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Propaganda can simply be referred to as the manipulation of public opinion. It is generally passed on through the media because they are capable of reaching a greater amount of people and persuading them to believe a certain cause of thoughts presented by the propagated issue. The television is a tool that has had a great impact on propaganda. Television has increased the effectiveness and amount of propaganda because of the ability to communicate visually to a large number of people rapidly over long distance, especially through films. This essay discusses propaganda in Bowling for Columbine, a 2002 movie written and narrated by Michael Moore. The essay explains how Moore has propagated the film’s ideas to explain film’s subject that seeks to examine the high rates of violence in the United States.
There is proof that supports the high rate of crime presented by Michael Moore’s movie. To start with, the United States has the highest rate of murders and homicides related to using weapons. According to Robbers (1), Mr. Moore propagates his ideas by employing interviews and confrontations to a number of parties that are involved with the issue of guns. He first makes the audience aware that he himself is a member of the National Rifle Association (NRA), an American agency headed by Charlton Heston, whose members are allowed to store ammunition at home. He is involved in interviews with the militants as well as gun owners (Robbers 2). One of the members actually claims that weapons are very necessary to protect families. He visits commercial places like K-Mart where these retailers benefit from selling ammunition and firearms. Through the airing of people’s opinions, the film provides ideas for its main subject and also proofs of why this nation has high rates of violence.
Mr. Moore learns that the accessibility of guns and violent entertainment are not just the reason for high rates of violent acts in the US. This is also the reason why he seeks to confront powerful elite figures, such as Charlton Heston, and corporate interests of various organizations like K-Mart to try and explain his theme. This film is not a mere narrated documentary; it takes the side of anti-gun pacifism and Mr. Moore supports his views in a one-sided manner. Moreover, there is no balanced evidence of gun pacifism. For this reason, the film fits the criteria of a propaganda movie where Mr. Moore utilizes various elements of propaganda and persuasion for the society to support his views against the NRA and present Charlton Heston as a villain (Robbers 3).
This essay describes five key elements of propaganda. First, for any propaganda to survive it must control the media. Propaganda must have a hold of any media of information so that it can control the flow of information itself. Propaganda also must have the emotional appeal. This element can be explained as propaganda having a public face that makes it gain public support. This component appeals to the minds and hearts of people to gain their trust and support by depicting the villain as an evil person. Another element of propaganda is imagery. This element diverts attention from troublesome issues and depicts partial facts. Another component of propaganda is simplicity and repetition. Propaganda only points out simple main points to support its statement, which are repeated many times for greater appeal to the people’s emotions. The last element of propaganda is legitimacy. Legitimacy promotes the views of the villain as being negative and provides its own views as being righteous and right.
The film demonstrates control of the media whereby a rock star, Marilyn Manson, is interviewed. Some of his songs are linked to the Columbine High School massacre, which shows that the tragedy would have been as a result of bowling (Robbers 2). Manson, a public figure of the media, also supports the fact that the USA is a country of fear and consumption, and that the president is never accused by the media of any murders. He states that the media are government-controlled; this information about his views of controversy can gain popularity and appeal. He controls the media with non-negotiable public roles in support of his views that banks are not supposed to be connected with guns (Robbers 1). In the film, there is a bank where one is offered a free gun when someone opens an account (Robbers 1).
The second element is of emotional appeal and is depicted where Moore takes two survivors to demonstrate against the selling of ammunition at K-Mart, while the bullets of the young men are still in their bodies. This generates a lot of emotional appeal to the people’s minds and hearts. This influences a K-Mart spokesman to state that they will change their policies concerning selling ammunition where Moore shows up again in support of media personalities accompanying him to claim their victory.
The third element, imagery, is portrayed when a song plays without narrations to show some footage; this is supposed to support Mr. Moore’s views. Footage depicts various events such as shooting ranges during riots and shootings of family members among others. This imagery is realistic and provides a strong and bold message that does not support the possession of arms as it could harm the beloved ones as well as cause accidents to innocent people.
Another element, simplicity and repetition, is achieved by Mr. Moore through the repetitive question he asks concerning who takes responsibility of the violence that is committed through firearms. This shows that the responsibility is directed to violent films, bowling and games. He convinces the audience that Americans are in constant bombardment of stories of fear that lead them to buying weapons.
The element of legitimacy is depicted when Charlton is portrayed as a villain when he is talking negatively to weeping children of Columbine (Robbers 3).
In conclusion, the side which Mr. Moore supports is greatly evident and in his presentation he gives no room for the society not to support him. He applies elements of propaganda, humor, sarcasm, as well as music and culture, to hold the society’s interest. This makes the society to hold the same views as those presented by the film in the end.