Bowling for Columbine Term Paper

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hit documentary movie by Michael Moore called "Bowling for Columbine" from a criminologist point-of-view. The criminologist point-of-view is obtained from referencing "Criminology: The Core, 8th edition" by Larry J. Siegel as well as various criminal justice research journals. The objective of the paper was to addresses if this documentary supported information taught by Siegel. The paper aims to discuss theories the movie covered, provide insight into gun control and discuss violence in schools. Another objective of the paper was to discuss if the movie's arguments portrayed real life. And finally, the paper tries to provide an evaluation of my personal beliefs about "Bowling For Columbine" and crime in general.

'Bowling For Columbine" was a highly successful movie in both the box office as well as prestigious Hollywood award circles. Some estimates have the movie grossing more than forty million dollars worldwide and of that more than half coming from the United States. The movie was said to break box office records in the United Kingdom, Austrailia and Austria. The question why this film was so successful must come to one's mind. The thesis of the documentary was to present Michael Moore's version of what he felt happended before, during and after the Columbine High School shooting massacre. The movie tried to assess the environment and philosophies prevelant in our society that could allow an event like this to occur. The movie made many assumptions about our society and the nation's legal system. There seems to be no doubt that Michael Moore has touched upon a desire of the entire world to try to undertand the nature of violence in our country and that may be what promoted the box office success.

The movie uses various cartoons, training videos, news clips, and political speeches in combination with home movies made by the perpetrators of the Columbine incidinet to create a picture of our society where a Columbine like event was bound to happen; if not then, at some other time in the furture. Apparently, the perpetrators of the Columbine shooting were in some way trying to change their environment. "Various theories imply that dissatisfaction with ones life or circumstances may motivate people to try to alter their situations using criminal means. (Grasmick) But there were many factors that led to these events. The youths that shot up Columbine for example were know gun enthusiasts.

Our society has an indiffernce to gun violence. For example, in one scene in the movie is a television journalist on a natioanlly syndicated show reporting the death of a child because of some other gun violence yet the reporter seems totally preoccupied with his personal appearance as opposed to the severity of the story. Criminologists work with the understanding that younger individuals often have an extreme indifference to crime. "Few attempts to explain empirically the associations between age and crime, particularly based on a wide range of ages, have been undertaken, and data used in those few instances have not included enough key variables to permit strong conclusions." (Grasmick) But, after watching the movie, even with the political criticisms and off beat humor one must feel that Moore's point was really an attempt to help the family and friends of the Columbine victims as well as the nation move forward with in the healing process.

One theory presented in the film was that in the United States, we have a very high gun related murder rate yet we have not instituted gun control measures. But, as the movie points out, Canada also has lots of guns but does not have near the incident of gun related homicides. The movie goes on to make a guess that maybe it is how America usurped the very country we live in from Native Amercians. The idea of the violence and subjugation the Natives suffered is unprecedented. The other supposition is that maybe we as Americans fear our Black population and thus have higher rates of gun ownership and a prepensity towards violence.

Another prominent theory presented in the film is that we Americans are suffering as a "culture of fear." This theory was supported in the film by how the media has forced citizens in to owning guns in a need for security. Moore demonstrated how the media consistently covers the most violent crimes. The fact that many Canadians leave their doors unlocked while at home was a show of the lack of fear is the norm outside of the United States.

From a criminologist's point-of-view, what did "Bowling For Columbine represent? Was it a simple matter of peer pressure? "Although criminologists have long recognized the strong correlation between a person's delinquency and the delinquency of his or her friends, the mechanisms underlying this relationship remain elusive." (Kreager) Criminal justice and criminology revolve around the components of the criminal justice system which entails police, courts, corrections and in many respects, psychiatry. In the case of Columbine, the criminal justice process did not meet its obligations to take the criminal offenders off the street in time and pass them from the police to the courts and into corrections system and thus allow for psychiatric evaluation.

Columbine was an example of the systems propensity for failure. These two boys from the perspective of a criminologist could have turned out to be victims or perpetrators. "While most teenagers move through adolescence increasing ties to their peers, some youth fail to connect with others and fall to the bottom of a school's status hierarchy. Terms such as "nerds," "losers," "queers," and "nobodies" graphically portray the predicament of isolated students." (Kreager) Everyone seems a victim here and victims of the Columbine incident can not receive the retribution desired by our restorative justice system. When the perpetrators took their own lives they in a sense beat our legal system. Restorative justice assumes that victims, heirs or neighbors can somehow be restored to a point prior to the criminal act.

The movie has scenes that are supposed to be real. Getting a gun from a bank as Michale Moore did in the movie seems contracdictory for bank safety policies so most people think that could not have occurred. "When you see me going in to the bank and walking out with my new gun in "Bowling for Columbine" -- that is exactly as it happened. Nothing was done out of the ordinary other than to phone ahead and ask permission to let me bring a camera in to film me opening up my account. I walked into that bank in northern Michigan for the first time ever on that day in June 2001, and, with cameras rolling, gave the bank teller $1,000 -- and opened up a 20-year CD account. After you see me filling out the required federal forms ("How do you spell Caucasian?") -- which I am filling out here for the first time -- the bank manager faxed it to the bank's main office for them to do the background check. The bank is a licensed federal arms dealer and thus can have guns on the premises and do the instant background checks." (How to Deal with the Lies and the Lying Liars When They Lie about "Bowling for Columbine")

Even the title of the movie is odd -- How real is it? Michael Moore named the film based on several eye witness accounts of both shooters, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, attending their bowling class the morning of the killings as though there was nothing unusal about that day. Although these claims have been disputed, Moore points out that the boy's actions could have been caused by bowling, video games, movies, music or any combination of those things or non-of these things. Our society seems to be overlooking the fact that television alone has thousands of random acts of violence in any given viewing day. "In addition, "loners" were found to be more likely to read books or watch TV than "social" students. Although these findings reinforce an image of isolates as conformists, limitations may qualify the study's results." (Kreager) The fact that these kids had ready access to ammunition, guns, bomb making materials and other tools of destruction is a real life contraversy.

I believe that this film may have exaggerated some things but for all intense and purpose, the ideas behind the exaggerations are accurate. We as Americans need to reevaluate or society because violent crime and murder are not being caused by the guns or the televisions they are being done by people. Canada has as many guns and video games as the United States yet their violent crimes are minimal. When young people commit a crime of this magnitude there should have been some adults with the common sense of seeing this happen. "Adolescence is a period marked by tremendous physical and social transitions. The onset of puberty and physical maturation coincide with teenagers moving from relatively homogeneous primary schools into larger, more heterogeneous middle and high schools. Within these new school contexts, opportunities for clique…[continue]

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