"If We’re Serious About Reducing the Number of Guns in Our World, Then We Also Have to Reduce the Number of Guns in Our Movies."


The pussification of America continues.
The Wire is perhaps the best example I can think of for a TV series that is smart about guns and their consequences. I can't forget the scene from season 2 (?) where one of Omar's heists goes bad, and a gunfight breaks out on the street in front of the stash house. People are shot, Omar makes his getaway. Camera cuts to the interior of a nearby row house, where a mother knocks on her daughter's bedroom door. When there's no response, she enters and finds her daughter inert, dead from a stray bullet that has entered through the wall.

This really showed how toxic gun violence is to communities.
So you're uncomfortable about talking about banning guns from movies because of freedom of speech (which I agree with), but you're okay with talking about banning guns all together despite the right to bear arms?
Typical Seattle stupidity from Paul Constance once again.
Money runs movies. And shoot-outs sell. Always have. Westerns had great shoot-outs. And Jason Statham is a favorite of mine, too.
@3 That's a lovely strawman you've constructed there.
That position is really not too different from the NRA's assertion that violent video games are to blame for all the shootings. There's no evidence to back that assertion up.
This is silly. Let's see some evidence for the empirical claim on which this argument appears to be based before calling for aesthetic Stalinism.
@6 & @7 You realize the Catch-22 involved here, right? No such empirical studies exist because the NRA pays substantial bribes, er, lobbyists, to make sure no such studies can be conducted. It's a convenient way to be able to ignore the growing body count in our streets.
It's the same circular logic that used to be employed against pot. "We just don't know what the long term effects will be - there are no studies!" In lieu of such studies, it was pretty easy to see that old stoners weren't suddenly dying off 20 years after their last joint.
It's also pretty easy to see how the combination of a free-flowing gun trade and a popular culture that glorifies gun violence leads to anti-social young men shooting up schools and theaters. Sadly, the only "studies" we get on that situation are post mortems.
Blatant anti-Sementism. White protestants mainly make up the NRA, and Jews run Hollywood. It's anti-Sementic to blame movies.
Remember the Christian Right during the 90's? Rember their moral crusade against the evils of violence in movies and video games? ("Mortal Kombat and Doom inspired Columbine! Somebody please think of the children!")

Congratulations, you've come full circle. You and your ilk are the new Christian Right.
Weird how this thread has become all "show me the evidence!" It doesn't require another detailed statistical analysis to see how mass media influences our culture. Didn't the Columbine killers write about Spielberg creating a film of their story? Was it just a coincidence that the Aurora, CO killer chose a Batman premiere for his moment of infamy? It's not hard to find lots more examples. I think the letter writer has a really valid point, and maybe Paul protests too much. If we're finally starting to have an adult conversation about guns in this country, maybe it's also time to think hard about the link between popular culture's approach to guns and popular opinions about the same.
There is now consensus that exposure to media violence is linked to actual violent behavior — a link found by many scholars to be on par with the correlation of exposure to secondhand smoke and the risk of lung cancer.


Paul: Obviously you can review everything -- but take a critical eye to an ultraviolent superhero movie just like you would to other harmful media, like a Glenn Beck book or Left Behind. Even if you enjoy something, it can be terrible for society, and that's worth writing about. You do so in all your other writing, even your book criticism -- but not about movies.
Hollywood, Paul and the media are rolling along in their merry way. No stopping them. Say in 25 years when Mexicans dominate the US population, Hollywood will go back to making Charlton Heston style Biblical movies in order profit off the Christ loving brownies.
Exactly what is an "epidemic" of guns? Or any inanimate object? Notice the writer doesn't mention the culture of thugs and illegitimate baby mamas that spawns most of the gun crime.
If we’re serious about reducing the number of guns in our world, then we also have to reduce the number of guns in our movies.

Where does this incessant need for filtering of art by ideology end?

We are a violent society. Our general level of violence is higher than most western nations. We were that way before movies. Of course our art reflects that.

I agree that violence in movies is lazy fucking crutch in the first place for sure. Guns are the laziest. But if we are going to be "responsible" about our cultural filtration then why stop at depictions of guns?

Torture porn movies like SAW glorify torture.

Then there is the hacking and slashing of swords in Game of Thrones.

And of course the ubiquitous absurdness of nearly every movie protagonist solving his or her problems with punches and kicks. Yeah. That's responsible.

In terms of how the Far Left deconstructs culture and art it has grown dangerously knee-jerk and puritan. Much like the Right was in the fifties.

Thousands of petulant Tumblr Social Justice Warriors throw temper tantrums unless every book, movie, song, and artist stoop to reflect their pet utopian visions. Everybody has their little ideological checklists.

And then we wonder why everything is bland, gutless and generic. We wonder why movies SUCK.

I find this trend despicable and hypocritical.
@2: That wasn't Omar, that was Bodie and crew. Bodie punked another crew and they came back with guns. A gunfight ensued and the kid was killed. Then the police went looking for a scapegoat.

But I don't think that connection is anywhere near as important as gun control laws, and I think there's real evidence to back that up: America exports hundreds of movies all around the world every year, and those movies make billions of dollars in foreign box office. We continue to be the only country in the world where regular spree killings consistently happen.
Indeed. The same is true of video games. Japanese video games tend to be incredibly violent. Yet Japanese society is incredibly peaceful. It is clear that the media and video games don't cause violence, but are often a useful scapegoat.
@14: "epidemic" is a METAPHOR. but you knew that, bigot.
Children of Men was damn smart about guns.
Oh, I get it. You're all for doing anything and everything to stop gun violence ("not one more life!"), except when it might affect something you care about. The hypocrisy is might think in here; can somebody please hand me a shovel.
"Mighty thick." Fucking autocorrect.
While not flatly agreeing with this post's title, there's a point to be made. Culture has something to do with gun violence.

On the other hand, @15 tkc expresses something that I largely believe as well, America is and has always been a violent country. Gun violence is an enormously complicated issue. It is also tragic.

FTR, I tend NOT to view gratuitously violent film or other art.
No such empirical studies exist because the NRA pays substantial bribes, er, lobbyists, to make sure no such studies can be conducted. It's a convenient way to be able to ignore the growing body count in our streets.

Turning the lack of evidence for your thesis into evidence for your thesis: an essential tool in the conspiracy theory tool kit.
It doesn't require another detailed statistical analysis to see how mass media influences our culture.

Another? And yes, it does. Noting correlations exist does not demonstrate causation.

@3: The picture you linked to tried to make a cogent point and failed. Does the 1st Amendment guarantee of freedom of expression pertain only to quill pens and hand presses? No, but certain advances in expression ARE regulated more strictly than simple speech or handwriting. The airwaves, for example. Radio wave transmission is pervasive and unavoidable in a way that could never have been foreseen by the men who wrote the Bill of Rights. For that reason, it is regulated more strictly (by the FCC) than forms of expression known in the late 18th century.
Analogously, the more advanced weapons of today, including rifled and automatic firearms, are still protected by the 2nd Amendment, but rightly subject to stricter regulation.
Why? Do you think all weapons should be treated the exact same way by regulatory authority? (The right is "to bear arms", not "to bear firearms".) By that line of reasoning, if one is allowed to own a shotgun, one should also be allowed to own a AIM-9 Sidewinder.
And Horror Comics cause juvenile delinquency.

It doesn't require another detailed statistical analysis to see how mass media influences our culture.

Indeed. In the last 20 years, violent video games have been increased in popularity, violence on cable (Oz, Deadwood, Game of Thrones, etc.) has increased, while rates of violent crime have been steadily decreasing. Therefore, more violent media equals a less violent society.

No, wait. That would be silly to come to such a conclusion based merely on correlation. But not as silly as the opposite conclusion.
I think Paul ducks the issue a bit here. It's not about banning guns, it's about shilling for gun movies. "Comprehensive coverage" doesn't cut it - loads of movies get just a brief couple of lines from The Stranger. Much better movies than Tom Cruise gunfests. In many ways, this criticism shouldn't be directed at The Stranger, because you guys already do much better in terms of writing about interesting indie movies than most media. So why make the criticism here? Because there's just a chance you'll listen.
What I'd like to see is more of the big gun flicks dismissed with the one or two lines they deserve. And more of the great reviewing you already do of other movies, movies with heart and soul. It's not so much the fact of guns in films that is depressing. It's the default assumption that guns are a reasonable element to put in: if you haven't got any real inspiration for your movie, you can use violence as a substitute. I'd like to see that called and exposed. You don't have to review studio megabudget pap any more than you have to review Nashville's output.
Random recent example - I can't remember what you guys said about the latest Transformers, but that whole "it's an art movie" trope that got aired in some places was severe bullshit. The movie was shit (I torrented it and dipped in and out). I don't mind the existence of shit. I do mind when critics I otherwise respect invent tortured excuses to talk about shit, just because it's big-selling shit.