22 May 2013

The NRA’s Movie Choices Show What Its People Really Think about Guns

This week the National Rifle Association’s American Rifleman website featured an unsigned list of its top ten “Coolest Gun Movies.” It’s an interesting window into how people in the organization think.

To begin with, this list has little or no praise for gun design or marksmanship. It doesn’t include Winchester 73 or Sgt. York, for instance. Nor is there any regard for gun-collecting, supposedly the reason people need to be able to buy a dozen guns at once. Even Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels has more regard for that hobby than this article.

Instead, the list’s main impetus is fantasizing about social breakdown. Of the ten films listed, five take place in some horrible future that the writer enjoys imagining and presumes his audience will, too. Thus, the writer praises The Road Warrior despite the fact that, as he admits, “There are very few firearms featured…as well as very, very little ammunition.” But lots of desperate violence.

The article’s emphasis on dystopic futures is particularly odd given its claim that “Many of these movies also take us back to simpler times.” We can hope the writer means that he saw most of these movies in high school—which seems about right for the maturity and values expressed. (You’ll note that I’m assuming the author is male.)

Another common element of the list’s choices is an emphasis on amoral power and destruction. Only one film features a police officer as hero, and John McClain in Die Hard is supposed to be off-duty. There’s no room for Dirty Harry, Lethal Weapon, or High Noon, films that show lawmen carrying guns to protect society against criminals.

Instead, the writer celebrates gun-toting criminality. Of The Godfather’s murderous crime boss, he says, “Who has not dreamed of having the power and respect of Michael Corleone? That he built his empire through violence is only that much more alluring.”

As Talking Points Memo pointed out, earlier this year NRA consigliere Wayne LaPierre responded to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre by complaining about how Hollywood
sells, and sows, violence against its own people. Isn’t fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography?
But “fantasizing about killing people” is precisely what LaPierre’s colleague did as he wrote this list.

That must be a fun workplace.

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