2014-01-21 Media Highlights: MLK, Jr. Day and Hollywood & Gun Violence

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Must-Reads & Announcements

Why Harvey Weinstein’s Comments On Movie Violence Matter

Deadline Hollywood

This week as we remember Martin Luther King, Jr., a victim of gun violence, I am reminded of something the great civil rights leader once said: “Our lives begin to end the day we remain silent on things that matter.” Is it time for all of us, no matter what industry we are in, to begin the conversation about what can be done to stem the tide of America’s culture of violence? It’s a national problem; shouldn’t there be a multi-faceted, national resolution? In the wake of the horrors of  Aurora, Oak Creek and Newtown, we must recognize that we all – each and every one of us – have a social responsibility.


Would today's gun control laws have prevented the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.?

Parents Against Gun Violence via Facebook

James Earl Ray, who was sentenced to 99 years in prison for killing Martin Luther King, Jr., was already a convicted felon who had served time in the Army stockade, California state prison, Illinois state prison, Missouri state prison, and Federal prison. Ray was an escaped convict (from Missouri state prison) at the time of the assassination.

What would MLK say about gun violence?

The Olympian

What would Martin Luther King Jr. say about the proliferation of gun violence in the U.S. today? It’s impossible to know, but the words of a man who was himself a victim of gun violence may give us a hint. “I believe that even amid today’s mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men.” — excerpt from his Nobel Prize acceptance speech.

Producer Weinstein vows not to back excessively violent movies


"Pulp Fiction." "Django Unchained." "Gangs of New York." "Kill Bill." "Inglourious Basterds." All are celebrated, popular films containing what some saw as excessive, graphic violence that glorified as much as humanized the bloodshed. And all have uber-producer Harvey Weinstein to thank for bringing them to the big screen. No more. Weinstein told CNN's Piers Morgan on Friday night that he can't in good good conscience advocate against on-screen violence while promoting movies that some claim revel in it. He promised to steer clear of such projects in the future.

Guns in home increase suicide, homicide risk


Proponents of stricter gun laws have another headline to bolster their efforts: Access to firearms in the home increases the risk of violent death. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, in a review of previous studies published Monday, found strong evidence for increased odds of suicide and moderate evidence for increased odds of homicide victimization among people who keep guns at home.

The Accessibility of Firearms and Risk for Suicide and Homicide Victimization Among Household Members: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Annals of Internal Medicine

To our knowledge, this is the first systematic review and meta-analysis to estimate the association between firearm accessibility and suicide or homicide victimization.

CONCLUSION: Access to firearms is associated with risk for completed suicide and being the victim of homicide.


Brad J. Bushman, Patrick E. Jamieson, Ilana Weitz and Daniel Romer: Gun Violence Trends in Movies

American Academy of Pediatrics

RESULTS: Results found that violence in films has more than doubled since 1950, and gun violence in PG-13 – rated films has more than tripled since 1985. When the PG-13 rating was introduced, these films contained about as much gun violence as G (general audiences) and PG (parental guidance suggested for young children) films. Since 2009, PG-13–rated films have contained as much or more violence as R-rated films (age 17+) films.

CONCLUSIONS: Even if youth do not use guns, these findings suggest that they are exposed to increasing gun violence in top-selling films. By including guns in violent scenes, film producers may be strengthening the weapons effect and providing youth with scripts for using guns. These findings are concerning because many scientific studies have shown that violent films can increase aggression. Violent films are also now easily accessible to youth (eg, on the Internet and cable). This research suggests that the presence of weapons in films might amplify the effects of violent films on aggression.

Violence, Inc. and the Advent of the Hero: Violence is as American as apple pie

Psychology Today

...The real issue is that violence is easy and has become easier and that many of the writers in Hollywood may lack personal depth of their own. They may be incapable of writing good drama, profound tragedy and truly gripping romance. They revert to violence as a form of spectacle, a fall back position to hide their own paucity of emotional capacity. Further, since the lure of big money is intoxicating and some huge successes still occur, they have no reason to rethink the matter and try instead to offer us truly meaningful media.

Hollywood's TV violence problem must be addressed

The Town Talk

Since last January, no fewer than three dramas centering on a charming, charismatic serial killer have made their television debuts: Fox’s “The Following,” A&E’s “Bates Motel” and most recently NBC’s “Hannibal.” It’s hard to dispute the claim that we have now have in this country a culture of violence — and there are myriad suggestions at the state and federal level about what can and should be done to correct it. But what is glaringly missing from all those conversations is what role media play in contributing to the culture of violence.

Blame Washington, Not Hollywood, For R-Rated Violence In PG-13 Films


Well, it’s finally happened.  After over a decade of studios stuffing more and more R-rated content, specifically R-rated violence, into PG-13 movies, we’ve reached the point where PG-13 films actually have more gun violence than R-rated films. There has been a lot of hand-wringing about the study which will be published in the December issue of Pediatrics, but almost none of them are looking at the real issue.

Gun Violence In U.S. Movies On The Rise; PG-13 Levels Exceed R-Rated Films: Study

Deadline Hollywood

A study out today in the journal Pediatrics examines movies as a potential source of the so-called “weapons effect” whereby the presence of guns can increase aggression. American and Dutch university researchers found that in a 20-year period, gun violence in PG-13 films has more than tripled. Since 2009, PG-13-rated movies have contained “as much or more violence as R-rated films,” they said, and in 2012, violence in PG-13 movies was higher than for R movies. The academics suggested that because PG-13 movies are “especially attractive” to young people, producers may be “strengthening the ‘weapons effect’ by increasingly including guns in scripts that involve violence in the films youth are most likely to see.” Further, “The presence of guns in films also provides youth with scripts on how to use guns,” the academics wrote, suggesting future research to investigate that particular aspect of movie violence impact.

Gun violence explodes in PG-13 films

Los Angeles Times

A new study finds 'significantly more violence' in the latest PG-13 movies versus R-rated fare, with gun violence tripling since 1985. When the first "Die Hard" and "Terminator" movies landed in theaters in the 1980s, both were rated R. But their sequels arrived with PG-13 marks — even though the level of violence had actually escalated. Critics have blasted Hollywood's movie ratings for years, claiming that the Motion Picture Assn. of America takes a prudish view of sex and foul language but a very liberal one when it comes to mayhem and bloodshed. A new report provides strong evidence for that critique, concluding that gunplay has tripled within PG-13 films since 1985, the first full year the rating was used. Last year, PG-13 films were actually more violent than films rated R. "We were absolutely stunned," said Brad Bushman of Ohio State University, co-author of the report published Monday in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. "The MPAA website clearly says that R-rated films contain more violence. But PG-13 films now contain significantly more violence than R-rated films."

Rising movie gun violence gives rise to concerns over movie ratings

Los Angeles Times

In a review of the 945 top-grossing films since 1950, researchers for the American Academy of Pediatrics found that movies rated PG-13 have become progressively more violent, with gunplay tripling since 1985. In fact, today’s PG-13 movies are more violent than most R-rated films, the study shows.

Hollywood would have to kill 13 people in every film to match gun crime stats

Film Industry Network

Hollywood is good at killing people in movies with guns, but unfortunately Americans are good at doing the same in real-life. In fact, if film producers wanted to accurately portray the amount of people being killed every year by firearms, they would have to kill on average, at least 13 people per film released.

A year after Colorado shooting, little obvious change seen in TV, movie, video game violence

Associated Press

It was a year ago this week that the sickening sound of gunfire rang out at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colo. The mass shooting reverberated painfully in Hollywood, and how could it not? It happened at the movies.

Hollywood’s Passion for Guns Remains Undimmed

The New York Times

After episodes of mass shootings, Hollywood has offered to alert parents to the presence of violence in films. But the guns, on blazing display in this summer’s movie fare, are staying.

Press Release: Gun Violence is Hollywood’s Favorite Type of Violence

Parents Television Council

“The notion that the entertainment industry is somehow being ‘responsible’ with the volume and degree of violence it is producing and distributing is laughable. The industry must come out from behind its armies of lobbyists and do the right thing by exercising real responsibility for the content it produces and distributes – especially when using the publicly-owned airwaves.

Gun Industry’s Lobby

The NRA's Amazing Hypocrisy About Hollywood Gun Violence


In his press conference after the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, last December, Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association blamed mass murders on everyone from legislators who pass gun control laws to the makers of videogames–everyone except gun manufacturers and sellers, as I wrote at the time.

The NRA's List of "Coolest Gun Movies" Is Astoundingly Dumb

Mother Jones

As you may recall, the NRA's Wayne LaPierre held a high-profile press conference in response to December's Newtown massacre in which he unleashed a tirade against the stylized violence of Hollywood, cable TV, and the video game industry, blaming their products for gun deaths in America. So here’s what the NRA thinks is guns at their best.

Total Hypocrisy

Daily Kos

Film Synopsis: The NRA falls down a rabbit hole into a world where two opposing "truths" can hold true. Wayne LaPierre blames Hollywood violence whilst  its publicity machine uses them to help decide what weapons they would need in a post apocalyptic world.

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