As his new film, Kick-Ass 2, heads for the cinema, Jim Carrey has withdrawn his promotional support. It’s a powerful step for a major box-office draw, taken in response to the Sandy Hook massacre. But it prompts the question: what changed, Jim?
You started work on Kick-Ass 2 in September last year. Presumably as part of that process you watched the original Kick-Ass movie, which featured, among other memorable moments, an 11-year-old girl, armed with twin revolvers, graphically dispatching a corridor filled with at least a dozen thugs, and later exploding another one with a bazooka. That movie was filmed not long after a deranged US Army major murdered 13 people at Fort Hood. And your own role in the sequel came not long after 12 innocent moviegoers were shot dead in Aurora, Colorado. So here’s what I don’t understand: what fresh information did you glean from the massacre at Sandy Hook that wasn’t already available to anyone who was paying attention? Also, will you be giving your considerable fee back?
Carrey has form for confusion on the subject. His coruscating viral video mocking the NRA was swiftly followed by an angry commentary insisting that “no one is asking anyone to give up their right to bear arms”. All the same, sudden conversions can be plausible, or even admirable, when they are based on a substantial change in one’s understanding of the facts. The problem here is that it’s hard to take Carrey seriously when the main results of his action will be to gain the movie more publicity, as in articles like this one, and to shift the focus from the obvious real point: not the guns in the movies, but the guns on the streets.
There’s an argument to be made here about the effects of movies like this; if I were an A-lister, I would have certainly thought twice about appearing in the Kick-Ass sequel, enjoy its predecessor though I did. Cultural depictions of violence certainly tell us something worrying about ourselves, whether or not they provoke it.
But surely those of us in the reality-based community can at least agree this much: the media’s causative link with massacres is rather slighter than that of lunatics having such easy access to the weaponry of their choice. Until that debate is settled in America – which, remarkably, will not be any time soon – interventions of this sort will be nothing more than a distraction.
In the meantime, we’re probably better off forgetting about the Jim Carrey of 2013, and enjoying the performance given by the Jim Carrey of 2012, all the while remembering that both Jim Carreys have a lot in common with the one who campaigned so harmfully against the MMR vaccine. On this issue, as on that one, he is entitled to his opinion. But we are entitled to ignore it.