Monday, December 24, 2012

Climate Change

The tragic events that occurred in Aurora, Colorado, during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises this past July, was something I felt I wanted to leave aside here.  For someone who values and holds true that some of the my savory and precious moments have occurred in the peaceful tranquility of the confines of a movie theater, there was a nod and threat that almost as if a tragedy had struck inside my own backyard.  The events were dreadful, as was the fearful loom of panic and anxiety that would come (and likely hasn't quite quelled) for ones safety in the most ordinary and commonplace of scenarios.  Big Hollywood made their usual immediate adjustments-- the cancelling of movie premieres and the like, Warner Bros. (the distributor behind The Dark Knight Rises) withheld opening weekend grosses out of respect to victims, and a saving face for the opening week records that suddenly seemed unattainable.  The same distributor also pushed back and retooled the violent feature Gangster Squad, the awards wannabe featuring Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn and a ill-timed movie theater melee.  Again the issues of violence presented in movies, television and video games was sought as a defacto claim for the horrific events.  A few months later, and dreadfully in tune with the yuletide season, another massive shooting occurred in another unforgivable place.  And yet again, fingers are pointed at the same targets, without underlying the greater problems.

A full week went on before the NRA made an official statement in the aftermath of the tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut.  During the address, spokesman Wayne LaPierre posited a few ideas that will rattle around the media maelstrom, and again waged the war against violent content in movies, television and video games as a trigger for the insane trigger-happy likes.  And again, Hollywood made swift decisions like cancelling the movie premieres of the violent Tom Cruise film Jack Reacher and the ultra violent Django Unchained.  It's worth noting that similar causes of actions for major American players remains firmly similar, and without a proper measure or even the slightest bit of necessary dialogue in a culture permeating with unease and violent content.  That is what is missing-- pointing the fingers at one another does no such good, and until this nation can address violence without the need of "he said, she said," child-like back-talking, more of the same will be cause and effects relations.

There's another discussion to be raised to, if the effect of violent representations in artistic content is to be a factor in begetting violence in real life.  After all, there's two classes of representations of violence in film especially.  There's the gratuitous type that glorifies the like, and the rarer and more insightful of which explores violence in an artfully real world situation, without bestowing further glorification, instead raising the question of its purpose.  For instance another hard-hitting holiday offering, Zero Dark Thirty comes courtesy of Oscar-winning team of The Hurt Locker in director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Marc Boal.  The film explores the manhunt behind the eventual capturing and killing of Osama bin Laden.  Here's another film, that's striking a chord in Washington for different reasons-- that of the graphic scenes and questionable realities of torture and waterboarding used in the investigations.  Senators from the both sides, including Rep. John McCain and Dem. Dianne Fienstein argue no such methods were actually used.  It's a blow to a film that's seeking Oscar consideration on top of it's roaring critical reaction.  Again, rather than an exploration of the content itself, Hollywood is questioning how this blow will hurt in garnering further Oscar buzz.  On the basis, and at the very least for viewers who haven't seen Zero Dark Thirty yet, the real questions should be bestowed on the content themselves, and as The Hurt Locker showcased three years ago, the imagery and intensity of that the film was wrought, tense and moving because the filmmakers never once politicized or glorified the situation, instead leaving it the eyes of the beholders to decide what to think.

The world is scary, and media content (perhaps a largely ignored aspect could rest in twenty-four news coverage, which I would argue is more grisly than anything I typically see in a movie theater) is sometimes varying to far over the edge.  By now means should an argument ever be based on back up the second amendment by reducing the first amendment, and if the National Rifle Association seeks to uphold films and other content to such reductive confines that were introduced back in Production Code, that would be deplorable and inexcusable for all.  It's the discussion that needs to happen, and for that, by all means, we're at a stalemate.

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