This being Hollywood awards season, one thing we can count on is one thing we have become inured to: the celebrity activist display. From cause-ribbon-wearing to red-carpet pontificating, it is not enough for us to fawn over luminaries—we also have to get preached at by our beloved betters. Hosts delivering political barbs and presenters who use their camera time to tout pet causes pepper awards ceremonies. Producers always grant these grandstanders their allotment, then moments later chase the winners off-stage during a truncated acceptance speech.
The recent Golden Globes delivered an unintentionally hilarious counterpoint to the proselytizing. During a segment to announce the Best Picture nominee, Jennifer Lawrence walked out to present with her newest best friend, (alleged) joke larcenist Amy Schumer. Schumer has quickly risen to the entertainment A-list, and has parlayed that into joining the Societal Harridan List. Along with her relative in DC, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Amy has become a voice of opposition to guns in this country.
Cue the irony. After some scripted spontaneous banter, Lawrence and Schumer introduced J-Law’s nominated film, “Joy.” Next, a minute-long video montage played, culminating with the scene where Lawrence brandishes a firearm, delivers some dialogue, then fires the weapon—nearly into the camera lens. Amazing to note: This jarring imagery during a tranquil awards celebration was shown to the audience without a trigger warning!
To those who endured Amy’s recent anti-gun lectures, her introducing a clip of her new best buddy shooting off a firearm is prime for ridicule. But this hypocrisy probably never occurred to Schumer. Hollywood serves as a paradox of weapons morality. Its participants are free to condemn and lecture us on the depravity of individuals and organizations affiliated with guns, with a glaring exemption granted to themselves and their industry.
The Lesser of Two Demagogues
The Acela Set is no less occupied with rewarding themselves. One thing about the current Democratic Party election season: It clearly brings out the anti-constitutionalists. Sure, they couch their document-lacerating platforms with palatable euphemisms, such as “common-sense regulations” or “reasonable safety laws.” These fluffy terms do little to veil the reality that they intend to encroach directly upon the rights our supreme law has commanded shall not be infringed.
Hillary Clinton’s platform includes stricter gun regulations. She uses this stance as a cudgel against Bernie Sanders, who once backed a law protecting gun manufacturers from wrongful-death lawsuits. Not be outflanked on the left wing, Sanders now says that law needs to be repealed, paving the way for people to sue gun makers out of existence.
In their quest to make us a less-armed populace, these proponents share a common enemy: The National Rifle Association. It is a testament to the effectiveness and accuracy of that organization that not a single firearm outrage can be uttered without an automatic connection to the group. School shootings, highway snipers, and homegrown terrorist attacks consistently are laid at the feet of the NRA. (Some may say, “What about Chicago’s high gun-death rates?” but note I said firearm outrage. The gun-snatchers always bypass that city’s victims.)
Little evidence supports these accusations. The NRA supports background checks, educated handling, firearm safety, comprehensive training, and legal usage. Accusations against it tend to ring hollow since the organization does not promote activities that lead to “mass shootings.” Every gun tragedy involves breaking numerous laws and contradicting the NRA’s recommended use—such as funneling rifles to Mexican cartel members, for just one random example.
As gun opponents place the NRA in their cross-hairs (not apologizing for that macro-aggression) they expose the impotency of their outrage. Yet another industry guilty of the same charges manages to elude being called complicit.
All The Blame, None of the Proof
Indulge me in a small exercise. Take a look at the following phrases that you undoubtedly have either heard before, or a variation thereof:
The NRA romanticizes a pro-gun agenda
The NRA creates a culture of violence
The NRA profits from glorifying guns
These have become the tropes politicians and activist groups like Moms Demand, Everytown, et al. employ for demonization. These accusations are used interchangeably, based on the particular details of a gun event. Did someone use a stolen gun, taking the background checks argument off the table? Then blame the NRA for fostering a violent atmosphere. Homegrown terrorists shoot up San Bernardino? They wouldn’t be armed if NRA didn’t ensure it’s “easy” to buy guns.
But here is a stark reality. The proof behind these accusations is always ethereal. Nothing tangible is ever offered to bolster the charges. The mere suggestion is enough, because the accusation has been bandied so frequently.
Now for the interactive portion of this article. Go back and look at those three comments, but apply a simple alteration. Replace “The NRA” with one word: Hollywood. Not only do all of the phrases become more accurate, but you are greeted with recall imagery.
Does Hollywood create a culture of violence? Its entire product defines culture, and we all have instant recollection of a movie or TV show with heavy firearm visuals. Hollywood romanticizes a pro-gun agenda? The studios sure have not curtailed titles with plotlines wrapped around heroic firearm use. Does Hollywood profit from glorifying guns? Not only is this an obvious “Yes,” there is no shortage of guns on the very posters used to sell their films.
Despite this, no one hurls vitriolic charges at Hollywood on par with the regular NRA taunts. The profit accusation is especially stark in the juxtaposition. The NRA is not in business; it derives funds from membership fees, paid willingly by people who want the organization to continue its practices.
Hollywood Makes Billions by Glorifying Guns
Hollywood studios are instead profit-driven, and they create a cultural product of gun-steeped content for the direct purpose of generating revenues. The industry touts guns, lovingly displays firearms, and glorifies the violence the weaponry can deliver. All of this for the singular purpose of turning a profit. Each of us can instantly conjure specific visuals supporting this reality.
Despite the voluminous catalogue of blatant evidence that studios are culpable of the very charges foisted by the rifle-nabbers, they rarely endure the insults and blame. This goes beyond mere hypocrisy. It’s a blind spot, as if all gun-control groups and politicians have suffered the same stroke.
Activists wishing to blunt a gun culture would do better than to attack a constitutional protection lobby and instead try to curtail the industry that relies on guns for corporate earnings. It takes very little to prove this out. Let us look at just one prime example.
At the same time political candidates and anti-Second Amerndment groups were blaming the NRA for glorifying guns, Universal Studios was running commercials for “Ride Along 2” during the NFL playoffs. In those spots, Kevin Hart is shot on-screen, entirely for laughs.
Well, not “entirely”; it was a commercial, after all, to lure people into theaters. So generating revenue was also in play, even though we have been told profiting from gunplay is evil. Quixotically, nobody anticipates a vicious backlash of outrage hurled towards the studios for the venality of their greed, fueled by cultivating violence and promoting guns.
Loud Words, Contradictory Actions
“The NRA is a disaster area,” declared film mogul Harvey Weinstein to Howard Stern two years ago, “And they’re going to wish they weren’t alive after I’m done with them.” Harvey was referring to a supposedly anti-gun film he said was set to star in with Meryl Streep, tentatively titled “The Senator’s Wife.”
During this rant, Stern asked if Weinstein owned a gun. “I don’t think we need guns in this country. And I hate it,” he replied. This may seem to display a lack of hypocrisy, but only if you don’t apply the fact that Weinstein employs armed guards for personal security. During this same period, Harvey doubled down on his firearms opinions during a visit with fellow gun opponent Pierce Morgan.
I have to choose movies that aren’t violent or as violent as they used to be. I know for me personally, you know, I can’t continue to do that. The change starts here. It has already. For me, I can’t do it. I can’t make one movie and say this is what I want for my kids and then just go out and be a hypocrite.
Well, it turns out Weinstein can be a hypocrite, like most of Hollywood’s loudest Second Amendment opponents. There is no shortage of celebrities who have touted gun control after starring in movies brandishing guns, but a growing number are starring in such movies after their rants. Beyond a double standard, this displays abject self-awareness. Those who love to look at themselves in a mirror are horrible at introspection, and about gun control they exhibit zero self-control.
This year, Liam Neeson leapt at the chance to declare his position that the Second Amendment should be repealed. One niggling detail lost on the star: to express these views he was using the forum of the press junket for his career-rejuvenating gun-porn franchise entry “Taken 3.” In fact, he seems completely incapable of starring in a film lately without wielding a weapon—not only on-screen, but also on the poster.
Sean Penn made a bold announcement last January that, at the behest of his beau Charlize Theron, he would be melting down his gun collection to make a statue to auction for charity. He proudly described the act: “How liberating of bullshit and ugliness it would be not only to get rid of the guns I have…but also to destroy them.”
This is just fine, an individual ridding himself of “cowardly killing machines,” as he described them. But it became more than confusing when he followed that by starring in a film cowardly entitled “The Gunman.” Doubly confusing: after this gesture, his disarming muse Theron appeared with cowardly killing-weapons in the movies “A Million Ways To Die In The West” and “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
As for Weinstein’s sweeping takedown of the NRA and his pledge to stop his studio from releasing further violent, gun-toting titles—yeah, both became completely impotent announcements. “The Senator’s Wife” has not progressed beyond his bombastic talk show pitches. Meanwhile, his promise of a pacifist release schedule has also become simple balloon juice. This past Christmas, Weinstein Co. gave us Quentin Tarantino’s violent fantasy “The Hateful 8,” followed by the January 29 release “Jane Got A Gun.”
All of this could be dismissed simply as hypocrisy. However, in yet one more area Hollywood is guilty of the charges they assign. Weinstein was a massive campaign bundler for President Obama’s reelection bid, and numerous celebrities have backed Hillary’s bid this year, as well as more slowly coming out in favor of Sanders.
Stars and studios frequently bend the ear of DC politicians, and one of the issues they wail about is the lobbying power of The NRA. While telling pols it is evil that a lobby tells pols what to do, these entertainers are too oblivious to the irony to even entertain the contradiction.
While the NRA is routinely excoriated as being a hardcore gun lobby in Washington, how is the Hollywood set excused for worse? Considering celebrities have an absolute love affair with Obama/Hillary/Sanders, how do they reconcile their staunch anti-gun stance while becoming recidivists who can’t stop themselves from profiting off gun violence? Easy answer: they don’t.
The NRA is evil. Just take the word of the gun-loving Hollywood industry.