April 18, 2018

Hollywood Has a "Gun Problem?"

Do they call them "action movies?"

In a recent blog post on the film "A Quiet Place," critic Nicholas Barber turns his review of the film into a bit of a personal-political screed against Hollywood's "gun problem." Now, while I have not seen the film, Barber indicates that it's set in a time "just after a horde of feral alien-monsters has gobbled up most of the human race."

Sounds rather like a situation where guns might be useful. But, I digress.

He continues, in considering the family who apparently occupies most of the movie:
I won’t reveal exactly how they survive, but it would be easy to watch this film and come away with the impression that when your country/town/home is invaded, there is nothing that the authorities will be able to do about it. Your community won’t be any help, either, and there is no way you can negotiate or co-exist peacefully with the invaders. No, your only hope is to festoon your property with security cameras, learn how to hunt and prepare your own food, grow a shaggy beard (if applicable), and, most importantly, keep a shotgun handy. 
So, what he's saying is that we are living in a post-apocalyptic landscape, where nothing makes sense, the authorities are toast, the community is eaten, and people are reverting. Could be plague, zombies, nukes, you name it. Does Barber think that, but for the power of the Church, Europe would have survived the black plague? This is part of the nature of horror, especially modern, apocalyptic horror. The neighbors are fish food or have transformed or have burned up. People are themselves becoming monsters in their loneliness and dissolution of community. Look at The Road by Cormac McCarthy:
Perhaps in the world's destruction it would be possible at last to see how it was made. Oceans, mountains. The ponderous counterspectacle of things ceasing to be. The sweeping waste, hydroptic and coldly secular. The silence.
Or perhaps, if you want movies, The Book of Eli:
People had more than they needed. We had no idea what was precious and what wasn't. We threw away things people kill each other for now.
Or, if you want to go more classic, how about Lord of the Flies:
Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill! You knew, didn't you?' said the head. For a moment or two the forest and all the other dimly appreciated places echoed with the parody of laughter. 'You knew, didn't you? I'm part of you? Close, close, close! I'm the reason why it’s no go? Why things are what they are?” 
Barber goes on, really getting psychoanalytical with his film critique:
One of the fondest fantasies of Second Amendment obsessives is that a private citizen with a box of ammunition could fend off the US Army, should the need arise, and that fantasy is endorsed by “A Quiet Place”, in which gun-toting farmers fare better against the aliens than the entire American war machine.
IS this a "fond fantasy?" Even IF it is, he's missing the point of guns. Guns will be necessary when door to door roundups of people are in progress. It's not the US Army - it's a soldier, a neighbor, a police officer, coming to take your family.

Do you contend this is unthinkable? Do you read modern history at all? Do you know the reports of the secret police, coming in the darkness, of the disarmament of the populaces where tyranny was thereafter enforced? Or, if you do read, is it YOUR fantasy to be one of the elite who is in charge, and let others fend for themselves?
Defenders of the right to bear arms will also see flattering reflections of themselves in the film’s heroes, a photogenic white family that lives on a backwoods farm. 
Sure, unless it's Colion Noir. Or, perhaps, one of the Southern Blacks who was disarmed by Jim Crow. As noted in Slate:
The Black Code restrictions were a piece with violent attempts to disarm blacks perpetrated by local police, white state militias, and Klan-type organizations that rose during Reconstruction to wage a war of Southern “redemption.” The formal Ku Klux Klan emerged out of Tennessee in 1866. But across the South, similar organizations cropped up under names like the White Brotherhood, the Knights of the White Camellia, the Innocents, and the Knights of the Black Cross. Black disarmament was part of their common agenda.
But, I suppose, Southern Blacks were simply lost in their fantasy of equal rights to vote, equal rights to own property (and defend it). After all, it was surely untrue that, during Jim Crow, Blacks needed anything other than the (corrupt) local authorities, (inactive) federal government, (hostile) neighbors, to defend themselves. I am sure that local police departments, in that day and time, rushed out to arrest white rapists when local Blacks complained.

After chattering on in this vein, Barber closes with:
After all, it wasn’t so long ago that action heroes were never seen without a cigarette, but now even James Bond has kicked the habit. Maybe Hollywood could address its gun addiction next. When films like “A Quiet Place” tell us that a shotgun cartridge will answer our prayers and solve our problems, we shouldn’t be so quiet about it.
Well, now, Mr. Barber, that would really depend on whether your problem is an alien about to devour you, or you have a flat tire. Guns aren't the answer to everything, but in the post-apocalyptic imagination, they surely have a place when something looks to make you the next fare. In the meantime, perhaps you can stop psychoanalyzing gun owners and NRA members, and get down to actually reviewing movies.