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Pride and Prejudice? Hollywood Mogul Aims to Attack NRA with New Film

Friday, January 17, 2014

Hollywood producer and Obama mega fundraiser Harvey Weinstein used an appearance on The Howard Stern Show Wednesday to announce what he billed as a new anti-NRA movie, reportedly titled, The Senator's Wife. During the interview, Weinstein called NRA a "disaster area" and said of the film, "I'm going to make a movie with Meryl Streep, and we're going to take this head-on. And they're going to wish they weren't alive after I'm done with them."  Weinstein indicated that the movie is also intended to decimate the gun industry and leave viewers thinking, "Gun stocks, I don't want to be involved in that stuff. It's going to be like crash and burn."  (We'll leave it to you to decide whether ordinary people, or just entertainment tycoons, normally leave a movie pondering stock portfolios.)

The comments were brought about by a discussion of Weinstein's project based on the novel Mila 18, which chronicles a Jewish uprising in German occupied Warsaw, Poland, during World War II. Speaking about the film, Weinstein remarked, "It's not a Holocaust story, as much as it's Jews with guns, it's my whole philosophy... It's the idea that when injustice is that great you just can't march into the camps." This prompted Stern, a gun owner and carry permit holder, to ask Weinstein if he owns a gun. Weinstein replied that he does not, stating, "I don't think we need guns in this country. And I hate it." Yet though Weinstein professed a desire for Americans to be disarmed, he expressed further support for armed resistance to genocide, making clear he would "find a gun, if that was happening to my people."  The idea that "finding" a gun when genocide is already underway is preferable to recognizing the right of people to have them in first place is perhaps evidence that Harvey Weinstein has not carefully thought through his position on gun policy.

But don't take Weinstein's ardent statements to mean that he actually foregoes armed self-defense, as the wealthy producer fully avails himself of hired security. In 2012, following an extortion attempt against Weinstein, a source shared with the New York Post, "[t]he Weinsteins have always had intense security and been on high alert because of the movies they make." The paper also noted that while producing The Master, a film that received opposition from some in the Scientology community, Weinstein "beef[ed] up his own security." And a New York Times account of Weinstein's 2013 Golden Globes after party described a scene where, "Harvey Weinstein appeared... amid a retinue of security."

An entire retinue of bodyguards is outside the purchasing power of most Americans, but contrary to what Weinstein might think, their personal safety is no less important than his. Unfortunately, this penchant to utilize private security personnel while working to limit access to the tools of effective self-defense for those of lesser economic stature is pervasive amongst the most wealthy gun control supporters.

Further, Weinstein makes a rather laughable candidate to self-righteously lecture the rest of the country on the evils of guns and those, like NRA, who promote lawful and responsible firearm ownership.  Weinstein has accumulated much of his fortune (and platform to bloviate publicly) producing movies with depictions of violence so graphic and sensational that some must be seen to be believed (not that we necessarily recommend that).  While we apologize in advance for these descriptions, these include, among many others, Kill Bill (a revenge fantasy in a which the protagonist hacks her foes in pieces with a Samurai sword), Halloween (2007) (a more graphic remake of a film that helped popularize the "slasher" genre of horror movies), Piranha 3DD (naked bathers and carnivorous fish, with all the consequences that suggests) and Rambo (2008) (an "action" film that depicts rapes, beheadings, disembowelment, a mortar attack on a defenseless village, people being burned alive, and a Christian missionary being fed feet first to a pig). 

While the 2008 Rambo installment in particular vividly portrays violence of nearly every sort, it may well have the dubious distinction of containing the most over-the-top gun fight ever portrayed on screen.  In the finale, Rambo literally liquefies and dismembers wave after wave of human adversaries with a .50 cal. machine gun.  Normally, we would not make such claims without linking to primary sources, but that would obviously not be appropriate in this case.

We understand Weinstein has a First Amendment right to release movies with such content, and we're not here to act as film critics.  Nevertheless, it's hard to characterize the above films and similar Weinstein fare as serious meditations on the nature of violence, while it's easy to imagine who their real target audiences might be.  According to one film critic, for example, "'Piranha 3DD' is a low-budget, softcore 3, destined to make a quick detour to DVD so sneaky, testosterone-propelled teens can easily subvert the R-rating." 

To suggest that Weinstein might be a hypocrite, in other words, grossly understates the case.  

Apparently, Weinstein himself acknowledges this to some degree, as in July of 2012, following the tragic shooting in Aurora, Colo., the producer told The Huffington Post, "I think, as filmmakers, we should sit down--the Marty Scorseses, the Quentin Tarantinos, and hopefully all of us who deal in violence in movies--and discuss our role in that."  Nevertheless, it's not clear whether such "discussions" (if indeed they occurred) suggest any remorse, or merely led to further deals to produce more of the same violent content.  Besides the planned NRA film, Kill Bill Vol. 3 and Halloween III are now in production.

(As this alert was being readied for publication, a media report quoted Harvey Weinstein as claiming he would henceforth forgo exploitative violence in his films.  Whether that is true, only time will tell.  In any case, this won't change his prior repertoire, or diminish the fortune it has earned him.)

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