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Bowling for Columbine Group Discussion Questions
Excerpt From this Document
- What issues and themes does the film present?
- What questions about the United States are raised in the film?
- Why is it important to examine U.S. history when asking these complex questions?
- What additional information would be helpful when seeking solutions to problems presented in the film?
- Brainstorm examples of shortterm solutions vs. longterm solutions.
- Longterm solutions are more complex and difficult to address and require a greater commitment. What are some policies the U.S. government and others will need to change to make a more peaceful and just world for future generations?
- Michael Moore asks the Lockheed manager if kids think, "Dad goes off to the factory every day and builds missiles. These are weapons of mass destruction. What's the difference between that mass destruction and the mass destruction over at Columbine High School?" The Lockheed manager suggests that there is not a connection. In a persuasive essay, support a thesis in which you argue whether Moore's statement of a connection makes sense.
- Define satire. Name a wellknown historical figure that has used satire to make a political point. How does the film use political satire to make a point? (Describe some examples.)
- Is it your responsibility as an American to support gun rights or have modern weaponry and living conditions made the Second Amendment obsolete?
Things to consider:
- What was the population of the United States when the Second Amendment was drafted and how did most Americans live?
- Compare this life to the current living conditions (both urban and rural) of the United States.
- What dangers (personal and social) did people face then compared to now?
- Consider the language of the Second Amendment. Do you think it refers to the individual right to possess guns or to the collective right of the people?
- An underlying theme in the film is the issue of white racism and how this racism has spawned fear. Using specific examples from the film as well as other research, agree or disagree with the concept that racism in our country leads to fear.
- When young people commit violent acts, who and/or what is to blame?
- What are the rights to gun ownership in other countries (e.g. Canada, Great Britain, Japan, Australia, France, Germany, etc.), and how do these laws compare to our own laws?
- In our democratic society, what is the media's responsibility to the American public?
- Does the media play on our fears or create new messages? Why/why not?
- Take a position and support it: Do you believe the U.S. media is reliably reporting what is happening around the world?
- Consider all the shots and scenes with bowling pins. What do you think they could symbolize and why?
- Moore uses various editing styles throughout the film (dramatic, humorous, shocking, satirical, etc.) to convey his messages. Describe and explain as many of them as you can. What point is the filmmaker trying to make? How/why are these effective or not in your view?
- According to filmmaker Michael Moore, the number of household guns in a country does not necessarily equate the degree of gun violence in that country. If it's not the number of guns, what factors do contribute to the violent nature of a society?
- Other than the gun violence, what other forms of violence does Moore point to in the film? Moore has stated that sometimes governmental acts, such as Michigan's Welfare to Work program, amount to statesponsored acts of violence on the poor. What do you think he means by this? (See also lesson plan: Whose Terrorism? to explore a broader definition of terrorism and violence.)
- How does Moore use the soundtrack to convey his messages? What song would you select to convey the overall feel of this film?
About this Document
Twenty discussion questions for group work to be used in conjuction with the film and in constructing persuasive arguments.