1st. Article in our 5-week series on “Gun Violence in the Media.”
Welcome to our five-week series on Gun Violence in the Media. You may have seen the video of Wayne LaPierre chief executive officer of The National Rifle Association (NRA) pointing the finger at filmmakers for gun violence in America. Yet, the NRA’s Hollywood Guns exhibit seems to celebrate filmmakers for their most violent films ever? Who should take social responsibility for the desensitization of America filmmakers or the NRA?
There are countless studies to show continued exposure to violent films and video games can make audience members (especially adolescents) more aggressive. The American Academy of Pediatrics state;
- “A large proportion of children’s media exposure includes acts of violence that are witnessed or “virtually perpetrated” (in the form of video games) by young people. By 18 years of age, the average young person will have viewed an estimated 200000 acts of violence on television alone. The National Television Violence study evaluated almost 10000 hours of broadcast programming from 1995 through 1997 and revealed that 61% of the programming portrayed interpersonal violence, much of it in an entertaining or glamorized manner.”
Of course this study above highlights the impact of television violence. Yet, how do films stack up in comparison? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development they claim 90% of PG-13 films today contain violence.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) who hands out film ratings are under fire for their poor ratings when it comes to rating violence. Brian Salisbury from Hollywood.com’s writes,
- “I feel like whether or not the violence is justified within a story (depends on) whether the thematic elements of that story (require) the use of violence,” Salisbury said. “There are some movies that have recognized where the MPAA is getting lax, and are using that to their advantage to make something that is purely exploitative that plays to the baser crowd, the baser things that we want to see in movies. And that’s unfortunate.”
When researching this topic I came across an article called Bloody Reel-How The NRA And The Gun Industry Exploit Violent Movies to Sell Guns. The article demonstrates the hypocrisy of the NRA using various examples. Here’s one of them.
- ………”through its widely-publicized–and ongoing–“Hollywood Guns” special exhibit in its National Firearms Museum, in its official publications, and on its Internet website. Wayne LaPierre himself is credited as “executive producer” of the current “Hollywood Guns” exhibit at the NRA’s national headquarters.”
Here’s another excerpt from the article from a former movie critic Stephen Hunter who now writes for an NRA magazine he states,
- “I have always felt it a point of honor as a movie critic not to pretend that, as an advanced thinker, I am somehow above the lure of violence in a film. Indeed, my best pieces here seem to be about movies where I’ve made some emotional contact with violence and have let it sweep me away, fire off all my synapses, liberate my imagination. In fact, I think one of the reasons that we go to movies is FOR the violence: it enables us to project ourselves and our hostilities into some form of righteous rage and take charge and triumph in a world of the imagination where a world of reality obdurately refuses to be taken charge of or allow triumph. I’m not sure this is necessarily the bad thing that so many assume it to be.”
Do you agree with Stephen Hunter’s logic?
Are ethics, over-consumption and a growth economy possible culprits in the desensitization to violence in America?
There was a time when Hollywood film studios cared about making socially responsible films. After the 1970’s Hollywood no longer cared about making films for adults but shifted their attention to young adult audiences who were sitting ducks and easier to sell products to than adult consumers. As a result films became more violent to make (the already emotional teen) even more unstable and impressionable. As parents work longer hours children were being raised by television and films. This is nothing new. However, big media (recognizing parents rely on entertainment to babysit their children) have taken advantage for their own gain. Who’s to blame for the violent culture today producers of entertainment or gun manufacturers?
Cradle to Cradle:
What is Cradle to Cradle and can other creative industries adopt this philosophy? Cradle to Cradle (the simple version) is the concept of making producers responsible for the waste they create at the conceptual level. Green-minded architect and designer William McDonough asks what our buildings and products would look like if designers took into account “all children, all species, for all time.” For more information watch video.
Could this work with producers of entertainment and guns? There was a time when Warner Brothers made films that were more socially responsible. Please see documentary below.
Do you think a socially responsible Hollywood is needed today?