Dodd: Hollywood Won't Curb Film, Game Violence in Wake of Newtown Shooting

Thursday, 10 Jan 2013 11:24 AM

By Bill Hoffmann

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The motion picture industry will not press for mandatory curbs on gun violence in films in the wake of the Newtown elementary school massacre — and, in fact, is dead set against them.

“What we don't want to get involved with is content regulation. We're vehemently opposed to that,’’ former Sen. Chris Dodd, who chairs the Motion Picture Association of America, told The Hollywood Reporter. “We have a free and open society that celebrates the First Amendment."

Dodd’s declaration comes as entertainment industry leaders prepare to discuss gun violence in films and video games at a Thursday meeting to be chaired by Vice President Joe Biden at the White House Thursday.

Expected to participate are movie studio executives, National Association of Broadcasters president Gordon Smith, Directors Guild of America executive director Jay Roth and National Association of Theatre Owners CEO John Fithian.

“We want to explore what we can do to provide parents and others with the information for them to make choices on what they want to see and what they want their children to see,” Dodd told the Reporter.

“[The movie studios] want to be part of the efforts to help America heal, and they are more than willing to be part of that conversation. This is not a crowd you have to drag to the table.”

The meeting comes the same day as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its Oscar nominations. “Lincoln’’ leads the pack with 12 nominations, including best picture, best director for Steven Spielberg, and acting kudos for Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones.

Other Hollywood notables such as director Quentin Tarantino have become angry when asked if  they think movie violence sparks real-world violence.

Terry Gross, host of NPR’s Fresh Air, recently asked Tarantino if his enjoyment of violent films was diminished in the wake of tragedies such as the Newtown shootings.

“Would I watch a kung fu movie three days after the Sandy Hook massacre? Would I watch a kung fu movie? Maybe, 'cause they have nothing to do with each other,” Tarantino said.

When Gross suggested Tarantino sounded annoyed, he answered that he was.

“I'm really annoyed. I think it's disrespectful. I think it's disrespectful to their memory ... of the people who died to talk about movies,” he said. “I think it's totally disrespectful to their memory. Obviously, the issue is gun control and mental health.”

Lobbyists for gun owners, including the National Rifle Association, are also set to meet with Biden Thursday to discuss ways of stopping gun violence.

Biden was tapped by President Barack Obama to chair a commission that will come up with recommendations on beefing up gun laws.

The Obama Administration favors the reinstatement of a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammo magazines.

The NRA’s participation could be explosive, following remarks Wednesday night by its president David Keane, who slammed Obama and Biden during a podcast on Brooklyn GOP Radio.

“Barack Obama through his entire career, before he ever ran for office, has been against the Second Amendment. He has, in the past, said he does not think any private citizen has a right to own firearms,” Keene said.

“Joe Biden, when he ran for president, which was the last time before becoming vice president that he commented on firearms, was asked a question in a debate, blew up and told the person who thought he had a right to own a gun that he was crazy.”

The NRA has also blamed Hollywood for increased gun violence in the United States.

The group’s executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, who last month called for armed guards in all schools called for more guns in schools, was quoted by The Los Angeles Times as saying:

“In a race to the bottom, media conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate and offend every standard of civilized society by bringing an ever-more-toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty into our homes—every minute of every day of every month of every year.”

Administration officials told CBS News the president will likely to unveil his ideas to reduce gun violence next week and outline his gun control agenda in his State of the Union address next month.

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