Searching for an essay?

Browse the database of more than 3800 essays donated by our community members!

Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine”

Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine” uses a variety of satirical techniques to persuade the viewer of his opinion. Michael Moore tries to persuade the viewing public that the American gun culture is damaging to society, and is dangerously out of control. Furthermore, it also explores how the land of the “American Dream” is riddled with unhappiness and violence. The documentary is primarily focused on the incident, which unfolded on April 20th, 1999 in Columbine High School, where 11 students and 1 teacher were massacred. In my opinion, the most persuasive sequence in the documentary is the “Wonderful World” scene. This scene is designed to prove that Americans do not use weapons in self-defense, as many would argue, but use weapons aggressively.

This scene also tries to place the events of September 11th in the context of a worldwide perspective. Americans view this activity as a major world tragedy, yet they regularly destruct and destroy countries on a regular basis. The scene’s position in the film and Moore’s technique of cutting between scenes is important. Before the sequence is a press official from Lockhead Martin explaining how most of the workers are fathers of children who go to Columbine school. Therefore, Moore is creating a subliminal link between the children’s upbringing in a culture of guns and the occurrence of the shootings. Furthermore, this interview supports Moore’s view that there is a link between the worldwide wars and these isolated incidents.

Writing service

Conditions

Website

essaypro

[Rated 4.9]

Prices start at $12
Min. deadline 6 hours
Writers: ESL
Refund: Yes


Payment methods: VISA, MasterCard, American Express

extraessay

[Rated 4.8]

Prices start at $11
Min. deadline 3 hours
Writers: ESL, ENL
Refund: Yes


Payment methods: VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Discover

extraessay

[Rated 4.75]

Prices start at $10
Min. deadline 3 hours
Writers: ESL, ENL
Refund: Yes


Payment methods: VISA, MasterCard, JCB, Discover

Moore uses images of actual human corpses and extremely violent scenes, to try and persuade the reader of the seriousness of the situation. Moore is suggesting that guns have caused these horrific scenes, and thus they should not be so easily tolerated. Furthermore, there are very few domestic American images of casualties, persuading the viewer that these weapons are rarely used defensively, but rather used in aggression. Moore continues to depict war and death by opting not to use narration but captions to describe events and illustrate facts on the screen. These captions appear to have a military-style, which gives the impression that they are official and true. However, they have inverted commas around them, in order to mock their content and convey a personal opinion; this persuades the reader to believe Moore’s view.

Music is used effectively by Moore to complement the scenes of the documentary. “A Wonderful World” uses extremely ironic music, which combines with the title, to show how seriously America is not a “Wonderful World”. The lack of narration and only captions, make the music more effective and more powerful in the scene. Additionally, the lack of voices makes the actions on screen less human and more tolerable. At the very conclusion, the music cuts out to the sounds of screaming people on September 11th. Moore is trying to prove how wars in other countries “can’t be heard” and are thus ignored; however, when similar events occur in America, the tragedy of the situation becomes real and unignorable.

Moore uses his characteristically ironic tone, used also in his books; but combines this atmosphere with a tragic and bitter tone. This displays a lot of anger towards gun ownership, which is portrayed to the viewed. Moore is trying to make the American public question their traditional view over guns, and agree with his view. The overall effect is to make Americans view that weapons should not be tolerated in America, and persuades the viewer that Americans are hypocrites and liars. The main sequence in Bowling for Columbine is the “Columbine” sequence, which shows the events of Columbine in a scarily real way, with clever use of visual and audio techniques. The film climaxes to this moment, designed to highlight a major consequence of America’s ‘gun culture ‘. Ultimately, its main purpose is to make Charlton Heston look foolish, by demonizing him into an evil figure and traditional ‘baddy’.

Moore achieves this aim by cutting the words of Heston with horrific scenes of children dying. After such scenes, the viewer is taken to a conference where his first words are “From my cold, dead hands”. Once again, the viewer is provided with a link between the international climate of destruction and small seemingly insignificant events like Columbine. Moore uses a CCTV-style technique to present this scene, instead of a reconstruction, which seems rather unconventional. This is extremely effective on many levels, as the reader associates this scene with popular programs depicting the criminal activity. Furthermore, this scene creates a sense of realness and panic. As a result, the viewer is persuaded of Moore’s view that guns should be banned if this is their consequence. At the end of the scene, we are presented with images of grieving students, which makes us feel very empathetic in supporting their cause against guns.

As well as unusual visual techniques, Moore also uses unusual audio styles. The music in the background is somber which reflects upon the reader, and is intensified by the actual dialogue of police calls, such as a father asking where he could find his daughter. These calls give a sense of immediacy and reality and help show how serious the events actually were. At the end of the sequence, Moore reads a voice-over where he explains how “over 900 rounds” of ammunition were used and that the guns were all bought legally. This suggests to the viewer, that since America views it as legal to buy, it is as if they are making it legal to use them to kill. However, despite the resentful tone of the voice-over, the general tone of the sequence remains empathetic, and pitiful towards the students and those who died. The voice-over from Moore is very resentful of this American gun culture. The impact of this sequence is that the availability and legality of guns have caused the death of eleven innocent people.

The “Columbine sequence” is followed directly by the “Statistical sequence,” which supports the idea of international violence being linked to local American incidents. This scene is intended to highlight how readily available guns are to American citizens and also provides a context for the international climate, as the earlier section of the documentary focuses on American violence. In the initial parts of the sequence, Moore sets out to undermine arguments for high gun death statistics in America. Whilst the positioning in this sequence is not as important as in the other two scenes, it provides a backdrop to the statistics. Moore shows images of bowling and explains that if people could blame Marilyn Manson, then surely it was just as logical to blame bowling for the events of Columbine. He also dismisses people who believe there was a single isolated cause for the events at Columbine.

Moore uses visual techniques showing the popular cultures of the countries the statistics are describing, which allows the reader to imagine and appreciate the statistics as not just numbers but real people. The statistical values of Germany to Japan are falling, whilst the figures presented for America are the complete opposite. The figures increase at a more dramatic rate than any other country. Moore sarcastically justifies these huge increases, against ironic American patriotism. He seems to suggest that he does not want to be American after seeing these figures. Moore tries to persuade the reader of the seriousness of these statistics, by placing these statistics on the screen for a longer. Furthermore, he also makes the statistics move towards the viewer, indicating the ironic point that Americans believe other countries should follow the “American Way.” This deep irony persuades the viewer of how worrying these statistics actually are, and persuades the reader to follow Moore’s view against American violence is correct.

Moore also uses audio techniques in this sequence, which is similar to those used in the Columbine scene. The music used is a classical opera, creating the impression that these figures are virtually unbelievable, and creating a mocking tone. The music also mounts to a crescendo, whilst the statistics appear which builds up tension and the surprise felt by the reader. Overall, the music reflects the tone, as the music is quieter when the lower statistics appear but the volume increases dramatically for the American figures. He also indicates the idea that he does not want to be American by isolating himself from the American public. He uses phrases like “they,” “most people” and “liberals contend” to distance himself from their arguments. The tone is facetious in this scene, as the comments during the bowling part are irrelevant and mildly humorous; and this is emphasized by the music illustrating the insanity of the figures.

The overall impact Moore tries to create is that gun availability in America is morally wrong and can be blamed for violence, such as those scenes seen in Columbine. He makes us feel that the gun situation is out of control and we are persuaded that the American view on guns is wrong. In conclusion, Michael Moore is successful in persuading the viewer of his beliefs, using a dangerous combination of facts and opinions. The opinions and facts are so closely related and placed together, that it is difficult for the viewer to differentiate between them. He uses vivid and intelligent visuals and audio to complement his sarcastic and powerful argument against the legality of gun ownership. Overall, the documentary has a powerful effect upon the viewer, persuading them that rather than prevent violence, guns are merely a cause of unnecessary deaths and pain.

Cite this page

Choose cite format:
Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine". (2021, Apr 13). Retrieved May 9, 2021, from https://essayscollector.com/essays/michael-moores-bowling-for-columbine/