23 November, 2002: They ran so fast they forgot to take their culture

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I went to see Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine, which was excellent: amusing and shocking by turns. I didn't even find the dénouement, doorstepping Charlton Heston, particularly offensive, as others did: sure, it was cringe-worthy, and it's clear that Heston isn't quite with it (the camera lingers on his hand, reaching out to steady himself on a doorframe as he leaves the room; very sad). But this is a man who keeps numerous loaded guns in his heavily-guarded Los Angeles home; a man who sees nothing wrong with holding NRA gun rallies immediately after school shootings. The man needs the piss taken out of him, frankly, even if he is dying of Alzheimer's.

The central question of the film -- why are there 11,000 firearm-related deaths per annum in the United States, and nothing like that number in other rich countries even where there is extensive gun ownership, as in Canada? -- is fascinating. I wish I knew the answer.

It's odd that Moore's film works so well, since his book is a pretty poor effort: not very well researched, and a rather thin and ill-thought out rant all over (the web site isn't any good either -- ``text goes here''?) In particular his opinions on foreign affairs are pretty puerile, and he doesn't really offer any coherent-sounding solutions.

Moore doesn't come across as a very intellectually honest person. An example from his film: he visits the Lockheed-Martin factory in Littleton, Colorado, and links the fact that a weapons manufacturer operates in Littleton with the fact that a school shooting occured there at Columbine High School. There is much footage of rockets being assembled, and of excellent workplace banners (``Our goal is to be 100% foreign object free.'') OK, fair enough; but Moore implies again and again that this is a missile factory. It isn't. It makes space launchers. That's sloppy, and doesn't do much for his rather flimsy argument that indiscriminate US military intervention overseas makes the US population more disposed to shoot one another. (Though he does get some choice quotes from the Lockheed-Martin PR drone.)

Copyright (c) 2002 Chris Lightfoot; available under a Creative Commons License.