Tuesday, October 22, 2002
Movie reviewed by Enron
One has to wonder whether David Demby was being serious in his New Yorker review of Michael Moore's new movie, "Bowling for Columbine." The review was outstandingly poor. It's easy to disagree with Michael Moore, but I can't imagine it's easy to write such a sloppy review.
While discussing Moore's first movie, "Roger & Me," Demby writes: "Moore refused to see GM's big picture; he was outraged by the little picture—by the ruined city, with its desolate streets and impoverished workers scrounging around to make a living." One has to believe that, if he actually saw the movie (and I assume that he did), that he would have realized that this was the point of the "Roger & Me" -- the devil is in the details. Corporations may make decisions which are justified by their "big picture," but sometimes they have horrible effects -- effects which, in a humane and democratic country, should have been taken into account by the company.
Demby accuses Moore of the following: "he thinks powerful people should take responsibility for the troubles that their decisions lead to," which forces one to ask: does Demby not believe this? That powerful people should not take responsibility for their decisions?
Demby says the movie becomes "an absurdist portrait... of America as a paranoid nation." Yet, Demby does not reveal why it's absurd. In a responsible debate, you can't just disagree with your opponent, or just call his position names (like absurd), but you are required to state why. Moore did his part to further the debate. His movie isn't and shouldn't be the final word on its subjects. Demby refuses to engage the debate. He just wants to call the movie names.
Demby contributes the following analysis: "Moore traces our anxiety to guilt over slavery and the slaughter of Native Americans." I've seen the movie, too, and remember the part that covered slavery and Native Americans. Yet, Moore hardly "traces our anxiety" to it; his point was simply that Americans have owned and employed guns for a long time. Putting words in someone's mouth is easy but crass.
Near the close of the review, we read the following statement: "Moore's satirical scattershot method offers no way of distinguishing between real and pathological terrors." Again, this was Moore's point. American are terrified -- terrified by the local news, terrified by the shootings at Columbine, terrified by the government telling them that terror strikes are likely this upcoming weekend and when none comes that it will likely come next weekend. It's the fear that Moore was exploring, not whether the fear was justified or not (or, in Demby's words, real or pathological). This message wasn't subtle; it was obvious throughout the work. It's surprizing that Demby did not realize this. Actually, it's not surprizing.
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