Derek Cianfrance director of the 2010 Sundance hit, Blue Valentine has publicly announced his distaste for Hollywood's use of excessive graphic violence, calling moviemakers "irresponsible" for portraying onscreen use of guns as "cool."
Constant debate has raged over how guns are, or should be, portrayed in movies, sparked by the tragedy that happened in Newtown, Conn., last December when 20 children and six adults died after they were gunned down at the Sandy Hook elementary school. Since then, politicians and many others have taken sides on the reignited gun control debate - a debate that has polarized people on personal safety versus personal liberties.
Cianfrance has been very outspoken about how concerned he has been by violence on the silver screen and the effects it has had, and will continue to have, on teens and young adults.
He told British newspaper 'The Independent,' "I have kids. I can't hardly watch an afternoon football game with them without having to turn off the TV during the commercials. It's too much. I don't know when violence was deemed such a cinematic thing." He added, "I think it must have been Sam Peckinpah who started it.”
For those who aren't familiar with the name, Sam Peckinpah was the director on the 1971 psychological thriller 'Straw Dogs.' It featured extensive use of graphic violence and rape to drive home a serious social criticism on the debasement of women.
Cianfrance is not the first to critique the film on its content. However, he continued: “Peckinpah's violence was always writhing in the flames of his characters. I felt like there was a true human suffering in his violence. Nowadays, I'm seeing violence that's so fetishized and so cool, and I can't stand it. I can't stand the irresponsibility of guns, and gun violence in movies."
When questioned about the gun content of his latest collaboration with heartthrob Ryan Gosling in 'The Place Beyond the Pines,' the filmmaker admits he was hesitant to feature even a single weapon but decided that it was a necessary piece of the story.
"I didn't even want to have a gun in this movie, but it's a cop and robber story - there had to be guns. I wasn't interested in how realistic I could make the brains or the blood, I was interested in the events and the adrenaline and choices that led up to this one violent moment," he explained.
The debate on gun control continues to be a heated point of contention. It's a war where the papers are signed in Washington, but the battles are fought on television and on the big screen. Cianfrance, along with other anti-gun proponents such as Jim Carrey, have been critically important to the anti-gun movement, reaching out to the younger generation by way of satire, comedy and public service announcements.
Is Cianfrance right? Are we setting up our little brothers, sisters and children for a potentially desensitizing overexposure to violence? Or is exposure, coupled with good moral guidance a necessary piece of society? Leave a comment below, and let us know your thoughts.