Hard not to think about guns these days.
As police shootings of black men mount, city by city; as the other daily crime news involves shooting after shooting, the gun - and who’s got one and what they’re doing with it - comes to dominate your consciousness.
You can try heading to the movies, but there’s Denzel Washington staring you in the face, his pearl-handled .45 backward in its holster (I know this is a time honored effort to add something “cool” or “different” to the gunfighter; but really, it has to be slower to get that gun out), surrounded by men of much mayhem. And in fact, the final third of the movie reminds you much more of “The Wild Bunch” – four men taking on an actual army, than the original, “The Magnificent Seven.”
The truth is, you cannot separate films and TV from the culture at-large, and there is a tendency to blame the entertainment industry for violence in America. To what extent TV and film predict it, inform it, reflect it, or create it, can debated ad nauseam.
But two things emerge unavoidable regarding current gun violence. The first is that no movie or TV show has ever failed to get a gun into it’s advertising poster or one sheet if it was, in any way possible. Those billboards all over town - guns, guns, and more guns, if there is the slightest excuse in the film’s narrative to get it in. If not a gun, a weapon of some kind.
Even the poster for “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” features Eva Green holding a monster cross bow (and secretly wishing it was a sawed-off shotgun, by the expression on her face).
The second truth is that gun standoffs involving police in the movies, and particularly in TV, bear no reality to what’s happening today on American streets. In show after show, cops face down bad guys, arms extended, their .45s cupped in both hands, shouting at the top of their lungs, “Drop the gun!” “Drop the weapon!” “Put the gun on the ground!” I often wonder if this is some kind of yelling contest rather than a potentially deadly confrontation. This goes on at point blank range while the bad guy his his gun - usually a .45 automatic as well - up in front of his face, arms extended, apparently working out exactly he’s going to do, during these extended moments that go on and excruciatingly on, until he either drops the gun or shoots or shoots first.
Not in real life.
Nobody gets that benefit of the doubt on the evening news. People have been shot dead by the cops holding knives, ball peen hammers, vaping pipes, and well…nothing at all. So, while it may be that the proliferation of guns is linked to the way the industry passively promotes the product, you can’t blame these police shooting deaths on the entertainment business.
This is a real life phenomenon that is going to have to be worked out in real life.