Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein announced recently that he's going after the National Rifle Association — a group that he told Howard Stern is a “disaster area” — by producing a new film about which he said “they're going to wish they weren't alive after I'm done with them.”
That's some bold talk. He's wrong, but that's some bold talk.
Oh, his intent isn't wrong. Wanting to curb gun violence is one of the most noble ideas there is. It's how to do it that is so problematic. Gun control advocates say fewer guns would result in fewer killings, while gun rights advocates say more guns would make criminals think twice before pulling a piece, out of fear that someone could shoot back.
Political filmmaking is touch and go. Sometimes filmmakers with a big point get their desired results — see “Blackfish,” the film exploring captive killer whales that has people seriously reconsidering the idea of holding orcas in amusement parks for exhibition. The same goes for any number of Michael Moore's films, from “Roger and Me” to “Fahrenheit 9/11,” which had people questioning the actions of the Bush administration after Sept. 11.
Of course, Moore also made “Bowling For Columbine,” which explored the nation's supposed love of guns and attempted to change positive public opinion about gun ownership.
It didn't work. Not even close.
We can decide other countries are reprehensible, thanks to political documentaries (see “The Cove,” which, no doubt, raised awareness about a small Japanese village's annual slaughter of dolphins, which Caroline Kennedy, American ambassador to Japan, spoke out against this week in what could easily be considered a diplomatic no-no). We can question the Bush administration's post Sept. 11 actions in Moore's “Fahrenheit 9/11”³ and have constructive conversations on what we may or may not have learned.
But going after guns in this country is a nonstarter. The December 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown., Conn., proved that. A deranged man shot and killed 20 children and six teachers and staff members at the school before taking his own life. There was plenty of political bluster that, somehow, ended with no significant change to gun laws.
If 20 innocent children being mowed down by a nutbag with a gun won't change this country's view on gun control, it's doubtful Harvey Weinstein's film will, either.
Weinstein — who has produced violent films such as “Pulp Fiction” — says he had a change of heart after Sandy Hook, which occurred not far from his home. Not only does he want to cut down on film violence, he wants to go to work on the real world.
“As much as I want to ignore it, as much as I want to go on with my regular life, I can't do it this time,” he told Stern, in reference to recurring school shootings.
What Weinstein doesn't realize is that the real world doesn't trust Hollywood to make its decisions for it. Nor does he understand the power of the gun lobby.
According to Slate, the NRA's influence is all about focus and emotion. Unlike other — and even larger — lobbying groups, the NRA focuses on one thing: gun control. Period. Members are single-minded. Slate reports that more Americans favor tightening gun control laws than relaxing them, but gun rights advocates are much more likely to be single-issue voters than those on the other side of the question.
In other words, you'll get their guns when you pry them out of their cold, dead hands.
Weinstein's heart is in the right place, but history shows that one film won't make that much of a difference. Called “The Senator's Wife,” the movie will star Meryl Streep, according to Deadline.com. It will reportedly be about the behind-the-scenes influence wielded by the NRA to defeat a gun-control bill after Sandy Hook.
Good luck, Harvey. It won't work, but at least someone is still trying.