The conversation about guns is expanding to include Hollywood. And Academy Award winning Director and President of the Directors Guild of America, Taylor Hackford, has something to say about it.
In the fight for gun control reform, the list of voices chiming in has grown from more than just the usual suspects. While lawmakers, congressional leaders, and the NRA have dominated the conversation on solutions to gun violence in America, Hollywood and entertainment leaders now want a chance in the spotlight.
And some of them don’t like it. Taylor Hackford, president of the Directors Guild of America and director of the upcoming movie “Parker,” said that he “resents being drawn in” to the discussion on the impact of violence in entertainment and violence in real life.
His newest film, starring Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez, is a crime thriller film and, simply put, there’s a good amount of violence in it. “It’s about a career criminal,” he explains to The Cycle hosts, “When you see the film, is there violence in it? Yes. Is there violence among criminals? Yes. But in reality, I think that, ya know, the gun lobby would like to point towards Hollywood and say ‘hey let’s bring as many people into this equation as possible,’ and I think that they’re trying to deflect the real issue.”
The real issue being guns. Hackford draws a parallel between England and America, saying that while they watch the same violent TV shows and films, they don’t have the level of violence that we do because “guns aren’t in that society” – at least not in the same way as they are in ours.
But to say that violence as it is portrayed in media and entertainment has no connection with what happens in reality seems to absolve the industry of blame that they, to some extent, deserve. As much as there is resentment in being drawn in to this debate (director Quentin Tarantino also shares this sentiment), the public seemed to disagree. In the weeks following the Newtown shooting, 70% of adults said that there is too much violence depicted in film and TV advertisements. In defense of both his films, and the U.S. film industry, Hackford told The Cycle hosts:
“I dont think there’s any studies that show a connection between entertainment–things that are on the screen – and what happens in situations out in society. I mean there’s lots of things that people can theorize about, but let’s face it: if we have guns in society, people are going to use them. And to say that, ‘oh, they were driven to it by entertainment’ I just don’t happen to agree.”
Agree or disagree, the conversation about gun violence is still a loud one in this country. And it’s coming to encompass discussions on what kids are seeing displayed on their TV whether Hollywood likes it or not.