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Study: Top 5 movies contain 185 victims of violence

The Hollywood Reporter -- U.S. lawmakers might be eyeing more gun-control laws in the wake of several mass shootings, including one that took the lives of 26 women and children at an elementary school in Connecticut, but conservative groups have their sights set on laying some of the blame on the movie industry.

One such organization, the Culture and Media Institute, launched by Parents Television Council founder Brent Bozell, sent its analysts into theaters showing the Top 5 movies over the weekend to tally the onscreen carnage and found that 185 people were killed, shot, stabbed, beaten, burned alive, blown up, etc. in 65 different scenes depicting violence.

The numbers were particularly alarming, the group says, considering one of the top movies, best picture Oscar nominee "Les Miserables," is a musical and another, "A Haunted House," is a comedy. The others in the Top 5 were "Zero Dark Thirty," "Django Unchained" -- both best picture Oscar nominees -- and "Gangster Squad."

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The report the group planned to issue Tuesday doesn't distinguish between good guys and bad guys getting blown away, but that's on purpose, says its author, Matt Philbin, because gun-control laws that many liberals in Hollywood support apply equally to law-abiding citizens and criminals.

"Since assault weapons bans, new laws limiting the capacity of magazines and other gun-control measures don't distinguish good from bad or divine intent, violence in Hollywood films should be held to the same standard," Philbin writes.

Not surprisingly, "Gangster Squad," which stars Sean Penn as mobster Mickey Cohen and features 65 people getting killed or wounded, and "Django Unchained," starring Jamie Foxx as a pre-Civil War slave-turned-bounty hunter, garner the bulk of the attention in the upcoming report.

"In just the first 10 minutes, a man was pulled in half by two cars, another lost a hand in an elevator fight and an attempted rape was narrowly averted," the study says about "Gangster Squad." "Failing the boss resulted in being locked in a fire-bombed building for some. Another was killed with a power drill to the head."

The Culture and Media Institute also is putting together a 40-second video using clips from the five movie trailers.

The study also notes that "Gangster Squad" "has the distinction among the five films as the only one actually impacted by real-world violence," given that a scene featuring gun murders in a movie theater was scrapped after a real-life mass murder at a Colorado theater on opening night of "The Dark Knight Rises" in July.

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"The studio shot a new ending for 'Gangster Squad,'" the study says. "In it, nearly 25 people are shot. But they're not in a theater."

The individual actor getting the most scrutiny in the report might be Foxx, given that he is called a "hypocrite" for his appearance in a celebrity-heavy video that encourages more gun control. The report also chastises Foxx for joking recently on "Saturday Night Live" that in "Django Unchained": "I kill all the white people in the movie. How great is that?"

The report noted that the analysts might have underestimated the body count, because it wasn't clear to the audience whether some people who were shot or blown up or what have you were killed. It also notes that if "Jack Reacher" or "Texas Chainsaw 3D" had cracked the weekend's Top 5, the number of violent deaths could have been significantly higher.

Some in Hollywood, though, are on record saying it doesn't matter. "Django Unchained" director Quentin Tarantino, for example, said it is "disrespectful" to connect onscreen violence to the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and that, "obviously, the issue is gun control and mental health," not movies.

"Shootings, bombings, torture and 185 victims -- and that's just the Top 5 movies this week. Still, big names like Tarantino ridiculously claim movie violence has no impact on our culture," countered Dan Gainor, head of the Culture and Media Institute. "We know that's a lie. Companies spend billions of dollars each year advertising products because they are sure what you see influences you. Hollywood, in turn, spends billions of dollars each year selling mayhem and murder to impressionable young people but won't take responsibility for its share of the carnage."

The report, though, doesn't acknowledge that MPAA head Christopher Dodd has pledged to at least consider the movie industry's impact on real-life violence. Dodd, however, is strongly against government regulation of film content.

"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 Hollywood Reporter last week. "What we don't want to get involved with is content regulation. We're vehemently opposed to that. We have a free and open society that celebrates the First Amendment."

Indeed, the report from the Culture and Media Institute also does not call for government regulation, seeking instead to simply paint Hollywood as hypocritical on the issue.

"When Hollywood stars begin demanding gun control for the rest of us, as many have in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, it's worth taking a hard look at the violence they portray and often glamorize," the report says. "When five contemporary films show nearly 200 people victimized by violence of one kind or another -- but especially stylized gun violence -- there just may be something to the idea that society is impacted by culture."

18Comments
Jan 16, 2013 9:24AM
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Hmm - the top five movies are all loaded with over-the-top violence, yet Biden's commission on the subject gives TV and the movies a pass.  Yup, according to the White House, violence having become an extremely popular part of our culture - in movies, TV, video games, sports - has nothing to do with our people in everyday life becoming more and more violent.  Ban guns or die, baby - that's the agenda.
Jan 16, 2013 5:21AM
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there is no such thing as gun violence
Jan 16, 2013 9:24AM
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I would like to point out that those movies are about war, slavery, and mobsters in the 30's, all very dark periods in our history, current and non-current. The other is a parody. Satire at it's dullest. I'm sure someone will get on my case but, why is it everyone else's fault? Can't we take some responsibility as humans here? You should know the difference between fantasy and reality, and you should teach your children the same.
Jan 16, 2013 6:27AM
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I remember the 1950's when there was one striking feature of all movies-  smoking.  Every actor, actress, extra etc. smoked constantly- in every scene .  Smoking was considered normal for everyone.  It wasn't until people finally woke up to the fact that smoking was killing people off by the millions and burdening the healthcare system, that the tobacco industry was brought down.  These days its hard to find a movie where the stars are chain smoking cigarettes.  Unfortunately, the cigarettes have been replaced with guns, and now its normal for everyone to blast their way to happiness.  Much like big tobacco, big guns are going to find that the public will accept only so much.  
Jan 16, 2013 9:42AM
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I am just glad there was no violence before movies and TV came out. It was such a peaceful time way back in those days..........seriously pick up a history book MFers this is not a chicken and egg question.

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