When Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association made his dramatic statements about the Newtown shooting, he placed the blame on some familiar suspects: not just insufficient militarization of elementary schools, but movies and video games. “Media conglomerates,” he said, “compete with one another to shock, violate, and offend every standard of civilized society by bringing an ever more toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty into our homes.” But Matt Gertz of Media Matters discovered that the NRA is not so opposed to movies that feature people shooting each other. In fact, the NRA’s National Firearms Museum features an exhibit called “Hollywood Guns,” in which you can check out the actual guns used in some of your favorite films (go to the end of this post for a video of the NRA museum curator proudly showing off the movie guns).
You might respond that the NRA is full of crap when it points the finger at Hollywood, which of course it is. But let’s take them at their word for a moment and examine the claim. If movies featuring a lot of gunplay cause real-world violence (there’s no actual evidence that this is the case, by the way, but never mind that), then what is it exactly that the NRA believes produces this effect? Is it that the narratives of action films convince people that the most serious problems can be solved with the use of firearms? Is it that movies portray a world in which people are constantly called on to use guns, when that isn’t the case in real life? Is it that movies portray gun use not as a horror or a tragedy but as something to be enjoyed? Is it that movies fetishize guns, making them seem like not just practical tools but objects that imbue those who wield them with power and sexiness?
Because it seems pretty clear that rather than thinking those ideas are a problem, the NRA believes them to be true. Not only that, it wants everyone else to believe them, too. Do they think people are dumb enough to buy the argument that the NRA would like to see fewer guns in movies? That they’re displeased that every other movie poster features the star holding a gun, as a signal to the potential audience that this is a film with action and excitement? Give me a break.
By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, January 2, 2013
“Only Conservatives Can Represent The Troops”: Republicans Attack Filmmaker For Doing Research On Osama bin Laden Movie
Conservatives are apparently very upsetthat the Obama administration talked to Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal for their upcoming movie about the campaign to hunt down Osama bin Laden—despite the fact that Bigelow and Boal have been clear that the movie will cover the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations:
Complaining about the White House’s efforts to stall the organization’s requests for death photos of the Al-Qaeda leader, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said, “These documents, which took nine months and a federal lawsuit to disgorge from the Obama administration, show that politically-connected filmmakers were giving extraordinary and secret access to bin Laden raid information, including the identity of a Seal Team Six leader.
“It is both ironic and hypocritical that the Obama administration stonewalled Judicial Watch’s pursuit of the bin Laden death photos, citing national security concerns, yet seemed willing to share intimate details regarding the raid to help Hollywood filmmakers release a movie ‘perfectly timed to give a home-stretch boost’ to the Obama campaign.”
This is a silly complaint. First, the movie, Zero Dark Thirty, is coming out more than a month after the election precisely to avoid any suggestion that it’s an attempt to influence the campaign. Second, collaborating with a fictional movie project is as much of a risk for the Obama administration as it is a guarantee of an election slam dunk. Kathryn Bigelow is the inverse of a director like Michael Bay who’s willing to rent his opinions to the government in exchange for lots and lots of military hardware. She’s got a very specific vision, one that isn’t particularly triumphalist and is based more on the front lines than in the halls of power.
And finally, what this kind of objection really reveals is an attempt by conservatives to preserve the idea that only they can authentically represent the troops. When Act of Valor casts real SEALs for parts in a silly, overdramatized movie, that’s supposed to be a move so dedicated to honoring members of the military that there’s no valid way to critique it. But when Bigelow and Boal do research to try to give their movie verisimilitude, they’re dupes who couldn’t possibly care about the truth of the story they’re trying to tell.
By: Allyssa Rosenberg, Think Progress, May 24, 2012
The 2012 campaign is now in full force. And it’s not because there have been several GOP primary debates, or that a Republican candidate has already dropped out of the race, or even because President Obama has interrupted his can’t-we-all-act-like-adults bit to criticize Congress.
It’s because a congressman has called for an investigation into a Hollywood movie.
Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, the director and screenwriter who made the Academy Award-winning film The Hurt Locker, are now at work on a movie about Osama bin Laden. This is not only understandable but predictable. Hollywood is in business to make money, and while Bigelow and Boal are surely many levels above the filmmakers who produce movies with men acting like frat boys and grown women paralyzed by inexplicable insecurity, this movie will certainly draw a crowd. But what House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King worries about is that the Obama administration is providing the filmmakers with classified information to help them make the film.
White House spokesman Jay Carney dismissed the concerns as “ridiculous,” and while we can’t know for sure, it does seem a little silly. The military operation itself required intense secrecy and protection of classified information to be successful. Why release classified information now? And why would the filmmakers need classified information? We know how it started, and we know how it ended—with bin Laden shot by a U.S. Navy SEAL. That’s a pretty good movie right there, and one Americans exhausted by the toll of two wars and a recession will likely flock to see.
The real question here is not whether classified information is being given to Hollywood, but whether King’s genuine concern is timing. The movie is set to be released before the 2012 elections, arguably giving the embattled president a public relations boost right when he may need one. But does a movie make the difference? It’s unthinkable that the Obama campaign will not remind people of the huge military success of killing the most hated man in America; they don’t need Hollywood to do it. There may well be many films whose sourcing and facts are suspect—those would be the mockumentaries undoubtedly being created under the loose campaign finance rules in place since the Citizens United case was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Now, that’s something worth a congressional investigation.
By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, August 16, 2011