Alec Baldwin's Latest Idea? It Won't Make Sets Safer

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Actor Alec Baldwin needs to be quiet for a long while. While the actor is understandably upset about what happened on the set of Rust, he’s not really helping anyone when he runs his mouth.

If anything, he’s only making it worse. After all, if he’s got these ideas, why didn’t he push to have them implemented before the fatal shooting? As both a producer and the big name in the film, he had the pull to make that happen, so why didn’t he?

What’s more, plenty of us agree, his suggestions wouldn’t have made the set safer anyway.

In October, a tragedy occurred on the set of Rust, a Western film in production in New Mexico, when star Alec Baldwin discharged a prop gun that he did not realize was loaded with live ammunition. Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza was wounded by the projectile.

Since then, Baldwin, who is also a producer on the film, has been cooperating with the police investigation of the incident, and production has shut down. However, in public statements regarding his role in the incident and what he feels could be done differently in the future, Baldwin’s ideas skew in the wrong direction.

Writing on his social media accounts Monday, Baldwin stated: “Every film/TV set that uses guns, fake or otherwise, should have a police officer on set, hired by the production, to specifically monitor weapons safety.” While some actors have committed to certain changes—Dwayne Johnson, for example, said he will only use rubber guns on film sets from now on—Baldwin’s suggestion is different: It is both unlikely to make a difference, and it could also set a poor precedent.

Logistically, the task is daunting: In 2019 (the last fully pre-pandemic year), there were at least 220 films released in the U.S. just by the major studios; the number of scripted original television series was over 500. Assuming that guns are involved in half of all films and television shows (likely a large underestimate, as some studies put the rate of movie violence of any kind at over 90 percent among top-grossing films), then full implementation of Baldwin’s plan would require police departments to give up more than 350 officers each year to studio sets, just to supervise the handling of weapons. While Baldwin did specify that the studios should pay, the process would require police departments to either make do with fewer officers, or hire more to replace the on-set monitors.

Then there’s the fact that there’s absolutely nothing a police officer could do.

While police are thought of as experts on firearms, most really aren’t. Yeah, they carry a firearm on their belts every day, but they’re no more experts on the weapons than they are the cars they drive. How many police officers do you know who don’t know how to change their own oil, much less wax philosophical about the various engines one might find on police cars?

Sure, there are some, just as there are those who really understand firearms. They’re the exception, not the rule.

Further, what do they understand about Hollywood’s safety protocols? That’s not exactly a class at the police academy, from what I understand. How are they going to prevent this from happening?

Besides, the issue isn’t that existing protocols aren’t enough. What happened on the set of Rust wasn’t some tragic accident where everyone followed the rules but the rules were insufficient.

No, more and more it looks like a series of errors that inevitably led to tragedy. What happened wasn’t because the protocols were insufficient, it happened because they weren’t followed at all.

If there’s an upside to Alec Baldwin’s inane suggestion, it’s that no one is remotely interested in listening to the man right now. While many in Hollywood are sympathetic to the guy, they’re not tripping over themselves to make this happen, either. That’s probably for the best.

 

Nov 26, 2021 10:30 AM ET