In the long, hot summer of television, gun control hasn’t been a big issue in the news media, which is not acceptable to its rabid cousins in the world of entertainment. For them, guns are the root of all evil, so let the story be told!
Take, for example, a Freeform (formerly ABC Family) show called “The Bold Type” about young women working at a magazine in New York City called Scarlet (think: Cosmopolitan). The July 17 episode features two roommates and workmates named Jane and Sutton who get into an argument. Jane finds out that Sutton (who comes from rural Pennsylvania) has a shotgun in the apartment. Jane says: “What else are you keeping from me? Do you have a MAGA hat? Do you watch ‘Hannity’? And do you drive a monster truck? Because otherwise, I don’t understand why you have a gun.”
This is a classic eruption of coastal elitism: Guns are for Trump-loving, Fox-watching rednecks. Jane lectures Sutton by saying that “half the country knows that our lawmakers are bought by the NRA and think that gun ownership is barbaric.”
The plot evolves into cartoonish propaganda. At the end of the episode, Sutton actually melts down her shotgun down to make earrings. The trade paper Variety spoke with Amanda Lasher, who runs this show and belongs to the gun control group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “I think we need to reduce the gun culture in America,” Lasher said. “But I think that we will only succeed in that if we are having open, respectful conversations with people who do own guns.” She compared it to the #MeToo movement, as if gun owners were similar to people who commit sexual abuse.
In this fictional scenario, the “conversation” helped millennial shotgun owner Sutton realize how “you define yourself in a certain way … And then you get older and you’ve outgrown (guns) but you’re not quite ready to let them go,” as Lasher explains. “We wanted to make a story about that and finding that you don’t need something else to make you feel strong or brave or powerful or in control.”
Hypocrisy, call your office. If Lasher and her Moms Demand Action crowd ardently wish to “reduce the gun culture in America,” why not do a bit of introspection first? You can crawl all over the group website and its list of “campaigns” and not find a word about activism against the entertainment industry — TV, movies, video games, anything.
TV shows are still pushing gun violence to goose the ratings. A recent study by the Parents Television Council reported that the degree of gun violence on prime-time broadcast TV has actually increased in the last five years since the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. In a review of the November 2017 sweeps period after the mass shooting in Las Vegas, it found that 175 of 287 episodes contained violence (almost 61 percent) and 112 of them (39 percent) had scenes of gun violence.
It’s dramatically worse at the movies. Matt Philbin of the Media Research Center reported last fall that an astounding 589 incidents of violence were featured in “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” “American Assassin,” Stephen King’s “It” and “mother!” And that’s just four top-grossing movies from the week before the Las Vegas attack. The films had no less than 212 incidents of gun violence, and the body count was at least 192.
Hollywood producers and actors have no problem mudslinging against the “barbaric” National Rifle Association and blaming it — and President Trump, and Fox, and anything conservative that moves — for mass shootings. But they refuse to march a single step or utter a single word of complaint against the greatest transgressors: themselves.
L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org. To find out more about Brent Bozell III and Tim Graham, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.