What Role Does Hollywood Have in Gun Violence?

A new video is turning Hollywood’s “Demand a Plan” gun law PSA on its head. The original video was released in the wake of the Dec. 14 mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., and featured dozens of celebrities demanding elected officials do something to fight gun violence.

But “Demand a Plan – Demand Celebrities Go F— Themselves” intercuts footage of these same stars brandishing guns in their film and TV roles with them calling for curbs in violence in real life.






About Tom Matlack

Thomas Matlack is a venture capitalist.


  1. I watched The 300 the other day and it struck me that this movie was as violent and bloody as any I’d ever seen. The difference was the weapons were not guns. The point is, that we have a fixation on gun violence as being the most heinous and the most likely to be mimicked. This qualification leads to categorizations that lead to mistakes in analysis because categories are hierarchal. If the reasoning is correct, then when I was a boy watching movies in which the weapons of choice were axes and swords and spears this should have led to an increase in cultural violence using these weapons.Wtaching Robin hood should have led to more deaths by a bow and arrow, but it didn’t.

    As a result it is easier to place blame for cyclical violence exclusively on gun owners and because we associate this kind of violence with race, class, etc.It’s those other people-the crazies-the gun owners- not us! America was swimming in violence long before the first hand gun was ever made. We ignore this, instead pretending that at some point in American culture and history, there wasn’t violence.Please someone, anyone tell me when America wasn’t violent.

  2. @Rob:You logic/excuse is so flawed it”s hard to know where to start. I’ll say this. As a child, if, after doing something majorly wrong my response was,”but those other guys did it toooo…” my butt whupping would have lasted just a bit longer.America either needs to be a leader in this regard or she should get off the pot so someone else can use it.

  3. @Everyone: All cogent points,but they don’t come close to explaining the prevelance of horrific violence throughout America’s history.This conversation has so far has been restricted to a narrow definition of violence called “gun violence”.Who wins and who loses in that conversation? Realize that burning at the stake was considered a suitable humane punishment in colonial America.The disconnection in defining who we are from who we were is chilling.

    • Are you claiming at all (AT ALL) that The USA is in ANY way unique in historic violence? How chique!!

      Mao Ze-Dong – killed HIS OWN PEOPLE! 49-78,000,000

      Stalin – Killed 6,000,000 of HIS OWN COUNTRYMEN

      Pol Pot – 1,600,000

      Oh…the “Blame America First” hats are in. how many did you want?

  4. To attempt to have a discussion about violence in America while ignoring the history of America is sheer lunacy. When the very document that spells out and defines the values and mores of a civilization claims that some human beings are actually not human beings at all but are only three fifths of a human being, that one should not expect waves of violence to follow I don’t get. If one reads the Bible, which is central to how Americans have defined themselves, one will find that violence, in many forms,-genocide, slavery, classism, sexism, God to human, human to god is critical to the understanding the tome and inescapable.The same can be said of the Torah and the Qur’an.
    The question about violence implies that their was a time in America when there was no real violence. I doubt that white immigrants in Boston and Philly,New york and other places in the 1800’s or 1900’s would agree. I doubt the Native Americans or the Asians-Chinese-Japanese and Philippino’s who were being hated on in California would agree.

    The truth is from London to America, in it’s new urban populations, crime, isolation,slums,prostitution, graft,slumlords, fostered and em-bolded by the divide between the rich and poor, political corruption and greed, was common.One can no more have a reasoned discussion about American violence now without exploring her past. The only time Americans want to do that is when the past glorifies her. Kind of reminds one of feminism.

  5. Many people here are very fond of claiming there is an “allure” to firearms and the use of same. MANY people. These are usually the same people who cannot come up with a uniformly accepted description of an “assault weapon.” And before ya’ll jump-up and list features such as ammo capacity et. at. take a look at the Pelossi list of guns to be banned. Some are nothing, limited capacity relics.

    But if these dramatic looking guns are giving boys in Chicago woodies and telling them to go out and KILL KILL KILL, how can ANYONE dismiss Hollywoods MAJOR (like blood-on-their-hands “major”) role in our supposed “gun culture.” If there IS a gun culture, its Hollywood’s doing.

    Look at the dain-bramaged movie The Fast And Furious. Teen boys in the USA and other nations went farging wild imitating that waked-out style of driving, high-powered engines, and deadly performance. The teen-boy and 20 something death-toll in those high-powered assault race cars went through the freakin roof here in New England.

    One day I came home to find remnants of a Fast and Furious team of boys being picked-up with a sponge after driving head-on into a gravel truck. They did not even know there was a second boy until parts of him began to drool out from under something they think was the dashboard.

    Irresponsible and dangerous behaviors have ALWAYS been traced back to TV and movies for SO many types of horror. The movie Warriors was blamed for many deaths. Car chase oriented movies nearly always see a jump in dead teens, and does any one really believe Dirty Harry did ot influence stuff?

    Within days of the first Dirty Harry movie release, sales of Smith & Wesson .44 Mags went through the roof, and remained ultra-high for years following.

  6. Richard Aubrey says:

    Of course they’re hypocrites. They mouth words others write and move as others tell them to and if it’s even a bit difficult, a stunt person takes over. But they pretend to have the awareness and IQ in excess of a sea cucumber, and we should listen to them because….
    As to Hwood’s contribution to the current violence: They were making cowboys and Indians shoot’em ups starting in the Thirties, both as features and the B movie, the second feature when you got two movies for a ticket. And those were all over television later on, along with television cowboy and war movies. Elliot Ness and the Untouchables….
    Only difference is that they didn’t use as many automatic weapons except in WW II and Korean War movies.
    Full of theatrical violence then. Can’t see the diff now.
    Except we have shootings now and not then.

  7. I just had to watch this again , HYPROCRITES AND WHORES!

  8. That was totally F**KING AWSOME! Those Hollywood Hyprocrites have been given a pass for too long! Yeah, they say “I’m really just like you’ now excuse me while I make ,oh, about 15 million dollars for 4 months work”. “Of course, my chracter is required to shoot about, oh I don’t know exactly, probably 25-35 ‘bad guys’, of course, I’m just talking about 1 scene.” Seriously, it reminds me of the brilliant idea someone had some time ago of having Rock Stars doing ‘just say no to drugs’ PSA’s.

  9. wellokaythen says:

    Pop culture and media clearly have some role to play in how violent a society is. It’s obviously not definitive, though. If you went by the movies that are popular in Hong Kong and Singapore today, you’d imagine those places were awash in firearms and having mass shootings every week, but it’s quite the opposite. Gun violence there is extremely rare. (Meanwhile, they’re also watching most of the same Hollywood movies that Americans are.)

    It naturally raises a comparative question.Don’t forget that Hollywood is a global cultural force. It’s not just an input in American culture. It’s not just Americans seeing all those rounds fired on the big screen. Look at all the places in the world where people watch the same violent Hollywood films. How much gun violence does each place have? A really wide diversity. Clearly there’s something else that’s a more definitive factor.

    • Tom Matlack says:

      That’s a fair point, but I do think the cult of film, TV, and gaming here in the US is a particularly bad mix. I am not saying it is the only factor but it is one. And these celebs who make their living in violent films doing the PSA is really hypocritical. Right?

      • wellokaythen says:

        I totally agree, it’s hypocritical in a lot of those cases. All the actors there who are getting millions of dollars playing action heroes are definitely hypocrites. All of the “how many more ____?” questions in the PSA lead me to ask them “how many more millions are you going to make from violent movies?”

        A lot of those scenes glorify guns, but then again, some of them don’t. Not every portrayal of gun violence is a positive portrayal. Beyoncé makes money on a movie where her character is murdered with a gun, so that means she’s a hypocrite to speak out against gun violence? Hardly. Some of those actors were in scenes that were actually making fun of gun ownership. That’s not inconsistent with being in favor of gun control.

        I agree, there’s a big cultural factor, and movies and video games are powerful influences. Not the whole story, but part of the story. Somehow, some people manage to be affected by them less than others. Canadians have access to all the same movies and games as Americans, they watch all the same shows and play all the same games, the overall culture is nearly identical, yet they have so much less gun violence. (It can’t just be the cold and Canada’s small population.)

        I tend to think the biggest factor is the peculiar, f*cked up way that American society deals with anger, mental illness, and death, all of which are bound up by our fascination, love, and hatred of violence. Toss in Americans’ blind faith in the power of technology, specifically the superstitions we have about guns, combined with our unwillingness to take responsibility for our own lives, combine it with access to guns, et voila — massacres.

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