After Aurora, even Harvey Weinstein admits Hollywood may be too violent
He made his name championing Quentin Tarantino and built his empire on some of the most blood-spattered films in history. But in the wake of the Aurora shootings, even Harvey Weinstein reckons that Hollywood should tone down the violence.
The famously combative film producer has called for a "summit" to discuss how viewers are influenced by graphic movies. He has told an interviewer that his industry must not "shirk responsibility" for last week's late-night massacre in a Colorado cinema during the screening of the new Batman film, which left at least a dozen dead and more than 50 wounded.
"As film-makers we should sit down – the Marty Scorseses, the Quentin Tarantinos and hopefully all of us who deal in violence in movies – and discuss our role in that," he told a reporter for the Huffington Post.
"It's a question that I wrestle with all the time. I've been involved with violent movies, and then I've also said at a certain point, 'I can't take it any more. Please cut it.' You know, you've got to respect the film-maker, and it's a really tough issue. My heart goes out to those kids and those families."
However, Mr Weinstein, a prominent supporter of Barack Obama, who is organising a fundraiser for the President next month, added that Hollywood cannot act alone. The prime cause of violent deaths in America was the lack of gun control, he argued: it was time for politicians to "put up or shut up" on the main issue.
"If we don't get gun control laws in this country, we are full of beans. To have the National Rifle Association rule the United States is pathetic... It's time to put up or shut up about gun control for both parties. Mitt Romney had better outline where he stands, and people know that I'm a firm supporter of the president and I believe he's got to do the same."
The producer, who was speaking during an interview to promote the US release of The Untouchables, has previously worked with Michael Moore, the documentarian whose Bowling for Columbine explored a notorious 1999 high-school massacre believed to have been partly inspired by the film Natural Born Killers.
His comments met with understandable talk of pots and kettles. Famed as Hollywood's pre-eminent producer of independent movies – he masterminded the recent Oscar campaign for The Artist – Mr Weinstein is also the owner of a legendarily combustible temper.
Biographer Peter Biskind once accused the producer of manhandling New York Observer editor Andrew Goldman during a confrontation at a cocktail party.
During that incident, which occurred in 2000 and has since entered Hollywood lore, Biskind alleged that Mr Weinstein put Mr Goldman "in a headlock and dragged him out the doors on to the street," saying they were eventually separated by frantic publicists.
Mr Weinstein has since disputed Mr Biskind's version of events. But reputations are hard to shift, and even Meryl Streep has called him "the Punisher".
With this in mind, the influential film industry blog Deadline wondered yesterday if Mr Weinstein's summit on violence ought to "take place at the corner of Hubris Street and Hypocrisy Boulevard, in the city of Sanctimony, right near the Self-Righteous Cineplex."
Past gories: Harvey's bloody hits
Tie me up! Tie me down!
This early Pedro Almodovar film released by Miramax in 1989 tells of a psychiatric patient who kidnaps a porn star to make her fall in love with him. His overtures begin with a head butt, continue with street brawls and end with a graphic sex scene.
Weinstein, while with Miramax, acted a distributor to this 1992 story of a botched diamond heist in collaboration with a little-known scriptwriter called Quentin Tarantino. The film's signature scene has Michael Madsen, as the psychopathic 'Mr Blonde', torture a captive police officer for fun.
Tarantino's second feature, with Weinstein as an executive producer, won prizes for its mix of pop culture references and cinematic allusions. It also included trademark gore, as when John Travolta's character accidentally splatters a man's brains over the inside of a car.
The tongue-in-cheek slasher movie that gave horror films a new lease of life was bought by the Weinstein brothers as filming was ending. It grossed £110m and was acclaimed for satirising horror movie conventions—by steeping them in even more blood than usual.
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