowing their university students and staff to carry a gun on campus. Yes, that's right. More guns. That'll solve everything.

The documentary makes a good point about the vicious circle of gun violence and fear, and how the media just fuels the paranoia and the general mistrust people have for each other. Carrying a gun is marketed as a civil duty, the only way to keep you and your family safe. It's extremely sad that people are taught to automatically assume the worst of each other. Then, when a six-year-old boy brings a gun to school and shoots a fellow student, who can be blamed? It is always just the abstract factors: the world, the society... the general lack of love and caring. Sucks for us, but what can you do?

One feels so helpless and beaten with issues like this. You feel you'd like to do something about it, but don't know what or how. It might be easy to think that this all happens in America and even though it's sad, it doesn't touch us, elsewhere in the world. But, as we know here in Finland, the problems and dangers aren't just some distant menace from another world, they're right behind our front doors, too. Now, at the latest, as we've gotten some hits much closer than most of us feel comfortable, we feel that we should, the whole world should, those idiots in Texas should, just freaking wake up and actually DO SOMETHING.

... And of course, I'm one big hypocrite myself. I don't know what should be done. So, after I've written this post, I'll have some late lunch and listen to some cheery music and maybe go out to enjoy the early spring sunshine and concentrate on problems I can hope to solve, including mostly essays and dirty dishes and other mundane stuff. And I will continue to watch American movies that make violence a glorified form of entertainment. And in August I will go to the States to study and make friends and travel and have loads of fun, while I'm actively trying to ignore the fact that in the state next to me there is a place called Columbine High School. It's easier to forget than make an effort.

Moore interviews many people and they all make somewhat good points about where the problems lie and what a horrible state the world is currently in. Still, few have any proper proposals for improvement to offer. And yes, there are a billion other problems in the world that have been rooting deep for ages, and can't be removed just like that, as nicely idealistic as the thought might sound. What can one single person be expected to do?

In the end, it was none other than Marilyn Manson, who brought up the point that made most sense:

"If you were to talk directly to the kids at Columbine or the people in that community, what would you say to them if they were here right now?"
"I wouldn't say a single word to them, I would listen to what they have to say, and that's what no one did."

Shouldn't be too hard to fix that, right? Right? 


bubble said...

Uh, I remember when I saw this for the first time.. I was so shocked and started to cry when they showed the security cameras' shots from the school and the shooters. This whole thing is so horrific. And of course it's not America's "thing" anymore, school shootings happen even here, next to our homes.

Marja said...

When I saw Moore's docu a decade ago, I too did cry, but mostly I got mad. Mad at the people who still whine that carrying a gun is their constitutional right and that guns don't kill people, people kill people. Well it sure as hell is easier to kill someone with a gun.

Eeva said...

bubble: That was indeed the most shocking part. And that one montage of people just... shooting each other. It's sick.

And yes... That is one of the less positive aspects of the American culture we've assumed. And it kind of made the documentary even more horrible.

Marja: Argh! The stupidity of some people... It just makes me a bit ashemed for the whole human race. And that you get a gun in the bargain if you open a certain bank account... WHAT?