The death of DOP Halyna Hutchins (may this young woman rest in peace) and the shooting of film director Joel Souza is in some ways similar to the many massacres that take place all the time across the US. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 2,128 mass shootings on American soil since 2013. This represents almost one massacre a day.
I’m not suggesting that Halyna and Joel’s shooting was intentional or premeditated. Alec Baldwin clearly did not have the intention of killing Hutchins and wounding Joel Souza (who has now been discharged from hospital). Plus the definition of massacre as per the figure above requires at least four victims.
What I’m saying is that both type of shootings are a direct consequence of a society obsessed with guns. And Hollywood is culprit number 1. The countless violent movies nurture the fears and anxieties of radicalised Americans with a very toxic feed. It’s hardly surprising that Hollywood’s fascination with violence would eventually kill people on the film set, the very place where it is carefully crafted.
This Reuters piece helps to elucidate why this was an accident waiting to happen: “six or seven camera operators had walked off the Rust set hours before the tragedy”.
No blood for me, thank you
I personally have a profound aversion to trigger-happy dramas, thrillers and Westerns. I avoid watching and reviewing such films because they literally make me nauseous. I cover my eyes at the mere sight of blood. Plus I believe that such violence is intimately linked to American Imperialism. A film is never just a film. A film is a powerful weapon. It can be used for personal liberation. And it can also be misused for hegemonic ambitions under the guise of harmless entertainment, as in the case of Hollywood.
I’m not advocating censorship. While I prefer not to touch such violent films myself, I am very happy that DMovies should provide a platform for them. I am fortunate enough to have a large pool of talented writers prepared to scrutinise such movies, and to debate the representation of violence.
I am not asking for guns to be banned on set, either. But I am asking that Hollywood reflects on its values. I do find it very peculiar that the Motion Picture Association film rating system is extremely preoccupied with nudity and sex, while mostly indifferent to extremely graphic violence (Roger Ebert made the same argument). This sick inversion of values is not restricted to the US: it’s also particularly prominent in the UK.
It’s time we gave up the feshitisation of violence. Its repercussions are far more tragic and fatal than anyone could have predicted, the shooting of Halyna Hutchins has revealed.