In support of the NRA … and reasonable restraint

“As a nation, we’re under­funded for mental-health service. It’s an embarass­ment.”

Tim League owns Alamo Drafthouse Theaters and runs Fantastic Fest, during which he arranges shooting expeditions for out-of-town filmmakers. While he’s a gun owner and NRA member, he told Variety’s Rachel Abrams he objected to the NRA’s promotion of unfettered gun access during its post-Newtown press conference.

Is there a connection between media violence and real-life violence?
I don’t think there’s a connection necessarily. The biggest thing that’s changed since there’s been an uptick in this type of violent outburst is the state of mental-health services in the United States. Overall crime rates are significantly down; it’s not an issue of assault weapons, it’s not an issue of movies and I don’t think it’s an issue of videogames.
There are several factors that have contributed since 1980.

Is one form of media more dangerous than others?
I think that those of a stable mental constitution are able to process right from wrong and can find entertainment in all sorts of media, whether it’s violent or non-violent, but understand that it is just that; it is part of this fantasy realm. Everything for me boils down to mental-health services.

Is depiction of violence automatically glamorizing it?
I think that’s going down the wrong rabbit hole (and) looking in the wrong direction. I’m involved in several organizations in and around mental health. I’m all for some level of gun control in this country, but calling for a ban on assault weapons and restrictions on violence in movies and videogames is completely misguided.

If it’s true that Hollywood is liberal and anti-gun, why do they make so much violent content?
I don’t know if all of the violent content is necessarily being created by the same “liberal Hollywood.” I think that more than being liberal, Hollywood is capitalist.

I think that if there is an exploitable angle and the opportunity to make money on any given subject, that subject will be depicted in film and videogames. The dollar transcends political parties when it comes to our industry.

When some in the media talk about violence in America, they’re talking guns. Does the media underplay concerns about other violence?
There’s a little bit of traction over the last year or so (to look at) adolescent and childhood bullying … there have been movies that have had that at their core (such as “Bully”). I think that more serious violence stems from an earlier bullying esthetic. That issue of school-aged bullying and suicide-related bullying, I was very happy to see that get some attention out of our industry over the past year.

Is America losing its moral compass?
I don’t know, maybe it is.

There’s a tangential answer but something that’s more applicable to my world with exhibition and something that I’d take a hard stand on. I think that we’re more rude as a culture, and with rudeness comes a little bit of self-centeredness.

One of the things that I always get on a high horse about is talking and texting during movies. I know that that’s not what this is about, but I think it’s related to a loss of manners, and that’s related to a moral compass … I think that we’re definitely in a different realm right now (than in the ’50s and ’60s).

What’s the solution?
When you’re talking about mental-health issues — and I think that’s where this argument really needs to be discussed — there are a lot of things that people can do locally. People can volunteer their time and advocate for change on the city, state and federal levels to address this problem in a serious way. As a nation, we’re underfunded for mental-health services… it’s an embarrassment.