Guns, Hollywood, and You; Preferably, Your Wallet

Usually, there exists a small little orb within the brain that grows to a gigantic, ballon-like quality whenever there is a potentially dangerous situation that is about to occur.  This can happen at your local airport, bank, Chinese restaurant, maybe even the swimming pool locker room.

For me, this happened when my friend got me into a conversation about guns.  We had watched The A-Team (and I would recommend watching it, as far as summer movies go), and he asked me why it was that people use guns even though they’re horrible shots with them and can’t even hit the broad side of a fishing shack, much less a human being. This got me thinking. Could it be that he might have thought of something rather intellectual? Is it that he had finally caught on the train to logical town, where people get jobs, get paid, get love, get cats of all shapes, sizes, colors, races, creeds, arrogance, and even cat cheese flavor? Had he… gotten a life?

Unfortunately, as soon as that last thought left my head, he asked the girl sitting next to us if she wanted to come watch Hostel II with him back at his place.

So one girly, slap-induced naptime later, I told him about the relation between movies and guns.

You see, there is a trend/pattern to the usage of firearms in these movies. Contrary to popular belief, all guns are NOT created equal in the land of Tinsel, and often they do not live up to the standard that any Southerner could relate to you at any given truck stop at 2:15 am on the dot. Oh sure, sometimes Hollywood likes to flex its intellectual muscles and feature a hardened soldier who can dismantle an M16 Rifle, then repair it as good as new. All smoke and mirrors, my friend. For, you see, that is not an actor dismantling it. It IS a soldier. Actors are those guys who read their little Blackberries and try to make the words fit the scene. 

After having their stunt double soldier dismantle a gun and repair it, the camera would cut to the actor in a money shot profile. He would soon look hurt, turn away from the group, the featured forlorn expression on his face, then turn towards the camera and yet look two centimeters EXACTLY to the right, and then whisper the line “…War is hell, gentlemen.” Then the resistant yet romantic love interest would appear at his side to gently touch the right side of his face (because the actor’s agent would sue her for obstruction of dimple) and whisper back at him “Then teach us something, how to be better soldiers, how to be better… people!” To which the main character would grab her wrist (thinking she was getting out of hand like most women did in the forties and fifties) and look into her eyes, whispering “…Something.” They would instantly kiss and start to make out in front of the classrom as fireworks began to be fired from outside, and a stagehand trips on the fan, causing it to turn on and move the American flag to wave right behind the two lovebirds as Scottish bagpipers suddenly burst into the room and blow out the last two lines of the national anthem.

And this was just for the educational “How To Effectively Ward Off A Nuclear Bomb By Hiding Under Your Desk” video. Imagine how much more awesome Hollywood has become at movies since then! 

So anyway: guns. Yes. There is a trend as to how guns shall be portrayed in the movies. But it all depends on the ratings system. The amount of realistic expectations from a firearm in one rating can differ greatly in another rating. Most people would tell you that it’s the film’s responsibility to depict how deadly a gun can be, but since I have yet to see a G-rated version of “Apocalypse Now”, all of the attention falls back on to the enabling power of the ratings system. 

Allow me to guide you through the process of just what to expect your fellow boomstick to do in your favorite ratings category. 


What? Are you kidding? There are no guns in a G rated movie! You want to mentally scar the child for life? Every Hollywood director, actor, and agent knows that there’s a force out in the world that’s infinitely worse than guns, war, and prostitution: Family Organizations. Those people will rip your head off for even showing a bullet shell converted into a necklace to add further intrigue to a mysterious character, all the while claiming that “this character is influencing all the children in the universe to be like John McClane and to solve all their problems by way of violence and shooting!” And I’ve only got to ask one thing: 

Is there really any problem with having more than one McClane? Seriously?

I mean, look at the guy:


You’re telling me that you don’t want to have an entire generation of people who could suddenly morph into a wisecracking badass New York cop at the first sign of a major crime and go to town on the crooks and any building within a 20 yard radius?


Moving on.   


This is the one place where writers can get away with flashing a gun on the screen before the next rating. However, there are many guidelines that they must follow. 

The gun MUST NOT GO OFF. That is rule 1. If it does, the film flops because no one expected to have to clean up the theater after thousands of kids screamed across the world, and then were suddenly silenced by the sound of Mr. Bangy-You’re-Not-Moving. 

Also, the gun must look silly. Kids today have no idea about the intricate values of a Beretta 92 Vertec or a Desert Eagle. Why give their little brains even more material to keep you up at night when the writers can just make it a simple revolver? That way, the child can think it’s a western, and you only need to wait for the sleeping pills to kick in while your child tries to reason with you why this space adventure was in no way a western. 

The gun must be featured only in the last hour of the film. It’s actually shown for ten minutes before it disappears, but the extra fifty minutes is to show the kid that Mr. I-Make-Loud-Noises is gone for good and there is still a world left after being shown this strange and unusual device. Also, the gun must not be loaded. I’m sure there are a ton of bad guys who would object to this, but considering that any and all Family Organizations across the country are still one phone call away from planting their spawn into the villain’s abdomens, their plead to fairness shall be silenced.  

The gun must be disposed of in the silliest way imaginable. 

The gun must be blue instead of black or silver. 

The gun must not be a side dish to a banana split. 

The gun shall be given its own personality, show it’s feelings, identify with the viewer, possibly be given the potential for a spin-off kids series on Cartoon Network. 




In short: just treat it like G and wait in a diabetic coma until the kid’s 13. 


Even for a PG-13 film, don’t expect much. The rules are still just as silly as in PG. 

Rule #1: When shooting at someone, if you are not one of the main characters, you will never hit your target. NEVER. The people firing will have terrible aim and could not be expected to demolish a greenhouse seven feet away from them. I say “people” as opposed to “villains” because the allies are sometimes as useless as the henchmen. There may be inversions to this rule, but it must always abide by the Almighty Condition: the main character must look cool. Forget relatable, caring, or inspiring. If that character doesn’t make the audience go “DAAAAAMMMMMNNNN!!!”, he is sent to the Island of Misfit Franchises. And it has not been a nice place ever since The Golden Compass was relocated over there. 

Rule #2: Reloading is never an issue. You never have to worry about being stuck in a scrape with hardly any ammunition. Because, hey! You’re the good guy! Things like that don’t happen to the good guy! Cool soldiers and mercenaries don’t need to be embarrassed by weapons that can’t keep up with the action. And if the gun should prove unreliable, then they’re easily replaceable and will be swapped out for something even cooler than a lame old gun, such as a cricket bat, or a samurai sword, or even a book! Do you ever need to reload a book? No? Then, I rest my case. 

Rule #3: Experience need not apply. Even if it’s your first time picking up this magnificent invention, don’t expect to not know how to operate it. Chances are, you already know how to do it! Because at one point or another, a character has learned how to do it by way of playing Halo or some other First Person Shooter video game. Better yet, they could just say that watching James Bond taught them how to load and prep a gun. And you just imagine where our culture could have ended up if James Bond wasn’t there to teach people around the world how to properly load a gun and take the safety off. We would have been totem poles. That’s right, you heard me. We’d be living totem poles to the deer and elk that would have invaded our cities and consumed all of our coffee. But did James Bond think that was a noble cause? Hell no! He would have wanted us to save the world, use fancy gadgets, seduce any beautiful person that comes our way, not give a crap about taxes, drink our livers to death, switch out actors every decade or so… 

Now THIS, my friends... is the American Dream.

And who cares if he’s British? He’s still living the American Dream. And that is even more awesome. 


There is a reason that The Black Dahlia, Collateral, and From Paris With Love are rated R. R stands for “Real-Life” (or Awesome, depending on your translation), and as such, you’re expected to see a few inconsistencies than when you went to see The Transporter.

Rule #1: If you shot at someone, the bullet found its target, and they died. Good guys, bad guys, nobodies, sheep, robots, candy bars, aliens, tin cans, babies, Tinkerbell, Switzerland, they all died. Do you remember that rule that no one but the main characters could shoot well in a PG-13? Well, it still holds true, but everyone else’s chances of actually hitting something have gone up 45%.

And that’s a good deal for the bad guys. Originally, if you were a henchman in a PG-13 movie, you’d be branded as suicidal, given nothing but the crappiest guns, then placed in an impossible situation where instead of being given the dignity of dying because you didn’t stay up late enough for your evil maturity tests at film school, you’d simply be knocked out by some flashy and amazing move that makes the main hero more recognizable. In an R rated movie, however, you stand a better chance of killing someone, and these days, that’s rather important for a henchman’s resume. Because now, the audience is all growed up. They can deal with a couple of good guys getting killed. God knows they certainly had no qualms with watching thousands of bad people getting wasted everyday.

That’s another thing: if you were a henchman, don’t expect to be dispatched so easily. More often than not, when you got shot, you got shot quite a few times and in quite a few places, including: Chest, abdomen, head, cheek, leg, foot, hand, arm, shoulder, calf, hair, bellybutton, neck, eye, fingers, fingernails, teeth, bones, muscles, stomach, lungs, kidneys, liver, uvula, brain, blood, plasma, heart, gallbladder, small intestine, large intestine, and last but certainly not smallest of them all, the buttocks.But that was only if you were Tony Montana and were so doped up on cocaine that you actually thought getting shot at was a proposal to eat chocolate posies.

Rule #2: Remember how the guns looked fake in G and PG? You try to tell someone that their Smith & Wesson revolver looked silly, and you were voted “Most Likely To Be Decorated By It Six Times”. To go with the whole “I have no son, so my gun shall be my adoptive child” aspect, guns were meant to be shown as the real deal. They were meant to be handled by a man, to be understood by a man, and on some very extreme levels, to be loved by a man. However, that last part would only lead to late night cleanings and possible slow dances to the tunes of Terri Clark. But the real way that a man showed that he loved his gun was how fast he could make love to it, which was actually the art of taking the gun apart, piece by piece, then putting it back together again. Some people believe that this is where bullets come from, although others still insist that they’re deposited by the Charleton Heston Fairy.   

Rule #3: Reloading has become a bitter reality. In fact, if you’re not careful, you’re gonna find yourself pinned down inside a Chuck E. Cheese. Facing eleven goons with submachine guns. With an empty Beretta. No extra clips. Just a badge. And a wallet. And a drinking straw.

Well, at least you’re only two days away from retirement, huh?  

Oh yeah

Rule #4: Experience still need not apply… but it might be bloody useful. It would be horribly embarrassing if one of the supporting characters was aiming an automatic sub-machine gun at the main villain and pull the trigger, only to discover the gun did nothing. 

It’d be even more embarrassing if said villain takes the gun, flips the little safety switch off, and then shoots that character in the leg. 


Sorry, Samuel L. Jackson. It happens to the best of us. 

 – – – 

So, what have we learned today? 

  • That guns were a horrible creation, an abomination of mankind, and all around third least favorite son and should be made as extinct as the brontosaurus? 
  • That guns are not as reliable as a chainsaw, cyanide pill, or even a rocket launcher? 
  • That the purpose of the gun is still just as much a mystery as it was when we were seven years old and just discovering why there were separate bathrooms? 

Who knows?  

I do know that Rome wasn’t built in a day. And it was certainly built a millennium and a half ago without the help of guns.  

But if they had been around, I can guarantee you that Rome would have been completed in twelve hours.  

So you just lay that gem in your professor’s lap the next time he asks where your homework is.


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