I wrote yesterday about how darkly, sickly hilarious it is that National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre decided to try to divert calls for gun control by blaming decades-old pop culture ephemera like Mortal Combat and American Psycho for recent mass gun killings. And after I hit publish on that post, the Hollywood Reporter pointed out an even more pointed hypocrisy: the NRA may hope that everyone blames media violence for inspiring killings, rather than guns for being the instruments of them, but it’s had multiple exhibits celebrating famous movie weapons at its National Firearms Museum, and apparently has no immediate plans to take the current one down.
Media Matters for America, jumping on the case, grabbed an amazing video of Phil Schreier, the curator of the NRA Museum, talking about the exhibit, which has since been deleted from the NRA’s YouTube feed:
Notably, he doesn’t exactly draw a distinction between the guns employed by good, law-abiding citizens, and badass, deeply transgressive villains: guns used for mayhem against innocent civilians are apparently just as awesome as guns used by law-abiding citizens in self-defense or officers of the peace in pursuit of criminals. “We have the Joker’s shotgun, the one that Heath Ledger used in The Dark Knight, a role that he won the academy award for,” Schreier says. “And speaking of Academy Awards, we have the silent shotgun that Javier Bardem used in No Country For Old Men.”
Now, maybe the NRA has reversed itself and decided that it no longer wants to be seen expressing enthusiasm for the Joker’s gun and his deployment of it the week before the preliminary hearings in the trial of alleged Aurora shooter James Holmes, who reportedly drew inspiration from Ledger’s depiction of the Joker for his attack on the audience of a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. Maybe it’s going to pull the exhibit in accordance with its new principals, and stop selling the catalogue of it, Hollywood Guns, for $14.95 in the museum gift shop. Maybe the NRA’s member companies will have a massive change of heart, and stop licensing images of their products for use in films and video games, on the grounds that no one should see a gun being used to commit violence against innocent people or authority figures who are portrayed as duplicitous in a way that’s framed as admirable, lest they be inspired to commit bad acts of their own in the real world.
Or maybe they’ll ultimately conclude that it’s worth more money to them to keep people showing up at the museums to look at outlaws’ weapons, to keep raking in those licensing fees, and to stop talking about how deplorable pop culture violence is. I’d bet on the latter, more because the NRA likes money than it likes a sober, common-sense assessment of risk.