Bowling for Columbine (which I have yet to see) has put Michael Moore back in the limelight, and he’s using the opportunity to represent on fear-mongering in our culture. Fear sells, and so the media give us plenty of it. Issues that are statistically peripheral are put at the forefront when juicy. We end up thinking the world is about to implode, making ourselves sick (literally) with worry and paranoia. Example:
In the late 1990s the number of drug users had decreased by half compared to a decade earlier; almost two-thirds of high school seniors had never used any illegal drugs, even marijuana. So why did a majority of adults rank drug abuse as the greatest danger to America’s youth? Why did nine out of ten believe the drug problem is out of control, and only one in six believe the country was making progress? Give us a happy ending and we write a new disaster story.
Moore is currently featuring a lengthy excerpt from Barry Glassner’s book “Fear” (from which the above excerpt comes) on his web site. Scary stuff. Or not.
Update: It appears that Michael Moore has been dipping his fingers into the revisionism jar — in an article on his site, he had predicted victory for Dems in the recent election. But rather than eating crow when everything turned out wrong, he took the essay down, vanished without a trace. Critics are having a field day.
2 Replies to “Culture of Fear”
I’m not sure it’s as simple as using his current limelight to bring to the surface another issue — fearmongering. Fearmongering is the central issue of Bowling for Columbine itself, so focusing on that while he’s hot may well be a bit of feedback-loop promotion for the film.
I loved Bowling for Columbine, and I’m glad that Michael Moore is out there doing his thing. At the same time it’s important that people be aware that he uses as much spin, manipulation and other techniques of media control as those at the other end of the spectrum who he decries. But he does unearth a lot of interesting stuff, and he definitely has a fair amount of testicular fortitude.
I’ll still see the movie but I was annoyed, angered and disappointed to see the day-before-election day essay pulled.
Considering the current state of Google caching of just about everything, added to the fact that the same essay was sent out to his mailing list and no doubt forwarded around a lot, exactly what was he hoping to accomplish by removing it from his website? Revisionism is bad, being a moron about it is worse.
And let’s hope he doesn’t try some more revisionism, by, for example, claiming the essay was the victim of a technical glitch, because it is already obviously by the way errors are handled by his server that the essay in question was deliberately removed.