|Note: Normally I prefer
to simply post reader hate-mail on this page without response, letting
it speak for itself. However, my
Bowling for Columbine review generated
enough response that I was compelled to write a Bowling
for Columbine Post-Review Wrap-Up column instead, which in turn generated
its own mail.
September 6, 2003 through ??
for Columbine and Bowling
for Columbine Post-Review Wrap-Up
|Allow me to pile on!
Wow, if anyone is dumb enough to believe that Michael Moore doesn't
have an agenda, or wouldn't hide behind said agenda under the guise of
a supposed "documentary," then moron is too kind a word for you my friend.
Hey, write all the articles you want, but anybody with a brain knows you're
lying for a liar, whether you know it or not. Yeah, yeah, we're all
bunch of a narrow-minded losers. Well, whatever you elitists call
us, it doesn't matter, because booing that asshole off the OSCARS shows
that people aren't gonna take it anymore. Nuff Said!
|I have one quick note about your defense of Bowling for Columbine
(or, more properly, your criticism of the criticism). You stated:
"If Charlton Heston was mentally incapable of handling himself
in the face of an interview asking him direct questions about his organization's
policies, then he damn well should not have continued to act as President
of such a powerful and influential organization as the National Rifle Association.
So long as he remained in such a position of power, it is not just a right
but an absolute responsibility for the media to question the actions and
decisions he enforced under his leadership."
The point of the criticism is that Michael Moore did NOT ask him
"direct questions" about his organization's policies. He did not ask him
about "actions and decisions he enforced under his leadership." He asked
him questions that were purposely misleading, and played upon the fact
that Heston did not remember every specific detail about rallies held years
before. Moore primes the pump by saying that Heston showed up in Flint
"just as he had before," even though he showed up eight months later (and,
indeed, around the same time that Michael Moore himself was in Flint).
Then he asks questions of Heston that falsely imply that Heston showed
up shortly after the shootings. Since Heston's memory of the exact dates
are vague, he ends up defending actions that his organization DID NOT PARTICIPATE
There was no decision to go to Flint right after the shootings, but
Heston has to defend himself as if there were, because Moore misleads him.
That is the issue that the critic has with the piece; Moore should feel
free to ask all the questions he wants, but he should be required to ask
questions about things that actually happened. That is the real hypocrisy.
|I just had a chance to read your response to the mail you received
in the wake of your Bowling for Columbine review. I noticed that
you quoted me a couple of times, and so I figured I'd write back with a
I think you missed my point. No one should expect a documentary
to spout only facts. That would be mind-numbing. Moore's stock
in trade is his opinionated nature - thus his films should reflect that.
So the fact that his documentary would be biased is perfectly fine.
My only problem is that when the facts he cites to are distorted or just
plain wrong, then it diminishes the impact of the work. Every documentary
is imbued with the biases of the filmmakers - it is inevitable and necessary.
But if the filmmaker invents "facts" in order to further his/her agenda,
then it cannot be considered a true documentary. Imagine if it turned
out that the subject of "King Gimp" was actually an actor and that no such
person named Dan Keplinger existed. No matter the moving portrait
in the piece, you would not accept that work as a documentary - it would
become simply a fictional film. In the same manner, no one would
accept as a documentary an opinionated film based on fictional events.
Example - Moore's point about the U.S. giving aid to the Taliban
is simply not true. The numbers he cites are amounts that the government
donated to a U.N. fund for food aid and food security programs. So
how can a viewer develop an informed opinion about Moore's viewpoint if
the underlying facts are completely wrong?
Another example - in its original version, the film highlighted a
1988 Bush-Quayle ad about Willie Horton. The film shows the ad which
ends with the caption "Willie Horton released. Then kills again."
This last caption came under fire and it eventually turned out that Moore
had inserted it himself, as it was not originally part of the ad.
But there was no indication in the film that Moore altered the ad.
Moreover, the hard fact remained that Willie Horton killed no one while
on furlough. Not only did "the most honest filmmaker alive" intentionally
distort a 15-year old ad for his purposes, he inserted a falsehood to do
It has now come to light that Moore has altered that portion of the
film for its DVD release, tacitly acknowledging the factual error by changing
his added caption to "Willie Horton released. Then rapes a woman."
Still, there is no indication that he added the caption himself to the
original ad. It still is made to appear that the caption was originally
broadcast with the ad.
This ad is accompanied by a voiceover of Moore saying, "whether you're
a psychotic killer or running for president of the United States, the one
thing you can always count on is white America's fear of the black man."
The point he makes is quite valid, but diminished by his clumsy attempt
to steer the facts in his direction.
I don't want to be lumped into the same group with the rabid Moore-haters.
I personally had no problem with the Heston interview - don't agree to
it if you can't handle it. But I find these kind of factual errors
significant. I liken Moore's Oscar to giving Ann Coulter a Pulitzer.
She is entitled to her opinion, but she grossly distorts the facts to make
her points, thus invalidating her viewpoint. Moore does exactly the
You mentioned all the biased analysis of Moore but I noticed you
avoided mention of the unbiased analysis at Spinsanity.com.
I urge you to check that site out.
|I'll first say that I am a big fan of "Bowling for Columbine".
I made sure to go out of my way and see it in its limited run up here in
Toronto when it came out, and I picked it up on DVD the first day it arrived.
In fact, I watched it three times in the first week I picked it up on DVD.
I think that it is a powerful film that clearly illustrates how there is
an underlying problem in American society that perpetuates gun culture
in a fashion that is destructive and problematic at best.
Reading the recap on the letters you had received since writing your
review of "Bowling for Columbine"; I was surprised in your approach at
rebuttal of the criticism. Now, it is obvious that you didn't intend
to make your review or your recap impartial itself. After all, if
you were going to put a link in for Erik Moller's article debunking David
Hardy's writings, the least you could have done is put a link to the particular
David Hardy article itself. I have no problems with this, as you
have the right to your own opinion. But, to perpetuate even further
misinformation simply in an attempt to defend yourself or Michael Moore
is hardly an admirable approach.
In your recap you go so far as to suggest "an impartial documentary
is ultimately a myth". It surprises me that we have come so far as
a society that we pretend that the alteration of reality is still the truth.
If this is the case, then Michael Moore himself had no right to make criticisms
of "fictitious times" in his Oscar speech, since he is only spiraling the
state of the world farther into fiction. In suggesting that a documentary
cannot be impartial or wholly truthful, it becomes obvious that you are
not a fan of the documentary form. If you want an impartial documentary
that will make up your mind on a subject without guidance, then you should
check out Peter Medak's award-winning documentary, "Trinity and Beyond:
the Atomic Bomb Movie". Anyone who sees this film will not only get
an incredible understanding of the history of the nuclear arms race, but
will be surely steered towards disarmament in the view of the scale of
nuclear bombs that have been created.
I do thank you for illuminating the many sites out there that do
illustrate the clear bias that Michael Moore is pressing forward with.
Having examined the sites you mentioned and finding the articles discussed,
I now have a more educated view of both the positive and negative sides
of this film. I would not go so far out of my way to try and suggest
that the film did not deserve an Oscar, as films that have won Oscars have
been used for political purposes before and the process of winning has
become a mudslinging competition that degrades the validity of the awards
as it is. And I would not say that "Bowling for Columbine" should
be dismissed for the smaller issues that some of its critics feel are major
issues, as I feel that the overall message of the film is of greater importance
I would hope that people would at least recognize that the purpose
of a documentary is to document, not to steer. Michael Moore's style
is a mixture of documenting and steering, so I am not as critical to say
that it is almost completely false as some of the aforementioned sites
attempt to do. But, I feel that to suggest that "Bowling for Columbine"
is as honest as you are going to get is performing a true disservice to
the honorable genre that documentary filmmaking is. Like all people,
Michael Moore is not infallible, and the criticisms that he has received
are somewhat deserved in the face of how he presents himself.
For the record, my Wrap-Up article does in fact direct
readers to the moorelies.com web
site to find David Hardy's diatribe, which is located on the front page.
|Hi, I applaud you for the Reader Mail on Bowling for Columbine.
Not a lot of people will be willing to tackle such a controversial issue.
I just want to add that to all those who claim BfC is not a documentary,
then maybe they should watch Triumph of the Will. As the dvdfile
review stated, while the topic maybe unjustifiable, it is nonetheless one
of the most effective DOCUMENTARY films out there...even though it's also
an propaganda film.
Oh, I have to respond to this one. What exactly is Moore's
propaganda message in Bowling for Columbine? That shooting people is a
bad idea and we shouldn't do it? That evil Nazi bastard! Let's lynch him!