Bowling for Columbine An Essay We live in an age when real life events sometimes serve as the best reminder

of the capability of human destructiveness. Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine is an eye opener that forces us to take a deeper look at the human race and ourselves through the American nation. The movie focuses on American society but gets us all, universally, to ponder on imponderable questions, seek explanations for the inexplicable and gradually make us come to accept that the world we live in is even weirder and the problems are more problematic than we suspected. The themes of the contemplation of a gun culture, violent crime, fear, racism and media madness seems to be the heart and soul of the Unites States of America and is also the heart and soul of the movie. Whilst Bowling for Columbine is an American movie dealing with American cases and facts, the major themes also easily relate to South Africa. Bowling for Columbine is a journey through the American past, attempting to understand why the American pursuit of happiness is so riddled with violence. One could easily make a similar statement about South Africa; the happiness that post apartheid South Africa was to enjoy is also riddled with violence. According to Suzanne Pardington, “in this country the murder and armed robbery rates have increased by more than 50% in the past decade,” once could easily question then, is that the happiness associated with the democratic process. The values that we hold as a society or humanity have some starting point for children the home, family and schools are often the foremost institutions that are responsible for the inculcating of good morals and values into children. Further the seeds of good values should come from those that lead us, that is our parents, teachers, and our government. However, the irony seems to lie in the fact that it is exactly these institutions that are responsible for the moral degeneration of society. Is it a coincidence or somehow relevant that the Columbine massacre occurred on 20th April 1999, the day of heaviest US bombing in Kosovo. One could easily ask what then is the difference between, the President instructing the killing of innocent lives in another country, and two young boys killing fellow pupils and a teacher in their school. Violence is a characteristic that seems to reside in the minds of all individuals and Americans seem to display it at best. Further is it too much of a coincidence maybe when a father constructs missiles everyday, his offspring may conclude it okay to shoot people. It stands clear to reason that ills of society stems from those whom we look up to. The institutions that are supposed to be responsible for the teaching, development, growth, and offer a safe haven for our children are also the very institutions that prove to be most dangerous for them. Michael Moore clearly illustrates this point in the movie, this is further highlighted by a recent article published by the SABC that states, “a recent

survey has revealed more than a 1000 children are shot and killed in South Africa each year, most of them whilst at school.” “It is only fear that we have to fear,” then one could easily ask the question why do Americans need to live in a society where all individuals need to own guns. On this issue Moore makes a bold comparison between Americans and Canadians, whilst the ratio of gun ownership between Americans and the Canadians are comparable, the rate of gun related killing in Canada is far less. This leads to a strong hint, in the movie, at an inference between racial tension and killing. Suzanne Pardington makes a similar point in her article on the South African situation where she states, “white South Africans have a history of arming themselves for protection.” The need to feel protected is felt by all human beings and not only white people, however the world tends to think of it as only white people’s need, to the extent that black people should not be protected and not own guns. According to Suzanne Pardington, “until 1993, black people were prohibited from owning guns, but white people could easily obtain licenses for nearly any type of weapon.” The need for safety, protection and reassurance seems to come best from gun ownership, “if you’re not armed, you’re not responsible.” This point can be looked at from an individual and broader society or country point of view. As individuals we need to own guns to protect ourselves from each other and as nations we also need to own guns to protect ourselves from other nations. Much of this ownership can also be linked to a power issue, those individuals that posses guns are the powerful individuals and those nations that possess the most guns are most powerful nations. A classic syndrome for the case of the United States wanting to be the most powerful nation in the world. Yet we so easily forget, it is exactly those tools that give us the power and status that makes us vulnerable and open to danger. As stated in the Bhagvath Geeta or Hindu scriptures, ”in the period of kalyug, it is those things that humankind makes to protect them, that would also be responsible for destroying them.” All that one sees and hears should not always influence the mind, but rather we should be opened minded about these issues. In his presentation of Bowling for Columbine Michael Moore is brilliant as a moviemaker and touches on many emotional themes. That is issues that touch the heart of people the world over. However, the issues he covers as an investigative journalist can so easily be portrayed in a manner that he perceives them, and sometimes film making also hides the reality. As the audience we should not allow the use of propaganda to cloud our judgment as humans, but allow our minds to be opened and make our own judgment. If it’s not the guns, or video games, or violent TV shows, bad parenting or even Marilyn Manson music, what then is the cause of the high killing rate in the USA. Whilst the rate

of shooting is at an unreasonable rate, Moore cannot single out a villain to blame for this fact, however he allows for us the viewers to open our minds, question and then decide. Bibliography Pardington, Suzanne: A night in Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital: Ground for zero gun violence. SABC: Gun violence against children in the spotlight.

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