Jamie Foxx starts things off by invoking the name of “Columbine” and then Jeremy Renner says “Newtown.” Are they kidding? Foxx and Renner have made countless movies in which they slaughter people with guns. Same for most of the video’s other participants — among others, Reese Witherspoon, Cameron Diaz, Jason Bateman, Jon Hamm, Julianne Moore, Jennifer Garner, Chris Rock and Courtney Cox. It's their best acting performance yet, combining self-righteousness and hypocrisy without any visible self-consciousness.
What are they going to do next, tell us not to use profanity?
If they want to do something about guns and violence in this country, they should look in the mirror. There is little doubt – despite Hollywood’s disingenuous denials – that violence in movies influences behavior. If not, then why does TV sell 60-second advertisements for millions of dollars, and, for that matter, why would Weinstein make a movie to make us hate guns and the NRA?
In the landmark book "Hollywood v. America," by Michael Medved, Daniel Linz, a professor of psychology at the UC-Santa Barbara at the time, said, “The consensus among social scientists is that very definitely there’s a causal connection between exposure to violence in the media and violent behavior.”
Linz devoted his career to the subject. The book cites a University of Illinois study of 400 children over the course of more than 20 years that came to this conclusion: Kids who watched significant amounts of TV violence at age 8 were consistently more likely to commit violent crimes or engage in child or spouse abuse at age 30: “It cannot be denied or explained away,” the scientist concludes.
In the aforementioned video, the actors and actresses conclude their gun legislation pitch by saying, “As a mom, as a dad, as a husband, as a wife, as an American, as a human being ... demand a plan right now."
They are talking to us, but they should be directing such sentiments to themselves and their industry, as well as those who watch their movies. They should question the cavalier, gratuitous use of guns on the big screen, where there is little value for human life and guns are frequently an answer for solving problems.
A recent study published in the Pediatrics journal reported that gun violence in PG-13 movies has tripled since 1985, from less than one shooting sequence per hour to almost three.
Memo to Hollywood: If you want to talk about guns, put up or shut up.
Doug Robinson's columns run on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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