Bowling for Columbine – Michael Moore 2002

Documentary – History 
  • April 20th 1999, Narration establishes time and date “In the United States of America
  • Document regarding multiple types of weaponry and gun licensing
  • Let me ask you a question, do you think it’s a little dangerous handing out guns at a bank?” – Michael Moore
  • Archival Footage in the opening credits of old-fashioned advertisements promoting gun use for children.
  • Michigan – A gun lover’s paradise 
  • Interview with a Michigan police officer concerning a dog that had been dressed up as a hunter with a rifle on his back. “It was a funny picture, you know, to look at it was kind of neat” – Police officer.
  • Archival Footage of Chris Rock’s stand-up routine which was about gun-use and “bullet control“.
  • Document of a 2002 calendar with pictures of sexualised woman clothed in American flags and in possession of firearms in sexually-provoking positions.
  •  Voice-Over by Michael Moore giving a run-down on the background story of the men who committed the Columbine High School massacre. Gives the audience a brief insight into their lives prior to the drastic event.
  • Document of the ‘Anarchist Codebook’, a book about the making and constructing of all kinds of bombs.
  • Interview with Terry Nichols, “there are wackos out there!
  • Sub-text, ‘Nichols has cocked the gun and put it up to his head‘ as Nichols showed Moore that he does in fact keep a handgun under his bed at all times.
  • Voice-Over – Utah : every resident MUST have a gun, it is against the law for them to not be in possession of at least one firearm.
  • American Cultural Identity is significantly comprised of the valuing of firearms and gun control.
  • Archival Footage of half-naked women firing guns, sexualising the object as if men are attracted to women in the possession of one.
  • Montage of Archival Footage showing graphical violence revolving around guns and murder.
  • This is a great place to raise your children, a really great place with good people” – A housewife in Michigan. This is an example of juxtapositioning as there was a brief sequence of pain and loss, followed by an interview with a reasonably stereotypical housewife.
  • The inclusion of optimistic and trendy music as americans promote that Michigan is “the perfect location“. Moore has utilised the music in such a way that it appears to the audience as contradictory to what they had said during this sequence, thus making it rather humorous.
  • Second Montage of Archival Footage including Sub-text, ‘1954 – U.S. overthrows democratically-elected President Arbenz of Guatemala’, ‘200,000 citizens killed’.
  • This is accompanied with the juxtapositioning song ‘What A Wonderful World’ again for the same purpose, to entirely oppose all that americans had said defending their use of bombs and guns. ‘1980’s : U.S. trains Osama bin Laden and fellow terrorists to kill Soviets’. ‘CIA gave them $3 billion dollars’. An example of bribery in American history.
  • Michael Moore is arguably stating through this documentary, ‘I’ve had enough of these guns, we need to do something about this. We need to wake up and see the damage that is being dealt through the normality of gun possession’.
  • He uses a lot of TV commercial conventions to contradict the American culture.
  • Montage with emotive music and empty hallways of the school, unfolding what has happened in the Columbine High School massacre. Archival Footage of the shooting as all students panic underneath the canteen desks.
  • Actuality of the parents’ and other peoples’ reactions to the massacre, this is still accompanied by emotive music. “And they shot the black kid because he was black” an emotional girl said that survived the incident.
  • Archival Footage of an interview with a student attending Columbine High School, “The principle’s a dick”. Reflects upon Michael Moore’s Voice-over comment that “it sucks being a teenager, and it sucks going to school”.
  • Archival Footage of a person demonstrating how many guns he can keep underneath his free dress uniform. In total there were about 12 different kinds of guns including a full-sized rifle from his pants.
  • Marilyn Manson was believed to be a significant influence on the kids who went on to commit massacres such as that of the Columbine High School incident. “I represent what everyone’s afraid of and because I do and say whatever I want” – Marilyn Manson interview
  • Bowling class is an elective offered at the Columbine High School which evidently offered now educational services other than a teenager interviewed could say, “I learnt how to ball a lot better, that’s for sure!”
  • 11,127 people in America are killed from guns in one year, this is demonstrated through statistics, archival footage and a montage which compares this death toll from guns. Japan : 37, Australia : 65. This unveils how truly different America is in comparison to every other country in the world, and not for better, but for worse.
  • Animation, kid’s style similar to that of the South Park style. Michael Moore’s oversimplifying of historical truths through the use of humour.
  • Archival Footage – Montage, from television reports. Pointing to popular culture to reinforce his point of view that popular culture, television and the government are instilling fear into the American population such as the ‘Killer Bees’ otherwise known as ‘Africanised Bees’. Thus may be seen as encouraging them into purchasing more guns for their own protection.
  • Emotive Issue – Children being manipulated, disenfranchised and victims of violence. Children represent innocence. None of them have a voice at this point in the documentary.
  • Montage of Archival Footage reporting of crimes committed by a ‘black guy’, ‘black man’ in an overly repetitive sequence to show how the American culture pin crimes and assume African Americans as being criminals because of racial bias.
  • European Bee vs the Africanised Bee, stating that the viciousness is far greater in the Africanised Bee and that the European Bee is good and far more normal and acceptable by society.
  • “Maybe because we demonise black and hispanic people in the media” – Michael Moore
  • Michael Moore is seeking out the entertainment and media industry, talking to the producers of the hit series ‘Cops’ which just shows the chasing down of criminals.
  • Montage of Interviews with different Canadians concerning their feelings towards Americans and the American lifestyle.
  • Interview with divergent people at a restaurant, and a woman stated that she “never” locks her doors at night and that she “isn’t afraid of anything”. The woman also stated that everybody (Americans) reacts over there “just like that! It’s just different over here.”
  • Montage of Michael Moore going around a neighbourhood in Canada, testing if they all generally keep the doors of their house unlocked, and a lot of the houses shown were not locked.
  • Archival Footage with Subtext, revealing the dialogue of a teacher calling 991 panicking over a shot child. The little girl that was killed by a little boy (only a 1st grader) who brought a gun from his uncle’s house, whilst his mother was being evicted.
  • Voice-over, “80% of students living officially under the poverty line”.
  • After September 11, gun sales rose 70%, as did ammunition sales rise by approximately 140%.
  • Subtext stating that two students from the Columbine High School massacre; that are now disabled, had to wait “an hour later” before attended to by the woman they requested to see.
  • Voice-over of Moore, “I walked back into the real world, in America where people are living and breathing in fear”. Shown with Archival Footage of Americans hurriedly rushing through the streets.
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