Bowling For Columbine

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Another Oscar winning documentary today, a very important one, but one that might be very contentious. Michael Moore’s “Bowling For Columbine” is brilliantly made and is eye-opening. But it’s also almost incomprehensible to me as someone from the UK (despite our colonial past).

It documents, and ties together, the US obsession with guns, crime, military might abroad, media fear-mongering, media manipulation and race relations. It uses the notorious Columbine school massacre as a stepping-off point. Caution – it does contain some very highly disturbing footage.

Michael Moore grew up with guns and was a member of the NRA. In this amazing documentary he tries to understand America’s obsession with firearms, weapons of mass destruction, fear of the foreign, fear of crime, fear of the black man and the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

When I did my law degree my Criminology course did a whole week on the argument that “Fear of crime is worse for society than crime itself”. And, of course, it is – indisputably. Those in power like you to be scared (unless there’s a virus that will actually kill you or your kids and then they want you to go straight back to work and school – because, you know, the economy).

It’s an amazing document of a subsection of America. I’ve met loads of lovely Americans who’ve never felt the need to own a gun. And I’ve met some who couldn’t wait to show me their guns. They’d say “You’re from the UK? You don’t have guns? Let me show you mine.” And before I knew it, because I’m polite, I’d have a gun in my hand (thankfully always unloaded). Guns are scary to me. They kill people – often their owners.

In addition to the Oscar the documentary also won at the Cannes Film Festival, it won a César Award, and was voted one of the greatest documentaries of all time in a Channel 4 poll.

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