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Bowling for Columbine Notes

Rhetorical Analysis of Bowling for Columbine
Groups briefly compare worksheets.
Rhetorical Situation
“Bowling for Columbine is a 2002 American documentary film written, produced,
directed, and narrated by Michael Moore,” a filmmaker known for sometimes outrageous
satires and goofy investigative journalism. “The film explores what Moore suggests are
the causes for the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 and other acts of violence
with guns. Moore focuses on the background and environment in which the massacre
took place and some common public opinions and assumptions about related issues. The
film also looks into the nature of violence in the United States.”
The film brought Moore international attention as a rising filmmaker and won numerous
awards, including the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, the Independent
Spirit Award for Best Documentary Feature, a special 55th Anniversary Prize at the 2002
Cannes Film Festival[2] and the César Award for Best Foreign Film.[3]
The film basically asks: why is American gun violence so high? Why are Americans
shooting each other?
Rhetorical Stance
Look at first few scenes. We know this filmmaker is questioning the status quo, with some
contempt or at least humor , amazement—all of which prepares us for what is to come.
Film clips from 50s.
Visual juxtapositions
Somewhat cartoonish look at “normal America” or normal American day.
Shots/dialogue which emphasize hypocrisy, absurdity.
American gun violence is the worst in the world….
 Not because we have a violent past.
 Not because of violent rock artists or video games.
 Not because we have so many guns and they are so easily obtained (even in banks!).
1. Because media promote a culture of fear. Doesn’t even see the stark poverty and
disrepair of Michigan.
2. Because consumerism promotes a culture of fear. Manson: we’re kept constantly afraid
so that we’ll consume.
3. Because we have terrible class and race inequities.
4. Because our own government sets a brutal example.
5. Because we have a blind and/or hypocritical corporate system. (Seemingly nice
Lockheed guy standing there talking about how awful Columbine was with huge missiles
behind him.)
American gun violence is the worst in the world for five, sometimes surprising, reasons.
A member of NRA, grew up with guns, even won awards for shooting.
Credentials from Roger and Me. Film awards.
Tends to listen quite sincerely. (?)
Normal guy, farm hat, casual clothes and manner.
Shows his own sensitivity via camera-work, point of view.
Does give opposition a chance to defend themselves.
 Shots of people crying.
 Sources with first-hand knowledge of gun tragedy.
 Cops.
 Gentle (?) shots of/conversations with gun nuts, provoking fear.
 Visual juxtapositions, old footage.
 Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.”
Statistics, numbers.
Sources which hang themselves.
Deductive reasoning. Principle of racial inequality, media-hyped up fear, etc.
Personal experience.
Type of Issue
Substantiation (comparing stats, looking at facts)
Interpretation. Social results have multiple, complex causes.