While in college I read an influential book by Joseph Campbell called The Hero with a Thousand Faces. It was his first and still his most popular and influential book. In it he told of how we mythologize heroes in our daily lives, and these heros represent the cultural mass and mores. One famous quote is as follows: “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won, the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man. George Lucas, for instance, was influenced by Campbell’s “monomyths” in the making of Star Wars. But I don’t think Campbell was thinking about our current crop of action films and the heroes they present to us.
Many of our modern heroes, especially our celluloid and game heros, use guns to achieve their goals. Every time I see a billboard with another Bruce Willis or action hero wielding a glock or an assault rifle, I am saddened. There are so many deaths here and all over the world because of gun violence. Are Rambo, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Arnold really our heroes? Or perhaps just celebrities who acquire hero status? When we see violence in Iowa cinemas, in Sikh temples, in Norwegian countrysides, are the gunmen committing heroic acts? Does Quentin Tarantino really represent us? Violent action movies are paralleled by violent video games. It’s no big surprise that the murderer in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater, James Holmes, was an introverted loner who enjoyed violent video games. Are these digitally-produced action figures our heroes?
The other night Fox news showed a car chase and messed up on the 5-second delay. The guy being chased blew his brains out and the camera captured it by mistake. When you see real violence live, it’s really disturbing. Real life violence isn’t like television or action movies and does not anesthetize us, dulling our wits to the horror of violence.
If I were president, I’d try to reorient our action movies to have less violence, less guns. I’d also outlaw violent video games. These subvert and poison young impressionable minds that don’t know reality from fantasy. Kids have become desensitized to violence: when they go out and do awful things with guns, theythen wail and cry afterwards, saying they didn’t know what they’d done or why. America has such a big gun culture now; when I was growing up you’d go out and settle accounts with
fisticuffs, and I’ve had my share of bloody noses and black eyes. Have given a few too. But we never had guns. Take West Side Story. The Puerto Ricans used knives, the old fashioned weapon, and nobody died. That’s all changed now, and our country and many others are for the worse because of it. I hate guns and all those apologists for the Second Amendment. Did that 1776 amendment specify AK-47s and other assault rifles? Of course not, and the NRA is so wrong on it. IMHO, that is.