By Isaac Butler
It's ridiculous for we artists (and culture makers) to claim that art has real power when we want grant money and then turn around and say it's essentially powerless and has no effect on people whatsoever and is just stories and pretty pictures and kickin' tunes whenever someone gets mad at us about what we create. I'm not saying there's a causal relationship between, say, Grand Theft Auto and Sandy Hook, or The Matrix and Columbine--although I can remember seeing the Matrix twice in theaters, once before Columbine and once after, the former with my girlfriend and the latter with my Dad, and finding it much more disturbing time #2 (it's also worth noting that Morpheus's postitioning in the Matrix re: the taking of innocent life is identical to Osama Bin Laden's)-- but it is worth noting at some point that a great number of narratives produced in this country for mass consumption position violence as either (a) redemptive, (b) a path to mastery of some kind or (c) both.
And at some point, we should really talk about that. And those of us who create narratives that include violence within them should think about it.
Similarly, at some point, we should really have a conversation about access to mental health services in this country.
All of that said as a long clearing of the throat, I'm with Kevin Drum on this one:
I know that lots of well-meaning people think that movies and videogames really are problematic, and that access to mental health in America is a scandal. And that might well be true. But every minute you spend talking about this stuff is a minute spent doing exactly what the NRA wants you to do. If you want to have any chance at all of passing gun legislation, that's what you should be talking about. Guns. End of story. The other stuff can wait.