Being publicly pro-gun is a political position up with which Hollywood insiders will not put. Which is why none of their movies rely on firearms for their commercial appeal. Oh wait . . .
Traditionally, Hollywood has been passionately pro-gun, whether in westerns, war movies or crime thrillers. Movies have often functioned as product placement for the industry. Where would Dirty Harry be without his .44 Magnum? Or James Bond without his Walther PPK? Or John Rambo without his ammo belts and giant machine gun?
You can even cross-reference all this on the Internet Movie Firearms Database, which lovingly details every model, annotated with grabs from the films. Rambo’s gun was an M60. But as a measure of how things have changed, witness Rambo’s 2008 comeback, whose scenes of Stallone senselessly mowing down scores of faceless Burmese assailants had audiences retching into their popcorn rather than punching the air.
Funny. I don’t remember the Stallone movie in question nor reports of people reacting to it by retching into a snack item that costs as much as a small tin of Beluga caviar.
I’m guessing that was guardian.com writer Steve Rose’s politically correct response.
Lucky for him, things are settling down, gastroenterologically speaking. His article Shooting blanks: how Hollywood fell out of love with guns reveals that the day of the gun-intensive blockbuster are over . . .
Superheroes get shot at all the time in modern blockbusters but rarely return fire. Black Panther and Wolverine have claws, Thor has a hammer, Spider-Man has webs, the Hulk has, well, himself. Some of them, such as Batman, have a strict anti-gun code, while Wonder Woman sees guns as symptoms of masculine aggression.
The only way to play gun violence these days is massively over the top, as with movies such as Baby Driver, Free Fire, John Wick, Shoot ’Em Up or the action-hero retirement fund known as The Expendables. But protagonists across the board are laying down their weapons. Look closely and the likes of Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne and Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt have barely fired a gun in their later movies.
My memory really is shot (so to speak). This time I don’t remember Wonder Woman making any snide remarks about shooting guns as “acting out” or phallic compensation. Sorry “overcompensation.” According to Mr. Rose, that’s a thing in gun-intensive Hollywood-born cinematic fare . . .
Elsewhere, the Fast and Furious crew generally let their vehicles do the phallic overcompensation. In the Star Wars universe, real showdowns are settled with old-school lightsaber duels rather than pew-pew laser guns. And heroines such as The Hunger Games’ Katniss and Alicia Vikander’s Tomb Raider would rather use a bow and arrow.
Even Mel Gibson, Mr Lethal Weapon himself, recently repented with Hacksaw Ridge, a story about a real-life soldier who refused to pick up a firearm. So let’s not pretend “the movies” are the problem. Increasingly, what they’re telling us is that a good guy with a gun is not the only way to stop a bad guy with one.
Wishful thinking. But then, that’s Hollywood’s stock-in-trade. That and hypocrisy. Hey, is that Tom Cruise holding a SIG? Why yes, yes it is!