A tragedy occurred last Friday in Santa Barbara, CA. And per usual, rather than turning this into an opportunity to have a national discussion about issues like caring for the mentally disturbed and gun control (especially in this case, where the gunman, Elliot Rodger, has a known history of mental illness stretching back to his childhood, yet still had no trouble registering three guns), the media looks for someone to blame.
Conveniently enough for the media, Elliott Rodger is the son of the one of the second unit directors on The Hunger Games, Peter Rodger. So instead of even attempting intellectual analysis, we get this:
Blaming Hollywood, particularly movies that feature any sort of violence, is the oldest trick in the book. In this case, it meshes so well with the “Blame the parents! He must have been raised wrong!” excuse that everyone goes to as a secondary means of blame (not to say there’s never any legitimacy in that argument, but we don’t know details here) that the sensationalist math was just too easy to compute: If the father played a part in creating a movie that contains violence, that MUST have played a part in making the son violent!
Never mind that The Hunger Games series intends to show the terrifying, raw wrongness of such violence and its general acceptance in society. Never mind that Elliott probably wouldn’t be the type to support a strong female heroine fending for herself and eventually overpowering an oppressive male figure, given the disturbing, misogynistic manifesto he’d been writing for the past three years and the video explaining his plans for revenge against women. He certainly didn’t take in the message of doing everything you can to protect the ones you love, as his loved ones will now be shamed and broken for the rest of their lives because of his purely selfish actions.
So is the media really going to argue that he missed everything else that the film was about and went straight to the killing part? REALLY?!
Also, we’re not film experts, but we’re pretty sure the 2nd unit directors take care of all the cutaways and scenic or stunt shots that don’t involve the core cast. The principal cast did almost all their own stunt work in the first film, so that would’ve been handled by Gary Ross. The only time something violent occurs in a “second unit” setting is the District 11 riot, which was directed by Steven Soderbergh, not Peter Rodger. So the father in question was responsible for approximately zero percent of the violence relayed on screen.
Of course, The Hunger Games isn’t the whole brunt of the media blame game. Hollywood in general has been picked at a lot here. The Washington Post went so far as to blame Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow for starring in/creating movies in which a socially awkward, “shlubby” underdog manages to enter or maintain a relationship with a hot female because it promotes wish fulfillment and entitlement. Personally, we’re calling bullshit on this too. Anyone with a steady head on their shoulders understands that romantic comedies or dramadies, in fact movies in general, are not the stuff by which real life is measured and does not represent everyday interactions. Anyone who doesn’t recognize this probably has what Elliott Rodger did— more profound mental issues that need to be addressed. Of course, nobody will simply consider mental illness because, as Judd Apatow pointed out, that doesn’t sell papers. (The irony being that the attention that one gets from from the media after attempting or committing a killing spree helps perpetuate the cycle of violence. A fact forever lost on the media.)
Let’s Stop With The “Bad Influences” Blame Game,
The Girl With The Pearl