18 November 2002

Hey Thanks Everybody

I went to see Bowling for Columbine again yesterday evening. I was frankly expecting an empty house. Despite my exhortations that everyone should get their eyes forcibly opened by this movie (and even the biggest Michael Moore fans are going to find at least two things in this film that will open their eyes), I didn't expect there to be much interest. After all, the film is:

a) A documentary. Who in America wants to learn anything? When was the last time you went to the cinema to see a documentary?

b) A documentary that know-it-all jackasses will think is about guns (it's not, really), or just Michael Moore essentially saying guns and/or the NRA and/or the Conservo-Publicans are bad (he doesn't). Moore may be a registered Green voter, but he's actually quite right-wing on some issues, like gun ownership. He's a lifetime NRA member and (at least used to be) a hunter and marksman. What the film is actually about is how we are all -- conservatives, liberals, swing voters, Christians, Jews, Muslims, whatever -- being manipulated by the media. More than you think. And how that manipulation is in fact working, and how it's affecting us.

c) Upsetting in places. If you have any heart left, that is. Not many people seem to anymore.

d) Up against blockbusters like the new Harry Potter movie and as well as the usual assortment of Hollywood/mass media BS/star vehicles/made-specifically-for-drooling-morons type "entertainment" that is, frankly, a lot easier to get lazy and enjoy.

So try to imagine how heartened I was when we went to the cinema the day after the Harry Potter movie premiered and discovered that the screening room for BFC was nearly full. All races, all ages, all income levels. Kids and seniors, Hipsters and even some pretty obvious Republicans who looked like they were there on a dare.

Even more heartening was the ending, when people applauded. Nobody applauds films anymore unless they know the filmmaker or star are in the room. And all the engrossing snippets of conversation I overheard as we made our way out of the screening. The talk was of a much higher calibre than what you usually hear after a movie, even an art-house movie. I suspected the area coffeehouses and the nearby Krispy Kreme would be buzzing shortly.

Maybe, just maybe, this country can actually cut through the noise and learn something. Gosh I hope so, for all our sakes.

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