Don’t take aim at Jim Carrey

 

It’s amazing how much ire just two tweets can cause. Jim Carrey yesterday created a “controversy” by posting on Twitter that after the events of the Sandy Hook massacre, he could no longer help promote the upcoming film he stars in, “Kick-Ass 2.”

Carrey, who has recently been a vocal gun control advocate, effectively caused a political fervor over his public comments. Some fans, critics and anti-gun supporters have come to his side in taking this bold stance against a potential summer blockbuster and a hot topic, but most have called out his supposed hypocrisy, claiming that the timing of Sandy Hook and the impending release of “Kick-Ass 2” seem off, and that Carrey has appeared in numerous films in which he has wielded guns but has never expressed disdain over this or similarly over other massacres in recent memory.

 

 

This is a faulty argument, firstly because it’s unfair to criticize Carrey for trying to change his opinion and have a “change of heart,” secondly because several of the aforementioned films in which he holds guns are from the ‘90s and are referenced without context. What’s more, if you can find me a modern, major male actor who has not held at least one gun in a film, then you win bragging rights for the day.

Although Carrey’s comments have turned into a political pissing match in which conflicting statements and ad-hominem attacks about Carrey’s choices as a comedian are being thrown around willfully, this debate does raise interesting questions about the state of violence in the movies.

Carrey has put critics and movie supporters in a difficult place; defense of his statement arguably implies by association that “Kick-Ass 2” is too violent, and that he has all the reason to abstain based on his political beliefs. And although I can’t speak for all critics, the general opinion is that works of art, movies or otherwise, do not cause real world violence. That would be ridiculous. But Carrey’s minimal comment (which really shouldn’t be overanalyzed) sways closer to Fox News’ assertion (despite what Fox has said about Carrey in this aftermath) that it is popular culture, not guns, that cause violence.

What cannot be argued is that there is a lot of violence in mainstream Hollywood films, regardless of the context in which they are presented. How much is too much, what crosses the line, and what massacre has to make major studios rethink the images that are fit for frivolous, summer release?

Man of Steel

There has been a certain level of discussion recently over the amount of mindless carnage to be found in the last third of “Man of Steel.” Critics have argued that with the ease of CGI, the film bloodlessly and passively suggests the death of thousands of innocent citizens through the use of 9/11 reminiscent imagery. In “White House Down” and “Olympus Has Fallen,” Hollywood depicts some of America’s most famous and significant landmarks decimated for buddy action movie thrills and suspense. Surely a film in which nameless baddies are mowed down by gunfire in these or any other film either recalls dangerous, horrific memories or calls certain things to the imagination, without every audience member inherently getting the nuanced message that this is merely depiction, not endorsement.

Every film will have to be judged on a case-by-case basis to accurately determine which could be seen as irresponsible (that’s what movie critics are for, not Fox News pundits). But consider “Kick-Ass 2.” The film is based on a series of graphic novels in which the hero is an average teenager and an even younger female companion don superhero attire and battle gun-toting mobsters.

Does this film cross the line? I can’t say, as I haven’t seen it, but the first film certainly approaches that boundary. Executive Producer Matt Millar has come out in reaction to Carrey by pointing out that the film is in fact a satire of this level of violence in other forms of media, but there is room for debate whether director Matthew Vaughn’s vision of the original does in fact make that distinction clear, and there is additional concern that kids the age of one of the film’s stars, the now 16-year-old Chloe Moretz, are completely in on the joke.

Shouldn’t this debate instead raise questions about the nature of the MPAA rating scale and the distribution system? Shouldn’t this be a unifying issue in which reform can be made in gun control and the culture that surrounds it?

People are additionally criticizing Carrey for posting this comment on Twitter, arguing that the ensuing controversy will now create more publicity for “Kick-Ass 2” than it would’ve normally received. Perhaps this also raises questions about an actor’s place in a film. Twitter is a public forum, and Carrey is a public figure, but he made his comment to fans who choose to follow him, not to a newspaper or during the course of an interview.

Further, should an actor’s work choices be inherently tied to his personal opinion? The director or writer is the author responsible for the message of the movie, not the actor (if you buy the auteur theory). Granted, Carrey could’ve in theory done more good by appearing on talk shows to promote the film and rationalizing his thoughts about gun control there, not allowing his 140 characters to be analyzed and misinterpreted by pundits and trolls who think he hasn’t made a good movie in a decade (for what it’s worth, he’s very good in “I Love You Phillip Morris”).

Excuse the gun analogy, but don’t take aim at Jim Carrey; set your sights on less political and less personal targets that we can actually take action on.

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