CBS Makes Vague Promise Of Sensitivity On Violent Shows Post-Newtown

In a fairly meaningless gesture, the head of CBS’ entertainment division has promised the network will be sensitive on its violent programs following the December 14th massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 27 people dead. 

Nina Tassler excused the violence on the channel’s crime procedurals, according to Yahoo, by explaining that on CBS programs, the bad guy always loses and the good guy always wins. However, what the specifics of the "reneweed sensitivity" post-Newtown (and post-Taft) even means is unclear.   

CBS, of course, aren’t the only ones grappling with how to handle violence on TV in a post-Newtown era that’s galvanized both pro- and anti-gun control activists. Immediately following the massacre, Paramount Pictures rescheduled its premiere for Jack Reacher, a violent flick starring Tom Cruise as a detective who hunts down a sniper. Arnold Schwarzenegger (who is an actor again)  added his peanut gallery opinion last week when he defended his new movie The Last Stand — in which he fires a gun from a school bus — calling guns on film "entertainment" and suggested stricter gun laws. And of course, there was that awkward "Demand A Plan For Gun Violence" video starring a bunch of celebrities who got roundly criticized for using guns onscreen. 

Please God, let’s just not let what happened in Newtown become an episode of Law & Order: SVU?

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

R. Kelly Releases ‘I Know You Are Hurting’ For Newtown Victims’ Families

R. Kelly has released a tribute to the victims of the Newtown, Connecticut, massacre and will donate all proceeds from the iTunes sales to their families.

Via Consequence of Sound, I Know You Are Hurting features a children’s choir singing lyrics of love and support.  

It’s touching a touching tribute, calling to mind the children’s choir who sang Silent Night on Saturday Night Live on the night after the shooting and the children’s chorus from P.S. 22.

Listen below:

 

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

Guns In Movies Are Just “Entertainment,” Says Ah-nold

Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t in politics anymore, praise be, and he’s now back to making macho films for the 15- to 35-year-old male small penis demographic. Ah-nold got pressed by reporters about violence his new movie The Last Stand and insisted that killing people onscreen with guns is just good old-fashioned "entertainment."

According to the Hollywood ReporterThe Last Stand features "features extensive shootouts, including Schwarzenegger firing a Gatling-style gun from the back of a school bus. But Ah-nold dodged that bullet (pun intended) like the ex-politician he is:

I think one must always keep it separate. This is entertainment and the other thing is a tragedy beyond belief and serious and the real deal. … Whenever there’s a tragedy like that it would be foolish not to look into all ways of what we can do as a society to improve the situation and to reduce the risk of those kind of issues … How can we do better with gun laws? If there is any loophole, if there’s a problem there, let’s analyze it. Does a mother need to collect those guns and take her little kids shooting? … Everything has to be analyzed, no stone unturned. And I think that’s what we owe to our people, and I think that’s what they ought to do, rather than make it political.

An utter and complete dodge: he suggests partial blame for the Newtown, Connecticut, massacre was Nancy Lanza collecting guns and taking her son Adam Lanza shooting as a kid. Really, Arnold? Do you really not see your movies as complicit in the glorification of violence in entertainment that Adam Lanza could not have avoided unless he had been cloistered away like a monk? No, it’s easier to just blame the mother.

Ah-nold doesn’t even make sense, either: in one breath he asks "How can we do better with gun laws?", which is a political pmatter, and then he decries "mak[ing] it political." Which one is it going to be?

Not that I had particularly high expectations for Arnold Schwarzenegger but this is up there at the top of the list of gun-loving conservative dodges that are at once nonsensical and irresponsible.  

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YouTuber Reminds Pro-Gun Control Celebs They Use A Lot Of Guns Onscreen

It didn’t take long after the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, for a gaggle of Hollywood celebs to film a PSA urging for better gun control.

The video by Demand A Plan For Gun Violence, which has racked up over six million views on YouTube alone, includes pleas from celebs like Beyoncé, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Rock, Selena Gomez, Jennifer Aniston, Jon Hamm, Julianne Moore, Jamie Foxx, Paul Rudd, and Ellen DeGeneres.

But one YouTube user would like to point out that more than a few of these folks seem all too happy to use guns when onscreen violence is called for.

I suppose the video "Demand Celebrities Go Fuck Themselves" could be seen as a statement about hypocris.  Other examples fall flat — like, I doubt that three seconds of Amy Poehler goofing around onscreen with a gun has contributed deeply to gun violence quite the way that action films have, which doesn’t seem fair.  

It’s well-researched, to say the least:

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

P.S. 22 Chorus Sing Their Hearts Out for Sandy Hook

The students of the P.S. 22 Chorus usually make an appearance around the Internet whenever they record a pop hit or the latest indie earworm. But this week, with many still grieving after last week’s tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut, the kids reached out and paid tribute to other kids like them in the way they do best, in song. The chorus recorded a special performance of the Sandy Hook Elementary School song, posted this week. The results, unsurprisingly, are pretty moving. 

As choir director Gregg Breinberg writes:

"I am extremely proud of the maturity, empathy, and love displayed yesterday by the PS22 Chorus when the kids recorded this tribute to the children, teachers, and families affected by the tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton [sic], CT. It was without a doubt the most difficult song for me and the kids to have to teach and learn respectively (for reasons that need not be explained), but in the end, I believe it was important and cathartic for all of us to do this."

In the wake of the initial horror, there has been a lot of national and international discourse en masse about big, important things that need to be addressed—some of it constructive, some of it not so much. And discourse and action do need to happen. But it’s also healing for everyone to occasionally take the advice of  that great teacher for students of any age, Mr. Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’" To see the kids of P.S. 22 doing what they knew how and helping their peers in Connecticut and beyond, helping other kids and offering that kind of empathy and love—that’s something worth blogging home about. I hope you’ll reach out and show some love, not just to the people of Newtown but wherever you think it’s needed, too. 

After the performance, some of the students offered messages of comfort to the students at Sandy Hook. One says, "They stay right there, right there," while pointing to his chest. And then, the tears start all over again. Watch, listen and be good to each other, today and all the days. 

Cartoonist Matt Bors On His Facebook Friendship With Ryan Lanza, Who Isn’t The Newtown Murderer

On Friday afternoon, the name "Ryan Lanza" is the name that began whipping around the Internet as a possible identity of the shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary, in Newtown, Connecticut. In time the mainstream media would learn and report that Adam Lanza, Ryan’s younger brother, was the shooter and had been carrying his big brother’s ID. But one of the first people to realize and report the mistaken identity was cartoonist Matt Bors, who is Facebook friends with the elder Lanza.

In a piece published this weekend on his web site MattBors.com, Bors explains that he is Facebook friends with someone named Ryan Lanza, who he does not know, just like he is friends with many fans of his work through his page. 

As the MSM and social media began reporting "Ryan Lanza" as the name of the alleged killer — who was dead inside the school building — Bors noticed his friend Lanza was updating Facebook simultaneoulsy with comments like "Fuck you CNN it wasn’t me."

Bors’ piece is worth an entire read. He touches upon the influence of social media on journalism and how the race to be "first" has trumped the race to be "right." Some food for thought.

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

In Memory Of Newtown, Children’s Choir Sings ‘Silent Night’ For ‘SNL’ Open

Saturday Night Live paid tribute to the 28 people who lost their lives in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday morning — just 60 miles from the show’s New York City stage — in a bittersweet opening monologue last night.

The New York City Children’s Choir performed Silent Night, both a holiday song and one that has been sung by mourners in Newtown.   

It was a tasteful performance, the likes of which the entertainment business and celebrities would be good to copy. Both Fox and SyFy rescheduled controversial episodes of TV shows in the wake of the tragedy and Paramount rescheduled the premiere of Jack Reacher, an action film starring Tom Cruise that about a sniper who kills innocent people. Barry Manilow even rescheduled a concert. (Rick Ross didn’t fare as well in the sensitivity department at a show on Friday night.) 

Here’s the performance by the New York City Children’s Choir:

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Remembering Ani DiFranco’s ‘To The Teeth’ In Light Of The Newtown Massacre

On a more personal note, the past 36+ hours have been extremely difficult for me, as I am from a Connecticut town just 20 minutes from Newton. Both Newtown and the enclave of Sandy Hook are places that I have spent time throughout my life. It’s utterly inconceivable to me that 27 people were murdered there yesterday morning. As I have tried to wrap my head around this senseless violence, I keep coming back Ani Di Franco’s song about gun violence, To The Teeth

When To The Teeth came out on an album of the same name in 1999, it was on the heels of school shootings like the ones in Littleton, Colorado; Jonesboro, Arkansas; and West Paducah, Kentucky. When DiFranco sang:

school kids keep trying to teach us / what guns are all about / and every year now like Chrismas / some kid gets the milkfed surbarban blues / reaches for the available arsenal / and saunters off to make the news

it was easy to think about those school kids with guns, the ones who lived in the South or the Midwest, places that have a more vibrant gun culture, places where people belong to the NRA and care about hunting. It felt like something that happens "out there," over there, to other people. Gun nuts, even. 

Well, now it is 13 years later and school kids are still trying to teach us what guns are all about. And now they’re doing it, literally, in my backyard. Thirteen years later, this song still fits. Thirteen years later, the song is still devastating and Ani is still right:

if I hear one more time about a fool’s right to his tools of rage / I’m going to take all my friends and move to Canada / and we’re going to die of old age

My thoughts are with the victims, their family, and the Newtown, Connecticut, community. 

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

Rick Ross Drops F-Bomb In Tribute To Kids Killed By Newtown Massacre

That was wellmeaning, Rick Ross … but no.

Ross performed at Power 106’s annual Cali Christmas Concert in California last night, despite numerous other performances, premieres and concerts being rescheduled in light of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 28 people dead. 

While onstage, Ross said "I wanna send all my prayers out to all the kids who lost their mothefucking lives in Connecticut. Amen. Amen. We will all rap for them. Put your hands in the sky," before performing a song.

I’m not sure that "motherfucking lives" is the best way to refer to six- and seven-year-olds who were shot multiple times each by a murderer.

But maybe I’m just being sensitive. 

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.