By MARC McDONALD
For five days after the horrific bloodbath at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the National Rifle Association went eerily silent. They slithered under a rock and nobody heard a peep from them until Friday. The cowards even temporarily took down their Facebook page.
Finally, the NRA's head ghoul Wayne LaPierre spoke up. And in his idiotic, error-filled statement, LaPierre fell back on the one of the gun lobby's oldest scapegoating tactics. He blamed Hollywood for its violent movies, as well as video game makers. He called them "a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and sows violence against its own people."
Like all the NRA's claims, though, this one doesn't hold up to scrutiny.
As film director Oliver Stone noted, Hollywood movies are viewed all over the world. And violent video games are played worldwide.
If one takes a look at Japan's culture and society, one begins to realize how idiotic LaPierre's argument is.
After all, a large percentage of the world's most popular (and violent) video games originate in Japan. So does the often hyper-violent content of Japanese manga comic books and anime cartoons. Some of the later are so blood-soaked and violent, they could never be marketed in the U.S.
Japan also has a robust film industry. And as a long-time fan of Japanese cinema, I can safely say that many of the most violent movies ever made are from Japan. A good example is the ultra-violent movie Tokyo Gore Police from 2008.
Tokyo Gore Police may well be the most violent film ever made. A jaw-dropping, astonishingly blood-soaked and hyper-violent movie, Tokyo Gore Police makes the films of controversial "bad boy" director Quentin Tarantino look tame by comparison.
In fact, as fans of Asian horror/thriller/slasher films know, many of Tarantino's films are nothing more than watered down pale imitations of the best of Asian "extreme" cinema. Tarantino rips off many of his ideas from the best of Japanese cinema and waters it all down for an American audience that, in most cases, has never been exposed to the real deal. (Films like Tokyo Gore Police, as well as the hyper-violent Japanese masterpiece Battle Royale from 2000 sadly, rarely even get a U.S. theatrical release).
Despite its sometimes hyper-violent cinema and video game industry, Japan has astonishingly little real-world violent gun crime. For example, in the year 2006, there were a grand total of two gun murders in all of Japan.
In fact, most years, gun murders in Japan range from around 10 to 20. (This, in a nation of over 126 million people). When the number hit 22 in 2007, it caused a lot of national hand-wringing about the "soaring" gun murder rate. To put that into context, though, during that same year, there were 587 Americans were killed just by guns that had discharged accidentally.
Of course, Japan does have strong gun regulations. Unlike in the U.S., in Japan, violent and mentally ill people can't just waltz into their local Wal-Mart and buy all the guns they want. Japan even screens potential gun buyers to make sure they're not crazy (gasp! what a radical idea!).
The bottom line is that LaPierre's claim that the problem is violent movies and not sensible gun laws ignores what's going on in the real world.