Dharma Movie Review: Bowling for Columbine
- Dharma Movie Review: Bowling for Columbine
2003 Academy Award (Oscar) Winner for Best Documentary Feature
Tagline: Are we a nation of gun nuts or are we just nuts? / One nation under the gun.
Plot: Filmmaker Michael Moore explores the roots of America's predilection for gun violence.
In BFC, Moore strongly suggests, in many direct and indirect ways, that the culprit of the high statistics of gun violence in America is due to the ready availability of guns for private ownership, for "security". A shocking comparison would be the fact that neighbouring Canada has much less than 1% of the 11,000+ annual gun violence cases. But is the CAUSE of gun violence really guns? No- guns are merely CONDITIONS (conditioning factors) for gun violence. The cause always begins in the mind filled with hatred and fear, greed, or plain ignorance (in the case of misfires, by both adults and children). Yet, interestingly, with the absence of guns, these negative seeds (causes) will not have the opportunity (conditions) to ripen (take effect)- at least, not through guns. Moore proposes that it is the culture of mass media which breeds hatred, fear and prejudice- leading to much unhappiness, thanks to trigger-happiness. This balances the equation of the investigation of the mental and physical causes and conditions of gun violence. The causes are always mental (the three poisons of greed, hatred and ignorance) and the conditions in this case, the physical availability of guns and ammo. Perhaps America should look into creating more positivity in the media to replace the planting of negative seeds in the minds of its audience. As it takes time to cultivate more positive media culture, it does seem to make sense to tighten gun control in the mean time.
This is indeed the most remarkable "semi-documentary" that I have seen. I call it a semi-documentary because while it documents the truth, there are some staged segments in it. This has been cause for some argument over the authenticity and integrity of the film. Here's my take on this issue- It doesn't matter the stories we tell, true or not, as long as they are sincere skillful means of pointing to the greater truth, as long these stories are told out of compassion and wisdom, as long as they make the world a better place. Just as there are countless ancient myths, fables and parables that have made the world a better place, letting us have greater understanding of the human psyche, parts of " Bowling for Columbine might be equivalently effective modern fables. Here's an example of an ancient Greek myth that made its impact onto modern psychology as an analogy of excess self-love- the term "narcissism" comes from the myth of a beautiful youth called Narcissus, who was so infatuated with his reflection in a lake that he wasted away gazing at it. Who knows? Years down the road, we might label Moore's semi-documentary, semi-fictitious filming technique to address reality the "Moore Method"? Sometimes, we question some of the more seemingly fantastical stories the Buddha was supposed to have told personally, of His many past lives (eg. the hundreds of Jataka or Birth Tales), especially those wherein He were animals. But so what if they are untrue? As long as there is truth in them? Like the Aesop's fable of the "talking" "sour grapes" fox, what's more important than any story is its moral. If a dramatic stageplay serves to tell the truth with good dramatic effect, why not? Afterall, Shakespeare, the greatest writer ever (yet), is a fiction writer, of the non-fictional truths of human nature.
[This review was sent as a tribute to Michael Moore @ mike@... , a fearless social spokesman of our times.]
zeph@... (See alternative review here)