Robert J. Elisberg

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Robert J. Elisberg

Robert J. Elisberg
Location
Los Angeles, California,
Birthday
December 31
Bio
Robert J. Elisberg has been a regular contributor to the Huffington Post since 2006. His writing has appeared in such publications as the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, and Los Angeles Magazine, and served on the editorial board for the Writers Guild of America. He has contributed political writing to the anthology, "Clued in on Politics," 3rd edition (CQ Press). Born in Chicago, he attended Northwestern University and received his MFA from UCLA, where he was twice awarded the Lucille Ball Award for comedy screenwriting. Most recently, he wrote the comedy-adventure screenplay, “The Wild Roses,” for Callahan Filmworks, and had published his comic novella, "A Christmas Carol 2: The Return of Scrooge."

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DECEMBER 26, 2012 10:24AM

NRA Wishes You All Merry Christmas and a Piece on Earth

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So, has enough time passed since the Sandy Hook tragedy?  Is it okay for me to write something now?  It is?  Good.

*

Headline:  NRA blames Hollywood and video games for Sandy Hook massacre.


"In a race to the bottom, many conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate, and offend every standard of civilized society, by bringing an even more toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty right into our homes," NRA executive VP Wayne LaPierre said on Friday.
Well, it's now official - Guns don't kill people, entertainment kills people.

Well, bully for the NRA.  In this era of people unwilling to take a stand out of fear of offending anyone, it's about time that a political body had the gumption to stand up in public and boldly point its finger at an amorphous entity that has no ability to respond. Without question, this beats refusing to deal with finding a rational explanation about problems in society...and nothing beats that!

Don't get me wrong.  I admire people who can be so unabashedly, massively hypocritical. People like that will do a great job arming America while blaming Americans for what they then do with those arms.  More importantly, by blaming Mickey Mouse and the cyber-ozone for society's ills, we won't be burdened down feeling we have to deal with such minor details as people who actually have guns and assault weapons and 30-round ammo clips - and use them to kill little children, and instead can spend more time focusing on the real problems, like how to get in to see Pitch Perfect without any of your friends seeing you.

I mean, let's face it, the NRA goes after Hollywood and TV and the Internet and video games and music videos for the same reasons Joseph McCarthy, Spiro Agnew and Dan Quayle did, and is that such a bad thing?  Attacking movies and bigtime celebrities brings a whole lot more publicity than facing the reality of 26 deaths.  Chastising cyberspace and video games means you don't have to answer anyone debating you back.  If you can put all the blame on the Internet and Hollywood, you don't have to face up to your own part as the defender of All Things Guns in gun violence.

Is Hollywood pure as the driven snow in its own civic duty?  Hollywood isn't as pure as slush..  Are violent videogames and Internet websites that address how to make and buy bombs, blameless?  Only if your definition of "blameless" is "shoddy and irresponsible."

Make no mistake, game titles like Splatterhouse, Kindergarten Killers Mass Destruction, Assasin-2015 and Nihilist do proliferate.  (Although you do have to at least appreciate a kid's game that actually uses a word like "nihilist," especially considering that most of those children you're marketing your product can't identify where Canada is.)  And did the tragedy and horror in Columbine come from people who played the game, Doom?  Absolutely -- but then, so too did probably 10 million other people.  It's just that these others weren't sick and troubled, which you have to figure was the real problem.

Well, part of the real problem.  The other part was the there was an armament of guns.

A great many computer games are diabolically bloodthirsty.  Seriously hurtful material does exist on the Internet.   And Hollywood would blow up the Vatican if they thought it'd sell movie tickets.

And it's all beside the point.  Because the reality, of course, is that if every movie and TV show and video game and website beginning tomorrow were as sweet and wonderful as Mary Poppins, the problem of gun violence would all still be here.  Gun massacres would not go away.  On the positive side, the NRA could sponsor family movie night in its lobby all the time.

Did all the sweet, family sitcoms of the '50s turn kids into docile, comic angels?  In fact, that is the generation that grew up into radical hippie protesters of the '60s.  We certainly don't believe that watching sitcoms can turn society into funny people.  Then to be honest and fair (what a concept), the reverse can't be true either, that watching TV characters blasting guns turns audiences into soldiers of fortune.  And if those kids of the '50s actively shooting capguns and playing "Cowboys and Indians" didn't warp them beyond all reason - and, in fact, they ended up becoming flower children - then today sitting at one's desk and pushing a keypad to blow up an enemy shouldn't be expected to either.

(For that matter, anyone who thinks Hollywood leads society down a violent path doesn't have a clue about Hollywood.  Hollywood wouldn't want to lead slaves out of ancient Egypt unless someone else had written a summary of it first and recommended that there was a market for the thing, with the possibility of sequels and merchandising.  Hollywood reacts to what people want, and even then it does so slowly.  You ever wonder why we see Resident Evil 5?  Because people wanted to see Resident Evil four times before.)

And to be clear, none of this is to let Hollywood, video game designers, web masters, and music video dance choreographers off the hook for not dealing with social responsibility.  For that matter, it doesn't let society or individuals off the hook either.  Nor the NRA…  All people are entitled to their private interests, but when you open your front door and step out into the world, you are no longer living in your own personal cocoon.  Social responsibility does kick in.

The question though is not whether Hollywood, video games music videos, and the Internet provide products and material that are thoughtless, mean-spirited and potentially hurtful.  They probably do.  And they probably aren't alone, either in business or society in general.  Hey, the NRA supports products that are thoughtless, mean-spirited and are actually hurtful.

The question is if they are the cause of society's ills or merely reflecting what already exists and providing what people (alas, unfortunately or not) want.  A further question is if movies, music videos and games serve as a healthy release, whereby people who might otherwise gravitate to guns get to safely pretend with them instead.

Guns, cigarettes, car crashes, poverty, drugs, lack of education, and racial violence cause far, far, overwhelmingly far more death and brutality and crime than any video game could ever cram onto a DVD.

And the NRA knows all that.  And it especially knows that it has its own accountability to answer for in gun massacres.  But Hollywood and the Internet and video games are easy targets.  And they get attention off the NRA's own blood-stained responsibilities.  

Hey, folks, you want to criticize Hollywood and video games the Internet?  Stand in line.  You want to ignore gun control?  Great, try to block it.  Try to sell America on the concept that we need more guns, that we need armed policemen in every school of America.  Try to convince Americans that "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun" - while ignoring that if the bad guy didn't have a gun in the first place, you wouldn't need to have two people running around with guns shooting at each other and spraying bullets all over the place.

Keep trying to do all that.  And all that politicians that you pay to be your mouthpieces will be fleeing from you faster than rats on a sinking ship.  Your organization will become such a pariah an NRA endorsement will be seen as a…sorry…death sentence.

In the end, if you want a Hollywood movie to go after, you might want to start with Frankenstein.  Just remember that scene where the villagers go after the monster with torches and pitch forks.

By the way, if you didn't catch the analogy:  you're the monster.

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sandy hook, new town, guns, nra

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It was so obvious when the NRA blamed everyone and everything for mass killing using lethal rifles -- except for the fact that nuts can get lethal rifles. Their phony "solution" was really sick -- expected but sick: Continue to sell lethal rifles, but spend a lot of money to hire more people with more guns to protect us from them!
Excellent and timely piece. I like the bit about sitcoms transforming us all into funny people. If only the sitcoms were funny in the first place... Unlike the crime shows, which really are violent. But I agree that the link to actual violence is tenuous at best. No assault rifles, no mass murders à la Sandyhook. It's hardly rocket science.

Rated.

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