COMMENTARY | Celebrities stepped up to the gun control soapbox recently by joining New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a PSA called “Demand a Plan,” in which familiar faces in television and film vaguely call for greater gun restrictions following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting two weeks ago. Problem is, there might be a slight conflict of interest there.
Our celebrities often use their popularity to champion various political issues and causes, and while most use their power for good, it has become something of a strange cultural expectation that they’ll show their faces whenever there’s a social issue to be talked about. We kind of demand them to sound off in the national conversation, but they have problematically become axiomatic and predictable poster children for one side of an incredibly complex issue.
Take the issue of gun control. The Sandy Hook massacre was the final straw in a long year of gun-related violence, and seems to have clearly drawn a line between good guys and bad guys. Assault weapons, a vaguely defined term mostly encompassing military-style rifles, have filled the role of “antagonist” in the national conversation, and everyone who thinks that Americans have a right to own one gets thrown in with the lot.
On the other side, the restriction of assault weapons has been championed as the, not a, solution to violence in America, despite the fact that each major shooting this year had more in common with each other than the use of assault weapons.
Don’t get me wrong, it should be talked about. But if we are to carefully and prudently solve the issue of gun violence and prevent more of our nation’s children from being ruthlessly murdered, there’s a lot more to consider.
Mental health, armed guards in schools, rigorous background checks are all issues that need review, though many politicians and cultural figures are skipping all of that and jumping straight into forced government buy-back of certain guns and confiscation of firearms, prickling many a gun enthusiast.
While the answer is complex, the central question is simple: Who’s to blame for all of this violence? While it’s easy to blame guns (and they’re obviously not entirely innocent), others have taken aim at the news media for sensationalizing violent crimes Others place the blame on our entertainment media: Violent films, violent video games, these pervade our culture and grow ever more popular (and ever more violent) each year.
I say all of this to say that the video posted below, created by YouTube user ma5one, at least shows why a celebrity PSA demanding gun control is so ironic, and even potentially in poor taste. Then again, the point only really hits home if you accept the assumption that violent entertainment culture is part of the problem.
WARNING: Due to language and violence, the video below is NSFW.