Often we will hear of an act of violence or crime committed in real life which will then be blamed on inspiration derived from a movie. Real life experience tells us that there are weak minds out there that will emulate almost anything that they see on TV or the big screen. The Jackass franchise is exhibit ‘A’. In defense of the ‘art’ however, the creators will claim that the depictions are only reflective of real life scenarios, therefore derivation, not causation.
This great fallacy exists even to this day despite ample evidence to the contrary. Anybody who still thinks media has no knock-on effect on culture is probably a Japanese soldier resolutely hiding in the Philippine rainforest.
Sharp people in the entertainment business know that catering to the lowest and darkest elements of the human psyche is infinitely more lucrative than uplifting and sunny themed shows. Literary history is rife with classic stories anchored in gruesome murders, beheadings and dismemberment, from Shakespeare to Beowulf to Poe.
In our time, Harvey Weinstein is one of the sharpest and most successful at catering to that appetite. Much of his entire legacy and substantial fortune has been made off of such classics as Rambo, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill (vol. 1 and 2) and Reservoir Dogs. Anyone familiar with such films knows that violence, especially glorified and stylized gun violence are major elements of the plots. Certainly he’s not alone since for example the exaggerated violence depicted in the whole Zombie franchise and horror film genre also compete successfully for audience money. But apparently, he’s had an epiphany on violence and guns and now doesn’t think that anyone should have guns. This is as if Colonel Sanders were to announce that all of his restaurants would now be vegan. It’s as if Russ Meyers came out against breast implants. It’s the same as Hugh Hefner preaching chastity or Michael Moore speaking out against forks.
Guns have been around a lot longer than Weinstein has been glorifying their use. In fact, the ability for citizens in the U.S. to possess firearms has a specific utility which is famously enshrined in their constitution. His new found opposition to guns after amassing fortune and fame from depictions of their use is perhaps a tad disingenuous. Many of the Hollywood action star set have made their marks as a result of portraying gun toting heroes, including noted peacenik Matt Damon. In fact any promotional trailer for this season’s TV offerings invariably include someone holding a gun. Moreover, for Weinstein to impose his views on gun ownership upon the entire nation and to attempt altering a fundamental constitutional mandate is particularly galling since depictions of glorified gun violence has been such a staple of his career.
It’s fine if Weintstein’s new direction in film production moves away from gun violence and towards dramas in which the plots surround people behaving badly and calling each other rude names. Let’s see how that sells commercially. Oh wait, we already have that model. MSNBC.