Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike's Letter

June 4th, 1999 12:00 AM

Teen Sniper School

Dear friends,

Many of you have e-mailed me today asking about a rumor that you read on the internet this morning regarding this Sunday's episode of "The Awful Truth." I would like to inform everyone of the details surrounding what is happening.

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 from "The Awful Truth" entitled, "Teen Sniper School." While we have a deep respect for the people at Bravo (they have treated our show with the kind of support independent filmmakers and TV producers usually can only dream of), we disagree with their decision to pull the segment.

"Teen Sniper School" is one of the most biting and uncomfortable pieces of satire we have produced. It takes the current environment of easyaccess to guns by children of all ages to its logical extreme -- why not just arm all the kids and teach them to be better shots as part of the school curriculum?

We shot this segment five months before the tragedy at Columbine High School. Bravo is correct in its feeling that viewing "Teen Sniper School" in the aftermath of the Littleton, Colorado, incident is not an easy thing to do. We believe, though, that one of the main functions of satire is to confront the uncomfortable issues. 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. Good satire has you laughing so you don't start crying -- and, in the end, maybe it gets you thinking about just what the #@*& is going on in this strange world.

We offered to recut the piece and add a new twist that said, essentially, "It took 25 years since the King and Kennedy assassinations to get our first gun control law passed (the Brady bill). It took only four weeks after Columbine to get our second gun law passed. Then it took only six hours after the shootings at the Georgia high school last week to get our third gun control bill enacted. Clearly, the only way to get true gun control in this country is for there to be more school shootings."

Some people can take that, some can't. Bravo correctly points out the adage quoted by Woody Allen in "Crimes and Misdemeanors" that "tragedy plus time equals comedy." You can make all the jokes you want about the Lincoln assassination and end up personally offending few people.

Killings that happened last month, though, are no laughing matter.

Of course, we don't produce "The Awful Truth" so we can just get you all to yuck it up. By now, even if you can't pick up "The Awful Truth", you have probably figured out from the type of work we do that our aim is not the hysterical punch line or the ability to shock. It takes no great skill to go around with a superior "we're-so-smart-and-hip-and-you're-so-stupid" attitude (Craig Kilborne/The Daily Show) or to shock the audience with gross junior high antics (SouthPark/Tom Green). There is no denying that each of these examples (with the exception of Kilborne) are very funny, but when you take it to the next level -- where lurking beneath the humor is some very pointed satire about something the writer BELIEVES in -- then you have those rare films and shows (The Simpsons, Bulworth, yes, even Beavis and Butthead) which aspire to make comment on the social condition and maybe, just maybe, get a few people out there to do something -- anything -- before the whole thing heads into the permanent crap-ola.

With "Teen Sniper School", as we try to do most weeks, we sought to make our statement without a sermon and yet do it the most honest way we know how. I think you get where our heart is at, and that when we show a two year-old holding a 9mm Glock, you are able to figure out that that is the OPPOSITE of what we want in this world. Of course, most of you already know this. To the Irish, Canadians and Brits reading this, you also know it because you have not stomped on your wonderful tradition of satire (Swift, Python, Mark Thomas, Mike Bullard, etc.) as we have here in the U.S. with ours. We have to reach back to Mark Twain and Will Rogers to cite real examples of brutally popular satire.

So this Sunday's show (9pm and 1am on the East Coast, 6pm and 10pm on the West Coast) will be four minutes short. The other two segments you will see are still pretty damn good -- a piece on Ted Turner and another where we send "Adolph Hitler" into a number of Swiss banks in Zurich to "make a withdrawal" of the stolen money they've been holding for him since 1945. Some pretty funny, offensive-with-a-purpose stuff.

Don't be upset with Bravo; they're the ones with the guts to air this stuff and they have told me that they hope to air "Teen Sniper School" at some later date when they feel an appropriate time has passed since the Columbine tragedy.

Unfortunately, because we still refuse to deal with this gun issue in a civilized way, there will continue to be more Columbines in this country. In fact, there is a "Columbine" that happens every day in this country. Thirteen kids under the age of 19 are killed every single day in America by guns. Again, to our foreign viewers, it's hard for me to explain our wacky attitude about guns. After the founding fathers wrote the Constitution, they started to get freaked out that the Brits might return, so they wrote an amendment saying we all had a right to have a musket in our cabins. That turned out not to be not such a bad idea 'cause the Brits did return in 1812 (thanks guys), but ever since then, the Second Amendment has been more like the Second Commandment. It made a lot of sense then; it makes no sense now. The potential foreign invaders or a possible rogue American government we are supposed to be ready to fight with our pistols and shotguns now all have atomic bombs and sonic jet fighters -- and there ain't nothin' I can keep in my garage that's going to fend off that kind of firepower.

Or let's look at it another way. I would assume that even most gun nuts in America would not subscribe to the belief that every American has a right to own weapons-grade plutonium. But why shouldn't we? Isn't that the modern version of the 1776 musket? The reason we are all willing to give up our God-given right to weapons-grade plutonium is that we feel it's better to be denied that right than to risk what might happen when one or twokooks decide to blow up Des Moines with their Constitutionally-protected plutonium. The same type of survival instinct leads us also t o accept the abandonment of our Fourth Amendment rights when we walk through the metal detector at the airport. Even the most liberally-minded say go ahead and x-ray my bags and wave that magic wand over my crotch CAUSE I DON'T WANT TO BE BLOWN TO KINGDOM COME!

To those who say it isn't the guns causing all this tragedy, but, rather, that it's Hollywood, rock and roll, the internet and the disinterested and absentee suburban parents who fail to notice the 30 pipe bombs Junior is building in the bedroom, let me point out that the Brits watch the same exact violent movies, the same violent TV shows, play the same violent video games, listen to the same dark Goth music, have access same sick internet addresses and have the same number of lousy parents raising the same number of psychotic kids in the same kind of morally-corrupt society.

Last year, in a nation of over 50 million people, with strict guns laws, there was a total of 30 handgun murders in Great Britain.


I hate to say it folks, but it's the guns.

Funny how our former masters get to have the last laugh after they sent us down this insane road.

That's it for now. Let's hope the success the Russians seemed to have had bringing this idiot war in Yugoslavia to an end really holds. According to the proposed agreement, there will be no NATO troops in Kosovo (Clinton/Blair loss #1), no KLA drug-running army allowed into Kosovo (Clinton/Blair loss #2), and that nut-case Milosevich still gets to be in charge, as is always the case when we bomb the innocent civilians to bits, i.e.Saddam, Khadafy, etc. (Clinton/Blair loss #3).

"But Mike, it's not the Russians that did the trick, it was the bombs! It's the bombs that did it! It's the bombs! It's the guns! It's the guns! No wait it's Marilyn Manson! I mean, it's... it's... IT'S THE TRENCHCOATS!!!!!"


Michael Moore
Winner of "N.R.A. Marksman Boy Scouts Award" for perfect shooting, Flint, Mich. 1970

"Air Pollution Doesn't Kill People -- Breathing It Kills People!"

You must log in to comment.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in | Register

Time to put the cuffs on Chris Christie -- not for the bridge scandal, but for this: Chris Christie's $300m pension proposal broke state anti-corruption...

Apr 18th
7:31 PM
Read More

George W. Bush Debuts New Paintings Of Dogs, Friends, Ghost Of Iraqi Child That Follows Him... President Bush has a new hobby -- painting! --...

Apr 17th
7:28 PM
Read More

Big new story from David Sirota and Pando on top Christie adviser and appearance of corruption at New Jersey's pension fund: REVEALED: Gov....

Apr 17th
12:41 PM
Read More

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States WASHINGTON—The FBI announced today that it has uncovered a...

Apr 15th
3:28 PM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel's top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge contract As schools are closed and pensions cut,...

Apr 9th
2:00 PM
Read More

I'll be at First Time Fest today in New York City at the screening of my first film, Roger & Me. Loews Village 7 at 12:30 pm. Come see it on the big...

Apr 5th
9:48 AM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors If you've read the financial news out of Chicago the last...

Apr 4th
2:19 PM
Read More

Please take a moment today to think of Casey Austin Sheehan, son of Cindy and Patrick, who was murdered by U.S. foreign policy in Sadr City, Baghdad ten years...

Apr 4th
2:00 PM
Read More

ICYMI - I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence...

Apr 3rd
7:38 PM
Read More

I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention...

Apr 2nd
8:27 PM
Read More

I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested...

Apr 1st
3:55 PM
Read More

How Long Some in the US Will Survive Under New Health Law Donna Smith Those who must access care to live and can afford it are not...

Mar 31st
10:13 PM
Read More

Last night, The Good Wife on the East Coast started 40 minutes late due to the overrun of the NCAA basketball game. If you had your DVR set for the show, you...

Mar 24th
5:41 PM
Read More

Watching films today, looking for the ones I'm going to pick for my film festival this summer. I (and a whole bunch of others!) have this thing we put on...

Mar 23rd
4:48 PM
Read More

When the U.S. Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Cares Enough to Fight? Donna Smith We have largely forgotten that people are at...

Mar 21st
5:56 PM
Read More

Tell the White House not to give up on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination as Surgeon General despite the ferocious opposition from the NRA: Don't give...

Mar 21st
5:38 PM
Read More

This criminal would never see a jail cell, nor would his cronies. In fact, they'd later be rewarded with re-election: Presidential Address on War with...

Mar 19th
9:40 PM
Read More

The crime of the century -- our invasion & slaughter in Iraq -- started 11 years ago tonite in this 7pm (ET) hour, March 19th, 2003: CNN Coverage of...

Mar 19th
9:08 PM
Read More

Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa Nick Turse Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian,...

Mar 17th
4:59 PM
Read More

"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world." -- Tony Benn, 1925-2014 Tony Benn in 'Sicko'

Mar 14th
10:07 AM
Read More

RIP Tony Benn, one of the UK's greatest leaders: Tony Benn, veteran Labour politician, dies aged 88 Former cabinet minister died at...

Mar 14th
9:53 AM
Read More

Please read this important story from K. Ford K.: Am I the Face of the New American Middle Class? I began to feel I had slipped so low...

Mar 13th
2:24 PM
Read More

Yesterday Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is all about the report the committee has produced...

Mar 12th
6:48 PM
Read More

Health Care for All Colorado has brought Mercy Killers, a show written and performed by Michael Milligan about our murderous for-profit healthcare system, to...

Mar 10th
1:08 PM
Read More

Health Care Dramas that Sting and Why We Have to Watch Donna Smith The realities Milligan has written into the show cut deep into...

Mar 10th
1:02 PM
Read More

Did you know the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced for 20 years by a company owned by conservative cable billionaire John Malone? Me neither. After...

Mar 7th
8:39 PM
Read More

Mr. Obama, if int’l law is so damn crucial . . . | The Russian intervention deserves criticism. But let’s be clear. The...

Mar 6th
1:21 PM
Read More

Enron billionaire John Arnold thinks everyone should believe him when he says we've got to cut pensions because he's so incredibly rich: John...

Mar 5th
4:20 PM
Read More

More in David Sirota's continuing series on the billionaire takeover of PBS: More PBS conflict woes as activists move to eject David Koch from board of...

Mar 3rd
12:35 PM
Read More

Subscribe to Mike's Blog RSS

Click here to suggest an article

Mike's Blog

See More Blogs

Vew the archives

View older articles