....LMB: "Bowling for Columbine"....

October 13, 2002

Saw a sneak preview of Michael Moore's new movie this past Thursday over at the Museum of Tolerance. The film is another documentary that takes a hard, satirical, liberal/progressive look at America, this time about guns, violence and American culture. It's called Bowling for Columbine. And at this particular screening, Michael Moore was in attendance, and was planning to answer some questions from the audience afterwards.

Actually, this movie was opening in Los Angeles the day after this particular screening. My main reason for going is that my boss, Tom Morello, was friends with Michael Moore, and I thought that there was a good chance if I went with Tom, that I'd get to talk with Mike a bit. He seems like a good guy.

The movie was good, I definitely recommend seeing it (Hell, it's almost worth seeing just because it's a documentary that is appearing in mainstream movie theaters. That only happens like once every 5 years or so). The film is a bit jumbled for taking on as many subjects as it does, but when a segment hits, it hits hard.

The first half of the movie is about America's love affair with guns. It veers from the wacky (banks that give away free guns for opening up new accounts) to the horrific (the Columbine school massacre). However, making the American Gun look silly or terrible is not a very difficult task. Moore manages to accomplish the task using a combination of legitimate humor, hard-hitting satire, and obvious cliches.

The second half of the movie is very intriguing. The film compares the huge numbers of American gun deaths (around 11,000 a year) to the numbers of gun deaths in other Western countries (usually around 300 a year). But just when you would expect the film to argue that the reason for the excess gun death is due to the huge numbers of guns around the country, the film points out that Canada contradicts the predicted argument; Canada has many guns, but few gun deaths. Which begs the question, what makes America different? What is it about American culture that brings about these gun deaths?

It's a question both fascinating and important. The remainder of Moore's film explores it, suggesting several broad theories, but doesn't try to give a definitive answer. You'll walk out of the theater with your brain chugging like a train uphill, seeking an answer, making slow-- but forward-- progress. My mind's still got this task running in the background.

The film also includes a short interview with Marilyn Manson, in which he postulates a link between fear and consumerism. My subconscious is also working on his theory, trying to refine it into something simpler about the nature of power.

But did my plan work? Did attending the Thursday screening allow me to meet Michael Moore?

Once the Q&A was over, Tom grabbed Mike's attention and invited him to go out with us. Mike told us that he'd love to, but that he had to stop by a party first, it should only take about 10 minutes. Would we like to join him?

Which is how I ended up at a posh Beverly Hills mansion, at a party being thrown by the head of MGM Studios.

I lead a strange life.

Dinner came later. Mike and Tom caught each other up on the events of their lives. We discussed Mike's movies and the pending war on Iraq. And, I was able to determine, Mike is indeed a good guy.

Posted by Jake at 12:32 AM
Comments


Jake,

Did you just use the word "posh" in a non-satirical context? As a non-cynical adjective?

Posted by: michele at October 13, 2002 12:55 AM

Jake,

You should make a documentary called MICHAEL AND ME about your attempts to interview Michael Moore. The film ends ironically at the posh Beverly Hills mansion where you find the elusive subject, a champion of the working class, rubbing elbows with the Hollywood elite.

I've met Michael Moore in passing when he promoted "Downsize This" at the U of Dayton. He DOES seem like a good guy.

Posted by: Eric at October 15, 2002 11:49 AM

please foward Michael's address to me

Thanks

Posted by: Mitch Heuer at September 21, 2003 06:34 AM
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Media News

December 01, 2004

Media Mambo

The Great Indecency Hoax- last week, we wrote about how the "massive outcry" to the FCC about a racy Fox TV segment amounted to letters from 20 people. This week, we look at the newest media scandal, the infamous "naked back" commercial. On Monday Night Football, last week, ABC aired an ad for it's popular "Desperate Housewives" TV show, in which one of the actresses from the show attempted to seduce a football player by removing the towel she was wearing to bare her body to him. All the audience saw, however, was her back. No tits, no ass, no crotch, just her back.

No one complained.

The next Wednesday, Rush Limbaugh told his shocked viewers how the woman had appeard in the commercial "buck naked".

Then, the FCC received 50,000 complaints. How many of them actually saw this commercial is anyone's guess.

The article also shows the amazing statistics that although the Right is pretending that the "22% of Americans voted based on 'moral values'" statistic shows the return of the Moral Majority, this is actually a huge drop from the 35% who said that in the 2000 election or the 40% who said that in 1996 (when alleged pervert Bill Clinton was re-elected). This fact is so important I'm going to mention it over in the main news section too.

Brian Williams may surprise America- Tom Brokaw's replacement anchor, Brian Williams, dismissed the impact of blogs by saying that bloggers are "on an equal footing with someone in a bathroom with a modem." Which is really funny, coming out of the mouth of a dude who's idea of journalism is to read words out loud off a teleprompter. Seriously, if parrots were literate, Brian Williams would be reporting live from the line outside the soup kitchen.

In related news, Tom Brokaw has quit NBC Nightly News, and it appears that unlike his predecessor, the new guy can speak without slurring words like a drunk.

PR Meets Psy-Ops in War on Terror- in February of 2002, Donald Rumsfeld announced the creation of the Office of Strategic Influence, a new department that would fight the war on terror through misinformation, especially by lying to journalists. Journalists were so up in arms about this that the Pentagon agreed to scrap the program.

Don't you think that an agency designed to lie to the public might lie about being shut down, too?

This article gives some examples about the US military lying to the press for propaganda and disinformation purposes.

Tavis Smiley leaving NPR in December- African-American talk show host Tavis Smiley is opting to not renew his daily talk show on National Public Radio. He criticized his former employers for failing to: "meaningfully reach out to a broad spectrum of Americans who would benefit from public radio but simply donít know it exists or what it offers ... In the most multicultural, multi-ethnic and multiracial America ever, I believe that NPR can and must do better in the future." He's 100% correct. NPR is white. Polar bear eating a marshmallow at the mayonaise factory white. And the reason it's so white is that it is trying to maintain an affluent listener base (premoniantly older white folks) who will donate money to their stations. This is a great paradox of American public broadcasting, that they have a mandate to express neglected viewpoints and serve marginalized communities, but those folks can't donate money in the amounts that the stations would like to see.

U.S. Muslim Cable TV Channel Aims to Build Bridges- it sounds more positive than it is "Bridges TV" seems to simultaneously be a cable channel pursuing an affluent American Muslim demographic, and a way of building understanding and tolerance among American non-Muslims who might happen to watch the channel's programming. I was hoping it would be aimed more at Muslim's worldwide, but it ain't. Still, I'd be interested in seeing how their news programs cover the issues.

Every Damned Weblog Post Ever- it's funny cuz it's true.

Wikipedia Creators Move Into News- Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia, created collectively by thousands of contributors. It's one of those non-profit, decentralized, collective, public projects that show how good the internet can be. Now, the Wikipedia founders are working on a similar project to create a collaborative news portal, with original content. Honestly, it's quite similar to IndyMedia sites (which reminds me, happy 5th birthday, IndyMedia!). I'll admit, I'm a bit skeptical about the Wikinews project, though. IndyMedia sites work because they're local, focused on certain lefty issues, and they're run by activists invested in their beliefs. I'm not sure what would drive Wikinews or how it would hang together.

CBS, NBC ban church ad inviting gays- the United Church of Christ created a TV ad which touts the church's inclusion, even implying that they accept homosexuals into their congregation. Both CBS and NBC are refusing to air the ad. This is not too surprising, as many Americans are uncomfortable about homosexuality, and because TV networks are utter cowards. But CBS' explanation for the ban was odd:

"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples...and the fact that the executive branch has recently proposed a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast."

Whoa, what? First of all, the ad does not mention marriage at all. Second, since when do positions opposite of the Executive Branch constitute "unacceptable"? This doesn't sound like "we're not airing this because it's controversial", this sounds like "we're afraid of what the President might say."

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