After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, it seems like a good time to take a look at how school shootings are portrayed in the media. Michael Moore’s documentary, Bowling for Columbine provides a gritty look into the American world of easily obtainable guns and the horrifying symptoms that that world can face when these weapons fall into the wrong hands. Bang, Bang, You’re Dead, based on a play popular with high school drama departments in the early 2000s, tries to offer reasons as to why high school outsiders can resort to Columbine-esque violence. And with Zero Day inspired by the video journals made by the shooters at Columbine High School, indie director Ben Coccio uses the “found footage” style to create a film that feels very natural, adding to the disturbing realism that caused Columbine journalist Ben Cullen to call Zero Day, “the one great Columbine film.”
The debate about gun control is not one that will be settled anytime soon. It is important to note that these films, the most prominent that deal with school shootings, were all released several years ago. After a brief buffer period, the immediate post-9/11 era gave rise to an abundance of films that address gun violence. Since then, the trend has all but ceased. With the recent shootings in Portland, Aurora and Newtown, more filmmakers may be drawn to write about gun violence. This would certainly get the general public – and perhaps more importantly, the Internet-armed youth of America – to talk more openly about the debate surrounding gun control, which hopefully, will lead to a solution before another town becomes associated with gun-related death.
Will Beaton is freshman majoring in English and Linguistics