In the wake of the horrific shooting massacre which killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. earlier this month; Hollywood celebrities climb onto their vacuous soap boxes and “demand a plan” to end gun violence.
Perhaps they should take a look at the kind of example they set in their very lucrative careers.
The “Demand a Plan” campaign features, among others, actors whose onscreen characters brandish guns and glorify gunplay with all the realism of today’s increasingly violent video games.
As accompanying video indicates; Jamie Foxx, Jessica Alba, Jennifer Garner, Cameron Diaz, Chris Rock, Will Ferrell, Reese Witherspoon, Christina Applegate, Steve Carell, Jeremy Renner, Julianne Moore, even Conan O’Brien all appear in this ad campaign; and all wield guns in various onscreen projects.
The video also includes pop superstar Beyoncé, whose husband Jay-Z is a rap mogul, a genre which glorifies [especially] gun violence as well as objectification of women.
Real standouts to this double standard are Foxx and Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson cuts his own gun-cautionary video, which is quite ironic given his onscreen portrayals of savvy, gun-toting criminals. Most recently Foxx and Jackson star in “Django Unchained,” which Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman cites for “the most promiscuous use of the N-word ever heard in a mainstream movie.” “Django” is written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Extreme violence, profane language, and slick anti-heroes are a staple of his films.
Jackson defends movie gun violence in a recent interview. He tells webpronews.com, “This (shooting) is about people who aren’t taught the value of life.” Tarantino’s films, which Jackson frequents as a player, rack up a collective body count to rival Chicago gang violence. (The city just reached a grim milestone; its 500th homicide this year, 87.5 percent gun-related. Chicago has some of the strictest gun control laws on the books.)
Jackson’s portrayals in two Tarantino films come to mind. In his Oscar nominated turn in “Pulp Fiction,” (1994) a man’s brains are literally blown about the interior of a car Jackson’s character is driving. His partner in crime, played by John Travolta, swears the gun went off by accident. The debacle is portrayed as absurdist levity.
In “Jackie Brown,” (1997) Jackson’s movie persona fawns over a commercial of buff, bikini clad women firing AK-47 assault rifles. He declares about the weapon, “When you absolutely positively got to kill every motherf***er in the room … accept no substitutes.” Life affirmation is unlikely to be gleaned here.
As PJTV’s Roger Simon and Lionel Chetwynd discussed recently, there’s a definite coarsening of the culture. Hollywood and its representatives, such as Jackson and the “Demand a Plan” celebrities, lead the charge of this coarsening.
It’s the very embodiment of hypocrisy, these actors pretending to be something they’re not. This gun control advocacy is even more disingenuous given the common celebrity practice of employing armed bodyguards for their own personal protection.
These people seek, and get, attention for a living. Their exploiting the Newtown tragedy for more exposure is at the least, an empty gesture. At most it’s a crass, self-serving subversion from a people still reeling from this horrendous loss.