Nov 11, 2002
"Bowling for Columbine" is a documentary by Michael Moore, whose previous movie, "Roger and Me" looked at what General Motors did to Flint, Michigan. This new film starts from the massacre at Columbine High School to look at the broader issue of violence in the society.
Worth the price of admission is an animated clip about U.S. history, showing the violence against the Indians and the history of racism in this country, where violence was used to subjugate black people.
The cartoon – quite hilarious – and the movie do a good job of pointing out how racist this society is. But it doesn't examine why it is. The movie shows, for example, how racist and hysterical fears have been whipped up time and again in the population. But it doesn't examine how deliberately the capitalists have done this – to divert attention from working people's fundamental problem – them.
Another thing the film does well is show the many different ways U.S. society is violent and how tax dollars fund violence.
Starting from Columbine High School located in Littleton, Colorado, the film then jumps to missile manufacturer Lockheed Martin, which is also located in Littleton. A corporate spokesperson in the film says their missiles exist for "self-defense" only.
That this is a lie is exposed by film clips spanning decades, showing U.S. troops invading other countries to impose "regime changes." Footage of innocent civilian casualties piles up on the screen. These U.S. invasions are shown to be awful massacres, just as Columbine was. The movie makes a strong point that the very day of Columbine the U.S. carried out its biggest bombing in Kosovo.
The movie shows that Canada has more guns in relation to the population than the U.S. does, but the murder rate is much, much lower than in the U.S. It shows it's the extreme poverty of the U.S., the historic use of violence to hold black people down and the state's use of violence around the world that explains all the gun killings in the U.S., not the guns themselves.
It looks at Michigan's welfare to work program which put a single mother from the Flint area on 90 minute daily bus rides to work two jobs at a mall in wealthy Oakland County. Still she could not make enough to prevent her family's eviction. When the woman's 6-year-old went to stay with her brother after the eviction, the boy found his uncle's loaded gun, brought it to school and accidentally killed a 6-year-old classmate.
The film interviews the white prosecutor who received angry mail for refusing to try the 6-year-old black child as an adult. The white sheriff, on camera, puts blame squarely on the welfare-to- work-program that took a decent parent out of the home.
The film holds up a mirror to our daily lives here in the U.S. and dares us to look long and hard and ask: "Why?"Seeing the film may also spur some to seek out solutions to the problems raised, and a solution does exist. Because the working class, when it is organized and fighting, has the possibility to take power away from the capitalist class – the parasites who profit from the violence and racism that the movie exposes.