What would drive two teenagers to comit such a horriffic tragedy as what happened at Columbine? In Bowling for Columbine director Michael Moore takes a look at gun violence in America and the causes behind such horriffic events that have led to Columbine. In the film Michael Moore explores the question “What makes the US have the most gun deaths than the rest of the world? ” By exploring this Moore and his viewers explore a variety of reasons, The strongest point made by Moore is that largely through the media the United States is a fear based society.
Moore gives examples of this when showing the news from the US compaired to Canada and video clips of behind the scenes news reports showing the true feelings of those covering the news. At one point a reporter acts as though he is bothered by the tragic killing of a six year old girl but when the camera is off is only worried about how his hair looks. Moore shows that through the fear induced by the media many Americans are desensitized to the vasy amounts of violence and gun related crimes and turning a blind eye towards a solution to it.
In the graph provided with this assignment we see that violent crimes have actually gone down year after year and yet every time we turn on the news we are assaulted with violent images and reports of gun violence. The media keeps gun deaths and violence first and foremost using the news, newspapers, magazines, talk shows, etc to keep us in a constant state of fear. In the film we see the town of Virgin Utah passed a law requiring all residents to posse firearms but why would you want more guns? Because the media induced fear that without a gun you will become the victim of someone with one if you don’t.
Who benefits from this fear? Well first gun manufacturers, As we’ve seen with the massive amounts of guns purchased following the tragedies of Columbine and Sandy Hook. Second would be the media, People tuning in to the news or talk shows or even buying a printed publication to read about the latest tragedy. Third would be defense manufacturers, People buying bullet proof jackets or bullet proof backpacks for their kids or even schools buying metal detectors. And finally the government, By keeping the public fearful it makes them predictable and therefore easier to control.
And why would these companies and organizations want us to remain ignorant and fearful? Because of money. If you are fearful that your neighbor might harm you or your family then your more likely to run out and purchase a gun or home security system therefore generating huge profits for those keeping us fearful. If you think another country might do us harm you are more willing to go along with spending increases for the military without any hard proof. A government report comes out about increases in crime in your area and how more police are needed and they convince you to vote for tax increases to pay for these.
This leads to reinforced ideas like don’t tread on me or an eye for an eye, If someone might do me or my family harm then I need to defend them. This has a legitimizing effect because unless guns are removed or the media stops reporting mainly negative and violent news people will continue to do each other harm. Even without the media stirring up fear there will still be violence and crime but would there be such high levels of violent crime? Personally I don’t believe there would be. Did this tragedy spark a moral panic?
Yes and it’s evident in almost every high school in America these days. When I was in high school you could leave the campus at any time you wanted and during lunch time many students did. These days most high schools have a closed campus so you can’t leave for lunch or at any time you choose. In some schools they have cameras everywhere as well as metal detectors and security guards. In the past if a student joked about doing something horriffic, Like shooting up the school, Most kids laughed and didn’t take it seriously but today you could be expelled for it.
You could even been expelled for something ridiculous like dyeing your hair blue or folding a piece of paper into the shape of a gun and pointing it at someone. I feel that this tragedy has started some serious discussions about gun control and violence in our society but until we reign in the media and hold those accountable for the massive levels of violence in the news, movies, tv, video games, and American life in general no ground will be made. In todays society we often forget about tragedies almost as quickly as they happened because of the next latest horrible event we are fed by the media.