Guns and The Film Industry
It's time to stop throwing shade at the film industry for the gun violence epidemic that is taking over the country
This is the number of Americans who are killed with guns per day.
A synagogue in Pittsburgh fell victim to another mass shooting; eleven are dead and many more are wounded. There have been 293 mass shootings in 2018 alone, and this definitely won’t be the last one. How much longer do we as a society have to continue seeing our peers die before regulations are put in place?
President Donald Trump has gone on to proclaim that guns are not the reason for the assassinations.
“Well again, this has little to do with it. If you take a look if they had protection inside… the results would have been far better.”
– President Trump
President Trump fails to see the bigger picture with gun violence. He proposes to arm people within a synagogue.
Yes, that will solve the problem (that was sarcasm).
He goes on to say that even churches should be armed. Why do people seeking religious expression, in a place where they should feel safe and comfortable, have to take measures to protect themselves? Synagogues, churches, mosques and all other religious locations are places where people go to feel protected, not threatened.
There’s no question that increasing security in a building will lower the deaths in said building, but the problem is that people who are getting guns and trying to get into those buildings are doing so.
Why? There’s no regulation!
Following the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High School earlier this year, where 17 students were massacred along with 16 injured, the Second Amendment has been brought into question more than ever. There isn’t anything that is safe—not our schools, not our workplaces, not our neighborhoods, and not our religious havens.
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” – Second Amendment in the Constitution of the United States of America.
Advocates for gun safety fight for regulations on the weapon market in order to restrict eligibility to purchase arms, and they’re right to do so; especially since the United States has one of the highest growing gun violence rates in the world.
Many argue that these tools are necessary for self-defense, but who needs an AR-15 or AK-47 to defend themselves? The Second Amendment was proposed in an America where the most advanced gun was a musket rifle. These tools took forever to reload and were capable of shooting a only single round. Now, we have weapons like the ShKAS, which can shoot around 3000 rounds per minute. The gun used in Florida was an AR-15, a semi-automatic rifle. The AR-15 was designed for warfare, not self-defense. So, how can it be that an outdated law from 1776 still dominates the regulations for arm control in 2018?
Without restrictions, the infestation of these weapons into our society will continue to conquer our communities, whether it be in our schools or on the streets, it doesn’t matter.
A life lost is a life lost.
Now, what is frustrating is that many “concerned” parents blame films and video games for violence outbreak. They state that the influence from these projects normalize violence to their children. Apparently, if kids watch movies with high rates of death, bullet shots, and blood, then they will grow up to inflict violence. What complete bulls*#%$.
Yes, movies tend to normalize violence in the community, but anomie and alienation is what encourages the real-life fetishism behind the weapons. It’s not the films who teach children, it’s the parents. Not only that, but when a violent film is released, violent crime actually decreases. Sociology studies hypothesize that a reason for this is that people with aggressive tendencies end up watching violent films as a form of expression. It doesn’t inspire brutality, it distracts it.
In 2014, a study was done to measure the brain activity of men who are constantly experiencing brutality through a screen. This study separated 54 men into two groups: people with aggressive precedents and those with none. They would then be exposed to X-rated films and video games.
The findings? Yes, media inspires aggression in people who already display hostile traits in their personality.
Thus, those who were not belligerent to begin with did not experience the same sense of inspiration. Violence is normalized by previous events during youth, therefore those who were already exposed to ferocity remained calm, while those with no previous hostile offense, experienced a climax in their blood pressure. This spike is because violence was excruciating and new to this demographic.
So, for those parents who make this argument, I recommend that you look more into your child’s behavior and less at film as a scapegoat.
The aesthetic features of action films do not revolve around gun violence.
History lesson: America used to have censorship in their film industry. The idea began in the Golden Age of Hollywood and during the rise of sound in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The PCA (Production Code Administration) enforced a set of rules known as the production code. These regulations limited the explicitly of movies by having producers send in script drafts and movie cuts. If anything seemed to violate the rules, such as excessive profanity, nudity, or violence, then the movies would be forced to be cut. If the directors didn’t comply, then the movie would never be distributed.
The PCA administered the code loosely though as time went on, which led to its downfall. In 1968, the rating system was implemented.
The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) makes sure that films are categorized into sections to determine what movies are appropriate for what ages. Just in case one isn’t familiar with the scale, it goes: G (general), PG (Parental Guidance), PG-13 (Parental Guidance recommended), R (Restricted, anyone under the age of 17 needs to go with an adult) and NC-17 (no one under the age of 17 is admitted). The purpose of this classification is to keep mature films away from immature audiences—at least in the box office because whatever a kid watches at home is under the discretion of their family.
This system is still active today, so the question is, if movies give caution about the material, then why are parents letting their so called “influenceable” children wander into a screening at home to watch the film? They have all the power to limit their kid’s film and literary sources, and for that reason, who are they blaming?
Truthfully, there are movies that use excessive violence. Sam Peckinpah is a prominent example of this with The Wild Bunch. However, the MPAA gives the movie an R-rating for a reason. Even with this, Peckinpah defends his film, stating that his movies include violence to resensitize audiences to the horrors of the death. Keep in mind that The Wild Bunch came out in 1969, and America is in a state of persistent warfare. War is what standardizes violence as glory, not movies.
Another way to look at this is on an international scope. Barbaric films are everywhere, not just in the United States of America. Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale is a prime example of this. The movie revolves around Japanese youth killing each other until there is only one person standing (think Hunger Games, but with ten times the gore). Even classics, like Kurosawa’s Rashomon or Seven Samurai, instill violence into the cultural foundation of Japanese cinema. However, Japan experiences less than 10 gun-involved deaths a year.
How? Japanese culture is ultimately more inclusive and respectful than the United State’s society. Youth are taught patience and to behave in a way that is honorable. This constant attention to the importance of kids is a big factor that is taken for granted in America. Even when public schools and other locations full of children are the primary targets for mass shootings.
Secondly, Japan has gun regulations that have been in place since the end of World War II. Starting with a complete prohibition of arms except for law enforcement, Japan now allows for its citizens to own rifles and shotguns. Two arms that take a lot more time to reload than a handgun. In order to own a weapon, people in Japan also have to take classes, an accuracy test, and a mental health evaluation. This process repeats every three years.
By restricting who qualifies and what weapons are reasonable, the Japanese government has been able to reduce the violent crime rate as a whole in the country. Traditionalists in the United States though continue to utilize films as a scapegoat, and thus hold back progression to make the country a safer place for all.
“Yes, people pull the trigger – but guns are the instrument of death. Gun control is necessary, and delay means more death and horror.” -Eliot Spitzer
If parents believe that entertainment is what causes events, such as the one on February, 14th, then something is wrong. Children learn from their parents first, not what they see on TV. If there is a lack of parental interest in their kid’s life, then it will lead to the isolation of a child. This develops into alienation and anomie, which causes distress in emotionally inept youth. To avoid this, parents need to be constantly involved in the lives of their children. Not by sanctioning entertainment, but by teaching and educating. Children need to learn what is right from what is wrong. This is common sense.
School shootings become prominent as a means of deviancy. Deviancy occurs when a person or social group does not conform to social norms in order to achieve the institutionalized and cultural goals that are available to them. This issue, much like the rising suicide rate, continues to gain momentum because more and more kids are feeling socially inept.
Technology and media has created a global network that shares ideas between every demographic instantly. New trends and standards are spread efficiently, and normalized images of what self-respect looks like causes younger generations to become obsessed with social standing and ego. The youth then takes this new status quo and isolates anyone who doesn’t seem to belong. This abuse and harassment then develops into mental insecurities that cause people with existing disabilities to react unpredictably.
In many of the school shootings that have been looked at over the last 30 years, starting with the event in Columbine, killings were committed by unstable students. Although some teachers claim ignorance and state, I had no idea, abnormal behavior was present. For example, at Heath High School one of the students who took part in the attack displayed deviant behavior, which included the threatening of English teachers.
However, this student had also been bullied because of something that was published at his middle school that revealed his sexuality. His grades slipped, and his parents neglected him and his siblings. Think about it…If a person hasn’t been continuously taught ethics or how to socialize, then their aggression would only be fueled by their peers. Kids can be ruthless, and if parents aren’t there to constantly check-in on their own children’s mental state or behavior, then predicting these events is impossible. The fight against school shootings starts at home, not by turning off the television.
The problem is that as kids grow older, they shut their parents out of their lives. Privacy is essential to become independent, but this doesn’t mean that parents need to rely on school systems to teach their kids ethics. There isn’t a class in a high school curriculum that does so. Youth demands attention, and it is up to us to learn the signs of depression and to be involved, but don’t shut off the television and expect kids to know that violence is wrong.
An excellent example comes from the Netflix show Black Mirror.
Black Mirror is arguably the most invigorating anthology to date. The charm of the show is that it portrays realistic possibilities for the advances of technology in a horrifying way. This fear causes the characters in each of the episodes to suffer in one way or another that makes the audience ask themselves, Will this be us in a couple years?
Season four episode, “Arkangel,” discusses parental surveillance to a feasible limit. The plot revolves around a mother who wants to protect her daughter from exposure to explicit content. However, this takes a wrong turn when the mother starts to monitor every single thing her daughter does into her adolescence. I’m not going to ruin the ending, but let’s just say that just because you restrict graphic material from your children, it doesn’t mean that they will grow up to be an angel.
Keeping your children from these films won’t change the trend. Gun violence rates keep rising because people keep having access to weapons. Cut the assault rifle market and you will decrease the amount of weapons available.
If you really want to make a change in the safety of your community, then be active in advocating for change. Nobody needs a machine gun to protect themselves—we don’t live in a war zone. People with mental disabilities that make them socially inadequate, should not be able to acquire weapons. The weapon license process needs to be more difficult than a Driver’s Ed test.
If you aren’t caught up on the most up-to-date gun control issue, there are a couple names who are gaining international recognition, and quickly. David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez are two students from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida who are taking matters into their own hands. Amongst a group of many positive activists in the American legislative process, these two kids continue to fight for what they believe is right.
Hogg has been constantly harassed by followers of the NRA for his strong views and personal approach to the issue at hand. How can he not be? His sister was in the middle of the whole action, so how can he not be so passionate about the topic? However, he takes his grieving process and does something towards progression. Congress, take notice!
Along with Hogg, Gonzalez was also named to the Time 100 for 2018. With just as much charisma, Gonzales conveys her ideas with just as much spark and ambition that demands for social change in order to keep the communities in America safe. Schools are a place to develop and learn, and to know that the risk of arm hostility continues to go on the rise is melancholic. How many more kids do we need to see die on the news to see a change?
If we don’t do anything to protect our own families, who will?
Others are also taking a stand against gun violence in their own ways. On the cover of New York Magazine, a school shooting survivor shows his scars to reveal the ugly truth behind gun control (or the lack thereof).
In an attempt to protest the law for 3D printing of guns, a father made a printed sculpture of his deceased son. Manuel Oliver’s son was killed in the Parkland shooting earlier this year. The 3D sculpture is in Times Square, and it hopes to cause enough discussion to emphasize the importance of gun regulations in America.
There isn’t a perfect answer for the gun crisis in America, and there isn’t an accurate prediction to see whether or not a ban on weapons will increase public safety.
However, this isn’t what advocates are fighting for. They want to regulate the rules to make arm distribution less accessible to unstable customers. Why is it easier to get a gun than a Driver’s License? If three courses need to be taken to get a Driver’s License, then the procedure to receive a Concealed Carry Permit should be just as rigorous, if not more so.
Follow Everytown for Gun Safety to learn how you can take action to make America a safer place.
Let your voice ring louder than a bullet shell.