Friday, December 21, 2012

NRA's Absurd Scapegoating of Violent Movies, Video Games Doesn't Hold Up to Scrutiny


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.


Jack Jodell said...

LaPierre, like the rabid paranoids who comprise the vocal wing of the NRA, are disgusting examples of the worst this country can produce. I am ashamed both of and for them!

Marc McDonald said...

Thanks for your comment, Jack. Sadly, here in Texas, virtually everyone I know is a big gun fan and NRA supporter.
Interestingly enough, there's only one exception among the people I know personally. He is an Iraq war veteran and he is sick and tired of violence. (He's also the only person I know personally who served in Iraq). All the other people I know who are big gun nuts never served in the military.

Frank Moraes said...

I'm very struck by the NRA taking down their Facebook page. This goes along with my general belief that men are generally cowards. They secretly fear they aren't "real" men so they pretend to be what they think real men are. (Think: Moose in The Amateurs.) I'm not suggesting that a lot of men aren't into guns and weight lifting. It is just that too many are into the exact same things.

(I'm very interested in these boys who are wearing bit fake-diamond ear rings. I have great respect for the first boys who did that. That took courage. Wearing them now just strikes me as pathetic.)

I'm intrigued by the films you mentioned. I'm afraid that i'm kind of stuck in the 60s. I recently watched Three Outlaw Samurai and thought that it was pretty violent. Of course, I still haven't completely gotten over that last scene in Sanjuro. Should I stay away?

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Frank, thanks for your comment.
You make a great point about men who wear ear rings.
>>I'm afraid that i'm kind of
>>stuck in the 60s

That's actually a great place to be stuck in. :)
A lot of the best movies, music, art and culture ever made, IMO.

>>I'm intrigued by the films you

I have to admit, I'm biased, as I love all things Japan related. I watch a lot of Japanese films, as I'm learning the language. I'm not sure how enjoyable a lot of these films would be to an American who wasn't a Japan-o-phile. But I do know I love them.
One thing that intrigued me about "Tokyo Gore Police" is that I had such low hopes for it, going in. I was only halfway paying attention, when, a few minutes in, it really grabbed my attention.
As I mentioned, I only started watching Japanese films to help me learn the language. But after watching dozens of Japanese films, I've come to realize that that nation's cinema is one of the best in the world. In fact, I've come to believe that the very best of Japanese cinema (the 1953 masterpiece "Tokyo Story" for example) is the equal of anything ever released by Hollywood.

Frank Moraes said...

As much as I know Japanese cinema, I agree. That much is just a handful of movies and then everything (I think) Akira Kurosawa ever did. Of course, there is a natural bias toward foreign films because bad foreign films tend not to make it outside the country. Of course, there are exceptions like the Gammera films. I do like certain aspects of Japanese culture, at least as far as I can tell. I recently watched Vengence Is Mine. I was really taken with the sexual politics of it inside the context of a film about a serial killer. It is supposedly true, but I don't know how far that goes.

I searched for Tokyo Gore Police on Netflix and it offered up Mutant Girl Squad, which looks amusing, but gives a "best guess" rating of 2.6 stars. In general, I'm not that into gore. On the other hand, I loved Dead Snow. Of course, I'll put up with a lot to see Nazi zombies.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Frank, thanks for the comment.
I watched "Vengeance is Mine" a while back. I enjoyed it, but then again, I'm a big fan of all things Japan. I'm not sure I'd recommend it to anyone who wasn't a big Asian film fan. I recall it as a very bleak and disturbing film (but that's never put me off a movie). As long as it is smart, I don't mind if art is depressing. :)
"Tokyo Gore Police" was on Netflix streaming at one time. Hopefully it will be back.
It's one of those mind-bending films that has you shaking your head in disbelief at what you're seeing on the screen. I've had that sensation several times while watching Asian extreme cinema (as well as a few French extreme horror/thriller type films, such as the notorious "À l'intérieur").
I saw "Dead Snow" was available on Netflix, I'll have to check it out.

Lotus said...

Hey, Marc.

Thanks for the post. It reinforces the point that for some (surely various) reasons the US is almost uniquely violent.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Larry, thanks for stopping by and for your comment. I hope you had a great holiday season.

Anonymous said...

The USA screens buyers as well with a background check known as the NICS. It ostensibly prevents the purchase of felons and mentally ill people. I acknowledge that with the widespread availability of guns (and the gun show loophole) it makes little difference. However there is a screening process.

I only mention it because your post is very strong over all but seems to come of the rails in the last paragraph, cheers

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Anon, thanks for your comment. Yes, as you mention, there is a screening process, but it is fatally undermined by the gun show loophole.