Editor’s note: The opinions expressed here are those of the authors. View more opinion on ScoonTV.
As mass shootings become a regular occurrence in America, celebrities like Judd Apatow, Jimmy Kimmel, Damon Lindelof, and others created a petition calling for movie studios to reevaluate the depiction of guns in film. Censorship has never been the answer to violence in the youth and, unsurprisingly, Hollywood has taken this country’s recent tragedies and made them about themselves.
I think we can all agree watching a Judd Apatow movie makes you want to pick up a gun. Then, shoot yourself with it because there’s 45 minutes left. One thing it does not make me want to do, however, is inflict harm on a large group of people, unless of course they are the cast and crew of said hypothetical film.
Where do these celebrities get off believing they have such influence on this country? The United States has an ugly history of censoring art, and doing so has never stopped our nation’s underlying problems.
In the past, the government and outspoken babies have blamed rock and roll, comic books, and movies, and yet violence did not stop. What did slow mass shootings however was an assault rifle ban. From 1994 to 2004, a mass shooting ban was enacted and shootings fell dramatically. They immediately rose after the ban ended.
Was it a coincidence that shootings fell when assault rifles were banned? It is also interesting to note that movies did not cease during this ten-year period. It’s as if their presence had nothing to do with the decrease in violence, and therefore the increase as well.
Mental health is a serious issue in the country and we are dealing with the effects on a daily basis. To attribute the cause of this violence to TV and movies is completely delusional. Yes, these shooters have been influenced to be hateful and commit crimes, but it was through online message boards, not the latest Damon Lindelof thriller.
This is an example of those with power misunderstanding the cause of this country’s problems. Instead of blaming the ease of acquiring guns, they blame the movies. They do not blame the lack of background checks for getting weapons or mental health resources. 14 million students in this country belong to a school with a police officer but no guidance counselor, nurse, psychologist, or social worker. Yet, they still blame entertainment.
How can someone see these statistics and believe movies are the problem? These Hollywood bigwigs could donate money to mental health resources or to low-income school districts to help acquire these resources. They could even advocate for the government to do so through legislation.
Instead, they show how out of touch they are and advocate a change in the one thing they know about; entertainment. They think Americans are so enamored with their work it literally changes how they live their lives. The only thing Jimmy Kimmel has ever influenced is people never wanting to watch late night again.
Also, we do not live in a vacuum. American culture is consumed around the world, yet these shootings only happen in America. The clear difference is in the government of this country. Everywhere watches American movies, yet only in America is it so easy to acquire a fully automatic rifle without a background check. By censoring movies, the government feels the American people can’t handle the consumption of this content, while other nations can. It’s a complete insult to Americans’ intelligence.
Violence has always existed in real life, so why can’t it be portrayed in art? An audience is smart enough to see guns in a movie and understand it is fiction. They know it doesn’t make it okay to use them dangerously in real life. Only showing “safe” practices of guns in movies is unrealistic and infantilizes the audience. If children have a high chance of seeing an unsafe depiction of a gun in a classroom, it should be able to exist in a film.
This censorship will do no good for mass shootings, but will hurt movies. Many universally acclaimed movies have guns in them. From “high art” like “The Godfather” to shoot-em-ups like “Face-Off,” guns have their place in movies. Violence can be used to make a statement on morality as much as it can be used for fun and action purposes.
Ultimately, people like seeing guns. It is not the government’s or anyone’s place to deem what is morally acceptable for society. Especially coming from Hollywood, a place generally understood to be a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah.
The most important thing that can be done to help prevent mass shootings in this country is for more mental health resources and more restrictions on buying guns. If these celebrities understood they have power because they can make a successful dick joke and not because they’re especially wise, they’d sit down and let the American people decide what they wish to see.
While some things like the amount of mass shootings change, one thing does not. That is the world’s love for violence and guns in their entertainment.
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