The national gun debate has officially gotten surreal: President Obama and the National Rifle Association agree on something. At a news conference earlier today, Wayne LaPierre, the NRA executive vice president, blamed “Hollywood and the media” for the horrific Newtown killings. Obama has cited violence in pop culture as an influence, too.
Attention, LaPierre and Obama: You can have my collector’s edition DVD of Dario Argento’s Suspiria when you pry it from cold dead hands.
True confession: I have enjoyed violent movies and TV almost my whole life. I’m not into the Saw– and Hostel-inspired genre of “torture porn” ––– much of that is dull and repetitive ––– but I started watching bloody horror films with my parents when I was a wee lad. A fascination with death, pain, and gore is a very human thing, even if not all humans wish to indulge it in their entertainment. (Some prefer to experience it through relentless, mindless cable news coverage of tragic Connecticut shootings, but the “tragedy porn” issue is another debate).
To watch someone die horribly (and fictitiously) in a movie offers a catharsis and control for audiences that Euripides and Shakespeare used masterfully. Sick people like Adam Lanza may indeed be partially influenced by violent entertainment, including video games. But last time I checked, a Wii control wasn’t capable of firing 400 rounds per minute. Gun enthusiasts, if you want to own hunting rifles and handguns for protection, that’s cool. But help take the freakin’ military-style assault weapons off the street, please.