Michael Moore writing activity

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					Michael Moore:         lexical + written understanding activities:

                                         Pros and cons

                              PRO-BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE

“If more guns made people safer, then America would be one of the safest countries in the
world.”This statement, uttered midway through the film by a Canadian citizen, serves pretty
much as the guiding thesis for `Bowling For Columbine,' the amazing, eye-opening `dissertation'
by Michael Moore, which won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature of 2002. Moore, the
well-known left-wing opponent to the American conservative establishment, is clearly a man on
a mission. He wants to figure out why exactly it is that Americans seem to have a running love
affair with violence and guns. Moore takes on Charlton Heston, the NRA (of which Moore claims
to be a member), the news media, and the overall culture of paranoia and fear that seems to
hold Americans in its grasp. The director views the Columbine High School shootings in 1999 as
the symptom rather than the cause of the problem, the inevitable tragic outcome of a munitions-
obsessed culture.

Anybody turning to this film for a `fair' and `unbiased' study of the problem certainly does not
know much about Michael Moore and the kind of movies he makes. Moore is upfront and utterly
unapologetic about his own left-wing bias and the film will assuredly outrage many on the
opposing side of the issue. Yet one thing that even Moore's greatest detractors will have to
admit is that he is definitely a man of passion, an individual who sees a problem in the world
and who pools his resources and skills as a documentarian to help awaken public
consciousness and, thereby, prompt reasonable-thinking people to come up with a solution.

Sure there are those who will accuse Moore of being `un-American,' of always trying to cast the
United States in the worst possible light. Yet, isn't this what a healthy free society needs -
someone who is willing to point out a nation's shortcomings in the hope of making it a better
place in which to live? It seems to me we need more Michael Moore's …

Alternately hilarious and horrifying, harrowing and heartbreaking, `Bowling For Columbine' will
make you cry one moment and laugh the next. Moore is a man in total control of his medium,
his message, even, perhaps, his audience. That might be a scary, dangerous thought if you
happen to find yourself on the opposite side of the issue from Moore. After all, one man's `truth'
can be another man's `propaganda.' All I can suggest is that, regardless of which side of the
political spectrum you fall on, give the man a fair hearing.

2) Hilarious, informative, and deeply moving. Michael Moore succeeds yet again!
What makes us Americans so violent and hateful? How come our murder rate is astronomical,
and why do our citizens seem to worship firearms? Furthermore, why is America such a trigger-
happy nation? Is it due to our savage history? Our affinity for violent entertainment? Our diverse
ethnic backgrounds? Michael Moore's BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE may not include clean-cut
answers to these questions, but that doesn't mean you won't learn anything. Besides,
singlehandedly solving the mystery of America's violent nature isn't really the goal of this movie
anyway. This offbeat documentary accomplishes much, much more than just that.

Bowling for Columbine is a wonderfully eye-opening and thought-provoking documentary.
Michael Moore sheds a lot of light on things that Americans TRY to cover up. Definitely a must-
see ! Indeed, And with the nation so eager to drop bombs on anyone who bats an eyelash, this
film should be considered mandatory viewing for all American citizens.

Worksheet n°1:
                    Nature               Possible meaning ? synonym ?

figure out
takes on





                               ANTI-BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE

1) Volumes could be written about what is wrong with this movie. Its high reviews stun me. Far
from having the objectivity required from any documentary, Bowling for Columbine is a
propaganda movie made entirely to support Moore’s ego and those seeking to cultivate their
prejudiced opinions. Moore has chosen side, long before he confronts the interviewee who
doesn't get a chance to answer . He likes to trap the people he interviews with questions he
has been thinking about for a long time.
What makes it worse is that Moore’s opinions are never         presented verbally but through
emotionally loaded archive-material. In doing so Moore retains the role to the viewer as the
objective documentarist.
He continuously uses a cinematic editing to shelter himself from direct confrontation. There are
countless examples of this procedure. One being the interview of McCollum, the boss of the
weapons factory Lockeed Martin, who doesn't see Moores' connection between the parents
work and the two boys´ shooting. Instead of answering the question Moore shows an emotional
collage of some of the wars the US has been involved in while Louis Amstrong’ song "What a
Wonderful World" is playing. He lists historical date after historical date when the US led some
invasion, overthrew some dictator or set up some ruler, but completely omits the historical
landscape of the time so that the viewer may have some historical perspective as to why the US
did that in the first place.
Now am I saying that the US has always made the right decisions? Of course, not. But, I believe
that a "documentary" should provide at least a full counterpoint. See the movie and judge
yourself but observe closely how such effects are being used. All in all a terrible manipulating
movie by a documentarist whose only desire seems to be to entertain and not inform the public
or seek out a solution to this important problem.

2) This is an interesting movie which brings up two important issues: 1) What about the people
of the U.S. makes them so prone to violence? 2) Why do we have a media "culture of fear?"The
movie is well made and definitely tackles tough issues, however, Moore's personal biases are
annoying, and the movie is not an eye-opening objective documentary. Just as he gets to the
really interesting questions (see above), he stops. He makes some public figures (such as Dick
Clark or Charlton Heston)simplistic scapegoats for the (very real) problems and falls short of
making a truly intellectual picture. This movie works as a comedy (the scenes at the bank and
the cartoon are good examples) but flops as a documentary (almost everything Moore says is at
least distorted if not completely untrue)
3) After seeing Michael Moore's documentary on gun control, “Bowling for Columbine”, I left the
theater feeling strangely empty. I wanted to like this film because I know it takes some courage
to make films that contain biting social criticism. I am grateful that these thought-provoking
issues are being raised; however, I found the film so strident in its tone that I fear it may further
polarize the debate and not bring people together. Moore begins by using one of his favorite
techniques, that of showing his opponents in a ridiculous light. In this case, it is the Michigan
Militia, using their own words to show the addled thinking of gun supporters. For example, one
Militia member states: "It is an American's responsibility to be armed." Mr. Moore then goes to a
local bank in Michigan that provides guns for people opening an account, making some pointed
comments about how inappropriate it is for a bank to be giving away guns stashed in their vault.
All of this is funny until you realize that it is all manipulated to support his point of view. Now of
course I laughed because I agree with its message, but I stopped to think -- what if he was
using this approach to attack a point of view I supported? I would be furious and rightly so.

In poking at the issue of gun violence, Moore jumps all over easy targets like Dick Clark, the
NRA, and the Bush administration. The issue, however, is not the mindset of George Bush or
Dick Clark or a sadly deteriorating Charlton Heston. Scapegoating is not the answer. It is this
"us against them" attitude that doesn't work, whether the antagonists are George Bush and
Saddam Hussein, or Michael Moore and the big corporations. The focus must be that, if we are
to survive, we can no longer afford to live in an ego-driven "you OR me" world. It must quickly
become a "you AND me" world united by our common humanity, or there will only be more

Worksheet n°2:
Read the document again and find what could be the synonyms for the following words and

To criticize
The attitude
Much could be said
Someone        who   is   unjustly   blamed   for
To surprise and somewhat shock someone
To fail to, not to succeed in doing something
Fair games
Weighing the pros and cons:

In the light of this dossier, summarize in your own words the arguments listed

here which were traditionally raised against or in favor of Michael Moore in his

film Bowling for Columbine:

Michael Moore/ writing activities :

   Activity 1: to be done individually or as a pair work (with one of your classmates)

CREATE AN INTERVIEW on the topic "Michael Moore : mere propaganda or a

renewal of political activism through documentary films ?" including both the

questions to and the answers from Moore.

   Activity 2: Write a review of one of Moore’s films you have seen.

   Activity 3: Answer one of the following questions extracted from “Mike’s action

    guide for students” : http://www.bowlingforcolumbine.com/library

       Why do so many people around the world hate us? How are they affected by

        U.S. foreign and military policy? How are they affected by the actions of

        U.S. global corporations?

       If we are so rich and strong as a nation, why is there so much fear in the

        United States? How is the U.S. media different from those in other


       Is there a link between consumerism and fear?

       Why do we have so much gun violence? What make this nation different?

       What role does white racism play in the media, in the culture of fear, in U.S.

        foreign and military policy?