Bowling For Columbine: A Fictional Truth

Michael Moore produced, wrote, and directed the documentary Bowling for Columbine. Its purpose is to make people aware of the gun control issue. The documentary centers on the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, in which two ex-students killed 16 people with cold blood and injured another 21. The movie looks at gun laws in America and the absence of gun legislation. Bowling for Columbine displays a critical, anti-political and persuasive viewpoint that ‘lies for the truth’ in order to raise awareness of this issue.

As is the case with many films that deal with sensitive topics, there are a number of views about this documentary. The views are mainly based on the amount of truth in the documentary. The film uses persuasive methods to encourage the audience, who are familiar with these issues in America, to accept what they present as ‘truth.’ In Bowling For Columbine, the film investigates exaggerated images of Americans and the gun control laws. Moore uses juxtaposition and witty remarks to his advantage to make the film’s theme of people killing each other seem less serious.

Moore starts his bias right from the beginning. Moore begins the movie at a branch of a financial institution, which gives him a handgun upon opening an account. He asks a series of questions mocking the bank employees. For example, “Don’t You Think It’s A Little Dangerous Handing Out Guns At A Bank?”. The employees are not allowed to reply. Moore uses these techniques to mock the employees, and to deceive viewers in order to achieve his goal of incompetently demonstrating the ‘truth.’ Moore also uses music and songs to evoke emotion in his viewers. In the montage ‘What a Wonderful World”, the iconic Louis Armstrong song plays over photos and videos that show America’s previous decisions relating violence and war. The song is a mockery of the American government. It implies that our world, despite its beauty, is actually a world full of violence and death. The videos showing people being shot, dying and carrying American-made weapons give the impression of a government that is mismanaged. This is done to divert the attention of his audience from the political leaders and towards his own views.

Moore uses different techniques to reinforce that gun-control is a major problem. The 911 emergency calls are played over the slow-motion video of the Columbine High corridors. The scene was deliberately crafted to give the impression that the viewer is a Columbine High student. They feel sorrow and grief over the victims of the shooting. The video switches to CCTV footage of the cafeteria the day before the shooting. It shows shots being fired, explosions, panicked students hiding underithe tables, and fires beginning. This scene is crucial in that it makes the audience feel frightened, angry and distraught. It reinforces the argument for gun control.

The film continues with a clip featuring ex NRA leader Charlton Heston screaming “from me cold dead hand” while holding a firearm in front a large crowd. Moore narrates the clip explaining that despite protests from the grieving locals, the NRA still held a pro gun demonstration in Denver just 10 days after the shooting. Charlton Heston’s five words were not shouted on this occasion. They were uttered a full year later in another event. The “NRA Meeting after the Flint Shootings” took place over a half-year after. In order to change the audience’s perception, the filmmaker portrays Hestonias as a bad guy by using illusions to create a false reality.

The following scene shows the film maker visiting Charlton Heston to conduct an interview. Moore poses as an enthusiastic “lifetime NRA member” to get into the interview. He then criticizes Heston without warning. Heston doesn’t always answer Moore’s question during the interview. Moore took advantage of this by adding relentless remarks to Heston’s opinions. Moore has been labelled a coward by some for using Charlton’s Alzheimer’siDisease to his advantage. Heston leaves Moore after the interview ends. This misunderstanding of real-life is used to illustrate the negative NRA point of view. He integrates it in the final act, leaving the audience with a reflection.

The film Bowling For Columbine has a global audience. Moore’s goal was to educate people who did not know the reasons for gun violence in America. The director used a variety of techniques to gain the trust and attention of his audience. The purpose is to confuse and keep the audience’s attention. The movie, which is an hour and fifty seven minutes long, is a combination of explosive and shocking newsflashes, bizarre circumstances, frustrated interviewees and sardonic turns. It is a documentary for millennials to raise awareness about the state of gun ownership and control in the United States. Moore also uses prejudicial and analytical techniques to convince the audience that his viewpoint is better than the NRA or Charlton Heston. Moore was ridiculed because he edited the film for his purpose, which wasn’t the documentary genre. However, it still supported his point of view and raised awareness of this serious issue.

Moore marginalises according to his goal. Moore is not giving pro-gun lovers enough time to share their views. Moore mocks people in his voiceovers and edits the answers to his queries to make sure they do not impact on his desired state of mind. The issues he raises are important, even if his methods are disputed. He shows a lot of anti-gun opinions, but still lets viewers form their own opinions. He asks rhetorical question to make the audience reflect on what they are seeing.

Does Moore accurately represent American society? Does Moore’s film portray American society accurately? Is he entitled to criticism for his filming techniques? Bowling for Columbine may be a well-organized documentary, which raises important issues within a politically controlled culture. It lets the viewer reflect on their experience, something many modern-day documentaries do not.


  • marthareynolds

    I'm Martha, a 27-year-old blogger, volunteer, and student. I'm a graduate of the University of Utah, where I studied communications and political science. I'm passionate about education and volunteer work, and I love spending time with my family and friends.

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