Dustin Hoffman has waded into the debate over American gun control laws by accusing movie directors of desensitizing audiences with a "fraudulent" depiction of real life violence and discriminating against actors who refuse to use firearms onscreen.
"The Graduate" star has spoken out in the aftermath of the devastating shooting at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on December 14, when 20 young children and six adults were gunned down. The atrocity prompted calls for U.S. politicians to tighten the country's firearms laws to prevent another rampage, and also sparked debate over whether gun violence on the big screen is linked to the high number of shootings in America.
Hoffman insists he has always hated handling weapons onscreen and has only carried guns in a few of his movie roles, including "Straw Dogs," "Hook"and "Little Big Man," as he feels filmmakers shouldn't use violence to thrill viewers. The actor reveals his hatred of firearms began in the 1960s when a theatre colleague threatened to shoot him in a dispute over work.
"I have always felt passionate about the fact that the audience is identifying (with movie violence) in a very fraudulent way ... I don't find anything interesting about a gun. A gun is there to threaten or kill," he told NPR. "I don't think people understand what it's like to have a gun pointed at you. When it happened to me (it was) after Kennedy (U.S. President John F. Kennedy) had just been assassinated. I was in Boston. I remember thinking, 'I'm going to take a hit' and every second you are feeling the bullet go straight through you ... You're in immediate shock. I've never forgotten that feeling... It was a guy who was part of a theatre company on the producing end ... He came out and pointed this gun..."
Hoffman is convinced many filmakers use shooting scenes to bolster the plot because "the script is lacking," and don't convey the true horror of real life violence because "a gun is rarely used in film in a way that it feels like in life. It's simplified into being a cartoon experience."
He also fears actors are pushed into violent roles because their career will suffer if they refuse to handle weapons onscreen, adding, "If you are not holding a gun, and that is something I have always refused to do, then suddenly this person who was always offered leading roles, suddenly gets offered supporting parts then you ... start getting offered cameos..."
Fellow actor Denzel Washington recently admitted he will be choosing his movie roles more carefully in the aftermath of the Connecticut shooting, but both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Samuel L. Jackson have spoken out to insist movie violence has no correlation with real life issues.
I am a gun owner, for my family and my protection; however, I DO agree with Mr. Hoffman. It isn't only the movies but the games too that desensitize our society. When kids see actors killed off in several movies I think it teaches them that guns (and death) aren't real ... or at least it makes it harder for them to relate to what is and isn't real.
This is one of the arguements that can go on and on because not only is it Hollywood's and Sony's responsibility but it is also the parents who must monitor what their children watch and educate them on what is fact and fiction. I am not a Hillary Clinton fan but she was so right when she said it takes a village to raise a child. When the whole neighborhood was watching us, when I was growing up, you watched how you interacted and the things you did and said because someone was going to tell Momma! Now-a-days, others will tell you to mind your own damn business. Our downfall and we can thank Dr. Spock and others with crazy ideas that told our children, "You didn't ask to be here" which helped take authority away from parents. See, it goes on and on. Our problems are way bigger than just guns in Hollywood but at least it would be a start if they stopped glamorizing gun usage. It has to start somewhere.
It's all starts in the home people! Don't go giving me this crap about someone in the past having a loving home and then they just went berserk. I don't buy into that B.S.! There are way to many homes where children, husbands and wives are in a MORALLY correct way of living among themselves that prove otherwise. If one or the other goes awry then you can bet you last dollar that something within the family structure wasn't as it needed to be. Families (and all Americans in general) are turning their backs on God, the pledge of allegiance, honor, their given word, spending time together in prayer, to the point that the home structure is turning into a festering cess pool of individuals who no longer know right from wrong because their moral compass has become eschewed. You want to turn America around then people start turning your families values back around first. That will spread out into our governments and then and only then will things start changing.