Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bowling for Columbine: A New Perspective on Safety

Bowling for Columbine (2002), a documentary on America's obsession with guns, (and later safety), by Michael Moore is a compelling film that made me take a step back and realize how irrational Americans' fears truly are. It appears Americans' political correctness and fear for everything that is different than us can be seen in the wider world, what with the US' undeniable cultural imperialism and the antiseptic way it handles foreign affairs. The video below goes to show that Americans (or at least the American government) are their own enemies. 

Phenomenally, no other nation has had such issue on as grand a scale as the US. Germany has 381 murders per year, Britain 255, Japan 39, while the United States has had over 11,000 (and granted, Bowling for Columbine was created exactly ten years ago). 

Moore visited Windsor, Canada, and asked natives if they had locked their doors. Not a single individual reported they lock their doors. On the other hand, Americans will go so far as to use weapons to protect their already-locked homes from burglary. Culturally, it can be gleaned that Americans live in perpetual fear. Few other nations have a market for ADT household security systems, after all. Americans do not trust each other, and that is an endemic issue that plagues the entire nation and will continue to.   

Moore has cited the United States as a culture of paranoia. Due to the media's constant reinforcement of danger through crime reports, people take often overly precautionary measures to ensure their safety. For example, a number of individuals interviewed for Bowling for Columbine expressed that they keep loaded weapons in their household so as to fend for themselves given the off-chance an intruder were to trespass their home. One man even said he kept a loaded .45-caliber handgun underneath his pillow. It appears Americans will go to absurd lengths to keep what they claim is "safe." 

Another theme discussed in Bowling for Columbine is the objectification of minorities, for which "white America" continues to make assumptions of thanks to growing crime reportings and falling actual crime rates. Consequently, the remaining few crimes are that much scarier to local news viewers for they are covered in increasing detail as crime is better controlled by law enforcement. 

I adored Moore's tenacity to ask questions so bluntly to political officials, the prosecutor of the six-year-old boy (who shot a six-year-old girl) and even former president of the National Rifle Association, Charlton Heston, where Moore entered Heston's home and asked him questions Heston claimed he was not prepared to answer. In truth, Heston appeared nervous, and more than anything else, cautious not to say anything that would make him appear ignorant why the NRA conducted gatherings following the Columbine and Flint, Michigan shootings.

When I grow up, I really want to live as far away [culturally] from the United States as possible. Then, and only then, will I be able to live among sane and logical individuals who are not so afraid of you that they demand you stay off their property, not greet you and ask you not to pet their dog.

Excessive measures that strive to ensure constant safety act as a deterrent to forming communities, and instead, hinder relationships from forming, families from developing and society from being a healthy social ecosystem for people to co-exist in peace. Instead, we Americans forever live in fear.

Franklin D. Roosevelt is famously quoted saying, "There is nothing to fear but fear itself." I suppose when he said "fear," he meant "ourselves." 

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