The subject matter of the programme Essay
The subject matter of the programme
The United States has the highest gun related deaths in the world. Moore links this to the lack of gun control and the president. From childhood games to bomb threats, from shootings to terrorism. One of the main issues the documentary explored was the shootings at Columbine High School in the United States, gun control and how easily accessible guns are in the United States. the very high gun related deaths, violence, mentality, behavior, issues within schools, peer pressure & the effect of societies were looked at. Also in questioning was violent video games & music.
Marilyn Manson came up as a name to blame, but the president was also name to blame. Bowling for Columbine starts with black and white footage of the gun association, this introduces the historical background. Moore uses a number of conventions typical to a documentary. He uses voice over commentary throughout. ‘April 20th 1999’ (a typical day in America) footage is used to accompany the ‘narrative’. Moore’s ridicule of the Bush Administration is shown in his voice over saying the ‘President bombs another country whose name he can’t pronounce’
The shot of the statue of Liberty is iconic of representing America. It can be seen as an establishing shot. Verite footage of North County Bank in Michigan, where there is use of point of view shots showing him looking through a brochure and completing a form, in return of a rifle. He uses the humor of sarcasm when asking about the questions on the form he has to fill in to retain the weapon and the fact of how it only matters if your criminally defected but not mentally defected. Moore states a rhetorical question “Do you think it’s dangerous handing guns out at a bank?
” There is a long shot of Moore when he walks out of the bank, with the weapon held aloft. The viewer would probably be taken aback by this, if not American. Guns given out at banks just don’t happen. The viewer would think bank robberies. How easy would it be for someone who has just taken out a weapon in false name (or not) to turn around and hold someone at gunpoint? The scene is accompanied by non-diegetic music, it’s upbeat and sets the viewers imagination into role. The opening credits are accompanied by black and white footage of youngsters bowling.
This represents the effects on youths from a young age, the bowling to take place of the play of children from that of the effects of childhood games to shooting. The Columbine shootings. Later on in the documentary there is a link back to this, as one of the female students who went to Columbine High School said, one of the boys involved in the shootings use to bowl for Columbine. Which is where the title of the documentary may have come from. Throughout the whole of this documentary there is a continuous link to guns. There is a black and white television advertisement, from the 50/60s advertising ‘real’ guns.
These were fake toy guns that looked and sounded real. I think Moore shows this to show how much children are involved in the ‘tradition’ of guns in America. Moore also uses home footage of himself and his history of gun use to present America’s gun culture and to present himself. He won the NRA marksman award. He then introduces the fact that he grew up in the same State as Charlton Heston where hunting is extremely common. Moore includes a scene of himself at the Hairdressers, where he purchases bullets. His message is just how easily accessible guns and ammunition really are.
The viewer would be shocked, particularly with our own Laws and figures as the United Kingdom. In another scene Chris Rock, a comedian, is on stage presenting his views in his own comical way. He talks of gun control and speaks about bullets costing more then there may be less violence. He suggests $5,000 for a bullet and says ‘I would blow your head off… If I could afford it! ” I think Moore includes this because he has a point, it is entertaining and Moore thinks the idea needs to be made. Marilyn Manson came up as a name to blame by America, mainly by the media.
But out of all the United States & the President, Marilyn Manson was the only one to whom suggested listening. Said within an interview between him and Moore, as the answer to one thing he would say to the youths effected by the shootings at Columbine “I wouldn’t say anything, I would listen… ” The scene was effective because Marilyn Manson is a well-known artist. Other countries such as Gothic Germany frequently listen to his music but have a significant lower percentage of gun related deaths. Other ‘things to blame’ were such things as video games, horror films and a TV program ‘COPS’
In America, presented in Moore’s way, the media seems to be racially prejudiced. That or the accusers. “Big, tall, black man, in around his thirties… ” In both documentaries there are no formal introductions to the subjects. At the beginning of the documentary particularly focuses on the NRA (National Rifle Association) that Moore is a member of, wherefore he introduces himself as an American. Weapons and shooting play a major part in the documentary as they do in America itself. Moore emphasizes on the gun accessibility and how easy it is to retain a weapon and more importantly ammunition for it.
In the closing scene, the song ‘What a wonderful world’ is played over visuals. This is ironic. It is non-diegetic to the whole of the documentary, but leaves the viewer to provoke the viewers thought. Fahrenheit 9/11 “The temperature where freedom buns! ” The main issue in Fahrenheit 9/11 was Fahrenheit 9/11. The devastation and effects it had on the peoples of the United States. Terrorism. The Bush Administration. The president’s connections with the Saudis and Bin Ladens and the Iraqi War. Media footage of Fahrenheit 9/11 is shown. The scene is started by telephone calls of panicking residents with no visuals.
Then footage of people looking up in the air. There is no formal introduction to Fahrenheit 9/11 but the viewer automatically interprets this. News footage is shown of the planes crashing into the twin towers, then to people crying and praying. This scene is very emotive; one might question whether it was moral of Moore to include it. I think he did because he knew the reaction he would receive and that it would get the attention he had hoped for. Moore to uses narration to take us through all his findings behind the media. From the 2000 elections to informing us of the relationship between the president and the Bin Laden family.
The fact of how the FBI suspiciously decided to fly the whole of the Bin Laden family out of the States just two days after 9/11 without being held for questioning. Also the fact that the Saudis, Bin Ladens and Bush families are all invested in joint financial dealings. The president wouldn’t want the American public to discover this. Perhaps Moore saw it his duty to inform the American public. Moore interviews a man who was questioned by the FBI for merely speaking of and questioning the president’s decisions. An over reaction of the FBI and president to prevent terrorism. But this man was not the only one to be questioned.
This man says they’re meant to be a state where there is freedom and rights, “They’re denying me my rights as an American citizen” There is footage of the U. S soldiers whilst in Iraq. The soldiers admit they did not know why the president had sent them to Iraq and that it was getting to a point when they were shooting anything that moved because they had not a clue of what they were doing. One of the soldiers spoke of how they listen to ‘The roof is on fire’ by Bizzy Bone. A soldier starts saying the lyrics… “The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire… We don’t need know water let the motherfucker burn!
Burn! Motherfucker. Burn! ” As he says this, the image on screen changes to footage of an Iraqi woman clasping onto her family with other women. The backing music plays over the scenes of destruction. This scene is very powerful and emotive. The viewer would not have expected it they would be shocked, at the language, the heartlessness of it and the following scenes of images of young children who had wounds deep as the bone, skin burns, dead people. During this there is emphasis in typography on many facts, figures and quotes with actual footage from real events that help to back Moore on his views.
In another scene Royal Marines Officers were frantically recruiting young men, mainly school leavers to join up. This was because of the huge loss of American soldiers that had already been lost in the Iraqi War. An aerial shot of a huge cemetery where the U. S soldiers have been buried is shown, along with typography of the figures of thousands who died. In the second to last scene, an American citizen talks of how she persuades her children to sign up. The benefits and possibilities that the Army offers. To her deep regret, she reads out the last letter she received from her son, who lost his life in Iraq.
In the letter, he writes of how negatively he felt towards the president in his decision of sending them to Iraq. The scene is highly emotive, drawing in the viewer as they sympathize with this family’s loss. Creating Moore’s desired affect to persuade the viewer in joining him in his view, against the president. Michael Moore continuously takes advantage of his documentaries to make George Bush appear to have his priorities and concerns with matters other than the American public. He uses his documentaries to convey his own political views and opinions to his audience.
His obvious dislike for the president is very apparent as he includes many edited scenes of him. An example of this is shown in the documentary, when the president is on vacation with his brother in Florida on the 10th September 2001, the day before Fahrenheit 9/11. With the aid of editing Moore sets up the cozy smug look of the president’s face after Fahrenheit 9/11, cutting to one of the victims grieving family members. Undoubtedly this brings over Moore’s view of the Bush Administration, therefore hopefully ensuing in the audiences view, along with the American public.
One of Moore’s purposes for creating the documentaries. Michael Moore’s main purposes for creating this documentary are to inform his audience of the issues that the mainstream media has missed/not included. Moore wanted to uncover, in his opinion, the fact that the current president of the United States had sent his fellow citizens into war. For reasons only known to him and close partnerships; having little to do with the excuse of an attempt to stop terrorism, capture Osama Bin Laden or prevent Saddam Hussein from using his “weapons of mass destruction”.
Moore uses a considerably large mount of editing; in fact editing creates most of his documentaries. Unfortunately, however fortunate for him, this creates a bias view, which is what the viewer sees. Moore continuously visually documents the weaknesses of the powerful. The main example is the president. Moore captures the president’s sensitive side. Also Charlton Heston, as he walks away from the camera unable to answer Moore’s request of “After that happened you came to Flint to hold a big rally and, you know, I just, did you feel it was being at all insensitive to the fact that this community had just gone through more tragedy?
” Moore then continues, “You think you’d like to apologize to the people in Flint for coming and doing that at that time? ” Moore takes full advantage of the fact that he knows about Heston, having known of the shootings, and the fact that Heston had pretended he did not. In conclusion, Moore has presented two documentaries, from his own point of view, to present his views and some truths. Creating his desired effect, to inform and explain his view.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 10 September 2017
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