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Film screenings cancelled after shootings, not guns

LordofWarBullets.jpgWhat happened in Newtown Connecticut has been shocking and emotionally harrowing to see and I know I can say unequivocally that the thoughts and hearts of everyone who is reading Filmstalker are with the families of those who have been murdered and of those who went through the terrifying events.

While there have been some initial statements by American politicians around the issue of gun control, nothing has really happened and the comments on news channels here are suggesting that even now nothing will. Strange then to see film premieres are delayed and marketing materials for films altered so quickly and the real issue remains unedited.

President Obama has been talking about the need for some sort of reaction from America regarding the laws around gun ownership and control and I even saw a politician who is a member of the National Rifle Association stating something similar, although even more woolly around the edges, and yet there appears to be no real reaction.

Meanwhile Hollywood has reacted and has delayed the premieres of Jack Reacher and Parental Guidance with Paramount Pictures stating:

"...out of honour and respect for the families of the victims whose lives were senselessly taken...Our hearts go out to all those who lost loved ones."

The Guardian speculates that the reason Jack Reacher has been postponed is because the film opens with a sniper shooting people in a public place and the film has a fair bit of violence with a rating of PG-13 in America and 12A in the UK, both quite light ratings.

Of course this will immediately fire off the debate about what has made the killer do this and the easy targets are films, videogames, the Internet, and whatever else politicians, political groups and the media want to throw in the way with the real issue being avoided.

Strangely the premiere of Parental Guidance has been delayed as well and both the article and the statement from 20th Century Fox reveal little reason why:

"The hearts of all involved with this film go out to the victims, their families, their community and our entire nation in mourning."

Another article from The Hollywood Reporter reveals that Paramount are also changing the marketing materials for Jack Reacher to remove some use of guns in the trailers and clips and that there are more premieres being cancelled or delayed, the premiere of Django Unchained being another. The Weinstein Company's official statement said:

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., and in this time of national mourning we have decided to forgo our scheduled event."

All the right things being said, and even a comment from Quentin Tarantino, although less sensitive than the others, is also right:

"I just think there's violence in the world. Tragedies happen...[Django} is a Western. Give me a break."

Now he's not being insensitive and that comment through The Hollywood Reporter will more than likely be the response, or a partial response, to a direct question and not an official statement, but he's right you know.

While Hollywood has reacted and made all the correct marketing decisions, saying the right things and doing everything they can to avoid the media leaping at them to say that they cause all the violence in the world, isn't it about time we all grew up and took a look at the actual issue?

Isn't the problem the access to guns, perhaps the real reasons behind this person's motivation to murder innocent people, and maybe why these issues weren't recognised and dealt with properly?

Do the people who shout about violence in videogames and films really believe that if we changed them all to show fluffy white bunnies that suddenly the world would be a better place, and that terrible crimes like this would end?

If we hide from violence does it disappear from our society? Perhaps the Victorians could answer that one for us.

That also raises the question though; if guns were removed from society would these people still find some way to kill? Perhaps so, but not as easily and not in such horrifying ways.

There's no question that here Hollywood has reacted in the right way, although I think that cancelling some of these premieres may have been more about avoiding the media spotlight on the age old issue of violence in films, but the alteration of marketing materials I do agree with.

My thoughts are with the parents and families of all those affected by the tragedy but my eyes and ears are not focussed on Hollywood but firmly on the politicians and lobbyists in America and what they will decide to do other than talk till the time has passed.



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