… or, do as I say, not as I do, Hollywood division:
Okay, it’s easy to say that they’re just actors. Jamie Foxx is not really killing all those white people in Tarantino’s Django Unchained — via the magic of movie-making, he’s just pretending to kill them. And Jennifer Garner isn’t really shooting those Arabs in The Kingdom, she’s just playing a role. And Jeremy Renner — a splendid action hero, even if the last Bourne installment was a plotless dud — would never in a million years think of gunning down Boston cops while robbing Fenway Park (as he did in The Town), unless his pal Ben Affleck (on his way to becoming a great director) asked him to for his art.
And good for them for doing so.
But with President Obama promising to put “gun control” in the legislative crosshairs in 2013, it’s instructive to watch various actors both miming heroism and then denouncing the very tools with which they perform those heroic acts. For years, Hollywood has been forced to assert that films have no influence on the larger culture — unless, of course, it’s advancing various pet lefty causes under the “tolerance” rubric — and that therefore they cannot “inspire” various psychotic punks to acts of horrific violence.
And I agree. As John Milton writes in the Areopagitica:
TO THE PURE, ALL THINGS ARE PURE; not only meats and drinks, but all kind of knowledge whether of good or evil; the knowledge cannot defile, nor consequently the books, if the will and conscience be not defiled. For books are as meats and viands are; some of good, some of evil substance; and yet God, in that unapocryphal vision, said without exception, RISE, PETER, KILL AND EAT, leaving the choice to each man’s discretion. Wholesome meats to a vitiated stomach differ little or nothing from unwholesome; and best books to a naughty mind are not unappliable to occasions of evil. Bad meats will scarce breed good nourishment in the healthiest concoction; but herein the difference is of bad books, that they to a discreet and judicious reader serve in many respects to discover, to confute, to forewarn, and to illustrate…
Good and evil we know in the field of this world grow up together almost inseparably; and the knowledge of good is so involved and interwoven with the knowledge of evil, and in so many cunning resemblances hardly to be discerned, that those confused seeds which were imposed upon Psyche as an incessant labour to cull out, and sort asunder, were not more intermixed. It was from out the rind of one apple tasted, that the knowledge of good and evil, as two twins cleaving together, leaped forth into the world. And perhaps this is that doom which Adam fell into of knowing good and evil, that is to say of knowing good by evil.
In other words, to a soul predisposed to evil, everything can be an occasion of sin. To the feeble-minded losers who fancy themselves Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, everything looks like a black trench coat: