Photo: Paramount Pictures
Two high profile movie events, the premiere of "Django Unchained" and a fundraiser/screening of Tom Cruise's latest, "Jack Reacher," have been canceled in the aftermath of the horrific mass shooting in Newtown, CT. Both The Weinstein Company, which produced "Django," and the Film Society at Lincoln Center, which was to host the Cruise event, extended condolences to the grieving families, out of respect for whom the cancellations were made. Left unspoken in each is the fact that both films contain graphically violent content, and in the case of "Jack Reacher," specific scenes that could potentially resonate negatively with audiences still processing the trauma.
This is not to say that violent entertainment has a direct connection, or even a tangential one, to events such as the shooting in Newtown. Attributing violent behavior to violent entertainment skips a few steps, mostly concerning mental illness, and horrors like those visited upon Newtown would not be possible from a practical standpoint without astonishingly easy access to powerful firearms.
How the cultural climate, with so many voices raised in favor of stricter regulations on guns and Dick's Sporting Goods indeed pulling guns from their shelves nationwide, will affect "Django Unchained" and "Jack Reacher" once they're released in theaters remains to be seen. It's doubtful whether good-faith gestures like canceling premieres and events will have much effect (and in any case, the "Jack Reacher" decision was made not by Paramount but by Lincoln Center), but such gestures are their own modest reward.