Can We Blame Hollywood?
In my last two part article titled, Tragic Knee-jerks, I somehow kicked a hornets nest with an angry little hornet who wanted to be called Joe Citizen. He didn’t pick that name. I gave it when I said that one place that I didn’t want Joe Citizen to have a gun is in a school. Joe Citizen the hornet took this as a personal attack and accused me of advocating further gun restrictions on the “good” gun owners. Exactly what a “good” gun owner means, I don’t know. We would have to ask Joe. I can only assume that Joe thinks that all gun owners are good as he thinks that laws restricting the use of guns in areas apply only to good gun owners, which, in fact, they apply to every gun owner. So, if we follow that line of thinking logically, Joe thinks that all gun owners are good gun owners. But that’s neither here nor there. I explained to Joe that he raised some good points, however, his comprehension of the written word was in question. I never called for further gun restrictions. He responded by saying that it was I who lack the ability of comprehension, because he never accused me of saying that, but that I did say it between the lines. Okay, Joe. Here’s the blog. You can be the judge.
I won’t come right out and say that Joe is crazy. He’s just passionate and a little naive; maybe a little ignorant, too. Joe probably didn’t go on to read part two of the blog. It doesn’t matter, though. He had trouble understanding part one. The bottom line, with regards to gun control, a topic I barely touched on in the blog, despite what Joe believes, is that there are laws that are already in place that I believe do not need to be removed or enhanced. They do, however, need to be enforced. I agree with all of them. I would take it a step further and close the gun show loophole, though.
Joe is the type of gun owner that believes he should be allowed to buy any type of gun and carry it anywhere in the world, or at least this country. Joe believes in unlimited freedom. He has a point. This is the land of the free, right? Are we truly free if we have restrictions? If you read this blog, you’ll know that I believe there is no such thing as freedom. We do not have freedom. We are not free to do whatever we want. We are free to operate within the parameters of the constitution, but that is as far as our freedom goes. The 2nd amendment guarantees the citizens of the United States the right to bear arms. However, it does not guarantee the right to own an M-60 or to carry a sidearm into a bar or school. In America, we have the right to pursue happiness. However, if your pursuit causes you to drive your car down a busy sidewalk, or through a schoolyard, you’re in trouble. But “good” drivers should be able to drive wherever they want. Okay, but the law isn’t for “good” drivers. The law is for bad drivers, irresponsible drivers.
This is a rabbit trail, but I felt the need to explain things a bit clearer for Joe’s sake. The reason for this article is to address the illogical and ridiculous accusation that Joe tried to use to paint me in a corner with. And that is:
How can someone like me, who wrote a horror film called Cut/Print, a gore infested story about a maniac that murders people and calls it art, dare call for further gun restrictions? He went on and said, “What does this type of media do to empower or lend ideas to the minds of sociopaths in our society, or just plain desensitize at least? Perhaps these type of films should not be shown in ‘certain’ theaters…perhaps there should be “slasher movie free zones” and limit the venues that can be used for such material?”
I think I’ve made myself perfectly clear with regards to further gun control, so enough of that silliness. But, I will answer the charges rained down on me by Mr. Joe Citizen. I know sarcasm when I see it and Joe’s comments above are drenched in it. However, his sarcasm is draped in a patronizing tone, which I cannot and will not stand for.
Can we blame Hollywood?
The short answer is no, but that would be the end, so in true Hollywood fashion, I’m going to milk this thing for everything its got.
The debate about the responsibility of media is as old as the debate about gun rights in America. Whether it’s the rating system of the MPAA or the stickers on CDs that contain explicit lyrics, we have tried to hold the entertainment industry accountable for its material. Standards and practices of television networks nitpick words and content that can be aired or canned. The FCC freaks out if they see a nipple or hear an unwanted cuss word, weighing the offending party down with hefty fines. But, the truth is, our society is more concerned with a nipple and the word prick than we are of a fictional maniac gunning down a room full of characters. In other words, violence is okay, but a boob? No way, Jose! I think we’ve drawn the line and have done a pretty good job at guarding it over the years. But there are those who still think it’s not enough. They believe that the entertainment industry is to blame for all of society’s woes. Those people are blind and self-righteous whack-a-moles.
Here is where I stand. As far as television goes, we have the primetime magic hour where pretty much everything goes except full frontal nudity and the “F” bomb. That’s fine. Kids are normally in bed at that time anyway. And for the record, they should be. Adults can handle it by not watching the shows they don’t like. Movies have a rating system that’s a bit shaky, but effective. The beauty of the modern world, though, is that parents can read in-depth reviews of films and decide whether or not they want their child to go see a PG-13 film. R rated films do not allow anyone under the age of 18 without a parent. NC-17 films do not allow anyone under the age of 17, period. As far as music, there is a warning on the CD. The same for video games. Children cannot buy these pieces of media without a parent being present. I think all of these systems in place are good and stupid. Here’s why.
First of all, and I know some of you will disagree with me, I don’t get in a tizzy over language. I encourage good communication skills in my children. I tell them that there are certain words that are not acceptable in certain social settings. However, if you hit your thumb with a hammer and yell “shit!”, well no harm done. To this day, I’ve never heard my children use a cuss word. Of course, I don’t know how they talk when I’m not around. On the other hand, they don’t know how I talk when they are not around, either. You see, for me, word power is only allowed by those that hear it and by some imaginary societal standard that changes as time goes by. A hundred years ago, the word “crap” was unacceptable. Women would faint at the sound of it. In the 1950′s, it was unacceptable to use the word “pregnant” on national television. I remember when I was a teenager, I was scolded for saying, “This sucks!” Why? Because what exactly does this situation suck? What did I mean by using the word sucks? I meant this sucks balls, but I couldn’t say balls, so I stopped at sucks. Turns out, it didn’t matter. I remember thinking how ridiculous the examination of the word “sucks” was and how crazy it sounded to pick apart its meaning. Ever since then, I didn’t get the hang-up over language. Fifty years from now, the word “shit” will mean nothing.
Secondly, I think nudity in film and television is always gratuitous. However, in magazines such as Playboy, it’s necessary. That’s how they make their bread, man. But, back to movies and television. I’m a man. I like seeing a pair of boobs just like any man. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I need to see a pair of boobs. They are two things that I can easily be fixated on long after they are gone. In fact, the very mention of boobs instantly puts a picture in my mind. I’m thinking of boobs right now… Where was I? Oh yeah! I’ve got better uses for my brain than that. When it comes to children, especially prepubescent boys whose minds are not yet fully developed, they shouldn’t even get a glimpse. Teenage boys are the worst when it comes to anything that has to do with sex. I tell my daughter that boys only want to do one thing: touch your boobs. It’s true! It is all those little peach fuzz nugget carriers think about. The last thing they need is to see boobs!
Finally, I think violence in film and television is not always gratuitous. However, I think that gore is always gratuitous. The rating systems in place for film and television are strong and are there to help, are you ready for this, PARENTS MAKE DECISIONS.
So, can we blame Hollywood for the behavior of our society? No, we cannot blame Hollywood no more than we can blame a Colt .45. Hollywood has done everything possible to help parents choose wisely that which their children partake in. If a parent allows their child to watch Cut/Print, or play Call of Duty, or listen to gangsta rap, or watch Cinemax late at night, then that parent is to blame for everything that child eventually grows to be as a result.
Yes, I am holding, once again, bad parents accountable. If you have a child that has an unhealthy fixation with guns, then guess what? Don’t have guns around the child, whether real or fake. If your child is an obsessive masturbator, then you better get rid of cable and the internet and start teaching him about what it means to actually love a woman. If your child refers to girls as bitches and hoes, then you better go through their music collection and start deleting. Children are not capable of making wise decisions. Their brains are still forming. It is up to you, the parent, to help nurture that development, not damage it.
This is what I suggest for you parental units out there with questionable judgement. Whatever you think you should do, do the opposite. Don’t take that three year old to see Texas Chainsaw Massacre just because you can’t get a sitter and you think they are too young to realize what’s going on. If your child makes you angry, don’t refer to her as a little shit. Try not acting like a sailor on leave around your children. If your child is thirsty, don’t fill their cup with Mountain Dew. If you and your husband or wife have a disagreement, wait until the children aren’t around before you start knocking the holy hell out of each other. If your son has a mental illness, don’t take him to the gun range to go shooting. I think you’ll be able to get by in life without your gun hobby for a while.
We, as a society, have put certain restrictions in place to keep the goobers from being goobers. A gun free zone in a school isn’t there for responsible gun owners; it’s for the hot headed dad that comes in every week to scream at the principle because little Johnny hates his teacher. An R rating is to keep clueless mom from allowing her daughter to go to the movies without her and see the Hangover. Speed limits are in place to keep Mr. Leadfoot from treating the highway like the Daytona 500. Do people break these restrictions? Yes and we call them criminals or bad parents. As Ron White said, “You can’t fix stupid.” However, you can have a line drawn so that stupid can be punished. In the end, it’s up to us to stop raising stupid.