By Bruce Haring
In the wake of mass shootings in Buffalo and Texas, many people are crying out for someone to “do something.” Yet some of the loudest voices in that chorus are among the biggest hypocrites when it comes to creating an atmosphere that promulgates violence among the feeble minded.
Bill Maher gave Hollywood a shot across the bow in his Friday Real Time on HBO, calling on the entertainment industry to look at its own culture of violence as a stimulant that creates justification for violent actions in some minds.
Maher noted how the average American kid sees an estimated 200,000 acts of violence before age 18. “Hollywood is the wokest place on earth,” Maher said, pointing out the good done under those principles. “But when it comes to romanticizing gun violence, crickets.”
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Hollywood loves extolling vengeance, as noted by the dozens of films with that word in the title. “Because no impressionable young male would ever imitate that,” Maher said, sarcastically.
He pointed out that on a pie chart detailing the causes of mass shootings – issues such as mental health, easy access to guns, social media creating envy and anger – there’s also a consideration of “crazy amounts of gun violence in movies and TV. You’re telling me these cool dudes don’t influence them?”
Guns are presented “over and over again” as the best soution to life’s problems. “They call them action movies,” said Maher. “They should call them revenge movies.”
“Getting revenge on them that wronged ya” is the theme of most action movies, which are “made for and loved by young men.” The trope of a nice guy who is pushed too far just doesn’t create a culture of violence, Maher contended. It creates “a culture of justified violence, Maher said.
Hollywood largely condemed the actions of Wisconsin vigilante Kyle Rittenhouse, “But then they endlessly produce movies with that exact plot,” Maher said.
While allowing that he’s not in favor of censorship or organizing society around “what crazy people might do,” Maher noted, “Every bad thought in all of these movies is how to get revenge.”
Part of the issue is that the good guys can shoot endless amounts of bad guys, but never seem to pay major consequences themselves. “The worst that will happen to you is you have to sit beside the ambulance with a blanket.”
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Earlier, Maher talked with Dr. Cornel West, a Princeton professor whose lament was that politics is about “the superficial and the spectacle.” He also defended the teaching of Western-centric humanities classes, but equivocated when asked whether things like mathematics reflect white perspectives too much.
This week’s panel discussion featured Kellyanne Conway, former senior counselor to President Trump and author of the memoir, Here’s the Deal, and Josh Barro, host of the weekly podcast “Very Serious” and blogger for “Very Serious” on Substack.
Maher nearly lost it as Conway wouldn’t say whether Donald Trump should run again, with the former staffer noting that the current Jan. 6 hearings are not a courtroom. Maher insisted the Jan. 6 upising was a “planned coup,” but Conway countered that no one knows what was in Trump’s mind, and kept turning the conversation to inflation and the Biden administration’s varied failures, infuriating Maher at times.
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