My Hollywood gun control challenge
Every Second Amendment advocate has noticed when an actor who has made millions depicting gun use in movies proceeds to lecture others, first about their having too much money, and then about the fact that guns are bad (mmk?). Going beyond the hypocrisy of these celebrities making a living romanticizing something they want banned, however, people should ask why guns are used in these movies. The answers to this question correspond to the answer to the question of why people want guns in real life.
Obviously for movie makers like Quentin Tarantino, this is largely for the purpose of stylized and purposeless violence, but for the majority of people, setting out to tell a story, the gun allows the story to be told. Without guns, the vast majority of movie and TV characters would be relegated to the role of passive observer at best, victim at worst. The rest would have their abilities explained by unique abilities and available technologies.
Guns in these movies allow people to take action themselves.
Thelma and Louise is the epitome of this. When Thelma is being raped, Louise stops the assailant (and later shoots him) with a gun she is carrying. She does not call the police and wait; the gun allows her to take action.
In Supernatural, the Winchester brothers (as well as all “hunters”) carry guns precisely because they cannot turn to the police for help. They hunt demons and other supernatural creatures, protecting society from dangers it doesn’t even recognize. They use guns in nearly every episode of that show, and this saves their lives almost as often.
In Castle, the titular character is an author and not allowed to carry a gun. His partner, however, is a female cop. She saves his life far more often than he saves hers (and even when he saves hers, it is by distracting the would-be assailant, or notifying her of his presence). The two wind up in some pretty dangerous situations, and the gun saves their lives before backup is ever able to arrive.
Defiance is a WWII drama about Jewish brothers in then-Poland and modern-day Belarus who stage an insurrection against the Nazis as well as protecting a small community of Jews-in-hiding. This one is fairly self explanatory; without guns, no insurrection could take place. This also occurs in the Pianist.
In High Noon, in a slight twist on the stories mentioned above, the sheriff asks people to help him protect the town from attackers. Their refusal is considered an almost insurmountable problem.
Example after example after example in this vein can be found. Tense or life-threatening situations require extraordinary abilities or technology … or a gun. Characters with guns are able to take action where others can’t. These are key reasons that guns are written into movies, and they are key reasons real people want guns. No one wants to watch a bystander or a victim, or someone who just calls the police and waits, hoping they come in time, and furthermore no one wants to be that person. Some of these situations are less common, and some, like in Thelma and Louise, are more so. Some are police officers and others arent, but that doesn’t really change the fundamental concept.
So here is my dare to Hollywood gun control advocates. Write me a movie in which a character in a life-threatening situation gets out safely without extraordinary abilities or technology or a gun. Make it believable (Bones and Psych don’t count). Then we’ll talk about gun control.