Whenever there’s an act of horrific violence, such as a mass shooting, some of us, as well the media, immediately look at Hollywood as a major culprit.
The Matrix was the blame for the Columbine, Colorado shooting. The Dark Knight Rises was the blame for the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting. And now some people are looking at Django Unchained, after this weekend’s horrible Sandy Hook school shooting, and thinking, or wondering out loud, whether now is the right time for the film to be released; especially since, not only is the film extremely violent (what Quentin Tarantino film isn’t?), but it has an over-the-top, violent climax that takes place on a plantation, where seemingly dozens of people are killed in a bloody gun shootout. Some are saying that Django’s release date is rather too close for comfort.
Jamie Foxx himself, during a press junket for the film this weekend in New York, was forced to address the issue and stated that: “We cannot turn our back and say that violence in films or anything that we do doesn’t have an influence. It does.”
However, Kerry Washington said that she believed that the film’s brutal violence serves to educate people on the horrors of slavery. She added that “I do think it’s important when we have the opportunity to talk about violence and not just kind of have it as entertainment, but connect to the wrongs, the injustices and the social ills.“
Tarantino, for his part, said that he was sick and tired of defending his films every time time some act of violence occurs, and that the blame should fall on the person who committed the crime and not on him.
So what impact will the recent Sandy Hook shooting have on Django? Will people stay away, for fear or feeling that the film is in bad taste, consdering what just happened?
Not likely. People who will go see Django pretty much know what they’re going to get. It’s hard to imagine that anyone going to see the film is expecting some tame, PG-13 rated, family friendly film. When you’re going to see a film made by Tarantino, you know what comes with the territory, and either you go with it or you don’t. In the past few days, I have had conversations with friends and other people, about the shootings; and, in the same breath, they talk about how shocking the Sandy Hook incident is, but also that they can’t wait to see Django. They’re able to separate the two. One has nothing to do with the other.
And besides, comparing the film to the recent shootings is like comparing apples and oranges. The shooting was the work of a depraved madman with seemingly no reason or logic, other then to cause as much pain and sufferring to as many people as possible.
Django is a movie, and a fantasy movie at that. It’s make believe, and more importantly, there is a totally different context and reason for why the violence happens in the film. There is a definite cause which results in a definite effect.
Is it fair to blame movies for violence in real lfe? That argument has been going on for decades. I still remember when Bonnie And Clyde, which was heavily criticized for its violence when it first came out, made the cover of Time magazine in a piece about what impact violence in movies had on society. They couldn’t figure out the answer then, and all these many years later, they’re still asking the same exact question. Maybe because there is no definite, concrete answer. And, most likely, there never will be one.
So I don’t think the shooting will have much of an effect on Django. Besides, in our cynical, 24-hour cable news cycle, searching-for-the-next-hot-lead-story, media driven age, by the time Django comes out, the shootings will be yesterday’s half-forgotten headline.
Yes I realize that sounds cold, but who’s talking about the Aurora shooting, or the Portand Mall shooting, which just happened last week, today?