Is Jim Carrey's disavowal of Kick Ass 2 a heroic stand on gun violence? Or a cynical publicity stunt?

You simply couldn’t buy the column acreage of stories that have sprouted online content industry in the past 24 hours – and nor could, say, Universal Studios
  • @Tom_Mendelsohn

It’s incredible really, the timing of Jim Carrey’s public disavowal of the upcoming summer blockbuster in which he is starring.

No sooner than has the latest trailer for multimillion-dollar violence extravaganza Kick Ass 2 emerged, than out trots celebrity A-lister Carrey to denounce the extravagance of the violence he has helped portray. In light of Sandy Hook, he says, he wishes he hadn’t taken a part in the film. Some coincidence, eh? Especially as basically no one noticed the trailer when it first appeared.

Here’s the thing: people might dimly have been aware that there could be some sort of Kick Ass-flavoured sequel meandering its way out of the Hollywood traps later this summer, but it was hardly on anyone’s lips. Now look at it though – literally everyone with an Internet knows what old man Carrey thinks about the violence in much-ballyhooed flick Kick Ass 2. You simply couldn’t buy the column acreage to support the number of stories that have sprouted across the online content industry in the past 24 hours – and nor could, say, Universal Studios.

All publicity is good publicity, or so they say, so is this sudden intense media traction not just that smallest bit fortuitous for the beleaguered execs at Universal and their pricey cinematic baby? Superhero movies are 10-a-penny these days, and it takes more than the interminable thwack of fist against goon to stand out from the crowd. It’s a marketing department’s nightmare, and the temptation must be there to make an opportunity out of any crisis that may come along. And if there are no crises on the immediate horizon, why not make one of your own?

It does slightly seem as though manufactured crises are thicker on the ground in the new media landscape. The best press, or at least that which is the most market-penetrating, comes from confected spats that play well on Twitter. Hardly a day goes by without something going furiously viral on the internet rage machine, whether it’s Richard Dawkin’s rather shonky grasp of contemporary memetics, something Melanie Phillips has said on Question Time, or perhaps, a skeleton tumbling abruptly from an X Factor contestant’s closet.

The number of reality TV stars with sudden shady pasts is quite astonishing, in fact. Every year, without fail, in the run-up to Christmas, with the public’s fickle eye beginning to wander, a prominent candidate will be unexpectedly unmasked as a secret prostitute or bear-baiter or something. It happens with such regularity that I do find myself wondering how diligent these TV companies’ background checks can be?

Isn’t it hard to believe, really, that operators as slick as showbiz PRs can so constantly be beset by surprise naughtiness or injudicious tweeting? They could have been caught out once or twice by a new medium in the early days, but it’s bewildering to think that Hollywood would not nowadays have a strict set of Twitter clauses written into the marketing objectives of each actor’s contract.

So when a tweet like Carrey’s appears apropos of nothing but a summer megamovie’s imminent release, I end up suspicious.

Carrey himself isn’t a pseud; he has a demonstrable and admirable track record in the fight against America’s towering hard-on for firearms. He spoke copiously of the Sandy Hook tragedy at the time, and is a tireless campaigner for good in this area. He must have consented to this as a way of bringing his own concerns back into public consciousness.