Despite a massive drop in gun violence, spree shootings are such the American craze that VH1's inevitable I Love The 2010s will be nothing but ten episodes of George Takei weeping. And thanks to the Internet, the debate is almost as exhausting as the sorrow. The loudest voices tend to pin blame on a single problem, like gun control or mental health, while groups like the NRA eject responsibility more forcibly than a Chipotle-filled bowel. No one wants to admit that their side might contribute to what is clearly a broad cultural problem. And that can't be more evident than when looking at cinema and the really fucking weird choices filmmakers keep making when it comes to guns.
Movies may not cause people to suddenly become maniacs, but that doesn't mean that Hollywood doesn't have a pants-poopingly bizarre, almost dangerously naive view of how gun violence works. Starting with the fact that ...
5There's No Such Thing As "Realistic Gun Violence" In Films
We're not knuckleheads. Any functioning adult is well aware that movie violence isn't any more realistic than movie sex, drug use, police procedure, or dinosaur DNA accessibility. No one picks up a gun and expects it to have an endless supply of screaming Rambo bullets, the same way no one thinks movie guns show anything resembling the real trauma they cause. Unless, of course, it's something like Saving Private Ryan, which portrayed D-Day as Hell's wailing beach party.
More people probably died making this scene than in the real D-Day.
Only here's the thing: That shot of WWII bullets whizzing dangerously through ocean water is a terrifying lie, because every real-world test of this scenario results in the bullets breaking apart or slowing down just a few feet after hitting water.
Much like the male anatomy, guns seriously under-perform while underwater.
The only way to kill someone would be at point blank -- meaning that this scene from a war drama renowned for its harrowing realism is less accurate than the final underwater fight in Lethal Weapon 4 (a movie which features a laughing gas sequence).
The act of sandwiching kooky horseshit with stark reality happens way more than we'd like to realize. Collateral gave Tom Cruise expert technique in taking down two guys in an alleyway before conducting a ridiculous John Wick-style nightclub shootout a few scenes later. The Way Of The Gun consulted with a Navy SEAL to portray realistic room-clearing tactics before having the characters walk off limb-destroying gunshot wounds. The Bourne Identity is known for its grounded depiction of CIA operations -- which apparently involve bullseyeing guys while air-surfing a corpse Legolas-style.
He then gives the corpse back to the kid he stole it from, as Biff eats manure.
This macabre clowny moment, by the way, is brought to you by the alphanumeric PG-13 -- a rating that in the last 30 years has grown to contain more scenes of gun violence than its "adult" R successor. That's right: PG-13 makes up for not having all that awful sex and bad words with an obscene hell-swarm of lead deposits. Movies like the new Robocop, the Men In Black series, Terminator Genisys, Transformers, and Mission Impossible can kill as many people they want ... if we don't see any blood or pesky consequences to the violence. And so, for some backward-as-fuck reason, Agents Jay and Kay can blow an unarmed guy's head off, shoot up a restaurant full of people, and bash someone's head in, and it's family fun as long as cartoony alien blood squirts out at the end.
It's funny because he isn't like us!
And somehow, I've only just begun to tell you how howling bananas the Men In Black films are ...
4Insane Gun Hoarders Always Save The Day In Movies
There's a scene in Men In Black II in which the wisecracking agents swing by Kay's old apartment, and the residing family gawks on as a false wall opens to reveal a giant armory of Tim-Burton-esque weapons.
"Honey, we don't have to take turns sleeping in the tub anymore!"
While this saves the day for our heroes, when you think about it, stocking a hundred guns in your home is a really fucking crazy and paranoid thing to do. No matter how you feel about firearms, if a friend or family member led you into a basement wallpapered with assault rifles and body armor, you'd immediately feel uncomfortable about that person. Because unlike in the movies, an army of robots from the future probably isn't going to suddenly show up and make that shit useful.
Spend less money on machine guns on more on bras, lady. Your kid's right over there.
In any other universe, Sarah Connor is a maniac with a desert gun cache and not the world's savior. Same goes for the gun-hoarding Gummer family in Tremors, who by staggering chance needed their weapons to fight giant mole slugs instead of an inevitable ATF raid.
"Let's go shoot at the ground for hours! Monsters? What monsters?"
See, in a universe of zombies and monsters, it's not only acceptable but necessary to have a Walking Dead-style armory. So any time we see a gun fanatic overdoing their collection, like in Kick-Ass, RED, or Hot Fuzz, the accidental lesson is that they were totally right to do it. Meanwhile, real-world gun hoarding tends to look like this ...
... because there's no real-world reason to stockpile guns unless you're planning a fucking ground war or paranoid stronghold. The (extremely awesome) movie Krampus puts the issue front and center when the main character gets upset at his brother-in-law for bringing several guns to their suburban house on Christmas. But when the group is left battling Anti-Santa's minion army of demonic toys, suddenly the anti-firearm hero is gratefully wielding a gun and flashlight like he's Agent Mulder.
This is one of the better outcomes for bringing several guns to a family dinner.
Take that, anti-gun activists! Sure, you cry about firearms now, but just you wait until those Bavarian lore-beasts come knocking! Again, in any other world, bringing a shotgun and pistol to a holiday gathering is kind of nuts, and would likely result in the brother-in-law shooting a black 13-year-old caroler before getting off in court and becoming a Twitter celebrity. Thank goodness the real-life gun community isn't encouraging these fantasy hero scenarios, right? Please tell me I'm right.