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Why It’s Time for Hollywood to Reconsider the Amount of Violence on Screen (Column)

To put it mildly, we live in scary, intolerant, violent times. Since a lone gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012, and killed 20 children, six adults and himself, there have been at least 2,187 mass shootings across America, resulting in the deaths of some 2,461 people and wounding more than 9,000 others. The latest back-to-back massacres in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, claimed 31 lives and left 50 wounded.

I think it’s fair to say that most of us in this country live in fear of when and where the next such tragedy will strike.

This is all to say that when I watched the trailer for the Jason Blum-produced thriller “The Hunt,” a fictional story about “global elites” gunning down “deplorables,” it was very hard to stomach.

In my view, Universal Pictures did the right thing by yanking the film’s planned Sept. 27 release after the most recent mass shootings. But there’s something larger here that keeps me up at night.

As I said in last week’s editor’s letter, I totally disagree with the president’s contention that violent movies and video games are motivating these shootings. How about pushing for stricter gun laws that would prevent just anyone from walking into a Walmart and purchasing a weapon for mass destruction?

Many in Hollywood have bashed Trump (rightfully so, in my opinion) for inciting violence and white nationalism with his choice of words and the hideous rhetoric he utters on Twitter and in interviews on the White House lawn. In no way am I advocating censorship, but given the heightened times in which we live, with unrelenting headlines about unthinkable acts, I think films like “The Hunt” raise a question for Hollywood: Should the industry look inward to examine the use of excessive, fiction-based screen violence?

When discussing this hot-button issue with two of our web editors, they pointed out that the horror/thriller trope of characters being hunted down has long been a staple of the big screen, and a huge cash cow (witness Blum’s “The Purge,” for one). Yet, they each admitted feeling queasy while watching gratuitous violence in the latest “John Wick” sequel and re-watching “Captain America: Winter Soldier.”

My point exactly.

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