Who is to blame for violent media and real-life gun violence? Film critics, who are a part of the NRA’s “propaganda wing” according to an op-ed written by Thomas Frank.
Frank, a cultural critic, wrote an op-ed for Harper’s Magazine titled “Blood Sport,” in which he blames Hollywood and film critics in particular for the recent spike in real-life gun violence.
In it, Frank calls films like Django Unchained and The Dark Knight “advertisements for mass murder,” and takes film critics to task for lauding and applauding these films on their artistic merits. He makes a few references to recent mass shootings (like Sandy Hook) and the NRA’s weak yet seemingly effective apologist stance, and neatly ties it all together to media depictions of violence, painting film critics as violence enablers.
Frank is a hugely respected voice and enjoyable rhetorical stylist, but all of the studies agree that fictional violence and real-life violence don’t have any correlation.
Writing for Salon, Andrew O’Hehir respectfully rebuts Frank’s argument, pointing out a few strange references that don’t seem to apply to his argument, and underscore the possibility that he’s “desperately out of his depth on the movie beat.”
Though O’Hehir does sympathize and even agree with some of Frank’s points, he opines that the ties that bind his rhetorical argument are as loose at times as Wayne LaPierre’s arguments in defense of gun ownership. He concludes:
“If Frank believes that both Django and the Dark Knight movies are “advertisements for mass murder,” OK. But that already risks meaninglessness by ignoring the distance between Tarantino’s farcical movie-geek universe and Nolan’s ponderous, pseudo-epic mythology, and avoiding the question of what the violence in their movies is supposed to mean and what moral weight it carries (or doesn’t).”
What do you think? Does film violence have an effect on real-life violence?