In spite of horrific acts of violence like the Boston Marathon bombing, the slaughter of innocent children in Newtown, and the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Hollywood has absolutely no interest in limiting the violence it shoves at audiences. In its coverage of CinemaCon, an annual convention at which the film industry promotes its upcoming projects, The Wrap.com noted:
After the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut last winter left 28 people dead, Motion Picture Association of America Chairman and CEO Chris Dodd promised that Hollywood was ready to participate in a national conversation about violence…[but Dodd] dodged a question about whether or not movies were too violent by saying it was not his job to be a critic.
The Motion Picture Association of America is the body that assigns ratings (G, PG, PG-13 and R) to movies. Earlier this week, the MPAA announced changes to the ratings system, which it claimed would allow parents to be “better informed.” The changes basically amounted to increasing the font size of the short description after the rating, an “improvement” which PTC President Tim Winter said is
“a distinction without a difference. This appears just to be a PR effort by the MPAA to insulate themselves from public scrutiny while continuing to pour toxic levels of violence into PG-13 films.”
Indeed, if the man whose ENTIRE JOB IS ASSIGNING RATINGS TO MOVIES says he’s not supposed to “be a critic” – then exactly what is the MPAA good for?
Hollywood’s cavalier attitude appears in spite of the strong feelings of the movie-going audience. The American people know violence in entertainment has repercussions, even if Mr. Dodd, the MPAA, and the so-called “creative” people in Hollywood don’t. According to recent Vanity Fair/60 Minutes poll, 80% of Americans agreed that violence in movies, TV shows, and video games contribute to violence in society. Almost half (45%) said it contributed to real-life violence “a lot,” while another third (35%) said it contributed “some.” Only 6% of respondents said media violence makes no difference.
Theater owners – whose livelihoods depend on meeting the public’s demands – also understand that Hollywood’s glut of ultra-violent and gory films is not serving their audience. Speaking at CinemaCon, John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theater Owners, blasted Hollywood for its output in the first three months of this year, noting that “during the first quarter of 2012, there were two G-rated films and nine R-rated films. This year, the number of R-rated pictures ballooned to 13 and there were no G-rated films.” Fithian also mentioned that in 2012, there were one one-third as many PG-rated films as R-rated movies — but the PG films made just as much money as the R’s. Fithian concluded his speech by calling on Hollywood to make more family films.
Yet anyone who thinks Hollywood is going to change without outside pressure is deluding themselves. When the entertainment industry responds to the wave of tragedies above by making more bloody movies, deluging TV with shows about serial killers, and releases ever-more ultra-violent video games, all while refusing to accept any responsibility for their output or make any changes to it, one fact is clear: it is not only the characters in entertainment who live in a fantasy world.