In our English lessons at the FOS Pfennigparade in Munich we watched one of the most famous films of 2003 to deal with the social and political background of that movie.

BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE by Michael Moore, awarded with the OSCAR, got banned from the movie theatres in certain states of the U.S.A., e.g. in Texas where the American President George W. Bush used to be Governor, before getting „elected“ to the White House.
Texas has always been featured with extreme racial conflicts focusing on underprivileged ethnic minorities which in many cases are not only rather poor but neither are granted equal chances for education, school attendance and professional advancement.

Besides, Texas is one of those states in which capital punishment is practiced, and in most cases the ones to be executed by order of the state are black people. Michael Moore presents historical facts on the respective U.S. administrations of the last decades. One of those fatal constellations focuses on the Taliban regime in Afghanistan:

Osama bin Laden, educated in the U.S., got promoted and financially supported by U.S. military organisations during the fight against the former USSR in times of the so-called Cold War between Nato-states and countries belonging to the Warsaw Pact. A further example emphasizes the conflict between Saddam in Bagdad and the Bush  administrations in Washington. Saddam as well was immensely promoted and delivered with armament systems by former U.S. governments during the fight against the Iranian Khomeini regime.

Leading representatives of the U.S. administration understandably dont want those facts to be presented on any platforms of culture or entertainment. It has always been rather absurd that several U.S. governments as self-appointed world’s police not waiting for UNO decisions have repeatedly given military support to corrupt regimes of dictatorship, which a couple of years later war was declared on.

Apart from those foreign affairs, BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE sarcastically shows the image of all those JOHN WAYNE or CHARLTON HESTON mentalities, narrow-minded personality structures, crazy and mad about weapons, who just are keen on protecting their homes and castles against all sorts of criminals, burglars, robbers, thieves, murderers. With a gun in your hand you might feel like a Western Star or a narcissistic fool as in Lennon’s powerful song „Happiness is a warm gun“ which also can be heard in COLUMBINE. In many cases, however, those weapons, meant to protect people’s homes against potential enemies from outside, have turned out to be directed against family members in times of psychological crises or tensions inside the walls protecting people’s homes and castles.

Michael Moore: Why do 11,000 people die in America each year at the hands of gun violence? The talking heads on every TV channel blame everything from Satan to video games. But are we that much different from many other countries? This is a film about the fearful heart and soul of the United States: From a look at the Columbine High School security camera tapes to the home of Oscar-winner Charlton Heston, from a young man who makes homemade napalm with „The Anarchist’s Cookbook“ to the murder of a six-year-old girl by another six-year-old. „Bowling for Columbine“ is a journey through  America, and through our past to discover why our pursuit of happiness is so riddled with violence. ( Yet, there is that part of America beyond U.S. administrations‘ questionable involvements and COLUMBINE mentalities, a land featured with the ideas of Jesse Jackson and Martin Luther King, a land of open-heartedness and solidarity, Louis Armstrong’s „What a wonderful world“ to listen to in the film which got the OSCAR in early 2003 for the Best Documentary at the Academy Awards.

Walter Leder