'Lack of Respect for Life' Begins Offscreen

'Lack of Respect for Life' Begins Offscreen

Peter Bogdanovich recently spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about how he believes movies, not the man named James Holmes who pulled the trigger, are behind the Aurora tragedy.

It’s too easy to show murders in movies now. There are too many of them, and it’s too easy. There is a general lack of respect for life, because it’s so easy to just kill people…

Anytime there’s a massacre, which is almost yearly now, we say, “Well, it’s not the guns. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people” and all that bullshit from the NRA. Politicians are afraid to touch it because of the right wing. And nothing ever changes. We’re living in the Wild West

… the fact that guns are so easy to get is chilling. But nobody wants to blame the movies. Nobody wants to blame guns.

I find it fascinating, anyone bemoaning the eroding respect for life onscreen when they seem like part of an ideology that erodes it offscreen. Have you ever seen them exhibit such situational compassion for those lives lost in the generational genocide that is abortion? What of the compassion for the poor? Instead of pushing policy to give everyone the opportunity to achieve the American Dream, their ideology wants them to suffer serfdom via government mediocrity. Crime always accompanies periods of scarce economic opportunity.

The truth is there has always been violence in our free society; at least in the days of the Wild West, the government didn’t prevent people from protecting themselves while simultaneously ruling that they had no obligation to protect the people (Castle Rock v. Gonzales).

Bogdanovich believes guns are more to blame for murder than the people who use guns — or explosives, like Timothy McVeigh; a plane, like Andrew Stack; a political belief, like Mao. Politicians are afraid to touch it because the right to bear arms is a Constitutional right and banning firearms doesn’t work.

Actually — scratch that. Gun bans do work. They work at completely disarming law-abiding citizens, the exact sort who could have fired back at James Holmes in the theater had it not banned them from carrying weapons which could have protected them. Gun bans work at preventing law abiding-people from saving their lives against a criminal gunman every time. 

Choosing not to own a firearm isn’t immunity from ever having one used against you. No, the victims of the Aurora tragedy could never have predicted what would happen that night, but you can always predict that an unarmed society means that the only people bearing the arms are the criminals. James Holmes didn’t give a damn about the theater’s gun ban, which took away the only fighting chance his victims had against him.

Blaming the gun or movie violence for James Holmes’s actions further contributes to this erosion because it lacks respect for the free will which comes with life. More and many murderous things are thought up in Washington every day by men in suits and women in pearls and heels than what ends up on the marquee. The scarier thing is that those beltway nightmares are reality. After a movie, the suspension of disbelief goes away. There isn’t such a luxury in real life.

The problem isn’t that there is more violence in the country or that movies can make such stories accessible via the silver screen; the problem is the crumbling, decaying moral fiber of this nation which teaches a disregard for life. In “The Dark Knight Rises,” you have violence because there is a clear distinction between good and evil, and the evil people want to do bad things to the good people. The only way the good side can win their freedom, their lives, is to fight back. If they don’t fight back not only is there no movie, no climax, but the characters in the story become prisoners, or worse. It’s justifiable violence, an unfortunate price for freedom. People like Bogdanovich enjoy the goods of liberty bought by that price, a credit extended to him by brave men who understood the terms many years ago when they founded this country on such principle.

People are desensitized to moral decay, not to violence. It’s the moral decay that causes people to blame every other person, every inanimate object but the shooter. It’s the moral decay that aborts enough infants a year to fill a small town but laments the “erosion of respect for life” on the movie screen. People need to know that violence exists — but most importantly, why it exists and what causes it, not what instruments are used. A compelling story where the good guys win over evil and violent aggression as defense of life and liberty is well understood are not the sort of films made by liberal Hollywood. They are, however, the sort of films Americans flock towards, as evidenced by “Iron Man,” the Batman franchise, “The Expendables,” etc.

This is our problem as a society: lack of morality. What you see on the screen is simply a reflection of that, not dictate.