Bowling for Columbine question

I REALLY don’t want to open up a can of worms here, but I’m looking for an at least somewhat unbiased analysis of the alleged mistruths in “Bowling for Columbine.” If anybody knows of such a source available on the Internet, could you post it?

Here’s one take on it. I thought it pretty good. Read it and judge for yourself.

Sorry, DaddyTimesTwo, but your link is to exactly the kind of site the OP is not asking for. Just the first two paragraphs are nausea inducing.

Two places to start:

“The Truth About Bowling for Columbine: Documentary or Fiction?” by David T. Hardy. Very partisan, but is a representative example of the criticisms folks have leveled against the movie.


“A defense of Michael Moore and Bowling for Columbine”. An open letter to David Hardy by Erik Möller. A dissection of “The Truth About…”, refuting Hardy’s thesis with points from the movie itself.
Let’s get one thing off the table, though: a documentary is not required to present a nonpartisan view of an issue. While that is a notion supported by most dictionaries, most documentaries – whether on television or a theater – will take a strong stand for one aspect of the subject. Otherwise the documentary would be boring as hell. :slight_smile:

A documentary is supposed to represent facts. Moore doesn’t do that. He sets up senarios and has people act them out. He mis-represents statistical information. We are fighting ignorance and he is encouraging it. As far as I am concerned he has lost all journalistic credibility that he may have had.

Heck, just by deciding to make a documentary you’re expressing your opinion that the topic is worthy of attention and trying to encourage others to agree that it is interesting. Just by choosing to film beneath the waves Cousteau was expressing the point of view that the undersea world was worth noticing.

A hypothetical (and, I think, impossible in reality) perfectly balanced documentary about gun violence in America that devoted precisely equal time to all sides of the issue would still be expressing the point of view that the issue of gun violence in America is important. An extremely fair-handed treatment of the subject could still anger people who held the opinion that there was nothing unusual or troubling about the amount of gun violence in America. Even if our imaginary documentary included someone saying “I don’t think there’s anything unusual or troubling about the amount of gun violence in America”, the fact that the documentary focused on that subject instead of some other one suggests otherwise.

What is your basis for saying this?

Every Moore documentary I’ve seen represents facts. If you have evidence that he is communicating falsehoods, I’d like to see it.

Further, as others have said, there is no requirement for a documentary for a documentary to be neutrally presented. I’ve seen a million wildlife documentaries that personify animals, for instance.

Your post reflects your own biases, and has no basis in the real world of film-making.

Also, he’s never claimed to be a journalist, he calls himself a film maker.

No. He is making a film that is supposed to represent facts. Bias aside, read some of the links that have been provided. When you rearrange speeches and mix timelines to suit your purposes and then pass it off as fact you are a liar. Not a “filmmaker.”

I did. Right wing crap. Delusional. There are no arguments of any substance there. Read Erik Möller’s defense, and I challenge you to maintain your criticism of the film.

No, you’re an editor. Not every film needs to look Andy Warhol’s Empire. Most don’t.

I don’t see how you’re going to find something “unbiased” about this unless by “unbiased” you mean “agrees with Moore’s film”. You’re going to find articles that find fault, and thus are biased against it, or else articles that don’t, and thus are biased toward it.

In one segment during Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore finds a bank that’s giving away a free rifle to everyone who opens a bank account there.

In the movie, Moore is shown opening an account and being handed a rifle right there in the bank.

In reality, this particular bank was giving each person who opened an account a certificate good for a free rifle at a nearby gun store. Those who presented their certificates at the gun store were required to fill out the same Background Check forms and undergo the same waiting period as anybody who bought the same rifle with their own money.

In other words, Moore staged the scene in the bank.

For the record, since it was my OP, I really do enjoy Moore’s films and want to agree with his point of view. But I also find it disturbing the way he has apparently distorted truths to fit his agenda, and I do think that undercuts his credibility.

I have spoken in real life to Moore fans about this, and they always seem to say the same thing: (1) “Moore doesn’t call himself a journalist” – so? that’s just semantics; (2) “all documentaries have agendas and are biased” – true, but that also means all documentaries are subject to criticism and critical analysis; and (3) “these so-called distortions are really just right-wing attacks” – they might be motivated by that, but attacking the critic for his ideological bent is a logical fallacy.

Moore also, if I remember correctly, stated that the USA paid Osama bin Laden and family millions of dollars, making it seem like we supported terrorism. In reality, it was humanitarian aid.

Also, not so much a fact as in something to point out, in the scene where Moore confronts that guy, many believe it could of never happened with the two camera angles used, one would get in front of the other.

This accusation of staging the bank scene has come up before and is apparently false. The Wall Street Journal reported that bank customers had to pick up their guns at a gun store, but this policy applied only to customers that couldn’t come to the bank to get them! Hentor the Barbarian provided some good info in this post in a very lengthy Pit thread, and Equipoise transcribed here some relevant scenes that were cut from the theatrical release of Bowling for Columbine but that appear on the DVD.

The bank in question was, as the clerk said in the movie, a licenced gun dealer. They required the same forms and performed the same background check as any other gun dealer, and this was shown in the theatrical release of Bowling for Columbine. There doesn’t seem to be any legal reason why the bank couldn’t have handed out guns just as it’s shown doing.

Given how vocal Moore’s critics have been with their charges of dishonesty, I used to think they might be onto something. Maybe the man really had committed some serious deceptions in the course of making Bowling for Columbine. A brief web search would turn up plenty of seemingly damning information. But after looking in more depth, I had to conclude that Moore is actually more honest than I’d have assumed if I’d just watched the movie without ever being exposed to outside comment on it. On my own I might have wondered “Could this bank scene have been at least partially staged?” Turns out it was so far from being staged that any argument that it was requires both leaving out key facts and relying on inaccurate or misrepresented information.

I can’t help but think that if Moore really were a dishonest guy people wouldn’t have to resort to such dishonesty in order to prove it. Not that I think all Moore’s critics are themselves dishonest, but all seem to base their cases at least in part on evidence that was (probably unbeknownst to them) twisted or outright manufactured by dishonest people.

I don’t need to check any facts to know that Moore is yanking the public’s chain. In the beginning of Bowling For Columbine, he claims that poverty cannot be blamed for America’s crime rate because Canada, right across the border, has a much higher unemployment rate (implying that there is much higher poverty.) In the end of the movie he depicts Canada as a socialist nirvana, with free health care for all and no slums or homeless people (that is, no poverty). I can’t believe that he’s so stupid he didn’t identify this incongruity; therefore, he thinks we’re too stupid to identify it.

Yeah, he doesn’t show any of the Canadian government infomercials telling people if they have just a cold to NOT go to the doctor and just get rest or talk about the higher tax rate they have. There’s trade-offs in every system.

I tried to watch BFC, but it just wandered around too much for me, going off on tangents and subtangents. It might have been more intersting if he could have kept the film going in one direction and doing a better job of tying everything back in to that basis.