What first surprised me about Carrey’s tweets was the timing of them. My guess is that he has only recently seen the final cut of the film, explaining why such a statement and decision was taken now and not earlier. Like many I admire and commend Jim Carrey for taking a public stance on such an issue, something that requires bravery, however an actor of the stature of Jim Carrey is among the elite few in Hollywood who can perhaps afford to do so. However while I have some appreciation and understanding, I also find Carrey’s comments rather unfair to the film and those who worked on it. Jim Carrey was undoubtedly a huge part of Universal’s planned promotion for this film and I cannot believe that Carrey would be allowed to simply skip on it. Many people would have worked long and hard on this film and with these comments Carrey is putting the commercial success of the film under threat. He is unnecessarily darkening it and clouding it with the specter of the gun control debate, and through distancing himself from it, is robbing the film of its star, marquee name and MVP. Whether you fundamentally agree or disagree with the content of Carrey’s tweets, they are undoubtedly irresponsible, unfair and arguably selfish, in regards to how it may affect the film itself and as a result all those who worked on it. The first Kick-Ass was not a huge success, it’s a surprise that we even have a sequel, one that was going to need all the help it could get to be the commercial success it’s predecessor wasn’t. The casting of Carrey and the positive buzz surrounding his performance seemed to be that help, now the man himself doesn’t wish to associate himself with the film.
Some may argue that this won’t damage the box office; it was always a cult property and those who wanted to go see it will not be swayed by this. However with Carrey on the publicity trail, it could have transcended its cult status and become a mainstream commercial hit, perhaps for Kick-Ass fans this may ultimately be a blessing in disguise, as they can still be ‘hip’ and ‘edgy’ in their adoration of it.
Moving away from concurrently commending and criticizing the action, towards the content of the comments themselves, I fundamentally disagree with the assertion that there is a relationship or correlation between film violence and actual violence. I myself frequently and enthusiastically consume violent entertainment; I’ve been raised on it. From the games I play, to the TV and films I watch and the music I listen to, violence is everywhere. Yet I have never, nor do I plan to commit a violent act. As Tarantino said when being pressed during the promotional tour for Django Unchained, the issue is not movies; the issues are mental health and gun control. It is in my eyes offensive to all involved to make cinema the scapegoat for or associate it with such actions. Offensive to the filmmakers with pure intentions and offensive to those involved who are having their tragedy trivialized and hijacked by an agenda. It is dangerous and irresponsible to connect the two and distracts from the real conversations that should be being had. For me, a line from Wes Craven’s Scream perfectly summarizes how I feel about this issue, “Movies don’t create psychos, movies just make them more creative” It’s also important to note, that violence in media can offer a cathartic release. I’d rather have any children I may have perpetrate sickening violence in the Grand Theft Auto games, as I myself have done, rather than perpetrate such sickening violence in real life. If anything we NEED violence in our media, to offer that primal release that prevents us from embracing our more animalistic origins in ‘civilized society’
There was real-life violence perpetrated before Kick-Ass 2 and there will be real-life violence perpetrated after Kick-Ass 2. I am not Jim Carrey nor do I know him personally and will not speculate as to his thought process (Aside from my earlier theory that he has only recently seen a final cut of the film) Like many I am confused at the timing of such comments, surprised due to his support of the original film and willingness to be in this film in the first place, doubtful whether he’ll truly be able to avoid doing any promotion for the film, worried for the film itself and all those who worked on it and disagree with the content of the comments. I’m not going to call Jim Carrey a hypocrite (People change and events change people) or misguided, I just want to state a respectful and fundamental disagreement.
As Mark Millar (Writer of the Kick-Ass comics) stated in his eloquent and thoughtful response to the Carrey comments, the way in which the violence is portrayed in Kick-Ass 2 is preferable over the sanitized violence we find in films marketed at children. The first Kick-Ass showed the bloody effects of violence, albeit in an admittedly comic and over the top manner, however is that more reckless or irresponsible than the latest Superman movie in which thousands of lives are taken with little thought, visible effect or remorse and the man who is supposed to be a shining example to all of us, snaps a man’s neck?
Ultimately I find Carrey’s comments irresponsible in regards to the film and the assertion they make equally if not more irresponsible. Like all of us however, he is entitled to his opinion, I may fundamentally disagree with the opinion and find the expression of such an opinion and such a planned action unfair to others, however in an age where many Hollywood actors, even those bigger and more untouchable than Jim Carrey, are so passive, it is refreshing and commendable to see such a stance taken, a noble and ultimately understandable stance. Carrey has clearly been greatly affected by recent events and feels passionately about this issue. I did not want to join the list of tweets immaturely and coarsely criticizing Carrey. I instead wanted to attempt to write coherently and clearly, why it is I find the comments unfair and why I disagree with them, yet also express an understanding and appreciation. Am I going to join the calls for Jim to donate his Kick-Ass 2 money to charity? Yes. Why? Well who doesn’t want money given to charity, also why should Jim Carrey personally financially gain from a film that he is no longer going to support and in doing so is actively working against its chances of financial success? However while he may no longer be supporting the film, he did do the work, fantastic work if early press is to be believed, and that should not go without its reward.
I doubt Jim himself will read this, however if he does I hope I personally demonstrate how film violence doesn’t inspire real-life violence, how all of us with a sane mind can tell the difference and we shouldn’t let such events dilute or change our art. This is a routine debate, each time its raised the points are made and nothing changes, the violent entertainment continues and the violent acts continue. Take away one and the other will still exist. Let’s try and stop violent acts by truly gaining an understanding as to what causes them, film need not be left out of that equation but don’t let the media focus solely on it because it sells, the true root causes of violence the mainstream media is unwilling to explore because it touches upon things that we do not yet fully understand and perhaps never will.
All this discussion could yet help Kick-Ass 2, Carey could yet join the promotional tour and it could be a huge hit. Only time will tell, however it saddens me to see what will surely be a ridiculously violent, yet ultimately well intentioned film, be sabotaged by one of its own. If Jim Carey feels like this film now clashes with his personal beliefs and feels uncomfortable with it, then he should not be forced to promote it. However he also shouldn’t financially benefit from it and he shouldn’t darken its name. These are two things that have yet to happen and may not, although in directly associating the film with Sandy Hook in a tweet, he is doing it no favours.
Ultimately Jim Carrey can't support the film and I understand why. However his public disassociation from it could damage the film's chances at success, and I personally believe that he need not have a guilty conscience for being in a violent film, following real-life violent acts.
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister,
Give us your thoughts on Kick-Ass, Jim Carrey's comments and the nature of violence in entertainment in the comments below.