Tuesday, January 13, 2004

return to the land of bowling for columbine

Finally got around to watching Bowling For Columbine today. I enjoyed it for the way it took on the insanity of guns in the US. Sure, odd bits seemed forced or took jumps of logic, but overall I agreed with Moore's barbs at his country.

Having grown up surrounded by the Detroit media, all we ever heard on the news was the latest shooting of the day, the coverage of which grew more sensationalistic over the years. Whenever I head home, I catch a local newcast just to see how much further down the toilet its gone. It never fails to meet the lowest expectations, as shown in the film by the behaviour of the reporter when the cameras weren't rolling (here he is covering the shooting of a child, and he's worried about his hair. Looks triumph over substance again).

Lots of the local groups and events covered in the film were the butt of jokes while growing up...Gibraltar Trade Centre gun shows (advertised enthusiastically on billboards and TV), the Michigan Militia, the grimness of Flint, etc. Once my dad and I went for a drive around Decker (where the James Nichols segment was filmed - I was waiting for him to say something in his pop-eyed manner about the Reds or little green men) to see what the place looked like. All Dad could say was "yup, this looks like Michigan Militia territory!"

The hardest part to get through was the Chuck Heston interview at the end. Now knowing that he has Alzheimer's made it even more painful to watch, as you could not be sure if his answers were muddled because of the disease or because he didn't want to answer the questions about showing up after the tragedies in Littleton and Flint (I suspect both). It felt like catching up to an ancient war criminal who's dying and will never quite pay fof their actions.

I'd seen portions of the film when Moore spoke at U of T a couple of years ago, while it was still in post-production (though my main memory of the night was the ruckus caused by folks in the nosebleed seats of Convocation Hall, who were angry not everyone could get in due to fire regulations. This pissed off most of the audience, who told them to shut off. Moore led a few rounds of "O Canada" to calm everyone down). Was impressed then and knew I wanted to see the finished product. It turned into one of those movies I keep meaning to see but either forget about or discover the video store is out of copies. Friends were astonished I hadn't seen it, especially with portions filmed in my old stomping grounds.

One lingering thought - I will feel odd the next time the family decides to go up to Great Lakes Crossing, the mall in Auburn Hills the welfare workers took the bus to. I'll wonder which employees came in on the bus and who's sitting behind at home.

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