Bowling for Columbine

4 min read

Posted 19 years ago
by Téa Smith

It has been a while since I posted anything here, but I will try to post more from now on.

There have been a few reasons why I wasn’t as enthusiastic about keeping this blog going. The main one was simply that I was too afraid to write! That may sound silly, but I will give you a little back story.

I am a member of a Yahoo Group called “September2001Babies”. Don’t ask me why, but I joined it when I first found out I was pregnant with Mina and I made some good friends, so I stayed. Anyway, The list was predominantly American. When I say “predominantly”, I mean that there were probably 3 members out of 90 that were outside of the United States, with one Canadian, one from Australia (ie me) and one from Finland (I think it was — one of those Nordic ones anyway). Anyway, most Australians and Canadians, and even a few Americans, look at things differently to the dominant conservative culture that exists, and even have a different sense of humour from the dominant culture that is White America. Me being the type of person that I am, I questioned the Americans more than I should, and probably challenged them more often than they would have liked me too. Most of the time they spent their time arguing about how not to upset each other with subject headers whilst upsetting people…go figure… until my Canadian friend posted pictures of her Halloween carvings of Bush and Osama Bin laden to the list. Well, needless to say, the irony was not noted and it sparked a mass exodus from the list — of all the US “Moms” away from me and my Canadian friend. A few decent folks stayed, but the list basically died at the hands of one or two people who couldn’t take a joke. This isn’t the full story — there were a few other troublemakers and “discussions” that would usually end in me calling them all “retarded” or something, but fundamentally, I was consistently bullied for my opinions for nearly two years before the wenches left the group. Basically it ended in me believing that Americans live in a freaky Sliders episode and I was too scared to post anything controversial or even honest for fear of losing the few members that stuck around on the babies list. This wasn’t a direct cause, but it was one of the reasons I became too afraid to post anything about what I was thinking for fear of being harassed again. In other words, I started to conform.

Fast forward to yesterday.

I saw Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine” and I had one of those rare moments where it felt really good to be “me”. For months I have felt marginalised. In fact, I have felt marginalised for practically my whole life, having always been isolated or harassed for being “gifted” (whatever the heck that means). But these last few months, I have felt particularly isolated and down, because no matter where I turned — the mainstream media, my family, that email list that I talked about, even people at uni — there was this air of not only hatred and racism, but support for war, support for American dominant culture, and propaganda against Muslim communities around the world. I have also been confused about what I am supposed to do with my life, how I can use my diverse talents and interests to make a difference. And, not only that, I have been frustrated that noone would listen to me when I expressed an opinion that was different to the norm. So I just stopped. I stopped debating with my grandmother when she talked about “those Muslims”. I stopped writing my blog and writing my book, and just writing in general. I stopped caring about me degree and worried more about finishing than learning. I stopped writing because, without my strong convictions and my strong sense of irony and humour, I had nothing to write about. I was so afraid of saying the wrong thing that my ‘craft’ was suffering, and I was becoming everything I despised: Someone who censors themselves for the sake of appearances. I was becoming mainstream.

And then I watched Bowling for Columbine ( I watched Michael Moore making a difference — rubbing against the grain of American mainstream politics. And taking galant risks for what he believes in, through his craft of comedy and filmmaking. I watched him challenge Charlton Heston in his own home and present the facts about American Imperialism. I watched him take 2 teenage boys that had bullets lodged in their bodies after the Columbine shootings to Kmart. I watched as he used his profile and convictions to cause Kmart to phase out the sale of handgun and semi-automatic ammunition. And not only did I feel inspired, I felt vindicated.

And I had an epiphony. I realised that it is a GOOD thing that I am different to all those women on my list. I am not someone prepared to settle for a house in a gated community to convince myself that life is strawberries and cream, and that blacks are a threat and everyone outside the US is out to get you. I am not prepared to sacrifice my convictions for fear of what some brainwashed, Oprah-watching housewives are going to say, because I *am* better than them. They will hate me for saying it, but I am, because instead of spending my days playing peekaboo and doing laundry, I have decided to make a difference in this world through my writing. And anyone who attempt to scare me into submission will not succeed anymore, because I am a different person. I have realised that it takes strength to have opinions and it takes courage to express those opinions in face of opposition. I also realised that its okay to be myself, and being armed with education and writing ability puts me in a position of power in this world.

Now, while this may only be a weblog amongst millions, I have realised that there is a reason I was put on this earth — and that is to use my writing in the same way that Michael Moore has used filmmaking. It may sound arrogant, but I really don’t care. Consider this a mission statement for the blog entries to come. I will be writing my book again; I will be writing newspaper articles and columns. And I will make a difference through my art.

I promise I won’t make too many self-indulgent, Oprah-magazine editorials from now on. but I did need to explain why I disappeared. I look forward to feedback from people. Thanks for reading.

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You're too kind :-)

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Hey there, good looking. Sorry to interrupt.

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