Friday’s devastating shooting in Newtown, Conn. has prompted several actors and filmmakers to speak out about whether violence in films inspires violence in real life. The team behind Django Unchained – a bullet-studded revenge fantasy from violent virtuoso Quentin Tarantino – has been especially forthcoming.
Naturally, the shooting came up during Django’s press junket in New York City on Saturday. According to the BBC, Tarantino dismissed the idea that the movie will lead to real-world gun violence. “I just think, you know, there’s violence in the world, tragedies happen, blame the playmakers,” he told the crowd. “It’s a western. Give me a break.”
Django star Christoph Waltz agreed with the director’s general sentiment, arguing that “the media’s responsibility is greater than the story teller’s is.” Waltz also said that while he “find[s] violence…to that degree [in Django] repulsive,” he also believes “Django is violent, but it’s not inspiring violence.” His cast mate Kerry Washington pointed out that the film uses violence as the means to an end, including it in order to depict “the wrongs, the injustices, the social ills” of slavery.
In an interview with the L.A. Times, Samuel L. Jackson – who plays scheming house slave Stephen in Django – echoed the others, saying, “I don’t think movies or video games have anything to do with it [shootings].” Jackson also went even further by dismissing the idea that stronger gun control might be the solution to stopping future shootings: “I grew up in the South with guns everywhere and we never shot anyone,” he noted. “This [shooting] is about people who aren’t taught the value of life.”
Josh Brolin, star of the upcoming shoot-‘em-up Gangster Squad, also tackled movie violence during a press junket this Sunday. “You have to look at the grand scheme of things, from a universal standpoint,” he said, according to E! News. “You have video games, you have psychopharmaceuticals, you have the lowest employment, you have parents that aren’t at home. There’s many, many different factors.
“You have CNN, which gloms onto the worst of what’s going on and not necessarily the best. There are many different factors, there’s no one reason. There’s always been violence in movies and there always will be violence in movies. And whether it lends to the one psychotic who’s out there and thinking the worst thoughts you can possibly think will always be a mystery,” Brolin continued. At their junket, the actor and Gangster director Ruben Fleischer also discussed a scene from the film in which shooters attack a movie theater. The segment was cut after July’s Dark Knight Rises shooting in Aurora, Colo.
But at least one actor disagrees with his Hollywood brethren: Django himself. “We cannot turn our back and say that violence in films or anything that we do doesn’t have a sort of influence,” Jamie Foxx said during this weekend’s Django junket. “It does.”
And then there’s Morgan Freeman, who allegedly wrote a scathing diatribe about the sensationalizing news media that quickly went viral on social media sites this weekend. The only problem? Freeman himself had nothing to do with the comments attached to his name. “Morgan knows nothing about this,” his rep told EW today. “He neither wrote the statement, posted it or had any knowledge of it whatsoever.”