I said I would throw in my two-cents on this Jim Carrey story. I realize I’m late to the party on this one, but I feel compelled to talk about the entire issue. Instead of trying to summarize the whole damn situation, I’ll just block quote something from the Guardian:
Carrey, who has been an outspoken proponent of increased gun control in the wake of the shootings by gunman Adam Lanza in December, tweeted on Sunday that he could no longer support the film. He wrote: “I did Kick-Ass 2 a month b4 Sandy Hook and now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence. My apologies to others involve[d] with the film. I am not ashamed of it but recent events have caused a change in my heart.”
Scottish comic-book writer and Kick-Ass 2 executive producer Mark Millar, whose original work forms the basis of the sequel, today responded on his own blog, pointing out that Carrey, who plays a character named Colonel Stars and Stripes, knew exactly what he was letting himself in for.
“Like Jim, I’m horrified by real-life violence (even though I’m Scottish), but Kick-Ass 2 isn’t a documentary. No actors were harmed in the making of this production! This is fiction and like Tarantino and Peckinpah, Scorsese and Eastwood, John Boorman, Oliver Stone and Chan-wook Park, Kick-Ass avoids the usual bloodless bodycount of most big summer pictures and focuses instead of the CONSEQUENCES of violence … Our job as storytellers is to entertain and our toolbox can’t be sabotaged by curtailing the use of guns in an action movie.”
While I understand Millar’s frustration with Carrey, I do think he misses the point here. From Carrey’s perspective, film violence leads, at least in part, to real world violence. I don’t know how recent of a development these thoughts are for him, but it is quite clear that recent events (Newtown, etc.) have “inspired” him to take a more aggressive approach to the gun rights issue (see his comedy music video, “Cold Dead Hand“). The position is guided by a particular set of principles, which suggests that supporting gun violence in media begets violence in the real world. Within that perspective, life is viewed a sacred, and any action which might lead to the death of others (at the hand of a gun) must be opposed. I understand this position and even agree with Carrey on many counts. The notion that guns are, on their own, innocuous entities is specious at best and a downright lie at worst. There are cultures attached to them, and some of those cultures support or foment violence, whether directly or indirectly. Some of those cultures, of course, do nothing of the sort.
Millar, however, takes the position that the film is pure fiction, and that nobody was actually hurt. That information is a given. You can’t intentionally kill people on film without violating the law, so the issue isn’t whether people are actually hurt, but what impact the violence might have on the general public. Carrey seems to believe that film violence — at least, in some forms — contributes to the problem of violence in our culture. Considering how fervently he has supported the gun-restriction side of the debate in the last year, it shouldn’t surprise us that he might have problems with anything perceived as connected to that very issue. Carrey had a change of heart. So sue him.
That doesn’t make Carrey correct, of course. There are two positions he has taken:
- Guns and gun culture contributes to violence in the country
- Violent media contributes to violence in the country (already mentioned)
Personally, I think he should shut up and donate his Kick-Ass 2 salary to an organization that represents his interests. He can take a step back from publicity for the time being, too (if you’re heart isn’t in it, then there’s no point trying to promote something anyway — that would be a lie). And then he should write a book about how he came to this worldview. But he shouldn’t piss on all the other people who were behind him when he made that film. That’s not fair to them, and it doesn’t make Carrey look like the hero here.
What do you think?
*This also explains why I was hesitant to boycott the film adaptation of Ender’s Game. I may not care for Card’s politics, but there are a lot of people I love who are involved in the project (and many more besides who never appear on the screen). Does boycotting the film mean I’m also screwing some of them over? And if so, am I OK with that? I still don’t have an answer for that question.
P.S.: I also take issue with Millar’s claim that Kick-Ass is about the consequences of violence. That might be true for the comics, which I haven’t read, but the first film glorified pain and suffering. It turned suffering into a comedy of blood. I enjoyed the first film quite a bit, but at no point did I believe I was watching something about the consequences of violence. The consequences are sort of there, but they are withdrawn or overshadowed by the glorification of violence in general. Granted, I have not seen the new one (it’s not out yet), so it’s possible the sequel will fill in the gaps. I doubt it, though…