Back in the mid-1990s I had one of the greatest jobs that a young adult could hope to land: video store clerk. I wasn’t some corporate drone at Blockbuster either. I worked for a small mom-and-pop shop in Ft. Smith, Arkansas for a little more than a year, which happened to coincide with the release of the movie Dazed and Confused, which quickly became one of my all-time favorite comedies. The movie didn’t do so hot at the box office, but became a cult classic when it was released on VHS in March of 1994, and more than 20 years later the flick still has a loyal legion of fans.
In a new oral history of the making of the movie, Ben Affleck (who portrayed high school bully Fred O’Bannion) not-so-fondly recalls his experience in Austin, Texas, including the cast’s multiple trips to a local gun range.
“Texas had extremely lax gun laws and most of us came from states where it was next to impossible to buy guns,” Affleck explains. “Part of the newfound freedom being down there was a bunch of us bought guns and went shooting at ranges on weekends, which seemed fun and innocent at the time, but given the subsequent tragedies with young people and guns, it makes me uncomfortable to remember.”
Now, I know that Ben Affleck has been doing his best to be “woke” the past few years, but this is just sad. Going to the gun range with friends is fun and innocent. It was fun in 1992, when Dazed and Confused was filmed, and it’s still fun today.
It’s not like there weren’t tragedies involving young people and guns in the early 1990s. In fact, the juvenile homicide rate reached an all-time high in 1993, the same year that Dazed and Confused was released. We’ve actually become a less violent society in the decades since, even as the number of guns in private hands has grown to more than 400-million.
What makes Affleck’s comments even more bizarre is the fact that the actor hasn’t shied away in the past from acknowledging his gun ownership.
After confronting actress/wife Jennifer Garner’s stalker, Ben Affleck told the Hollywood Reporter that he owned several guns and had “embraced” them since dealing with the stalker.
“It gave me a stronger sense of feeling protective about my family,” he said. “There’s a lot of crazy, weird people out there. It’s an ugly world.”
That was back in 2012, when Affleck was an Obama-supporting gun owner who shot skeet and was prepared to protect his wife and kids with a firearm if necessary. Was he uncomfortable looking back at his Dazed and Confused days eight years ago, or is this a more recent development?
It’s not like the world has become a less ugly place since then, and God knows we still have plenty of crazy, weird people out there.
I’m not sure what prompted Affleck’s change of heart, but it’s sad that he’s gone from a guy who could recognize the value of firearms for both self-defense and recreation to someone who can’t even acknowledge the fun that he had with friends at the gun range without expressing remorse and regret.