Why Do We Tolerate Glorified Gun Violence In Movies And On TV?


President Obama spoke at a memorial service for the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Some believe his speech was political. I agree wholeheartedly but I’m not going to pile on that right now. People are grieving.

But something he said jumped out at me. He said “We can’t tolerate this anymore.”

When has our society ever “tolerated” mass murder?

What we do tolerate are the movies and television shows that glorify gun violence. I’ve read a few reviews of the latest Quentin Tarantino film, Django Unchained, and it sounds like a glorified blood bath. Of course, Tarantino makes no apologies, saying “I just think you know there’s violence in the world, tragedies happen, blame the playmakers. … It’s a western. Give me a break.” Talk about a cop out.

The star of the movie, Jamie Foxx, recently joked about how he got to kill all of the white people in the movie on Saturday Night Live. But now he’s saying Hollywood needs to examine the influence gun violence in movies has on people.

The timing is pretty poor for Foxx’s comments, considering his latest film may be the year’s most violent yet.

Foxx stars as an avenging slave in “Django Unchained,” the latest orgy of blood and mayhem from director Quentin Tarantino of “Pulp Fiction” fame. Foxx sees little irony in using the new film’s promotional circuit to pin some blame on violent movies for the massacres we read about far too often in the news.

Foxx said his peers “can’t ignore the fact that movie violence can influence people.”

“We cannot turn our back and say that violence in films or anything that we do doesn’t have a sort of influence,” Foxx said in an interview on Saturday. “It does.”

That didn’t stop him from starring in the movie, and it probably won’t stop it’s release in theaters where the lunatics among us can see their fantasies come to life on the big screen. The violence depicted in the movie certainly didn’t stop it from leading the pack in Golden Globe nominations.

Even if you don’t go out seeking violent movies and TV shows, just watching a football game can bring the violence into your home during commercials. It happened yesterday when ads for Gangster Squad, starring Josh Brolin ran. Brolin also defended the violence in movies. He did make a few points that are also worth noting.

“When you’re doing something like that, you’re lending to the story that you already decided to do, so it’s not something like, ‘How do we treat this in a way that may be more respectful than not?’ You’ve already decided to do that type of film. It was a lot of fun doing it but at the same time, for a guy who doesn’t have any guns myself…I get a little nervous during that thing.

“Of course there’s a sensitivity. But you have to look at the grand scheme of things, from a universal standpoint,” he continued. “You have video games, you have psychopharmaceuticals, you have the lowest employment, you have parents that aren’t at home. There’s many, many different factors. You have CNN, which gloms onto the worst of what’s going on and not necessarily the best. There are many different factors, there’s no one reason. There’s always been violence in movies and there always will be violence in movies. And whether it lends to the one psychotic who’s out there and thinking the worst thoughts you can possibly think will always be a mystery.”

So, in his grand scheme of things, does piling on with increasingly explicit gun violence in movies help matters? I think not.

But there is something we can do about Hollywood – we can tune it out.