By NICK CHILES
We’ve certainly torn into Hollywood on numerous occasions for the utter hypocrisy and irresponsibility of their violent imagery, particularly as our society tries to grapple with the prevalence of mass shootings. So we thought it was only appropriate that we applaud funnyman Jim Carrey for taking a stand against the violence in his own movie, “Kick-Ass 2.”
The superhero vigilante film, which will be released on August 16, is a sequel to the 2010 film that made a whole bunch of money but also attracted criticism because it featured pre-teens, such as an 11-year-old girl, spewing profanity and engaged in disturbingly violent fight scenes. For the sequel, Carrey plays a vigilante named Colonel Stars and Stripes—a part that he filmed a month before December’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut that killed 20 children and six adults.
“Now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence,” Carrey said Sunday via Twitter.
While apologizing to other cast members, Carrey added: “I am not ashamed of it but recent events have caused a change in my heart.”
For years we have castigated Hollywood for tying itself into knots over the inappropriateness of sex in movies marketed to young people—while seeming to ignore the over-the-top violence that these movies (and video games) peddle to our youngest consumers. After deranged shooter James Holmes killed 12 people last year in Aurora, Colorado, during the opening weekend of the Batman movie, Warner Bros. studio delayed the opening of the violence-drenched mob movie “Gangster Squad,” deeming it insensitive to release a movie that showed waves of people getting gunned down after it had just happened in real life. But the movie did come out four months later and it still had an excessive body count.
Hollywood has always had a hard time taking ownership over the role it plays in making this country one helluva violent place. So when one of Hollywood’s A-list stars like Carrey comes forward and takes a stand that might cause some painful soul-searching in some executive suites in Tinsel Town, he should be rewarded with enthusiastic support.
Speaking of soul-searching, check out the disturbingly weak response to Carrey that we got from Mark Millar, the writer of the “Kick-Ass” comic books and a producer on the film. Millar actually questioned in a blog post “whether violence in fiction is connected to real-life violence “any more than Harry Potter casting a spell creates more boy wizards.”
Wow. Talk about taking the head-in-the-sand approach. Does he really believe watching violent movies has no effect on children? Has he ever been around any children? And he’s trying to mock our concern it at the same time? This guy needs to call “Scandal”‘s Olivia Pope before he endeavors to utter another word of damage control.
Carrey is not a newcomer to the issue of violence in American society. In the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, when gun sales were skyrocketing as many Americans feared their gun rights would be curtailed (turns out they shouldn’t have been afraid at all of our hapless Congress), Carrey tweeted that anyone “who would run out to buy an assault rifle after the Newtown massacre has very little left in their body or soul worth protecting.”
And he further riled up the gun rights lobby with the release of an hilarious Funny Or Die parody (see below) during which he mocks the late former NRA chairman Charlton Heston’s infamous declaration that gun control advocates would have to pry his firearms “from my cold, dead hands.”
So the guy clearly isn’t afraid of the front lines in this particular fight. But something tells me I will be old and feeble before I see his acting colleagues and their movie studios lined up behind him.
Nick Chiles is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and a New York Times bestselling author of 12 books, including the upcoming "The Rejected Stone: Al Sharpton and the Path To American Leadership," which he co-authored with Al Sharpton.