The Columbine High School massacre struck me the hardest. It was horrifying to see the whole school in turmoil. Students and teachers were running wild and everyone screamed and panicked as the vitriolic killers aimed for their next target. Even more repulsive, the killers were only teenagers who study at that exact school in Columbine and were killing their own classmates. They were also seen going to bowling class that morning of the calamity. How could they do such a leisure activity when they were preparing to lay innocents to waste, to end their lives? How could they embark on such a shooting rampage, and finally, committing suicide? The deaths, injuries, and upheaval of the school plunges audiences into thinking the abuse of firearms and the seriousness of gun violence in the USA.
What is the cause for such massive gun abuse in the USA? Michael Moore has tackled with some of the suggested reasons. Some may say the USA has a violent history, yet Germany, considering what it’s been through during the second world war, does not have as much snipers roaming about as the USA; countries other than America also have violent video games or movies but does not seem to suffer from gun abuse; Canada has a larger diversity of ethnic groups and higher unemployment rate, and people can possess a gun out of their own volition, but they don’t have as much homicides through guns.
One of the real causes behind the extreme behaviour of murderers can be because of the influence of the media. What has media done to their lives, to our lives? It can bring us with the latest news from all corners of the earth, convey messages, influence docile citizens, start a fad, or perhaps, spread fear and anxiety among people in the society as well? If the media announced that from tomorrow onwards no more imports will be allowed to enter Hong Kong, there is no doubt people will start panicking right on the spot and rush to supermarkets to hoard food and supplies.
This would have wreaked a complete havoc on Hong Kong. This actually happens in the USA, where the media always tends to alert the public by exaggerating (or sometimes truthfully saying) facts. Americans start to live in fear, and as they start to live in fear, they begin to secure themselves with weapons. When everyone has a weapon and is ready and prepared to use it at anytime, the country will soon end up chaotic with everyone suspicious of his own neighbour and ready to for some homicide.
With the use of irony and mockumentary, Michael Moore has successfully presented Bowling for Columbine in a light-hearted way in some respects. Clips of South Park totally subdued the taut atmosphere from the scenes of the grisly massacre and the cartoon on American history was a brief mocking version that is flippant but true. Its theme song “What a wonderful world” was played several times throughout the documentary and the lyrics “trees of green, red roses too, I see them blue” echoed over black and white picture of dying war victims, massacres and killing sprees that went out of control. The contrast was stark which imprints deeply into audience’s mind.
Nothing can be too biased, nor can it be too democratic. Although this documentary seems to present us with an omniscient viewpoint, but are we restricted to one perspective (naturally Michael Moore’s) only? It is often impossible for directors to totally subjugate personal political convictions to their professional commitment to fairness and balance, and in this case, we might be oblivious of a few blatant facts that are not presented in the documentary. Like Canada may not be as crime-free as it seems (is it possible that all Canadians do not lock their doors?) and what would really happen if it was declared illegal for Americans to own a firearm. Would a greater disorder be resulted?
Courtney from Study Moose
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