Last night I saw an incredibly good, thought-provoking movie, Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine. It’s a documentary that starts off exploring America’s gun culture, questioning how an American society that watches the same violent movies as the rest of the world, plays the same violent games that mostly come from Japan , has a violent history like Britain, Germany, and others, and owns similar proportions of guns as a country like Canada, can have ridiculously higher gun murder rates than these other nations (11,000 in America compared to a few hundred or less in the other countries). Ultimately, the difference seems to stem from America’s culture of fear. An interesting statistic from the movie: violence has decreased over the last few years, but media coverage of violence has increased 600%. Americans are afraid of their neighbors, afraid of fictional hordes of criminals that will come to the suburbs to do harm, afraid that terrorists will kill us all, etc, etc, etc.
The idea of a culture-wide obsession with fear is fascinating, and yet it’s so ingrained that I’ve never even thought to question it or even notice it. For a long time, one of my biggest reasons in favor of going to war with Iraq was, “what if they have nuclear/biological weapons and use them on us?” How much of that is paranoia fueled by culture and how much of it is reality? I’m not really in a position to answer that, nor am I ready to make a definitive pro or anti war statement, but it’s something to think about. War should be a last resort, right? How sure am I that we’re at the end of other possibilities?
I’m not sure I completely agree with everything Moore proposes, but there are some amazingly good points and ideas contained in his film that should not be overlooked. Also, there’s a great diversity of material in the movie and just because you don’t agree with some stuff doesn’t mean that the rest must be disposed of…there’s valuable things to consider, and since when did consideration of an idea become equated with wholehearted acceptance of an idea? Thinking about stuff is good.
Anyway, I hope this all makes sense, because it’s been on my mind ever since I left the theater. Hopefully some other people will go check this out because it’s quite amazing. Oh yeah, it’s funny as heck too. At least some of it…some of it’s really sad.