Like video games, Hollywood's sometimes violent tendencies often come under question after mass shootings like the one that occurred in Newtown last Friday. Out of deference to the victims' families, and also in a likely effort to avoid controversy, movie studios and television networks have altered their schedules and amended their plans. Also: dictionaries.
Following the shooting at a movie theater in Aurora during a showing of The Dark Knight Rises in July, Warner Bros. made the decision to cut a scene out of the Ryan Gosling-Sean Penn movie Gangster Squad and delay its release until the following year. That movie is once again creating problems, this time for an ad that aired during NFL play Sunday. The people at Twitchy broke down the Twitter outrage over the gun violence in the commercial. Meanwhile, Harvey Weinstein's production company canceled tonight's Los Angeles premiere of Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained, opting for a private screening instead. Tarantino, whose movies are known for their violence (this one being no exception), said at a junket Saturday, according to The Hollywood Reporter: "I just think there's violence in the world. Tragedies happen." He added that "[Django] is a Western. Give me a break." His star Jamie Foxx, however, took the stance that violence in films does have an "influence." Tom Cruise's Jack Reacher, which opens Friday — with a sniper shooting — also had an event postponed, and promotional materials amended. Sources told THR that "a scene of Cruise's character firing off a semi-automatic weapon is being cut from promotional spots."
The small screen made quick decisions regarding programming as well. Fox pulled episodes of Family Guy and American Dad, while Syfy didn't air this week's Haven, which featured violence in a high school. As far as the two cartoons go, Deadline's Nellie Andreeva reported: "While I hear the American Dad episode does feature gun violence, I hear the holiday-themed edition of Family Guy does not contain violence but, in a typical Family Guy non-PC fashion, pokes fun at religion, which was deemed inappropriate for last weekend." The Haven and Family Guy episodes have now been rescheduled. Online, ABC pulled (and has since restored) an episode of Scandal from its website that involved the murder of a family of four. As for reality shows, TLC delayed the premiere of Best Funeral Ever and Discovery canceled American Guns. Though Andreeva points out that sources say the decision to cancel American Guns "was quietly made awhile ago," she adds "The fact that the network is not even keeping repeats of the show on the air indicate that the Connecticut tragedy may have played at least some part in the decision." The show's Facebook page was barraged by angry messages. Those who might have tuned into see the season finale of Homeland got a disclaimer warning that the show may contain disturbing images given the events of Friday. The show included a terrorist attack that killed 200 people. Dexter, another Showtime drama that depicts even more brutal violence, carried the same disclaimer.
As Richard Lawson pointed out Ke$ha's song "Die Young" has been doing poorly in the charts since the ode to partying before untimely death now seems inappropriate. TMZ reported that radio stations have been pulling the song off the air. (Update: Billboard has a story about how radio is reacting, explaining that Foster the People's song "Pumped Up Kicks" is "now taboo.")
Yes, this is a strange category, and while the move was less of a preemptive measure and more of a covering of behinds, the Oxford English Dictionary had to apologize after "bloodbath" was deemed its word of the day. In a statement the OED wrote: "The OED word of the day is selected months in advance by an editorial committee, and is distributed automatically each day. The timing of today’s word is a coincidence of the worst kind, and we apologize for any distress or upset caused by what might seem to be a highly insensitive choice."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.