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On Violence, Obama Gives His Hollywood Pals a Pass

'The best way to reduce gun violence’ doesn't call Hollywood to accountability.

You didn’t really think President Obama would bite the hand that reelected him, did you? While he was out there on Jan. 16, surrounded by moppets and chastising members of congress for worrying about their NRA rating and the cash it means to their campaigns, Obama gave his pals in Hollywood a pass.Sean Penn in "Gangster Squad" 

Oh, he mentioned the video games industry, cautiously saying that he would “direct the CDC to go ahead and study the best ways to reduce [gun violence] and Congress should fund research into the effects that violent video games have on young minds,” according to the Hollywood Reporter. However, he completely ignored the film and television sector, even though at the very moment he was speaking the five top grossing movies featured unbelievable amounts of violence and, yes, gunplay. 

But this is no surprise. After all, Obama is a favorite among the Hollywood elite, a celebrity himself in Hollywood. He is chummy with the majority of actors, actresses and pop stars, from Beyonce and Jay-Z, to Natalie Portman to George Clooney. During his election campaigns in 2008 and 2012, he had dozens of big name celebrities making television ads, hosting fundraisers and posting pictures on their Twitter accounts in his support. Obama frequently invites celebrities to the White House and even invited several to be speakers at the DNC. So what reason would Obama have to call Hollywood out and be accountable for the kinds of entertainment they produce?

In response to Obama’s statements, various film and television associations came out in support of “the President’s goal of reducing gun violence in this country.” Of course they did. They’d dodged a bullet (pun intended).

But, smarting from his gentle mention, the Entertainment Software Association, which includes the leading video game producers, was less enthusiastic. While the game makers “appreciate” the President’s efforts, they claimed that “scientific research and international and domestic crime data all point toward the same conclusion: entertainment does not cause violent behavior in the real world.”

We don’t know whether or not violent video games and movies cause those predisposed to violence to act out, but it does desensitize consumers to violence while it glamorizes evil. Any serious effort to understand and combat mass killings like the one in Sandy Hook would include a media component. 

However, it’s plain that if you are the president’s friend, you can expect to be absolved of moral responsibility.