Being tragically unhip, or in this case really unattached to the mainstream of American culture, or maybe it’s just too poor to go to the movie theater and too lazy to rent cheap video, I’ve only now gotten ’round to seeing Bowling for Columbine.
L and I curled up on the big leather couch last night and watched one of the finer pieces of journalistic observation of our culture that I’ve read/seen in a long time. (note to self: read David Brooks, provide snarky compare/contrast)
I’ve mentioned before my discomfort with Michael Moore’s stunts and Rush Limbaugh-esque talk radio style of discourse. But I’m willing to fogive him a great deal after seeing Bowling for Columbine.
This is not the kind of journalism I do, or would be comfortable doing, with the even-handed “on the other hand” and the comfort that comes from hiding behind the ideas of others. (This is the reason for the discomfort and reserved tone you sometimes see in this blog on issues that matter. I’ve got two decades of training as the dispassionate journalist in the art of holding my cards close.) But the trick to this film is that Moore does an exceptional job of exploring the territory in searching for an explanation without simply offering up an easy answer.
My problem with the talk radio discourse in America today, whether it’s Al Franken or Rush Limbaugh, is the emphasis on the easy answer. Anything genuingely interesting is never going to be that easy. What I loved about Moore’s flick was the puzzled demeanor he portrayed as he explored the subject. Yes, we drop bombs on other nations and shoot one another and put bars on our windows with alarming frequency. But why?
It was an iimperfect film. The Dick Clark ambush was classic “Roger and Me” theater that didn’t add much to the deep theme. The first part of the Charleton Heston interview was terrific – Heston’s discomfort at that deep theme. But then Moore overstepped, I think, with the schtick wth the little girl’s picture. That was just over the top, more about scoring points than exploring the issue. But those are quibbles. It’s not my film.