Today, Polygon reported that NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said that violent video games and other media are to blame for the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.
“There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and sows violence against its own people,” LaPierre said at a press conference this morning. “Through vicious violent video games, with names like Bulletstorm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse. And here’s one: It’s called Kindergarten Killers. it’s been online for 10 years. How come my research staff can find it, and all yours couldn’t, or didn’t want anyone to know you’ve found it.
“Isn’t fantasizing about killing people to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography,” LaPierre continued.
Essentially, LaPierre wants everyone to stop thinking that there could possibly be anything wrong with the idea that more guns make other guns safer. To do this, he’s trotted out everyone’s favorite scapegoat for the ills of society, the arts. Specifically, violent video games and film.
Of course it’s true that a great deal of video games are quite violent. Perhaps there’s even a greater proportion of violent, as opposed to non-violent, games than is necessary. However, it’s certainly true that the NRA boasts both past and present members among its ranks involved in the film community. Here is how those famous NRA members measure up to LaPierre’s standards.
Famous actor Charlton Heston (Planet of the Apes, The Ten Commandments) was perhaps one of the most prolific and well-known actors of the 20th century. He was, and continues to be, an icon and a legend. He was also the president of the National Rifle Association between the years of 1998 and 2003.
The Omega Man, based on Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, features Heston as he tries to survive an apocalyptic future ruled by vampires. This was accomplished by barricading himself inside his home and shooting said vampires with machine guns. When the film came to theaters, its trailer carried dulcet narration claiming that “The last man on Earth always carries an automatic weapon.”
Chuck Norris has served as a celebrity spokesperson for the NRA for years. He starred in the “Trigger the Vote” ad campaign, encouraging citizens to vote for candidates endorsed by the NRA.
As for the kinds of films that Norris has starred in over the years, I think little explanation is necessary.
Famous screenwriter and director John Milius (Red Dawn, Apocalypse Now) has actually served on the NRA board of directors multiple times. He also co-wrote Francis Ford Coppola’s film adaptation of Heart of Darkness, Apocalypse Now which, while violent, is largely a criticism of the Vietnam War and warfare in general. It’s almost as if violence in media and art can be used to denounce that violence in real life.
So how do his other films compare to this sentiment?
It’s also worth noting that the famous invasion of the United States depicted in Milius’ film actually begins with a violent school shooting.
Milius also wrote and co-wrote the scripts for the first two Dirty Harry films, which depict perhaps some of the most famous instances of gun violence in pop culture history.
Perhaps video games and other popular art forms should reevaluate the way they depict violence. Perhaps we should all take more time to consider the effect that violent media has on those that actually do have difficulty distinguishing fantasy from reality. Perhaps we should all think a little harder about the simulated violence in our lives. These are all issues that we probably should be talking about.
However, before the NRA or anyone else begins looking for a scapegoat in order remove suspicion, reevaluation and self-awareness from themselves, they should absolutely make sure they aren’t putting their collective feet into their nervous, willfully blind faces.