At Sundance Film Festival, More Support for Violent Movies Than Second Amendment

Several actors attending the Sundance Film Festival through Jan. 27 in Park City, Utah, have stated that Hollywood has played a part in the recent spate of gun violence through the production of violent films and video games. However, one actor has suggested an unusual solution to the problem.

Alexander Skarsgard, who fired all sorts of weapons at alien invaders in the "Battleship” movie and is a big player in the violent vampire series “True Blood,” said that it may be time to revisit the Second Amendment because the discussion about it “is ridiculous to me.”

The actor told Ryan Pearson of the Associated Press that the amendment “was written over 200 years ago, and it was a militia to have muskets to fight off the Brits.”

The Brits aren't coming. It's 2013. Things have changed. And for someone to mail-order an assault rifle is crazy to me. They don't belong anywhere but the military to me. You don't need that to protect your home or shoot deer, you know.

I mean, I'm from Sweden. We do have violent video games in Sweden. My teenage brother plays them. He watches Hollywood movies. We do have insane people in Sweden and in Canada. But we don't have 30,000 gun deaths a year.

Ellen Page, who co-stars with Skarsgard in "The East" -- a thriller about an eco-anarchist group's battle with an FBI corporate spy -- noted that gun restrictions are much more pervasive in her home country, Canada.

You can't buy some crazy assault rifle that is made for the military to kill people. And like that to me is just like a no-brainer, Why should that just be out and be able to be purchased? That does not make me feel safe as a person.

Page apparently knows little or nothing about the legal process to obtain a gun permit in America, which can take up to a year.

Director Roger Corman also pointed to America's neighbor to the north as an example for the U.S. to follow:

Canada sees the same motion pictures that we do. They play the same video games that we do. They see the same television that we do. Their crime rate -- and specifically their murder rate -- is a tiny fraction of ours," he said. The only difference is they have strong gun control laws and we [don't].”

Another actor at the Sundance festival with an interesting perspective on gun violence is Guy Pearce, who is there to promote the family drama “Breathe In” but has pulled many triggers in such violent movies as “Lockdown” -- a science-fiction action film -- and “Lawless” -- an “American western gangster film.”

Pearce said that while Hollywood may make guns seem "cool" to the broader culture, there are vast variations in films' approach to guns.

Hollywood probably does play a role. It's a broad spectrum, though. There are films that use guns flippantly, then there are films that use guns in a way that would make you never want to look at a gun ever again -- because of the effect that it's had on the other people in the story at the time.

“So to sort of just say Hollywood and guns, it's a broad palette that you're dealing with, I think,” he stated. “But I'm sure it does have an effect. As do video games, as do stories on the news. All sorts of things probably seep into the consciousness."

Meanwhile, Kristen Bell, who stars in the dramatic competition film “The Lifeguard,” said gun control is “such a paradoxical issue because [violent] movies don't bother me at all.”

While Bell doesn't mind seeing violent films, the actor advocates for greater awareness of mental illness and stricter gun control.

“A lot of the people that are picking up guns have an inability to distinguish between reality and fantasy,” Bell said while noting that she is "smart enough" to avoid that problem. She calls it “an issue that deserves to be addressed because that's probably the root” of the gun violence problem.

Bell's co-star, Mamie Gummer, stated that she's often “perturbed” by on-screen violence.

I really hate Quentin Tarantino's movies generally, and I thought “Django Unchained” especially was really tough to bear in light of [the recent mass shootings]. Just the deep romanticizing of it, the fetishizing of it is creepy to me. Or maybe it's lost on me. I don't enjoy it.

So will Hollywood movers and shakers cut back on the gun violence in their movies due to the shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo.? The fact that the top five movies from a recent weekend contained 65 violent scenes with 185 victims won't be lost on studio executives, who will call on the people in show business to fire away and make more violent movies.

Randy Hall
Randy Hall