So I finally saw BFC tonight. I know, it’s kind late to the party but I got it cheap.
Though I don’t really like Michael Moore I wanted to see this flick so I could see what all the fuss was about.
One comment immediately comes to mind.
What was with the approx 30 minute long segway about how us white guys are afraid of black guys? There was even a sweet cartoon made just for the purpose of showing shaky white guys terrified of the tender, docile black guys. He even went on a shtick about the lopsidedness of Cops, news and other media outlets and how they demonize black folks. Whether the points he was making are true or not, the whole segment seemed like it was made for another documentary and spliced into this one. He also seems to have alot of white guilt.
The entire movie seemed to be built around how evil the USA is and how whities make it so evil.
My take on the movie is that Moore is arguing that much of the violence in America is due to the culture of fear which has been cultivated here; the segments you mention are meant to illustrate the way in which the media and overall popular culture have created and marketed a number of “menaces” (killer bees, for instance), and that the still-common fear of “dangerous” black men on the part of whites is another such marketed creation.
He also makes it a point to show that gun ownership is not necessarily to blame for American violence, by comparing and contrasting with the lack of violence in Canada despite their relatively high gun ownership. This is at odds with the relatively common belief that American violence is due to our gun ownership, or our history of revolution, etc.
So, first he shows some of the violence that America is known for, asks “why?,” then he shows a bit of evidence that gun ownership does not necessarily mean a violent society, and argues that a media-marketed culture of fear is a likely candidate to answer that question of why. Sure, it’s a bit plausible, so you watch for Moore to draw his conclusions at the end of the film…
Except he then tosses his premises and argument completely out of the window, picks up the “guns are to blame!” theme right after apparently arguing that they’re NOT to blame, and chews out Charlton Heston with a grandiose (and IMO fallacious) appeal to emotion.
So… yeah, odd movie. I wasn’t too thrilled with his logic, or lack thereof. And the Heston bit really leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
I honestly thought Bowling for Columbine was a really interesting, clever and thoughtful film. And then Michael Moore did the Heston thing at the end - harassing an old man afflicted with dementia over some shooting which Heston had absolutely jackshit to do with, and which the issue of gun rights for law-abiding citizens has absolutely jackshit to do with - badgering this old man inside his own home, after he graciously took the time to grant Moore the interview - made me absolutely sick.
Michael Moore is an absolutely craven and disgusting man, a skilled propagandist but a horribly misguided and egotistical jerk. He also looks like he’s about one hamburger away from the heart surgeon’s operating table - if he’s really concerned with helping America, maybe he should project a better image than his lard-ass self and encourage people to live healthier lives, because way, way more people die every year from heart disease and diabetes brought on by OBESITY than they do from gunshots.
I went and looked at a couple of those websites that pick his movie apart and apparently he did some VERY misleading editing of Hestons speech at the NRA conference in Devner. Apparently what we heard was not anywhere near what Heston actually said and it was a stitch together of a bunch of other speeches along with rearranging of his speech from that day. I’m surprised that he was able to get away with that.
First of all, Michael Moore has been trying to lose weight. He’s no more to be blamed for this than any of the dozens of other celebrities who constantly are derided in snide media stories about their weight. Blaming a political commentator for their weight is one of the useless side comments that people who already disagree with them throw in as if it makes their political beliefs even worse. Michael Moore and Rush Limbaugh and whoever else may or may not have absurd political opinions, but their weight has nothing to do with it.
Moore’s movies and TV shows have always been very mixed in their quality. He will make some very astute political comments, and then he’ll throw in some ridiculous, unfair nonsense because he feels he has to keep people laughing. In some sense, he’s stuck in a dilemma. If he kept strictly to honest, balanced reporting, he could make his points better, but he’d lose much of his audience. They want to be entertained. Unfortunately, that means that he has to include humorous nonsense that is irrelevant to his point and unfair to the subjects he reports on. This means he can then be attacked as dishonest in his commentary.
Michael Moore didn’t break into a nursing home to randomly harrass a sick old man. He interviewed the man who was president and spokesman for the National Rifle Association at the time of the Columbine shooting and was still holding both those positions at the time of the interview. His condition was not made public until after the first screening of the film, and he did not step down as NRA president until the following year.
As TWDuke points out, no one knew that Heston suffered from dementia when Moore interviewed him (and, if you watch, Heston seems to be mentally alert). It was not taking advantage of a sick man, but rather asking some hard questions of the head of the NRA.
The issue at the end of the interview was not a plea for gun control, but a plea for common decency. If a young girl is killed shouldn’t the NRA be saying, “this is a terrible tragedy. While we don’t believe in gun control, our organization will work its hardest to prevent things like this from happening”? But whenever there is a shooting, the NRA is not interested in working to prevent other tragedies – even if things could be done that don’t involve gun control.
I’ve always felt that Moore asked more questions than he answered in this film, which is what made it a mostly good experience.
While the Heston segment at the end was awkward, I didn’t feel it was completely out of place or out of bounds. Heston was the head of the NRA. Despite the other factors potentially to blame for gun violence that Moore pointed out in the movie, the NRA can reasonably be taken to task for some of its positions.
What made it awkward was that Moore directed his individual frustrations with the issue toward Heston personally.
This is interesting. The OP may or may not be a part of it, but this isn’t the first time recently I’ve seen someone bring up Bowling For Colombine (and the bogus Heston “harassment”) as a lead-in to bash Moore and try and discredit him (again). Now I wonder, and I can’t help but wonder, if it’s meant to discredit Sicko, which, even though it’s a couple of years old, is timely now more than ever, or if it’s an advance effort to try and discredit his upcoming movie, Capitalism: A Love Story. Maybe a little of both. Or neither. But is sure is interesting.
While it’s certainly possible to pick nits with various things in his movies, the man himself has been villified by the right-wing since day one. The right wing are usually very good at this sort of thing. Read The Republican Noise Machine by former insider David Brock, who was responsible for helping to villify Anita Hill and Hillary Clinton, before coming to his senses and saying “WHAT AM I DOING???” (which he documents in his book Blinded By The Right) and then developing an conscience and founding Media Matters For America, which helps keep track of right-wing media shenanigans. To date, the Noise Machine’s biggest successes were to make people believe two smart, thoughtful, politically and personally clean (as in no scandals or dodginess), decent and highly-qualified presidential candidates, Al Gore and John Kerry, were clueless, lying, mentally unstable buffoons, in favor of…jeez, George W. Bush.
So, they’re very good at what they do (though what they do, which is now commonly called “Swiftboating,” hasn’t worked on President Obama yet and they’re all mystified by that), and Michael Moore was always a target. They would take one or two little mistakes or jokes and blow them up into major catastrophes, casting doubt on his overall honesty and message. When he takes on big entities (the NRA, the Health Insurance industry, Wall Street) with deep pockets who are only too happy to help the Noise Machine, things get deafening.
In another David “I was a slimy asshole but now I’m trying to make up for it” Brock moment, the former head of CIGNA, Wendell Potter, who was definitely a slimy asshole, came to his senses and is now trying to make up for it. In a recent interview with Bill Moyers, Potter admitted that the health insurance industry put together a coordinated attack on Michael Moore, which fit in nicely with the Republican Noise Machine attack.
Yeah, I thought that was pretty dickish also (no pun intended).
Sure it sucks that these folks have to go an hour, or however long, out of their way to get to work, but at least Dick Clark’s providing them with jobs, something no one else in Flint seems to be doing. And on top of that he’s also providing transportation, again something 99 percent of workplaces in America nowadays probably wouldn’t bother with, no matter how hard up you were for a ride.
I tend to agree with all of this. I was more bothered by the Dick Clark stuff than the Heston stuff. The movie does have some issues, but I did like that it ended up treating the problems with gun violence as complex and wasn’t some sort of polemic. While I think some of the criticisms are fair, I think it’s a shame that the whole movie gets dismissed by many people because of some if its problems. A little too much knee-jerking unfortunately.
Ah yes, Swiftboating: actually telling what liberals did but want to conceal because they’re ashamed of. Either way, all will be forgiven on the left and the charges presumed false even though they utterly fail to disprove them.
It was an interesting if uttely biased op-ed piece. It was not a documentary.
I’ll say this about the Heston scene: My uber liberal filmmaking cousin (has made a number of films that have been released in Europe and the US) pointed out that the Heston shots were utterly staged and quite literally impossible to do without a number of different takes. That is, he clearly spliced together several different shots to make it look like he was confronting Heston when he actually wasn’t.
No, I wish I could explain it better. I’ll chat to Alan when I’m back home. He said that they did edit out certain of Heston’s reponses. Also the scene where Moore turns with the photo of the girl too Heston could not have been filmed the way that they like to make it appear (that he’s confronting Heston). He said it wasn’t possible given the angles and that they would have to have been using several cameras which suggests a staged shot.
It’s amazing how often the strongest defenders of the right refuse to acknowledge when they are proven wrong. Please, and I really mean this, try to learn about something before you mouth off about it.