August 12, 2009

Hollywood's Shifting Attitude on Guns

Hatched by Movie Badger

I've been enjoying the summer run of the SyFy (Fromerly Sci-Fi) Channel show Warehouse 13, about Secret Service agents investigating mystical artifacts. It's fun and entertaining fluff that's enjoyable to watch. But I noticed something really interesting in last night's episode.

The agents are searching for an artifact when they hear a gunshot. Rushing to where they heard it, they find a woman holding a gun and screaming for help. She says that her abusive ex-husband attacked her, and kept attacking her even after she shot him in the chest. The agents realize the ex-husband is under the influence of the artifact, and protect this woman from him. The ex-husband eventually dies from his chest wound, and then the agents protect the woman from the artifact.

What I found really interesting about that scene was the attitude toward guns. The show very clearly treated the gun-owner as the victim, rather than a violent criminal. There was never the slightest question as to whether she should have owned a gun or used it to kill someone in self-defense. The agents don't see her as a threat, and instead recognize a duty to protect her. They don't disarm her, and when they realize that it's dangerous to be around this artifact, they tell her to flee the area.

Of course this is all as it should be. Those who use guns to defend themselves from violent attackers are victims, not criminals. A gun doesn't magically make someone evil. (Although in the show, it's quite common for mystical artifacts to magically make people evil.) Someone who uses a gun to protect herself from an attacker isn't going to turn that gun on law enforcement agents, and there's no reason for the agents to think she would.

But it's surprising to see things portrayed this way in a mainstream Hollywood TV show. Even more surprising, these facts are treated as so self-evident that nobody mentions them, and there's never even any question about the legitimacy of her using a gun to kill her ex-husband.

Ten years ago, with events like Columbine fresh in everyone's minds, quite a few people were pushing for guns to be banned. It seemed like a reasonable possibility that Congress would do so. Now that attitude has been so soundly defeated that even Hollywood treats guns like tools for defense.

(Although that doesn't make up for the ridiculous name SyFy, or the even more ridiculous slogan of "Imagine Greater.")

Hatched by Movie Badger on this day, August 12, 2009, at the time of 12:40 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Sabba Hillel

Maybe that is why it is in a fantasy show. If it had been on one of the broadcast networks, the woman would have been guilty of using the artifact to trigger the attack in order to give herself the excuse to shoot him.

The above hissed in response by: Sabba Hillel [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 12, 2009 2:37 PM

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