Words Are My Weapon: The Tipping Point

I try not to go “there.” I try not to be a divisionist with my public writing and opinions. And so, (fair warning) I’m about to fail. I’m about to talk about a very, very touchy subject. And, I’m about to change my opinion on something I’ve felt strongly about for a very long time.

The issue is gun violence. If you aren’t able to handle discourse on this topic, please don’t pain yourself by reading further.

First of all, I want to preface this entry by expressing the sincere remorse I have for the 26 lost souls from the Sandy Hook Elementary Massacre. It was a tragedy of untold proportion, because the majority of its victims were of incomprehensible youth, and the adult victims showed uncompromising bravery. I would never seek to dishonor their memory or change the subject from their deaths to “second amendment discourse”.

With that being said, I think that some things — moments and events — are the victims of sad circumstance. And tonight, during a preview of Quentin Terrentino’s Django Unchained, I realized that a line had finally been crossed.

Jamie Foxx was killing scores of people. The audience I was among (mostly the 18-30 crowd) actually shuddered at the preview violence. I don’t know why. On its surface, Djano doesn’t seem any more violent than Terrentino’s other work, or the Hollywood norm. But I think audiences are finally done buying it.

The Aurora Hills Theater shooting during The Dark Knight Rises was awful. But it didn’t prevent Skyfall from doing well several months later. Now though, with the issue of gun violence at the forefront of national conversation — with the NRA holding press conferences — I think that average citizens are starting to understand that they need to have an active role in preventing murder.

That’s where my opinion has changed. I, from childhood, have always believed firmly that gun violence and violent crime in America is not a result of the movies we see or the video games we play. Yet, as I watched that trailer, I had to ask myself: Is that really the truth, or just what I want to believe?

After all, we’re seeing people who are in their early 20’s wielding deadly weapons with alarming (almost military) precision. We’re seeing them with knowledge of recoil and aim. But what’s worse is that we’re seeing a society that sits by and shakes its collective head at their television screens over dinner. People are desensitized to the violence. They are used to seeing slaughter with a side of popcorn and cola.

Now though, there is a change. Violence has been a part of American culture for a long time. Since before our country’s inception, killing has been a fundamental part of Americanism. Native Americans might tell you that, if you can find any remaining.

And through the bloody wars that forged our prosperity, violence has been accepted. Yet as 2013 approaches, I can only pray that violence has seen its height.

The chapter of the American story that was written in blood should close. The innocent children of Sandy Hook Elementary should not have died in vain as nothing more than a passive blip on our bloodthirsty radars.

The culture of American entertainment is about to change. And it’s already too late. We are to blame.