The Times delivers some Hollywood reaction to the notion that violent movies and video games are part of the cultural background that leads to mass shootings:
There is also a creeping dread in Hollywood that the entertainment industry will be drawn into a governmental crackdown on violent imagery. Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said on Tuesday said that President Barack Obama — beyond hinting at new gun-control measures — planned to look at “other ways” to address this kind of violence. While he did not elaborate, Mr. Carney mentioned mental health, education and “perhaps” cultural issues as possibly contributing to gun violence
Mr. Carney also embraced a call by David M. Axelrod, the president’s election strategist, to rethink violent video games. “Every expert on this issue would, I think, agree with that, that there are cultural issues that contribute to the broader problem,” Mr. Carney said.
But there were already pockets of people in Hollywood pushing back on Tuesday — executives who maintain that, while tragic, the Newtown massacre had nothing to do with entertainment.
“What you hear from the industry is this: violence has always been a part of entertainment, back to Sophocles and Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe,” said Martin Kaplan, the director of the Norman Lear Center for the study of entertainment and society at the University of Southern California. “Why should modern entertainment deprive itself of a universal and timeless element of storytelling?’”
Mr. Kaplan continued, “Violence is both a moneymaker — audiences love it — and an artist’s tool. Of course, it can be gratuitous. For every Scorsese or Peckinpah, there’s a schlockmeister who’s only in it for the dough. But who do we want to empower to decide whether Quentin Tarantino or a Grand Theft Auto goes over the line? The government? The industry? Or the audience, which is where Hollywood wants to put the control.”
In other news, many tobacco executives are still puzzling over the link between smoking and cancer. Keep at it, boys!
But I have a serious thought here relating to audience, rather than government, control. Hollywood and Broadway spent years putting their creative talent into legitimizing and mainstreaming homosexuals. That was not a government sponsored program; it was inspired by the AIDS crisis and helped by the presence of so many gays in the creative community. And when a moviemaker got out of line the creative community was very sensitive to boycotts and criticism ('Silence of the Lambs' leaps to mind, and director Demme delivered the kiss and make-up 'Philadelphia' to re-establish his bona fides).
So, the path forward is obvious. None of these Hollywood libs own guns or need to worry about their personal protection (let their bodyguards pack!). So some combination of consumer shaming and mogul leadership might (might!) persuade Hollywood that guns are not cool. The good news is that much of Hollywood already thinks that guns are for the bitterly clinging rubes in flyover country. The bad news is, those rubes buy movie tickets. And video games.
This is tricky - obviously, someone like the ex-Governator is a bit of a flawed spokeperson for an anti-gun message. But it should not be impossible. Fans of The Maltese Falcon will recall that Bogie didn't carry guns, he just took them away from people who did. Patrick Jane, star of The Mentalist, has a character who pretty much curls up in the fetal position when guns are drawn.
Hollywood spent decades on their gay project, with excellent results. They could do the same thing here. Too bad they won't.