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The School Shooting in Us: Bowling for Columbine

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“It was the morning of April 20th, 1999, and it was pretty much like any other morning in America…And out in Littleton, Colorado, two boys went bowling at six in the morning. Yes, it was a typical day in the United States of America.” Bowling for Columbine, a 2002 American film and documentary, which is written, produced, acted, narrated, and directed by Michael Moore, is centered on a mass school shooting that ensues later that day, as perpetrated by the two boys, and was one of the worst mass shootings of the time that shook the nation. The Columbine Shooting serves as a symbol/(microcosm) of what can happen at any place in America, at any time. The shooting acts as a focal point for Moore to delve deeper into the root of gun violence in the United States and indicate a concern that impacts the nation as a whole. With this respect, he addresses a concern and makes it a concern for America.

While the Columbine Shooting was met with shock and an outpouring of emotions, and instigated a chain reaction of increased security at schools, the way people react now to this type of violence is different. Mass gun violence and gun shootings have increased since 1999 and is met with less shock and anger. The Columbine Shooting has been superseded by deadlier mass shootings. With the prevalence of gun violence in American society, the film remains relevant to Americans in the present.

In creating the film, Moore hoped to create public interest and address the occurrence of mass gun violence and access to guns in the United States. Moore challenges the middle-class Americans to _______ through effective use of rhetoric delivered through a series of montages. He uses a variety of media and film techniques including interviews, cartoons, stock footage…(“range of compelling, disturbing, breathtaking footage) He engages viewers with conflicting, sometimes ambiguous, and irrational viewpoints that ultimately create public interest and cause the American middle class to think about the significant issue of gun violence. It is his effective use of logos, pathos, and ethos that…

The documentary/film is unique. It deviates from a normal plot structure. Addresses or touches on a variety of topics including fear, media, NRA, mafia, … Ethos > President of NRA, Marilyn Manson. And logos > Comparison with Canda, what makes the United States so unique? The 2-hour film is packed with (…) logos, ethos, pathos

Moore draws viewers in by appealing to pathos. In one of the earliest scenes of the documentary, Moore is seen trying to open an account at a bank. Moore

show vs. tells gradually expose. Imbued with humor and pathos. Bias and narration to persuade. The viewer has to analyze. Music to heighten mood, create and drive emotion. What a Wonderful World. Fast pacing and direction. Satire and irony. Use humour to captivate. We don’t know everything. The film unfolds/progresses over time. It asks the audience to work as it watches. Keeps audience engaged. You have to connect things, irony. Make realizations.

The documentary ends with the Moore leaving the NRA president, big person and describes him entering the real world, the fact that anyone can be a shooter…there could be a gun right up in the camera, an ambiguous reference to bowling and the song of “What a Wonderful World”. The film is memorable. And it is Moore’s use of rhetoric, specifically logos, pathos, and ethos throughout that drives it forward.


  • Moore, M. (Writer), & Moore, M. (Director). (n.d.). Bowling for Columbine [Video file]. 

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