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John Wick And Gun Violence - Thoughts On This Article?

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I have only seen clips. So I'm not qualified to give much of an opinion. But I get the general idea of John Wick and I thought this article was interesting. 

What do you think?

Quote

 

I Couldn't Bring Myself to Enjoy John Wick: Chapter 3

Keanu Reeves stars in another brilliantly choreographed action film. But it was hard to stomach days after another school shooting in my hometown.

 

As I rewatched John Wick and John Wick: Chapter 2 before seeing the third installment of the Keanu Reeves franchise last week, I couldn’t get this interview between CNN’s Brooke Baldwin and a 6th grade survivor of the STEM school shooting in Colorado out of my head. She’s in tears as this rosy-cheeked boy explains how he was terrified and “ready to go down fighting if he was going to go down.”

The incident to which he refers happened on May 7, when two gunman entered a Highlands Ranch school 20 minutes from where I grew up, killed one student and wounded eight others. With the images and interviews fresh on my mind, it was hard to focus on Reeves walking into a crowded club in John Wick: Chapter 2,gunning down dozens of people. I had to look away, and I dreaded seeing the third film on that Thursday evening.

Club Shootout Scene from the 2nd Movie

Because I had seen both John Wick films, I was familiar with the ultra-violent revenge fantasy. I knew it had been accused of Hollywood gun pornography, yet I still accepted it as it was: entertainment—nothing more than a popcorn action film. But, in this viewing with the very real-life effects of gun violence fresh on my mind, it was impossible to treat this film as escapism.

This isn't my won't someone think of the children moment, but a reckoning with my own gut reaction to movie violence in a world that's more ####ed up than the fantasy one we create.

I vividly remember the first time my school was put on lockdown. I was a 9-year-old third grader in an elementary school down the road from Columbine High School, and the idea of a shooting where we go to class made no sense to me. I was confused, and didn’t understand why my mom was crying when she picked up my sister and me from school. Since then, there have been eight mass shootings in Colorado, where I lived for 25 years. One of these was the Aurora Theater shooting in 2012—again, just down the road from my parents’ house. I was in California for an internship at the time, but when I eventually saw The Dark Knight Rises in the theater, it was a chilling experience.

So, when I sat down in the theater last Thursday to see John Wick: Chapter 3, I was uncomfortable, unprepared, and filled with dread. The film is exactly what anyone who’s seen the first two should expect. It’s two hours of action. It’s non-stop violence. And when it reaches the climactic final battle, Ian McShane’s Winston asks Wick what he needs.

“Guns, lots of guns,” Wick responds.

The film concludes with another mass shootout and dozens of headshots—deaths by pistols, and shotguns, and assault rifles. Why, suddenly, after enjoying Hollywood violence all these years could I not take it anymore?

It’s partly because the horror of the STEM shooting was still so fresh, but it’s not just that John Wick: Chapter 3 is poorly timed to a recent shooting.

This year alone there have been eight school shootings at high school or college campuses and 116 mass shootings in total. The horrifying truth is that in America, John Wick could come out any week of the year and still happen close to a recent mass shooting. I've finally reached the point where I can no longer disassociate romanticized depictions of vengeance with what is happening in schools and churches across America—or down the street from where I grew up.

I’m not saying the violence in John Wick: Chapter 3 is problematic or responsible for mass shootings in our country, nor am I suggesting anyone should feel bad about enjoying this movie or others like it. Revenge fantasies are entertainment, and they've been part of Hollywood for decades. 

But for me, it's becoming harder to come to terms with on-screen gun violence in a country defined by real-life tragedies. That’s specifically the case with a movie like John Wick, where the overall plot involves a violent revenge fantasy. Sure, John Wick is a character who, despite being a hardened killer, is a reformed wannabe pacifist in search of a peaceful life. But we're never exposed to this emotional struggle or his battle with the violent life he's forced to lead. For the most part, John Wick just silently and effectively kills in order to achieve the tranquil life of which he dreams.The movie exists solely for the action and violence. It has nothing to say beyond the excellently choreographed fight scenes. It doesn’t bother to wrestle with the effects—physically or psychologically—of gun violence.

There are, of course, countless violent movies that choose to ignore the emotional fallout of gun violence. John McClane seems to delight in killing terrorists in Die Hard, but his violence serves a purpose: to rescue scores of people from their captors. The carnage in John Wick exists as a form of pornography—it's violence for the sake of violence.

I found myself wondering how I could enjoy something like the excellent fifth episode of Barry Season Two, but not the mindless entertainment of John Wick. That’s because Barry forces us to confront—on a deeper level—violence, whereas John Wick makes it look cool.

There will likely be a John Wick: Chapter 4, not to mention a spate of other revenge movies. Maybe it’s time for this type of cinema to evolve, to wrestle with what’s happening in our country in an artistic way beyond simply seeing how many people one guy can kill in a brutal three-movie rampage. A number of exceptional movies and TV shows already do. Why not John Wick? 

We can still have these beautifully choreographed fight scenes. We can still have action. We can even still have guns, but perhaps we challenge these stories to say and do more. John Wick: Chapter 3 was a well-made movie—a great movie by critical standards that will haul in major box-office receipts—but perhaps those fight scenes on the backs of motorcycles or shootouts in buildings and courtyards could be consequential and meaningful.

The ultimate tragedy in all of this is that mass shootings—including those inside America's schools—will keep happening. If film is no longer where we go to escape these horrors, it could be a place where even our blockbusters strive to better understand it.

MATT MILLER Culture EditorMatt is the Culture Editor at Esquire where he covers music, movies, books, and TV—with an emphasis on all things Star Wars, Marvel, and Game of Thrones.

 

 

 

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22 minutes ago, Joe Bryant said:

in a country defined by real-life tragedies.

I don't agree with his characterization of our country and I don't agree with his opinion.  If people don't want to see violent movies, they won't attend and Hollywood will react accordingly.  His solution is a veiled attempt at censorship which I vehemently oppose.  Like almost every American, I would like to see an end to mass shootings and don't want to do anything that increases the pain of the survivors but encouraging Hollywood to change their movies is not the right way to achieve those goals.

ETA:  I saw the movie last night.  Personally, I thought there was too much action for my taste.  I'd have much preferred more plot but my opinion is in the minority as the movie is receiving very positive reviews.

Edited by chet
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5 minutes ago, culdeus said:

Honda bruh. 

Apologies if honda. Link to where this article was posted here with a poll?

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I dunno.  These movies are popular in lots of other countries and they don't have all of these tragedies.  The horror genre has put out hundreds of movies also with pornographic view of murder and we don't see bazillion real life copycats of these 

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I've never loved America's fascination with guns, both in life and in entertainment. I could do with less of it, and choose accordingly. Whether artists owe the public a form of social responsibility is something for each individual to weigh in on. I personally veer massively towards unfettered and unrestrained artistic vision. If violence is a necessary part of art, then so be it. If sex is a necessary part of that art, then so be it. To merely claim that violence is pornographic does not suffice -- it might be essential to the director and writer's vision for the movie. Creative impulses should drive the artistic process, not the audience's or critic's vision of what art should be. 

Great art is transformative and sometimes not in keeping with the morality of its time. There's a fine line to walk between vision and normative impulses towards the notion of the "good," especially the social "good" at the time. People ought to feel free to criticize while at the same time realizing that the artist drives the process of the creative, not the prevailing attitude of the zeitgeist. 

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There’s definitely some connection between violence being romanticized in film, etc. and real life shootings. Both are so entrenched in our culture things aren’t changing anytime soon, so I’ve stopped caring. But I won’t waste my time watching movies like John Wick, or the evening news.

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37 minutes ago, bosoxs45 said:

I couldn't stomach seeing the beagle die in the original John Wick.

Leaving the dead puppy to be the first thing he sees when he woke up... :hot:

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2 hours ago, Terminalxylem said:

 But I won’t waste my time watching movies like John Wick,

You are missing out.

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These types of movies are part of this country's larger gun culture.
Maybe we could enjoy action movies more when we aren't faced with mass gun killings on a regular basis.

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and yet we need a "do not try this at home, this a trained professional" warning footnote on every 30-second car commercial. 

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good thing dragons are not only illegal, but pretty much nonexistent, 'cuz GoT wiped out more lives last week than the entire Wick franchise x10,000 or so ...

:popcorn:

Edited by otb_lifer
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I voted “somewhat” agree but I would better fit “mostly” agree.  There is a line for me when violence is glorified that I don’t like.  It’s hard to explain because I don’t mind watching violence (such as the Barry episode the author mentions and the Game of Thrones reference above) but I am turned off by violence just for the sake of violence.

 I don’t want to see movies like this banned, but I wish less people would want to see them. It just seems a little too barbaric.

 

 

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Haven’t seen the films but I do agree that gratuitous movie violence is more difficult to stomach than it used to be- especially when it’s done in a stylish way to make it seem cool.

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I used to like them but after all the mass shootings I have grown very tired of shoot em up movies.

Also used to be a big MMA fan and now can hardly watch it lately ..really do not enjoy seeing people bludgeoned as entertainment anymore.

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Whatever the impact movies or video games or TV shows have on violence in our culture, I feel this conversation's primary purpose is to distract from the conversation about, you know - guns.

Edited by matuski

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Protip: if a movie’s central theme is something you don’t like, don’t watch it. Given the series’ popularity, many many people DO like it. 

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1 hour ago, Ilov80s said:

Haven’t seen the films but I do agree that gratuitous movie violence is more difficult to stomach than it used to be- especially when it’s done in a stylish way to make it seem cool.

When conservatives had a problem with gun violence in movies and video games, they were laughed at. Now that it's become mainstream to be bothered by it, it's suddenly become virtuous. Strange how society views things. 

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1 hour ago, matuski said:

Whatever the impact movies or video games or TV shows have on violence in our culture, I feel this conversation's primary purpose is to distract from the conversation about, you know - guns.

Can you elaborate on how it's distracting?

At least for this author this conversation was very much about guns. The real ones. Not in movies. 

Edited by Joe Bryant

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57 minutes ago, Joe Bryant said:

Can you elaborate on how it's distracting?

At least for this author this conversation was very much about guns. The real ones. Not in movies. 

My take away from this article (granted I skimmed a lot of it), was him deploring the romanticizing of violence on screen (revenge fantasies I think he said). How real life tragedies/gun violence make him unable to enjoy it. I did not catch anything about gun control.  Perhaps I missed something.  :shrug:

Regardless, my point was:

We have had crazy violent movies my entire lifetime, we have had crazy real life violence my entire lifetime - I don't see anything new here.  What has changed (from my experience at least), is that anyone and everyone has access to the guns that used to be found only in these movies, or carried by the military.

Edited by matuski
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1 minute ago, matuski said:

My take away from this article (granted I skimmed a lot of it), was him deploring the romanticizing of violence on screen. How real life tragedies/gun violence make him unable to enjoy it. I did not catch anything about gun control.  Perhaps I missed something.  :shrug:

Regardless, my point was:

We have had crazy violent movies my entire lifetime, we have had crazy real life violence my entire lifetime - I don't see anything new here.  What has changed (from my experience at least), is that anyone and everyone has access to the guns that used to be found only in these movies, or carried by the military.

Thanks. Reading the full article, I thought it was insightful as he talks a lot about his real world experience with guns. He's not proposing specific legislation, but he's very much talking about real life guns. 

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2 hours ago, flapgreen said:

When conservatives had a problem with gun violence in movies and video games, they were laughed at. Now that it's become mainstream to be bothered by it, it's suddenly become virtuous. Strange how society views things. 

I’m not saying it’s virtuous or not virtuous and I would never support any bans or restrictions on media. I actually identify with many elements of conservatism but not the kind of conservatism that tries to usurp the Constitution’s protection of free speech for any kind of “righteous” social or religious values. I always support an individual, company or the public to make economic decisions based on their own morality or “stomach”. I just don’t want their views forced on others.

Edited by Ilov80s

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6 hours ago, matuski said:

My take away from this article (granted I skimmed a lot of it), was him deploring the romanticizing of violence on screen (revenge fantasies I think he said). How real life tragedies/gun violence make him unable to enjoy it. I did not catch anything about gun control.  Perhaps I missed something.  :shrug:

Regardless, my point was:

We have had crazy violent movies my entire lifetime, we have had crazy real life violence my entire lifetime - I don't see anything new here.  What has changed (from my experience at least), is that anyone and everyone has access to the guns that used to be found only in these movies, or carried by the military.

Aside from the assault weapons ban expiring, what else has changed to expand access to firearms? Household gun ownership has been relatively static during my lifetime - are you aware of stats which show increased ownership of semiautomatic or assault-style weapons?

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Hey let me write my opinion and then tie it to a blockbuster movie so I can get noticed.

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34 minutes ago, Terminalxylem said:

Aside from the assault weapons ban expiring, what else has changed to expand access to firearms? Household gun ownership has been relatively static during my lifetime - are you aware of stats which show increased ownership of semiautomatic or assault-style weapons?

Nope. Why I noted it from my experience. 

From my experience, just in the last 15-20 years living in TX, it has gone from everyone owning guns (I do) to everyone owning an arsenal of guns.  And no longer your standard handgun/rifle/shotgun... now it is semi auto shotgun, assault AK style modded rifle, 20+ round handgun, and your traditional rifle is there as something you try to remember to dust now and then.  Throw in a couple silencers for good measure.

 

Edited by matuski

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On my street, I am the only one I know that owns less than a dozen guns.  Ridiculous.

Every time CNN runs a tag line that a democrat wants gun control, they go buy another.

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14 minutes ago, matuski said:

On my street, I am the only one I know that owns less than a dozen guns.  Ridiculous.

Every time CNN runs a tag line that a democrat wants gun control, they go buy another.

Not sure how you know so much about your neighbors’ arsenal, but I think many (most?) gun owners have multiple firearms.

Then again, TX may be a bit of an outlier. To my knowledge, none of my local friends have guns. This article suggests less than a third of homes do: https://www.npr.org/2016/01/05/462017461/guns-in-america-by-the-numbers

 

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On 5/18/2019 at 12:38 PM, chet said:

ETA:  I saw the movie last night.  Personally, I thought there was too much action for my taste.  I'd have much preferred more plot but my opinion is in the minority as the movie is receiving very positive reviews.

I don't understand how anyone could go into the 3rd movie of this with this expectation.

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17 minutes ago, Terminalxylem said:

Not sure how you know so much about your neighbors’ arsenal, but I think many (most?) gun owners have multiple firearms.

Then again, TX may be a bit of an outlier. To my knowledge, none of my local friends have guns. This article suggests less than a third of homes do: https://www.npr.org/2016/01/05/462017461/guns-in-america-by-the-numbers

 

Not sure how you are not sure about how I know so much about my neighbors arsenals.

I have multiple firearms. 

My neighbors have arsenals.  My friends have arsenals.  My customers have arsenals.

Edited by matuski

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7 minutes ago, matuski said:

Not sure how you are not sure about how I know so much about my neighbors arsenals.

I have multiple firearms. 

My neighbors have arsenals.  My friends have arsenals.  My customers have arsenals.

Just seems like an odd topic to discuss, and kind of a private matter.

Why do you have multiple firearms?

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Wait, a movie about assassins, trying to kill another assassin, involves guns? 

 

Im shuked 

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Why would you spend money to watch something you know is going to touch off your own nerves? I mean...it's the 3rd one of these, right?  Were the other two not violent?

 

People are weird.  

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45 minutes ago, Terminalxylem said:

Just seems like an odd topic to discuss, and kind of a private matter.

Depends on where you live perhaps. For example, in Texas, people talk about the firearms they own and are purchasing in conversation just like they would talk about their appliances or power tools or golf clubs. It’s not really a private matter for most. 

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1 hour ago, FreeBaGeL said:

I don't understand how anyone could go into the 3rd movie of this with this expectation.

This movie was like a video game--one bad guy after another non-stop.  

Have you seen it?  

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I view "gun-kata" as cinematic art.

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57 minutes ago, Terminalxylem said:

Just seems like an odd topic to discuss, and kind of a private matter.

Why do you have multiple firearms?

I think it depends on where you live. I do not think that is an odd topic for some folks. I know more about my neighbors "arsenal" then I do about them. I'm not saying that is a good thing but that is how it is in areas where people are gung ho about guns. Sounded like a small war going on out in the desert west of my home. It's where many go to target shoot and they were out in force this morning.

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6 minutes ago, otello said:

Are these good movies?

If you enjoy violence they are awesome. Personally I love them.

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9 minutes ago, otello said:

Are these good movies?

Depends on what you mean by "good".  The Wick movies are very entertaining.  If you like deep movies with a message then probably not.

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57 minutes ago, bigbottom said:

Depends on where you live perhaps. For example, in Texas, people talk about the firearms they own and are purchasing in conversation just like they would talk about their appliances or power tools or golf clubs. It’s not really a private matter for most. 

Yep, that what it sounds like. But I don’t know about all my neighbors appliances, tools and sporting equipment either.

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1 hour ago, Terminalxylem said:

Just seems like an odd topic to discuss, and kind of a private matter.

Why do you have multiple firearms?

No - what is odd is discussing fake movie gun violence.  Which is the point.. everyone comfortable ridiculing the violence they see on the screen, nobody comfortable addressing or actually doing something about the real world.  

I have multiple firearms to cover different purposes - I have a carry license, own a carry gun, don't carry.  I have a shotgun for home defense.  I have a rifle for fun (I don't hunt).  My dad was law enforcement, I use them often.  What he taught me, and what I agree with - Really the only way anyone should own guns imo, you should know how to use them.  Which again goes back to the lunacy of owning dozens, or 100's, or in one case 1000's of guns.  

Edited by matuski
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11 minutes ago, Terminalxylem said:

Yep, that what it sounds like. But I don’t know about all my neighbors appliances, tools and sporting equipment either.

Well, you had initially stated that it was an odd topic to discuss and a private matter. And what I’m saying is that in many parts of the country it’s neither an odd topic nor a private matter. Whether or not you know your neighbors well enough and for long enough that you’ve had these naturally occurring conversations is another matter entirely. 

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1
3 hours ago, matuski said:

Throw in a couple silencers for good measure.

 

Thanks for sending me down the silencer rabbit hole.  That's 3 hours and $700 I'll never get back.

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21 minutes ago, Ron Swanson said:

Thanks for sending me down the silencer rabbit hole.  That's 3 hours and $700 I'll never get back.

Right.

Silencers are cool.  Maybe practical.  To an extent.

Guns are cool and practical. To an extent.

Then suddenly I am looking at a neighbors gun vault with 16 guns, 4 silencers, night vision goggles and scopes, and a pile of ammo taller than me. One of my surgeons in Midland has a separate building to house his armament.  I don't know where the line is.. but somewhere it is crossed, and on a regular basis.

Edited by matuski

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1 hour ago, bigbottom said:

Well, you had initially stated that it was an odd topic to discuss and a private matter. And what I’m saying is that in many parts of the country it’s neither an odd topic nor a private matter. Whether or not you know your neighbors well enough and for long enough that you’ve had these naturally occurring conversations is another matter entirely. 

Exactly.

 

1 hour ago, Terminalxylem said:

Yep, that what it sounds like. But I don’t know about all my neighbors appliances, tools and sporting equipment either.

I would say it is weird you don't know your neighbors very well.  Never been to their house, you don't know what they are about, what they do, or what they are interested in?  My guy neighbors are usually most interested in the appliances, my tools (grill, lawn, etc) and toys (including guns).

I wouldn't even describe myself as all that outgoing.

Edited by matuski

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2 hours ago, chet said:

This movie was like a video game--one bad guy after another non-stop.  

Have you seen it?  

I'm going to view it tomorrow afternoon.  I expect them to try and top the one bad guy after another'ism of the first two.

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