Was Michael Moore cowardly when he didn’t run a parody of the National Rifle Association featuring a teen sniper school after Columbine?
Left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore has recently come under fire for criticizing the Chris Kyle biopic, “American Sniper.”
My uncle killed by sniper in WW2. We were taught snipers were cowards. Will shoot u in the back. Snipers aren't heroes. And invaders r worse
— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) January 18, 2015
Moore once wanted to run a satire of the National Rifle Association that included an ad for a “teen sniper school.”
So are there any topics too taboo even for Michael Moore? Funny you should ask, the filmmaker replies in a hastily grabbed phone interview in an airport between planes. It was just days after the shooting massacre at the high school in Littleton, Colorado, and Moore had just gotten a call from some higher-up, asking about a planned segment in which Moore parodies the National Rifle Association with an ad for teen sniper school.
“I’ve been working on this show since last May and I’ve yet to have a call on any censorship issue,” Moore says. Even this call was just an inquiry, not a demand for changes. But for satire, being a form of comedy, it’s all about timing.
“It’s that old Woody Allen line,” Moore explains. ‘Tragedy plus time equals comedy.’ You can make jokes about the Lincoln assassination all you want.” (In a recent letter on his Web page, http://www.michaelmoore.com, Moore points out the hypocrisy and irony of U.S. President Bill Clinton, mourning the Littleton killings, saying “We must teach our children to settle their differences through words and not weapons.” Meanwhile, this same president, Moore says, “continues a daily slaughter of human beings [in Kosovo]. He has chosen to respond to their actions not with ‘words’ but with death.”) (David Barber, “Michael Moore takes comfort in afflicting the comfortable,” The Globe and Mail, May 15, 1999).
Moore defended airing the segment after Columbine to the New York Post.
THE cable network Bravo has ordered Michael Moore to yank a four-minute segment called “Teen Sniper School” from next Sunday’s episode of his cable show, “The Awful Truth.”
The satirist is accusing the network of censorship.
The segment – shot nearly five months before the Columbine massacre – was a parody of gun laws and proposed adding shooting classes to the nation’s high-school curriculum.
“It takes the current environment of easy access to guns by children of all ages to its logical extreme,” Moore wrote in an e-mail sent to his fans last Friday. “Why not just arm all the kids and teach them to be better shots as part of the school curriculum?”
Moore sent the e-mail in response to inquiries about the show, when word got out that the segment might be cut.
In the memo he accuses the network of censorship, but adds that he still supports Bravo because it regularly airs his show – which pokes fun at everything from big tobacco to Disney. “They’re the ones with the guts to air this stuff,” he wrote.
“After a number of discussions with the Bravo network regarding this Sunday’s show, the network has decided to censor and remove a four-minute piece…entitled ‘Teen Sniper School,'” Moore wrote. “While we have a deep respect for the people at Bravo…we disagree with their decision to pull the segment.”
Moore was not available for comment yesterday, but in his memo he said he understood that watching the segment might be difficult for some viewers.
“We believe, though, that one of the main functions of satire is to confront the uncomfortable issues,” he wrote. “Satire is not supposed to be the kind of Comedy Lite you can find on every other channel. Satire assumes the audience has a brain.”