Hollywood’s Ridiculous Hypocrisy on Guns

"Say hello to my little friend! And while we're on the topic of guns, don't you think it's time to be sensible about gun control?"

“Say hello to my little friend! And while we’re on the topic of guns, don’t you think it’s time to be sensible about gun control?”

In a move stunningly unconscious to outrageous hypocrisy, the group “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” have posted a video on on its website and Youtube (of course), featuring an impressive array of solemn Hollywood celebrities chiding Americans for not doing something about guns “yesterday” and to “demand a plan” to end gun violence. The problem? Many of these same celebrities owe their presence on the video to Hollywood’s obsession with gun violence, without which they would be just anonymous pretty faces. They owe their mansions and private planes to that gun violence too, which they have happily, willfully and lucratively acted out in scores of violent films and television shows. How can they presume, given how they make their living, to lecture anyone on the topic of guns?

I have some theories. Many of them are dumb as bricks. Most of them are automatic co-signers of the manifesto for any cause branded as liberal, the Hollywood religion,and don’t bother to think about whether it is consistent with their life choices or not. Probably all of them, working every day in one of the most ethics-free, cut-throat, dishonest and hypocritical sub-cultures that has ever existed in the United States are completely numb to the concept of hypocrisy, as apparently are the mayors, who work in the culture of politics, which is only somewhat better.

Still, you would think it such complete lack of integrity might set of a few ethics alarms, wouldn’t you? If Quentin Tarantino, fresh from writing and directing Django, made a pious public service announcement telling us to stop saying “nigger” because it was demeaning, would anyone fail to notice how ridiculous he looked? If Ben Stiller, he of “the full retard” in the comedy “Tropic Thunder,” was featured in a video telling us that we were insensitive to use the word “retard,” wouldn’t people be jeering? Samuel L. Jackson on civility? Adam Sandler on dignity? Cheech and Chong on the dangers of pot? How about any number of Hollywood sex bombs urging girls not to dress provocatively or have sex before marriage—would that be regarded as anything but the height of hypocrisy?

I see no difference.

Now if, inspired by the events at Sandy Hook Elementary, any of these sensitive actors pledged that they would never again accept a penny to portray gun-wielding as sexy, powerful, patriotic and a handy solution to peril and crisis, then by all means, lecture us. And if those celebrities in the video who have never used firearms on-screen—I can’t recall Ellen DeGeneris blowing anyone away, for example—refused to participate in the video with any gun-slinging star who didn’t make such a pledge, I’d have some respect for them too. But none of that has happened, or is likely to in the future. For many of these actors, if you’re not willing to shoot people for entertainment, you won’t work. Ever.

Hollywood is as much a part of America’s historical gun culture and the problem of its intractable violence as any other factor, including the availability of guns themselves. I watch a lot of TV and movies, always have, and since I was five, I am sure I have seen more than 300,000 human beings shot, many graphically. I see more every day. Let’s see: yesterday, which was not a heavy TV day for me, I saw at least 20. I have never seen a real gun fired in anger however. Hollywood relentlessly reinforces the idea that guns are the ultimate solution to life’s greatest perils, and the great equalizer when evil lurks. I love gunplay in movies when it’s well done, don’t get me wrong; as a director, I also appreciate the dramatic and visceral power of guns, as well as the usefulness of guns in plots that communicate moral and ethical lessons. John Wayne never shot anyone who didn’t deserve it (well, except in “Red River”). Clint Eastwood, Allan Ladd, Gary Cooper, Steve McQueen, Bruce Willis and many, many others have made my day shooting bad guys. I don’t advocate Hollywood censorship.

I do advocate that people who make their living and fame by increasing and entrenching the nation’s gun culture refrain from making me retch by pretending to have any principles where guns are concerned, other than “show me the money.”

Some wag took the time to take the “Demand a Plan” video and insert footage of the same celebrities shooting people in their day jobs. Perfect. You can see it here. I would post the video itself, but the maker had to diminish his creation, which speaks eloquently for itself, by giving it a vulgar title and ending it with a string of obscenities—a lesson in  how incivility can be counter-productive.

The theme of the post-Newtown gun debate continues to be that the anti-gun advocates are presenting their case so hysterically, offensively, ignorantly, assaultively, self-righteously, and now hypocritically, that they are thoroughly undermining their own position. The United States needs to devise a rational national policy of measures that will make gun violence less likely, but it’s not going to happen if the most vocal and prominent advocates for such measures continue to behave and sound like—I’m sorry, but there’s no more appropriate word—assholes.

36 thoughts on “Hollywood’s Ridiculous Hypocrisy on Guns

      • If we want to see to see the height of hypocrisy, one need look no further than the first face in their video: Jamie “Django Unchained himself” Fox. Of course, in that movie, he’s only using a six-gun and/or whinchester repeating rifle to kill multiple people in his quest for revenge… not an evil assault rifle.

        • BTW: There’s a clean version of that video on You-Tube. In fact, I posted it on my page only a few minutes ago. Note that even Ellen DeGenerate has her little gun moment. In fact, I remember a movie she was in where she points a revolver at someone. For most of those bleeding heart Hollywooders, though, were scenes of blood spurting firefires, massive overkills and cold blooded murder. But, as you allude, it’s not just a matter of violence, but how it’s presented and whether there’s a context of good vs evil. What we see from all too many of those actors is spattering blood and gunplay (and sex!) purely for its own sake. And Hollywood blames the Bill of Rights for this. The answer lies in their own foul profession.

  1. Is Hollywood gun violence really inconsistent with gun control? After all, in a lot of violent movies, lots of people die, including good guys and innocent people. For example, by the end of The Magnificent Seven, they are down to the Magnificent Three and one of the surviving gunmen concludes that they ultimately lost, even though they saved the village. The sort of life that is enjoyed by many Hollywood protagonists is not really one that most people would want to live, if they thought it through.

    The irony, of course, is that, even when Hollywood shows the effect of gun violence, they also glamorize it and allow audiences to vicariously enjoy it. It’s a bit like Monopoly, an anti-capitalist game that nonetheless allows players to enjoy acting like capitalists.

    • I don’t think it is necessarily inconsistent with gun control; I think the culture it nourishes makes gun control impossible. Take Ethics Bob’s favorite ethics movie, The Magnificent Seven. Yes, there is a lot of angst about how the gunslingers always lose, and are lonely, and give up so much, and the one stereotypical gunslinger, Robert Vaughn, is a mess, but they are still undeniably the good guys, they solved the problem, and it doesn’t look like Yul and Steve are turning in their pistols any time soon. After all, when the villagers were desperate, they hired guns. When the 7 decided to train the farmers to help themselves, what did they do? They taught them to use guns. What was Calvera’s big mistake? He gave the good guys their guns back, and they came back and shot him. I don’t think you can convince me that The Magnificent Seven is an anti-gun movie. It’s a pro-farmer movie, and an anti-gunslinger movie, but bottom line, guns save the day.

      • Guns save the day at great cost to all involved.

        The Magnificent Seven takes place in a society where there is little central authority and people like Calvera and his gang can ride around and rob people with relative impunity. In that sort of a society, it might make sense for people to carry guns around to defend themselves (although farmers who are untrained in using weapons will be at a big disadvantage compared to people like Calvera, which is why the farmers needed the gunslingers in the first place). I don’t think this is so much an argument for individual gun ownership as it is for having a central authority that can protect you from bad guys. Note, for example, that Calvera doesn’t even try to rob banks in Texas because he knows that the U.S. Army will be after him if he does. The farmers did not have an army to protect them, so they had to get the defence force the could afford: the seven. Note also that the farmers would probably be quite happy to leave the fighting to the gunslingers if the seven had been able to defend the village by themselves.

        • All to be seen in the context of traditional America self-sufficiency, though. The Western is frequently about enforcement of values where there is no central authority. I think its a stretch to say that the film is a promotion for gun surrender and a central enforcement authority. Yes, that would stop Calvera too. But the American teach the Mexican farmers that its better to have your fate in your own hands.

          • Getting the enforcement authority that they could afford was what the Mexicans did, though. They originally wanted to go America to get guns and ammunition for self-defence, but Chris (Yul) convinced them that they would be better to hire people who knew what they were doing. The gunslingers trained the farmers to fight, but they had to because seven gunslingers were not enough to protect the village (even with the seven and the trained farmers, they still almost lost). I presume that, had they been able to afford it, the farmers would have been happy to hire the Magnificent Fifty and not have to fight at all.

            I would want a gun in the Wild West, too, because of the lack of central authority. I wouldn’t want to live in the Wild West, though (at least as it is depicted in Hollywood Westerns) because I wouldn’t want to live somewhere without a central authority. I wouldn’t want to trade places with either the Mexican farmers or the gunslingers because their lives seem a lot more dangerous and unpleasant than mine.

            • I reiterate my quote above.

              Even with a central authority, an unnecessarily strong one at that AND right next door, you still cannot rely on them for timely and effective response when the moment counts.

      • America certainly has cultural issues that perpetuate its own special brand of gun culture, and Hollywood movies do influence that culture. However, it’s difficult to quantify how much impact media has. For that reason, I’m uncertain that Hollywood’s impact on American culture makes gun control impossible.

        Consider Canada; it consumes nearly identical media that the US does. The same movies, TV shows, music, etc, are watched by Canadians. There are some Canadian-produced programs, but they typically emulate the American media. Yet Canada has a very different gun culture: Guns are seen as unnecessary unless you live in rural areas or use them at the shooting range. Canadians do not typically think they need guns to protect themselves. Why? Because guns are so rarely used in crimes, the odds of being attacked (by a gun-weilding criminal) are very low.

        Hollywood seeks to export its movies around the globe. Violence is the preferred formula because it can be easily understood by foreign audiences. Yet, violence in movies and TV hasn’t been proven to beget violence. Communication theorists and sociologists instead suggest that media violence is more likely to induce Mean World Syndrome, a perspective that the world is a dangerous and scary place. This is where I see Hollywood contributing to the problem. Not surprisingly, many of those who are exposed to movies and other media that repeatedly depict violent deaths, combined with an actual environment where gun crime is an unfortunate reality, see guns as a defensive necessity.

        I am left wondering, is it media influence, the reality on the ground, or something else about American culture, acting as the primary impediment for substantive gun control?

        • I’m not quantifying it, but it’s there. As for Canada, surely its deep cultural differences and national temperment are obvious. American programs in other nations are still violent, but they are about Americans. That alone is enough to explain a different impact.

          • I don’t think Canadians (or at least Anglophone Canadians) are that culturally different from Americans. Canada is like the US in that different parts of the country have somewhat different cultures. For example, Alberta is different from Ontario just as Massachusetts is different from Texas (although I have never been to Alberta or Texas, so I cannot say just how different). I would say that some regions of Canada have more in common with some regions in the USA than they do with some other regions of Canada.

      • With hollywood’s romanticization of inappropriate behavior as an acceptable response to problems, in this case ‘guns solve all problems’, in a related discussion: do you see any warping of our opinion of rule of law and due process with the increased rise in movies glorifying vigilantism? At least warping the views of people with less than a familiarity in civics?

        Jack Reacher – “he doesn’t care about proof, he doesn’t care about law, he only care about what is right”

        The batman remakes

        Django

        To name a few

        • In a word, sure. And it goes way back. In “Falling Down,” Michael Douglas feels the walls closing in, and once he gets a bag of guns, he feels empowered to get even with the people he thinks are making his life crap. When he’s finally cornered and utters the disturbing line, “I’m the bad guy??”, he’s stopped…by gunfire, naturally.

          The vigilante strain runs deep in America (NOT in Canada, NOT in the UK). In the absence of a central power you trust, or of any authority generally, Americans see guns as the answer–“Shane,” “Silverado,” “Winchester 73,” “The Unforgiven.” The 2nd Amendment link is 1) how much do we trust the central authority not to abuse its power and 2) how effective is it? It’s just fascinating to me, as a child of the 60’s, that the Left is suddenly all in favor of handing over all firepower to the police and military. Amazing. Jefferson would have been with the vigilantes, don’t you think?

  2. So, in this you’ve identified that movie stars are hypocritical to divorce their professional careers from their personal behavior. In a previous post, you have identified Lawyers as being hypocritical to divorce their professional careers from their personal behavior.

    I observe this everywhere: people attempting to claim they have their “work life” and the “life outside of work”. Can we not just safely assert that anyone claiming they have 2 lives are hypocritical?

    And if not hypocritical, we certainly can identify people who obviously chose the wrong professions to pursue in light of what they personally believe.

    • I have another quote from Gandhi, not a gun control quote, but it might explain why haters of gun owners are such hysterical, angry, self defeating, hate-filled bigots:

      “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

      Can you imagine how horrible these people feel on a daily basis?

      I submit they would feel a LOT better about themselves if they either, 1) went completely gun free (and that means no armed guards) while continuing their anti-gun rants, or 2) became life members of NRA and promoted responsible gun ownership at every opportunity.

      • Haters of gun owners… lol. Can’t even legitimately claim to have read even a handful of opinions on this issue since any resolution doesn’t effect any of the guns around me. But up until this moment, I thought it was the guns they hated.

            • “Much of the hatred is definitely aimed at gun owners. Consider the recent calls for NRA members to be shot, etc…”
              Shot with what? You don’t mean shot with a gun? Looks like Hollywood aren’t the only hypocrites.

          • Cognitive dissonance doesn’t actually dictate anything, it describes. It is more than possible to be pro gun control and not be anti people – gun owning or not. Its just easier to be anti people in many cases, particularly when unable to find the skill to put forward ones argument rationally, so the natural tendancy to take the easier road could also explain the degradation of the debate.

          • “Anger is like flowing water; there’s nothing wrong with it as long as you let it flow. Hate is like stagnant water; anger that you denied yourself the freedom to feel, the freedom to flow; water that you gathered in one place and left to forget. Stagnant water becomes dirty, stinky, disease-ridden, poisonous, deadly; that is your hate. On flowing water travels little paper boats; paper boats of forgiveness. Allow yourself to feel anger, allow your waters to flow, along with all the paper boats of forgiveness. Be human.” ― C. JoyBell C.

    • I think it would go too far to say that anyone who says that he or she has a “life outside of work” or “two lives” were to be hypocritical. I think the hypocrisy would only arise in the case in which a person holds himself to a certain belief and calls for others to do the same in “one life” while engaging in behavior that is precluded from the proposed belief in the “second life”. Certain televangelists come to mind. I have to admit that my work, which I specifically chose and truly enjoy, tends to leave me with a feeling that I have two lives but I don’t feel hypocritical in this dichotomy because both lives mesh in terms of integrity. At times, there is just a need and even an ethical obligation to leave work at work. This is just my experience however and I certainly may be in the minority.

      • I have three lives at least, and I agree. The trick is maintaining integrity. There are people who compartmentalize well, but they still aren’t trustworthy—if you cheat and lie in one part of your life, the ethics alarms are malfunctioning and sooner or later it will show in other conduct.

        The actor situation is unusual. Certainly I don’t think playing bad people makes one a bad person, and an actor could be a pacifist and still play a soldier. That’s not war, it’s entertainment. But when actors contribute their talents to a film or TV show that aggravates or contributes to a problem, they are ethically and logically estopped from simultaneously condemning the consequences of their own work in other public forums. For example, Paul Petersen is an actor, and also an advocate for the protection of children from abuse in the entertainment industry. When Dakota Fanning was 13, she was starred in a revolting exploitation film that required her to submit to simulated rape. Paul was one of the activists (our own Mr. Pilling was another) who made an issue of that movie and its abuse of Fanning. Could he have also played a small part in the movie, and retained any credibility as a critic of the film’s practices?

  3. If only Kiefer Sutherland were in it. He’s done more to justify torture and violence to middle America than anyone else in Hollywood.

    • Great thought! Yes, “24′ was the pro-torture propaganda show to end all shows. Would Keefer have the brass to be in an anti-gun spot? Do these fools really think their work is irrelevant to the problem?

      • Great thought! Yes, “24′ was the pro-torture propaganda show to end all shows. Would Keefer have the brass to be in an anti-gun spot? Do these fools really think their work is irrelevant to the problem?

        Many people like myself believe that terrorists deserve the Edward II treatment.

        Personally, I believe that our soldiers should not administer such treatment. On the other hand, if allied forces or independent vigilantes administer such treatment, what can we do but raise our hands in despair?

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