So It Begins: The ‘Blame Hollywood’ Deflection

During Sunday’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos, Cong. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) fielded a question and somehow turned it around to a discussion of the movie ratings system’s inadequacy.

Clearly, if only “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” had received the R rating some people think it deserved, we wouldn’t be quite so awash in random acts of violence today.

And so it begins. As my colleague Ted Johnson reported on his blog, the “Blame Hollywood” deflection has already begun. And trust me, if it means making any kind of progress on the gun issue, Democrats — who have been responsible for most do-gooder attempts to curb media violence — will be more than happy to throw Hollywood under the bus.

Violence in movies, TV, videogames and music inevitably gets accused of “coarsening the culture,” and there’s no doubt that it has — at least, in terms of boundaries regarding what’s acceptable. That said, there’s a big difference between being coarse and homicidal, especially in the destructive way assault weapons can.

It’s also worth noting that despite all those studies by the likes of George Gerbner and Leonard Eron (and yes, I’ve read a bunch of them), the relationship between viewing violence and behaving in a violent way has at best been correlative, not causal. Granted, that’s because social science doesn’t allow for the kind of studies that would establish the latter, but as someone who viewed a tremendous amount of violence as a kid, I still think there’s a pretty wide chasm between watching violence and rough-housing, as children have been shown to do in the immediate aftermath of seeing violent programs, and actually acting out in the most terrible ways.

It’s difficult to ascertain what puts crazy people over the edge. But there’s simply no debating that the level of damage they can inflict in a short amount of time is exacerbated by rapid-firing guns.

Ahs1Assuming it’s impossible to eradicate such mass killings, the best society can do is to reduce the number of them. And limiting access to guns with the capacity to kill promiscuously is simply the most pragmatic way to achieve those objectives.

So while I won’t bother to defend first-person shooter videogames, the torture porn of “American Horror Story” or the kind of horrific slasher movies the industry churns out (and seriously, there’s nothing more festive than “Texas Chainsaw 3D” ads and billboards right before the holidays), any attempt to raise media violence in the wake of what happened in Connecticut is, quite simply, a red herring.

Politicians can complain about movies, or talk about random acts in countries that already have strong gun-control laws. In this debate, nothing is perfect or foolproof.

But we’ve been fooled before by efforts to turn attention away from guns by citing other factors. And if the media allows that to happen again, then shame on us.



Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 2

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Dan Counts says:

    Well I’m not part of the Blame Hollywood group that shows its head whenever there is an event like this. Mainly because American films and music and television gets shipped all the over the world and you rarely if ever hear about mass shootings in other parts of the world (war zones not withstanding). However, what needs to be addressed in addition to the ready access of firearms in this country is what I like to call Fear Inc that is perpetrated by the news channels in this country.
    Think about it for a second, they work off the motto, “If it bleeds it leads” and even watching your local newscast how many times are stories run that talk about something killing you, your dishwasher, the glasses you drink beer out of at the bar, the puppy down the lane. When they report a crime, they rarely report the race of a suspect unless it is a minority and then you can guarantee the suspect’s picture is plastered all of the news.
    Include the fact that most of these shooters tend to be younger (under 30) and have been on psychiatric medications for years in most cases. Because we really don’t understand the long term effects of these medications on developing brains. So you have people that have been trained to fear everything, possibly exaggerated psychological problems due to over and mis medication and given easy access to firearms, can we really be surprised this is happening?

  2. How about EVERYBODY taking responsibility for such tragic events: society, Hollywood, and the family?

More Voices News from Variety