Nearly 200 writers, actors and directors have signed a petition calling on Hollywood to “use their power as creators” and reconsider how they portray the use of guns in film.
The petition, first reported in The Kneller newsletter, calls on the industry to restrict scenes involving children and guns, and to explicitly show characters locking their guns and keeping them out of the reach of children.
It also urges creators to have “at least one conversation” during pre-production about narrative alternatives to the use of firearms.
While it doesn’t call for an outright ban on guns on screen, it does contain a pretty revealing tidbit about what drives writers to include so much gory gunfights in their screenplays.
“We asked writers why there is so much writing about guns on TV and film,” the petition reads. “The resounding response was exactly what we expected: for many viewers, guns can be both exciting and frightening, and set the emotional tone of a scene.”
So far it has been signed by big names like Shonda Rhimes, Adam McKay, Judd Apatow, Amy Schumer, Mark Ruffalo and Jimmy Kimmel. Other signatories are Teddy Lasso Co-creator Bill Lawrence and horror filmmaker Eli Roth, ironically known for his gruesome death scenes.
The appeal follows two mass shootings carried out last month by 18-year-olds in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York. 31 people died, including 19 school children in Uvalde.
The non-profit organization Brady: United Against Gun Violence, which is responsible for spreading the petition, pointed to Hollywood’s influence on its young, impressionable viewers.
“Hollywood has modeled positive culture change before: seat belts, smoking, teenage pregnancy, marriage equality. Now that the gun violence epidemic is worsening in America, it is time to take responsibility in storytelling that represents firearms and gun safety,” the organization says.
The people on the list aren’t the only ones slamming Hollywood for their obsession with flying bullets.
“Now that the gun violence epidemic is worsening in America, it is time to take responsibility in storytelling that depicts firearms and gun safety.”
On Friday, Bill Maher attacked the hypocrisy of an industry that champions gun control laws as it releases film after film about men who pick up guns to get revenge.
“They hate when gun people say, ‘It takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun,’ but they endlessly make movies with that exact storyline,” the comedian said on his show, firing endless list of films with the word “revenge” in the title.
“When liberals yell, ‘Do something!’ After a mass shooting, why don’t we also consider the fact that the average American child sees 200,000 acts of violence on screens before the age of 18? And that according to the FBI, one of the warning signs of a potential school shooter is “a fascination with violent entertainment,” he added.
This constant barrage of trigger-happy content has led to tragedies, like when Alec Baldwin shot and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the doomed western with a loaded prop gun rust last year. Authorities in Santa Fe, where the film was filmed, are still investigating the incident.
The Brady Center’s fatigue-driven call to action follows another cycle of shooting, outrage, and inaction that Americans have become all too familiar with.
A glimmer of hope came on Sunday when Senate negotiators announced they had reached a bipartisan agreement on (very) lenient arms reforms, according to the Associated Press.
The package would make juvenile records available for background checks on gun purchases, allowing someone under the age of 21 to be fully screened before purchasing one. It would also prevent convicted domestic abusers from buying a gun and close the so-called “boyfriend loophole”. In addition, it would provide states with money to enact better “red flag” laws that would temporarily confiscate the guns of those deemed violent.
It has the support of enough Republican senators to avoid a filibuster.
In a statement, President Biden said, “There is no excuse for delay and no reason why it shouldn’t go through the Senate and House quickly.”