Quidnunc (kneeshooter) wrote,

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Cynics 'r us

I've just seen Bowling for Columbine. One of the people I went with has just described it as "awesome - best film of the year so far", but as you might have guessed from the title of this post I wasn't blown away...

I won't dispute that it was a good film, and caused an envigorating debate between in the car (Rob, Cam, Dan, Mark and me) about America (Is it Revolting Cocks - Beer's Steers and Queers I'm reminded of?), the position of the UK and Michael Moore's style. The latter point is what I'm most taken by, which of course deflects from the message of the film to start with.

There is no question that Michael Moore is a talented communicator. The film was both funny, scary, confrontational, people-oriented and thought-provoking. However, a couple of things stick in my mind.

Firstly he made a big fuss about media coverage "If it bleeds it leads" - and how the media behaves like "ambulance chasers" but basically the whole premise of the film is (inspired by) Moore as an ambulance chaser. He stopped, he looked, he sniffed the story, he made the film. This of course isn't a bad thing, but there are a couple of sequences where he goes for the media covering the death of a 6 year old in Buell. We see the anchorman all sombre and formal on the screen then when the camera stops making banal comments on hairspray. Then later on we see Moore place a photo of the dead girl in Charlton Heston's house then walk past the camera - and you can imagine a tear in his eye. But what happened then? It could just as easily have been the news anchorman - when the tapes rolling its one face, when the camera stops maybe he has a different one. It was a bit like Natural Born Killers in places - satirising the media in a off-beat way but maybe to the stage where it was self-defeating.

As a personality Moore worked best dealing with people. Lengthy off-screen documentary content - where he communicated through subtitle didn't work as well as the 1:1 interviews. And these themselves were beautiful examples of film-making. You look back over the K-Mart scene and you can tell from the relatively sympathetic editing that they got a success at the end. Very smooth.

While I agree with a lot of the messages it reminded me that there is always bias. Everyone has a point of view. Everyone has a message. It starts to grate when there is too much spin, or a denial of spin. These aren't fact as fact, they're fact as entertainment, and fact as opinion. Its just something that is dangerous to forget.


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