New guidelines on depicting guns for Hollywood

There’s a lot of debate about whether Hollywood fuels our gun violence problems or simply depicts it. Frankly, I’m not convinced that the entertainment industry really is behind the problem, mostly because other parts of the world watch the same movies but don’t have the same problems.


But, a lot of people, including many in Hollywood itself, believe that even if they’re not the problem, they can be part of the solution.

To that end, the Norman Lear Center has released new guidelines for how to depict firearms on screen.

USC Annenberg’s Norman Lear Center has released the “Trigger Warning: Gun Guidelines for the Media,” a resource guide created to better understand the presence of gun use in the entertainment industry. “Trigger Warning” is homed on the Hollywood, Health & Society main page and social platforms.

The information provided in the guide highlights facts and figures on gun prevalence in the media found over the past 20 years.

“Trigger Warning” shines a light on the modernization of guns in modern culture with a warning of where trends may lead in the future. “America has more guns than people; more homicides, suicides, and unintentional deaths by firearm than any of its high-income peer countries by orders of magnitude. So it makes sense that guns seem to be everywhere in our media, too. From late-night news to Saturday morning cartoons, cop shows to comedies — guns are ubiquitous on our screens.”

“I couldn’t be prouder that the Center which bears my name is releasing this report about gun safety and the entertainment industry,” said Lear. “How guns are portrayed on screen should reflect the public health crisis we are in, and help portray responsible gun ownership.”


However, the report itself has a couple of issues.

For one, it’s supposed to be a guideline on how guns are portrayed on screen. Why then does it have an entire section on supposed myths about guns–many of which aren’t actually myths–that are driven by heavily biased and, in some cases, long-since discredited studies.

But, of course, it’s Hollywood. They have to get their digs in, including this bit about the people shot on television: “Whereas those holding guns were largely depicted as ‘good guys,’ those shot by guns were typically portrayed as ‘bad guys.’ More than half of casualties were unsympathetic white men with small roles.”

I’m absolutely shocked to learn that the entertainment industry is far more likely to feature bit players being shot over the main cast.

You can only shoot your leads so many times before the audience starts memeing it.

But what about the suggestions?

Well, they include things like not making law enforcement’s use of force look “heroic,” apparently, which has absolutely nothing to do with gangbangers shooting up their neighborhoods.

They also suggest shooting more white guys in movies and television. Yes, really.

Further, there’s an entire page of the report blasting the depiction of police on television.

Now, it wasn’t all awful. The report notes that less than 10 percent of the depictions of guns on screen utilize any kind of gun storage, which is something that Hollywood might be able to improve. However, I also fully expect anyone using a gun safe in a program will have plenty of time to access it in the middle of the night and fight the bad guys, which isn’t reality.


Still, I agree they could do better on that and it might have some positive impact on society.

All in all, this is pretty much the kind of report you’d expect from people who don’t understand guns very well, don’t understand crime very well, and just have to inject identity politics into everything they do.

While Hollywood might well be able to influence people into doing a lot of things, the one thing they’re not likely to do is deter violent criminals by making the police into the bad guys. As such, it seems unlikely these new BS guidelines will do anything except allow film and television execs to pat themselves on the back while accomplishing absolutely nothing else.

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