Bowling for Columbine by Michael Moore

            The documentary, Bowling for Columbine by Michael Moore has become one of the most popular yet controversial documentaries in the United States. Produced in 2002, this film explores the culture of violence in the United States and the effects it has on the society. The film explores the different issues that have led to the escalation of violence in the United States. Through interviews with different people, Moore explores people’s reactions to violence. The focus of this movie is gun violence with specific analysis of gun ownership issues in the United States.

America being one of the most peaceful nations in the world, gives a different face when it comes to the issues of violence. Statistics show a sharp increase in the number of people killed in incidences related to violence. The real issue regarding this documentary is the issue of gun ownership and how it is related to the increased gun violence. At first, Moore’s notion is that the easy availability of guns is the issue behind gun violence. However, as he continues to interview different people other issues come up making it clear that this is not the real issue.

One of the most notable impressions in this film is the manner in which Moore analyzes the Columbine High Scholl killings. In fact, this is the basis of the movie as it forms part of the title. Moore analyzes the bowling sport in different ways as regards these killings. For example, the students involved in the killing attended a bowling class on the morning before committing the murders (Moore). Additionally, it is notable that the students had opted to take these classes as opposed to attending physical education classes. According to fellow students who are interviewed in this film, this is not very helpful academically. Additionally, Moore cites a militia group who use bowling pins as weapons (Castellano). The issue that Moore is trying to explore here is that people may be involved in activities that seem normal while in actual sense they are using these activities to advance their violent involvement.

Gun ownership is another major issue in this film. According to Moore, Americans can access guns very easily and he is a quest to establish whether this may be the cause for escalated gun violence. He interviews several people who demonstrate the fact that guns are easily accessible in most American cities. In order to establish further this point, Moore identifies a bank, which gives people a free rifle if they opened an account and deposited a certain amount of money in the bank. In this scene, Moore walks into the Michigan bank, opens an account, deposits a certain amount of money in the account and receives his rifle at the end of the transaction (Sorensen). Although this scene has become a bit controversial, it is used to explore the easy accessibility of guns in the United States. Moore continues to explore this issue as he shows scenes of people buying guns cheaply and with ease. He also identifies cities, which have established laws that obligate all citizens to legally possess guns.

As the film continues, Moore extends his research to other countries, which have similar gun laws to the United States. This is in an attempt to explain the possibility that easy access to guns could be causing the increase in violence. In one of the comparisons, Moore goes to Canada, in an area depicted to be near the United States border. The scenes that follow show that people on the Canadian side have a lesser problem of insecurity and they actually do not have any fears related to insecurity (Curiel). Additionally, he notes that gun ownership is similar to the situation in the United States. This film also explores other probable causes of gun violence like film and television, computer games and popular cultural activities. Subsequent to these analyses, Moore does not see any of these as the reason for the escalated gun violence. These are just supporting factors, which have no significant to increasing rates of gun violence.

Michael Moore’s position is seen in the identification of the main cause of gun violence in the United States. His perception is that there exists a climate of fear, which has resulted in a psychotic kind of fear (Moore). In actual sense, there is nothing to fear but the people still perceive this fear. Moore defends this position by saying that the media and the government have developed this fear into what it is now. In this view, people feel the constant need to protect themselves thus purchasing guns. Moore says that people base their decision on whatever notions the media and politicians create on different issues. Additionally, Moore notes that fear and consumption are related as people follow whatever they hear on the news. Additionally, as people revere their political leaders, they follow whatever they are told. This includes the public proclamations of insecurity leading people to believe that the country is unsafe. Whenever the climate of fear is developed, people run to other means of protection that can be considered safe. Moore expounds this point using several arguments.

One of his best arguments is presented in the way people respond to various events. One of the examples given is the reaction of people in the wake of the September 11 attack. Politicians responded to this by creating measures of responding to future crimes of such magnitude. As this was seen as a protective measure, the people took to the streets and strived to increase safety in their homes and work places using every measure possible. This included simple acts like purchasing alarm systems to worse ones like purchasing multiple firearms. Additionally, the media was also seen as an instrument of developing the climate of fear (Skovmand). The different images seen in the media portrayed the United States as insecure country, which is prone to attack by terror groups. In most cases, the media is seen as a free entity that resents independent views. Therefore, people believe what they see on the media. Moore presents this argument in an interesting and purposeful manner making it one of his best.

Moore also presents the issue of weapons of mass destruction in a candid and interesting manner. While elaborating the issue of the Columbine massacre, Moore comes up with an argument that a nearby weapons’ factory has a negative impact on the people living around this area. Moore argues that the factory influences the students negatively. Additionally, he also presents an argument that it makes violence be perceived as acceptable especially if perpetrated by public institutions. Additionally, the concept of fear is advanced in this argument as the factory is aimed at making weapons that protect the people from adversaries. This means that there must be a security threat that has led to the manufacturing of these weapons.

Contrary to Moore’s argument, I think that gun ownership is a problem that needs to be dealt with on its own rather than dismissing it. When a person is buying a gun, the notion in their mind is that there will be adversaries attacking them and thus the need for protection. It is important to note that guns can be used for both positive and negative purposes. Moore seems to have ignored the negative issues of gun ownership as he dismisses it as normal for Americans to own guns. He goes ahead to compare the citizens of United States with those of other countries while forgetting that different circumstances call for different responses (Sorensen). In this view, it is important to formulate gun control laws whose purpose is to limit access to guns. In the same easy manner that a person accesses guns, criminals also follow a similar procedure (Curiel). In fact, it is easier for them as they know gun dealers who can sell them guns illegally. Therefore, easy gun access is a major contributing factor to the escalating gun violence. As much as I agree with Moore’s theory on the climate of fear, I also think that gun accessibility should be addressed. Restrictions are usually helpful in specified cases and this is one of them. In conclusion, Moore has addressed relevant issues in this film but should consider restrictions to gun ownership.

Works Cited:

Castellano, Daniel. Bowling for Columbine: A review, 2004. Web. 19 Nov. 2010.

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Curiel, Jonathan. Moore captures U.S. zeitgeist ‘Bowling for Columbine’ explains violence. The Chronicle, 18 Oct. 2002. Web. 19 Nov. 2010.

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Moore, Michael, dir. Bowling for Columbine. Alliance Atlantis Communications, 2002. Film.

Skovmand, Michael. Bowling for Columbine: I want to them to leave angry, 2003. Web. 19 Nov. 2010. < >

Sorensen, Louise. The camera is mightier than the gun: Bowling for Columbine, 2003. Web. 19 Nov. 2010. < >

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