Guns, Politics, and Freedom
October 2000

Kids, killings and Hollywood hypocrites

By F. Paul Valone


The following column was published by The Charlotte Observer in October, 2000.


Welcome to the Hollywood Hypocrite Awards.  Grab your black tie, summon the limo; everybody who’s anybody should attend.


Unsatisfied with hugging bunnies and trees, dozens of actors beckon us from Handgun Control, Inc. ads to adopt “sensible gun laws” for “the children.”


So imagine my surprise when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) accused filmmakers of marketing R-rated gore to kiddies as young as nine.  Of forty-four movies reviewed, 80 percent targeted children.  In marketing documents, 64 percent freely confessed.


Said the National Research Group, which does movie test marketing, “There is evidence to indicate that attendance in the original movie [“Disturbing Behavior”] dipped down to the age of 10.  Therefore, it makes sense to interview 10- to 11-year-olds.”  (The “standout scene,” it concluded, was the blond smashing her head into the mirror).  Proclaimed another memo, “Our goal was to find the elusive teen audience and make sure everyone between the ages of 12-18 was exposed to the film.”


Columbia Tristar even tried marketing “The Fifth Element” among children’s programming on Nickelodeon.  The network refused, citing gun battles, bomb blasts and a scene featuring oral sex.


Don’t expect remorse from Hollywood.  Half the movie moguls who tap-danced before Congress refused to stop targeting kids.  The best Hollywood lobbyist Jack Valenti could offer was a “goal of not inappropriately specifically targeting children”.  (Thanks for the weasel-speak, Jack).


And don’t expect help from Al Gore.  Three days after admonishing Hollywood to “clean up its act,” he finished raising $8 million in a gala hosted by Harvey Weinstein of Miramax Film Corp., bringing entertainment industry contributions to $13.6 million.


But that’s just good clean fun, isn’t it?  After all, who would link something like the Trench coat-wearing killers of “The Matrix” to horrors like the “Trench coat mafia” of Columbine High?


The American Academy of Pediatrics, for one.  In a report issued with three other health organizations, including the American Medical Association, it cites 1,000 studies attesting to “a causal connection between media violence and aggressive behavior”.  Moreover, “Viewing violence may lead to real life violence.  Children exposed to violent programming at a young age have a higher tendency for violent…behavior later in life…”


Leading the list of Hollywood hypocrites is Sylvester (“Rambo”) Stallone.  After encouraging laddies to don camouflage and kill things, Sly ventured: “Until America, door to door, takes every handgun, this is what you’re gonna have.” 


Next is Rosie O’Donnell, who admonished: “I think there should be a law…that no one can have a gun in the U.S.  If you have a gun, you go to jail.”  But when queried about seeking a handgun permit for her child’s bodyguard, she reneged: “I don’t personally own a gun. But if you are qualified, licensed and registered, I have no problem.”


Then we have Sharon Stone’s publicity stunt.  Turning in her guns to police, she maintained, “The world has changed and our children are in danger.”  She’d be more credible had the gunslinger she played in “The Quick and the Dead” not taught “our children” that “some men just need killing.”


Consider HCI fundraisers attended by Jack (“Here’s Johnny!”) Nicholson (do you think he brought his axe?), or perhaps director Spike Lee’s highly publicized suggestion to stop carnage by shooting NRA president Charlton Heston.


Fortunately, poetic justice is alive and well.  Scenting a kill, the same mass tort vultures picking the carcasses of the tobacco and gun industries now glide lazy circles over Hollywood.


Say lawyers for parents of three Paducah school shooting victims, “I think we have some very big bullets for our guns.  The FTC report is tailor-made for what we’ve been saying.”  Added another, “This is kind of like the embryonic days of tobacco litigation.”  Among others, they plan to sue Time Warner.


In Louisiana, a teenage crime spree inspired by “Natural Born Killers” has drawn a lawsuit against Time Warner and Oliver Stone.  Even novelist John Grisham encouraged the suit, saying: “Oliver Stone is saying murder is cool and fun, murder is a high, murder is a drug to be used at will.  The more you kill, the cooler you are.”


We shouldn’t legislate by litigating, of course—not for tobacco, guns or movies.  Yet I can’t help enjoying the irony of legal blackmail being levied against those who’ve used it to drive gun makers from business.  As the cliché says, what goes around, comes around.


So the next time fashionable leftists—Martin (“Trigger Fast”) Sheen, for example—tell you what rights to surrender, ask whether they are massaging their own guilt or worse, Hollywood’s bottom line.