Today in curious political stands: Jim Carrey, who recently tweeted, in reference to Kick-Ass 2, that he “cannot support that level of violence.” This led many observers to infer that Carrey won’t be doing publicity for the film, which opens August 16th in the US, in which he plays Colonel Stars and Stripes (even though he’s actually syrup-guzzling flannel chucker from the great denim north! Scandal!).
But make of these tweets what you will:
I meant to say my apologies to others involve with the film. I am not ashamed of it but recent events have caused a change in my heart.
— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) June 23, 2013
I did Kickass a month b4 Sandy Hook and now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence. My apologies to e
— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) June 23, 2013
You can’t support that level of violence, fine, but think of the missed opportunity to promote proper dog masking!
But seriously, this is a tough one. I don’t want to bash the guy for standing up for his principles, because it’s nice whenever anyone in entertainment does something that isn’t motivated solely by money. But I would call this stand… flawed. First off, I always thought the whole point of Kick-Ass was that it was a satire of superhero movies, itself a critique of the way the superhero mythos can actually sort of promote violence and retribution and authoritarianism. There was a level of parody to it, or so I thought. Jim Carrey can say “no offense to those involved” all he wants, but him saying he doesn’t want to promote the film because it’s too violent is a de facto accusation against the people who made it that they are promoting violence. For him to say he can’t participate is like saying the film isn’t morally defensible, or at least that he’s not up to defending it. Either way, he’s separating himself from it morally, which isn’t very cool of him.
There’s definitely a problem with our culture where we can show people getting shot in the face in the middle of afternoon children’s programming but get fined millions of dollars for accidentally showing a nipple or saying a swear. But is Kick-Ass really part of that? It feels like Jim Carrey’s just sort of shitting on people who are ostensibly on his side. AND it’s such an easily countered argument by the gun-crazy NRA types that it’s actually counter productive. The first two things out of their mouths are going to be “Well why don’t you donate your paycheck to charity then?” and “Your dippy anti-vaccine campaign kills more kids than gun violence.”
And… well, they’re going to have a point. Also, isn’t this actually the NRA’s talking point, that it’s violent movies that cause gun violence and not people with mental health issues’ access to guns? No one likes gun violence, but when you take a stand like this one, are you actually advancing some kind of solution, or are you just trying to absolve yourself of any possible responsibility so you can sleep better? Because it feels like the only people who are going to benefit from Jim Carrey’s stand against Kick-Ass 2 are the professional shouters on cable news. I don’t think “blame art” is ever the answer. I’m all for more public figures taking moral stands, but maybe next time try to aim it better, and do it in such a way that it doesn’t seem like such a counter-productive, feel-good, empty gesture. I wanted to start a ribbon campaign to raise awareness for empty gestures, but all the good colors were taken.
Here’s Kick-Ass comic author Mark Millar’s response:
As you may know, Jim is a passionate advocate of gun-control and I respect both his politics and his opinion, but I’m baffled by this sudden announcement as nothing seen in this picture wasn’t in the screenplay eighteen months ago. Yes, the body-count is very high, but a movie called Kick-Ass 2 really has to do what it says on the tin. A sequel to the picture that gave us HIT-GIRL was always going to have some blood on the floor and this should have been no shock to a guy who enjoyed the first movie so much. My books are very hardcore, but the movies are adapted for a more mainstream audience and if you loved the tone of the first picture you’re going to eat this up with a big, giant spoon. Like Jim, I’m horrified by real-life violence (even though I’m Scottish), but Kick-Ass 2 isn’t a documentary. No actors were harmed in the making of this production! This is fiction and like Tarantino and Peckinpah, Scorcese and Eastwood, John Boorman, Oliver Stone and Chan-Wook Park, Kick-Ass avoids the usual bloodless body-count of most big summer pictures and focuses instead of the CONSEQUENCES of violence, whether it’s the ramifications for friends and family or, as we saw in the first movie, Kick-Ass spending six months in hospital after his first street altercation. Ironically, Jim’s character in Kick-Ass 2 is a Born-Again Christian and the big deal we made of the fact that he refuses to fire a gun is something he told us attracted him to the role in the first place.
Ultimately, this is his decision, but I’ve never quite bought the notion that violence in fiction leads to violence in real-life any more than Harry Potter casting a spell creates more Boy Wizards in real-life. Our job as storytellers is to entertain and our toolbox can’t be sabotaged by curtailing the use of guns in an action-movie. [Source]
Yikes, I don’t know if I’d compare myself to Oliver Stone while I was explaining how I don’t glorify violence. But otherwise, point taken. Also, not only has it been 18 months since Jim Carrey read the script, what about the seven months between Sandy Hook and now? What was he doing all that time, meditating?