Mike Fleming at Deadline Hollywood asks, “Are Gun Control Pleas by Movie Stars Undermined By Onscreen Violence,” with a video from a gun rights supporter that mashes up celebrity gun control PSAs with clips of them engaging in gun violence in their film projects.
This contradiction, which was also pointed out by the National Rifle Assn.’s Wayne LaPierre at his Dec. 21 meeting with the press, extends in other ways. Then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation in 2005 banning the sale of violent videogames to minors, a law that was ultimately overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court on free speech grounds. Yet as much as Schwarzengger’s concern was for protecting minors from the glorification of gunplay, it did not stop him from returning to a starring action role in “The Last Stand,” which is rated R but features a billboard campaign in which he is pointing a Gatling gun just outside the eyeline of any viewer. In fact, the gun takes a more prominent role in the one-sheet than either Schwarzenegger or Johnny Knoxville (or the school bus they are standing in front of).
Moreover, Schwarzenegger seems to have shifted somewhat from one of the rationales of the videogame law: That it was needed because there is a correlation between virtual violence and real-like aggressiveness among children and adolescents.
In his autobiography, Schwarzenegger wrote, “I kill people onscreen because, contrary to the critics, I don’t believe that violence on screen creates violence in the street or in the home. Otherwise, there would have been no murders before movies were invented, and the Bible is full of them.”
The White House task force on gun violence, headed by Vice President Joseph Biden, is looking at culture, and there’s expectation that industry groups will be part of that discussion. Meanwhile, there is also the threat of congressional inquiry, as Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) has called for a study on the impact of videogame and video violence, and also further input from the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission.
Given the Supreme Court’s majority opinion striking down California’s videogame law, any action by lawmakers will probably be pretty limited, as the high court made clear that it doesn’t see attempts to regulate media violence surviving First Amendment scrutiny.