To Morgan Freeman: Of Celebrity and Weaponry

Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox in The Dark Knight (2008).

In response to Morgan Freeman’s recent comments:

I agree that the media glorifies the monstrosity of these gunmen, these mass murderers. I agree that, by indulging our own lewd fascination, we grant celebrity and even immortality to the perpetrator. We likely give him what he sought to gain. For the demented mind, we’ve made senseless killing a very appealing means to fame.

Still, I don’t think it’s simply media reporting that turns monstrosity into stardom. Films do, too. Freeman himself starred in a series of them – Se7en, the Ashley Judd chapter, and more recently, The Dark Knight Trilogy. I don’t know of a single villain in present, American pop culture that enjoys as much emulation as Heath Ledger’s Joker. Halloween and Comic Con season lines our streets with his fans. He continues to be quoted everywhere and all the time. His crazy is considered cool. The heroes in these films may escape our memory. But this villain – well-acted and by an actor who died tragically – remains in our vernacular. To what degree is Hollywood also responsible for a culture that embraces acts of great monstrosity? To what degree have you participated, Mr. Freeman? And to what degree have I, every time I buy my seat in a theater to watch these demented characters wreak havoc? You know what goes great with mass destruction? Popcorn.

The reality is, we live in an age that possesses both technological capacity and human capital to satisfy our every lewd taste. We have the equipment for it, and we have the people to deliver. And the only permission the media or the entertainment industry need is our viewership, our implicit thumbs up for more. So Morgan Freeman is right, but he just forgot to point himself out.

Additionally, Freeman had me until “…instead of pointing to gun control as the problem.”

Gun control isn’t THE problem, but it’s a problem. It’s not irrelevant – it’s one of two main ideas. And before you tell me that knives and a bow/arrow set accomplish the same thing, show me a knife that has the same range and an archer with the same speed. Show me a stab that’s as impersonal as a shot; show me a bow that’s as easy to conceal.

And by the way, there’s a reason we keep our kids away from knives and sharp shit. Because they don’t have the mental facility to handle with care. I don’t hear anyone saying, “Definitely give your three-year-old a knife. Just teach him to be more mature!” We all know it’s easier to hide cutlery than it is train a three-year-old.

It’s easier to control gun sales than it is to ensure universal mental stability. While we teach the three-year-old not to stab himself, let’s also make sure the cleaver is in a safe place. Gun control is abysmal. Access to mental health care is abysmal. These problems aren’t mutually exclusive. The solution isn’t singular.

Class dismissed.


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