Kick-Ass 2 is a uniquely violent film. The original Kick-Ass, starring Nicolas Cage, Mark Strong, Aaron Johnson and Lyndsy Fonseca, focused on a teenage boy without super powers, who decides to take on the mantle of superhero and battle crime. This ends with predictably brutal results, including one character being burned alive, several being shredded by a pre-teen girl, and another discovering the business end of a bazooka.
Kick-Ass 2 will likely surpass that. One of the new heroes is Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey.) Carrey’s salary for Kick-Ass 2 remains unknown, but he is one of the highest-paid stars in Hollywood, and has a net worth well in excess of $100 million. He’s also a gun control advocate – a few months back, he put together an incredibly unfunny parody for Funny or Die! in which he played Charlton Heston and mocked Heston’s genital size as payback for Heston’s support of the Second Amendment. “His immortal soul may lay forever in the sand, the angels wouldn’t take him up to heaven as he planned, cuz they couldn’t pry his gun from his cold, dead hand,” Carrey sang in that classic piece of pop culture.
But that wasn’t enough. After completing filming for Kick-Ass 2, Carrey has now decided that he will not involve himself in the marketing for the film. He tweeted, “I did Kickass a month b4 Sandy Hook and now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence.” He added another tweet moments later: “I meant to say my apologies to others involved with the film. I am not ashamed of it but recent events have caused a change in my heart.”
The creator of the Kick-Ass comic books, Mark Millar, fired back at Carrey, writing, “As you may know, Jim is a passionate advocate of gun-control and I respect both his politics and his opinion, but I’m baffled by this sudden announcement as nothing seen in this picture wasn’t in the screenplay eighteen months ago. Yes, the body-count is very high, but a movie called Kick-Ass 2 really has to do what it says.” He added, “Ultimately, this is his decision, but I’ve never quite bought the notion that violence in fiction leads to violence in real-life any more than Harry Potter casting a spell creates more Boy Wizards in real life.”
This is the conflict that Hollywood currently experiences on the issue of violence. Hollywood likes to believe it has outsized impact on the world around it. That’s why Hollywood rewards films with “something to say” – films that push the environmentalist agenda, no matter how ridiculous (The Day After Tomorrow), films that forward the gay agenda, no matter how boring (Brokeback Mountain, Boys Don’t Cry), films that push corporations as evil (virtually every film from Hollywood). Hollywood thinks it makes a difference.
On the other hand, Hollywood wants to pretend it doesn’t make a difference in the social sphere when it comes time to pick up the check. That’s how Hollywood lives with itself for churning out pornographic nonsense, degrading misogyny, and glorification of demented behavior.
This psychological schism results in the bizarre bipolar nature of those in Hollywood. They’ll do anything for pay – or virtually anything – but they feel the necessity to excuse their riches by then pushing a social message. Carrey isn’t willing to sink tens of millions of dollars into producing a movie against gun violence, but he’s sure willing to take a check for shooting folks, then condemn the movie in which he stars.
In truth, Hollywood material does have an impact on the culture. Studies tend to show a greater linkage between sexual material in film and popular behavior than with violent material in film, although Hollywood would prefer to think the opposite (or simply doesn’t care about damping down sexuality to change the behavior of younger and younger teenagers). In any case, Hollywood is a business. Those in Hollywood should either put their money where their mouths are, or they should take their checks and stop complaining about the evils of the very films in which they star.
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