Study: 185 Victims of Violence in Weekend's Top 5 Movies (Video)
U.S. lawmakers might be eyeing more gun-control laws in the wake of several mass shootings, including one that took the lives of 26 women and children at an elementary school in Connecticut, but conservative groups have their sights set on laying some of the blame on the movie industry.
One such organization, the Culture and Media Institute, launched by Parents Television Council founder Brent Bozell, sent its analysts into theaters showing the Top 5 movies over the weekend to tally the onscreen carnage and found that 185 people were killed, shot, stabbed, beaten, burned alive, blown up, etc. in 65 scenes depicting violence.
The numbers were particularly alarming, the group says, considering one of the top movies, best picture Oscar nominee Les Miserables, is a musical and another, A Haunted House, is a comedy. The others in the Top 5 were Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained -- both best picture Oscar nominees -- and Gangster Squad.
The report the group planned to release Tuesday doesn’t distinguish between good guys and bad guys getting blown away, but that’s on purpose, says its author, Matt Philbin, because gun-control laws that many liberals in Hollywood support apply equally to law-abiding citizens and criminals.
"Since assault weapons bans, new laws limiting the capacity of magazines and other gun-control measures don't distinguish good from bad or divine intent, violence in Hollywood films should be held to the same standard," Philbin writes.
Not surprisingly, Gangster Squad, which stars Sean Penn as mobster Mickey Cohen and features 65 people getting killed or wounded, and Django Unchained, starring Jamie Foxx as a pre-Civil War slave-turned-bounty hunter, garner the bulk of the attention in the upcoming report.
“In just the first 10 minutes, a man was pulled in half by two cars, another lost a hand in an elevator fight and an attempted rape was narrowly averted,” the study says about Gangster Squad. “Failing the boss resulted in being locked in a fire-bombed building for some. Another was killed with a power drill to the head.”
The Culture and Media Institute also put together a 40-second video using clips from the five movie trailers (see a rough version of the video below).
The study also notes that Gangster Squad “has the distinction among the five films as the only one actually impacted by real-world violence,” given that a scene featuring gun murders in a movie theater was scrapped after a real-life mass murder at a Colorado theater on opening night of The Dark Knight Rises in July.
“The studio shot a new ending for Gangster Squad,” the study says. "In it, nearly 25 people are shot. But they’re not in a theater."
The individual actor getting the most scrutiny in the report might be Foxx, given that he is called a “hypocrite” for his appearance in a celebrity-heavy video that encourages more gun control (see the video below). The report also chastises Foxx for joking recently on Saturday Night Live that in Django Unchained: “I kill all the white people in the movie. How great is that?”
The report also notes that if Jack Reacher or Texas Chainsaw 3D had cracked the weekend’s Top 5, the number of violent incidents could have been significantly higher.
Some in Hollywood, though, are on record saying it doesn't matter. Django Unchained director Quentin Tarantino, for example, said it is "disrespectful" to connect onscreen violence to the Dec, 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and that, "obviously, the issue is gun control and mental health," not movies.
“Shootings, bombings, torture and 185 victims -- and that’s just the Top 5 movies this week. Still, big names like Tarantino ridiculously claim movie violence has no impact on our culture,” countered Dan Gainor, head of the Culture and Media Institute. “We know that’s a lie. Companies spend billions of dollars each year advertising products because they are sure what you see influences you. Hollywood, in turn, spends billions of dollars each year selling mayhem and murder to impressionable young people but won’t take responsibility for its share of the carnage.”
The report, though, doesn’t acknowledge that MPAA head Christopher Dodd has pledged to at least consider the movie industry’s impact on real-life violence. Dodd, however, is strongly against government regulation of film content.
“We want to explore what we can do to provide parents and others with the information for them to make choices on what they want to see and what they want their children to see,” Dodd told The Hollywood Reporter last week. “What we don't want to get involved with is content regulation. We're vehemently opposed to that. We have a free and open society that celebrates the First Amendment."
Indeed, the report from the Culture and Media Institute also does not call for government regulation, seeking instead to simply paint Hollywood as hypocritical on the issue.
"When Hollywood stars begin demanding gun control for the rest of us, as many have in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, it's worth taking a hard look at the violence they portray and often glamorize," the report says. "When five contemporary films show nearly 200 people victimized by violence of one kind or another -- but especially stylized gun violence -- there just may be something to the idea that society is impacted by culture."