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Bowling for Fictitious 'Documentaries'
Michael Moore is a Liar

The Michael Moore production "Bowling for Columbine" just won the Oscar for best documentary. Unfortunately, it is not a documentary, by the Academy's own definition.

- James Berardinelli (movie-reviews.colossus.net)

The injustice here is not so much to the viewer, as to the independent producers of real documentaries. These struggle in a field which (despite its real value) receives but a tiny fraction of the recognition and financing of the "entertainment industry." The award of the documentary Oscar to a $4 million entertainment piece is unjust to the legitimate competitors, disheartening to makers of real documentaries, and sets a precedent which may encourage inspire others to take similar liberties with their future projects.

Bowling makes its points by deceiving and by misleading the viewer. Statements are made which are false. Moore invites the reader to draw inferences which he must have known were wrong. Indeed, even speeches shown on screen are heavily edited, so that sentences are assembled in the speaker's voice, but which he never uttered.

These occur with such frequency and seriousness as to rule out unintentional error. Any polite description would be inadequate, so let me be blunt. Bowling uses deliberate deception as its primary tool of persuasion and effect.

A film which does this may be a commercial success. It may be amusing, or it may be moving. But it is not a documentary. One need only consult Rule 12 of the rules for the Academy Award: a documentary must be non-fictional, and even re-enactments (much less doctoring of a speech) must stress fact and not fiction. To the Academy voters, some silly rules were not a bar to giving the award. The documentary category, the one refuge for works which educated and informed, is now no more than another sub-category of entertainment.

Serious charges require serious evidence. The point is not that Bowling is unfair, or that its conclusions are incorrect. No, the point is that Bowling is deliberately, seriously, and consistently deceptive. A viewer cannot count upon any aspect of it, even when the viewer believes he is seeing video of an event occurring or a person speaking.

THE LIES:

  • LIE: The Lockheed-Martin facility depicted in the film is presented as a manufacturer of weapons of mass destruction. (TRUTH: the facility produces rockets for launching satellites)

  • LIE: The NRA is callous to gun slayings. (TRUTH: the evidence distorted to reach this infactual end is expansive. The sequence in Bowling in which Charlton Heston gives a defiant pro-gun speech in Denver is edited to unbelievable distortion. The fiery "cold dead hands" statement was not even made in Denver, but a YEAR after the Denver (annual NRA members' meeting) in Charlotte, North Carolina. Compare Bowling's version of the Heston speech in Denver to REALITY

  • LIE: The impression is given in Bowling that the NRA and the KKK were (are?) parallel groups - or more likely, that when the Klan was outlawed, the NRA filled its shoes. (TRUTH: Charlton Heston is NOT a racist, as alleged in Bowling. Heston involved himself in the civil rights movement in the early 60's while the issue was still too hot for Hollywooders concerned about their careers. He also helped Martin Luther King break the Hollywood color barrier that existed at that time. After its founding in New York by two Union Officers, the NRA itself has a long and comprehensive history of aligning itself in diametrical opposition to racism and the KKK.)

  • LIE: Moore sympathizes with the "little boy" at Buell Elementary in Michigan who just found a gun in his uncle's house and took it to school to kill a girl. Moore says "No one knew why the little boy wanted to shoot the little girl". (TRUTH: The "little boy" was the class bully and was already suspended for stabbing another child with a pencil. Since that incident, the "little boy" also stabbed another kid with a knife. Also- the "uncle's house" was a neighborhood crack house. The uncle and the "little boy's" father were, at the time, serving time for theft and cocaine possession. His aunt earned her living from drug dealing. The gun was stolen by one of the uncle's customers and purchased by him in exchange for drugs.

  • LIE: Bowling makes note of $245 million that the U.S. gave to the Taliban government of Afghanistan in 2000 and 2001 and then proceeds to illustrate the alleged "result" by showing planes hitting the twin towers. (TRUTH: The $245 million in aid was given through the U.N. and non-governmental organizations to relieve the famine that existed in Afghanistan at that time.

  • LIE: Bowling showcases a dramatic comparison of gun homicide stats from various countries. (TRUTH: The numbers don't add up - click here)

  • LIE: In Bowling, Moore enters a WalMart in Ontario, Canada to purchase, with ease and without being identified, several boxes of ammunition. (TRUTH: Canadian officials have indicated that the purchase, as depicted in the movie, is either fake or illegal)

  • LIE: Moore shows footage of a B-52 on display at the Air Force Academy, and sadly announces that the plaque under it "proudly proclaims that the plane killed Vietnamese people on Christmas Eve of 1972." Interestingly enough, Moore's camera only lets you see the plaque from a distance sufficient enough to render the plaque impossible to read. (TRUTH: The inscription on the plaque is: "Dedicated to the men and women of the Strategic Air Command who flew and maintained the B-52D throughout its 26 year history in the command. Aircraft 55,003, with over 15,000 flying hours, is one of two B-52's credited with a confirmed MIG kill during the Vietnam conflict. Flying out of Utapao Royal Thai Naval Airfield in southeast Thailand, the crew of "Diamond Lil" shot down a MIG northeast of Hanoi during "Linebacker II" action on Christmas eve 1972.")

Nice tries Mike.

:: In part from "Bowling for Columbine: Documentary or Fiction?" (read it here)


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