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Moore investigates gun culture

The United States of America’s law enforcement reports more than 11,000 deaths from guns each year. Whether this number seems high or low, this is the reality of our great nation. Now, compare this to the number of gun-related deaths in countries such as the U.K., where they are in the low hundreds. Does anything strike you as odd? Maybe the United States discovered a new and effective version of population control.

What is the reason for the huge disparity of gun deaths between the United States and other industrialized countries? Undoubtedly, “shock-rocker” Marilyn Manson must be to blame. With his heavy music peppered with talk of violence (though no more than the daily news) and being different (no Abercrombie & Fitch for this musician), Manson should be solely responsible for the school shootings at Columbine High School and other schools around the country, right? After all, he correctly identifies himself as a symbol of what every good suburban soccer mom fears her child may become. Interviewed in the film “Bowling for Columbine,” Manson explains, “I’m, in the end, sort of the poster boy for fear.”

But wait . . . in the documentary “Bowling for Columbine,” we find that, on the day of the first school shootings, the president dropped more bombs on Kosovo than on any other day. Manson raises the question, “Who do you think is a bigger influence, the president or Marilyn Manson? I ‘d like to think me, but I’m going to go with the president.”

Were the school shooters simply psychopaths who reached their breaking point, or were they just young products of the American media? Surprisingly articulate in his interview, Manson brings up television, specifically the news, and the overwhelming coverage of violence and crime, saying, “It’s a campaign of fear and consumption.”

Why was the tragedy at Columbine such a surprise in our culture of everyday violence? When asked what he would say to the Columbine shooters, Manson replies, “I wouldn’t say a single word to them. I would listen to what they had to say, and that’s what no one did.” This “immoral, evil” musician may have a good point.

Filmmaker Michael Moore studies the incredible difference between the United States and other countries as far as violence goes in this documentary.

As writer, director, producer and star of this film, Moore compares the United States to Canada specifically to show the difference in the way Americans use their guns. He learns from a Canadian law enforcement officer that, for 10 million Canadian families, the country owns 7 million guns. This statistic would seem to put Canada at the same rate of homicides and injuries from guns as the United States.

However, the United States’ gun violence rate continues to be much higher than Canada’s. This is one of the many instances where Moore takes facts and uses them in his own context to make a point. He fails to mention that Canadians own mostly hunting rifles, not handguns like United States citizens. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the United States still maintains its position as the world leader in gun violence.

“Bowling for Columbine” received a very high honor at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival: the Special Jury Prize. The film is the first to ever be selected for this award by a unanimous vote. The audience gave a tearful standing ovation after the film had finished railing on the excessiveness of the United States’ violent media coverage. Humor saves Moore’s movie from being too depressing to handle, and his insistence on getting answers from important people like National Rifle Association President Charlton Heston and ageless franchise owner Dick Clark will rile up even the most pacifist of viewers.

Protesters have hope: Moore even gets K-Mart to change its ways. Regardless of the biases Moore may have, this film is worth seeing in the Fox Tower downtown, the only place in Oregon this movie is being shown. Go get tickets now.