Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Despite Newtown, we crave violent movies

updated 1:01 PM EST, Mon January 14, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • LZ Granderson: Tarantino's bloody "Django Unchained" got two Golden Globes
  • Film that makes mass murder look cool is hugely popular even after Newtown, he says
  • He says celebrities who protest gun violence yet star in ultraviolent films are hypocritical
  • Granderson: Films shouldn't be censored; the real culprit is our addiction to violence

Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and is a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs.

(CNN) -- The first statuette of the 70th annual Golden Globe awards went to Christoph Waltz, whose character in "Django Unchained" shot two men and a horse in two scenes before I even opened my box of M&M's.

But that didn't surprise me, because "Django," a bloody homage to spaghetti Westerns, is a creation of one of my guilty pleasures, director Quentin Tarantino.

One of the most important auteurs in cinema today, Tarantino's scripts are intoxicating -- with witty dialogue; surprising and satisfying story arcs, and cartoonish body counts. "Django" won him a Golden Globe for screenwriting.

LZ Granderson
LZ Granderson

And thus the nation's conundrum. A month into our post-Newtown world, "Django Unchained" -- a movie that makes mass murder look cool -- has scooped up more than $125 million in three weeks.

Is it me, or does it seem odd that a director known for ultra gun violence in his films has the biggest-grossing movie of his career in the wake of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 20 kids? Not to get all Wayne LaPierre, but wouldn't you think the nation wouldn't have the stomach to see such a glorification of gun violence so close to the tragedy?

And yet, here we are: Bruce Willis is slated to "Die Hard" again; "Hansel and Gretel" has been reimagined into a tale about siblings carrying automatic assault weapons and looking for witches to kill; and 65-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger is taking on the Mexican cartel, including shooting a Gatling from a school bus.

Jamie Foxx on 'Django Unchained'
Tarantino: Why I used 'N-word' in film

And that's just over the course of a month.

Before meeting with Vice President Joe Biden to discuss violence in films and video games, Motion Picture Association of America chairman and former Sen. Chris Dodd told The Hollywood Reporter that the movie industry is vehemently opposed to content regulation, adding "We have a free and open society that celebrates the First Amendment."

In an NPR interview, Tarantino said it was disrespectful to the victims to bring up violence in movies in relationship to Newtown.

"Obviously, the issue is gun control and mental health," he said.

I agree.

But as we wait for Biden's gun control proposals to be revealed, as well as the ensuing debate in Washington to unfold, it's important to remember this conversation is threefold.

Mass shootings -- like those at Newtown, Columbine, the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, and the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater -- and everyday street violence, like what's going on in Chicago, can be addressed immediately by legislation. But background checks and assault rifle bans will not free us from our most debilitating shackle, and that is our numbness, if not addiction, to violence, particularly in film.

Of the 100 top-grossing movies of 2012, only three were rated G. Most in the top 10 were PG-13, including "The Hunger Games," a film about kids brutally killing each other for sport; two were PG and one was R.

This is why, when celebrities came together to film an anti-gun public service announcement, they were immediately called out as hypocrites, and rightfully so. In one scene in the Tarantino movie Jamie Foxx, who plays the main character, Django, shoots a man carrying sticks of dynamite, and the guy is literally blown into pieces.

And Foxx is the first person you see in an anti-gun ad?

Please.

It's hard enough to find the right balance between the freedoms guaranteed to us by the Constitution and living in a gun-happy Wild West, without cries for control coming from an industry that continues to glorify the lack of control. For those of us who feel comfortable calling out the NRA crowd for hiding behind the Second Amendment, consider the actions of the Hollywood crowd, which hides behind the First Amendment in its manipulative glorification of gun violence.

Or consider the actions of We the People, who year in and year out spend billions to watch someone wielding an Auto-Assault 12 shotgun, which spits out 300 rounds a minute, mow down people on the big screen.

I don't believe the government should pressure Hollywood to make less violent movies. The industry is only giving us what we want to see. Even now, just four short weeks after 20 children and six adults were massacred in Newtown, we still crave gun violence and death by chainsaw.

The White House and Congress can address mass shootings and violent crimes, but the culture of violence isn't about Biden, Foxx or Tarantino.

It's about us.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 1:33 AM EST, Thu December 25, 2014
Danny Cevallos says the legislature didn't have to get involved in regulating how people greet each other
updated 6:12 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Marc Harrold suggests a way to move forward after the deaths of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
updated 8:36 AM EST, Wed December 24, 2014
Simon Moya-Smith says Mah-hi-vist Goodblanket, who was killed by law enforcement officers, deserves justice.
updated 2:14 PM EST, Wed December 24, 2014
Val Lauder says that for 1,700 years, people have been debating when, and how, to celebrate Christmas
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Raphael Sperry says architects should change their ethics code to ban involvement in designing torture chambers
updated 10:35 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Paul Callan says Sony is right to call for blocking the tweeting of private emails stolen by hackers
updated 7:57 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
As Christmas arrives, eyes turn naturally toward Bethlehem. But have we got our history of Christmas right? Jay Parini explores.
updated 11:29 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
The late Joe Cocker somehow found himself among the rock 'n' roll aristocracy who showed up in Woodstock to help administer a collective blessing upon a generation.
updated 4:15 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
History may not judge Obama kindly on Syria or even Iraq. But for a lame duck president, he seems to have quacking left to do, says Aaron Miller.
updated 1:11 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Terrorism and WMD -- it's easy to understand why these consistently make the headlines. But small arms can be devastating too, says Rachel Stohl.
updated 1:08 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Ever since "Bridge-gate" threatened to derail Chris Christie's chances for 2016, Jeb Bush has been hinting he might run. Julian Zelizer looks at why he could win.
updated 1:53 PM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
New York's decision to ban hydraulic fracturing was more about politics than good environmental policy, argues Jeremy Carl.
updated 3:19 PM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
On perhaps this year's most compelling drama, the credits have yet to roll. But we still need to learn some cyber lessons to protect America, suggest John McCain.
updated 5:39 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Conservatives know easing the trade embargo with Cuba is good for America. They should just admit it, says Fareed Zakaria.
updated 8:12 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
We're a world away from Pakistan in geography, but not in sentiment, writes Donna Brazile.
updated 12:09 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
How about a world where we have murderers but no murders? The police still chase down criminals who commit murder, we have trials and justice is handed out...but no one dies.
updated 6:45 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
The U.S. must respond to North Korea's alleged hacking of Sony, says Christian Whiton. Failing to do so will only embolden it.
updated 4:34 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
President Obama has been flexing his executive muscles lately despite Democrat's losses, writes Gloria Borger
updated 2:51 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Jeff Yang says the film industry's surrender will have lasting implications.
updated 4:13 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Newt Gingrich: No one should underestimate the historic importance of the collapse of American defenses in the Sony Pictures attack.
updated 7:55 AM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
Dean Obeidallah asks how the genuine Stephen Colbert will do, compared to "Stephen Colbert"
updated 12:34 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Some GOP politicians want drug tests for welfare recipients; Eric Liu says bailed-out execs should get equal treatment
updated 8:42 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Louis Perez: Obama introduced a long-absent element of lucidity into U.S. policy on Cuba.
updated 12:40 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
The slaughter of more than 130 children by the Pakistani Taliban may prove as pivotal to Pakistan's security policy as the 9/11 attacks were for the U.S., says Peter Bergen.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT