After last month's Newtown, Conn., school shooting reignited debate about the causes of gun violence in the U.S., some in Hollywood weighed in by appearing in a public service announcement calling for stricter gun control measures.
Now the star-studded PSA -- which features Jamie Foxx, Steve Carell, Jon Hamm, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Aniston and others -- has inspired a parody video of those celebrities wielding guns in films and TV shows.
The parody illustrates the awkward position Hollywood finds itself in with respect to gun violence: While many entertainers may support tighter gun control measures in real life, their livelihoods often depend on playing trigger-happy characters. And when confronted with tougher gun laws, many pro-gun lobbyists have in turn pointed a finger at the entertainment industry's depiction of violence.
The original PSA, posted on YouTube Dec. 21 as part of a campaign by the coalition group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, has been downloaded more than 6 million times. Directed by Jay Roach ("The Campaign," "Dinner for Schmucks") and Jesse Peretz ("Our Idiot Brother," "Girls") and shot in black and white, the PSA features various performers somberly entreating the audience to "demand a plan to end gun violence."
The video came together within a week after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, as various entertainers sought a way to respond to the tragedy, according to Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group of 800 mayors including L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
The parody video, entitled "Demand a Plan? Demand Celebrities Go ___," was posted on YouTube last week under a pseudonym. Edited in both clean and expletive-laden versions (the clean one is above), the video intercuts the actors' words from the PSA with footage of the same stars often gleefully firing guns on screen, including Foxx in "Django Unchained," Hamm in "The Town," Diaz in "Knight and Day" and "A Life Less Ordinary," Aniston in "The Bounty Hunter" and Carell in "Get Smart."In the last week, the two versions of the parody video have been downloaded several hundred thousand times.
After a YouTube commenter implied that the creator of the video might be a gun lobbyist, the parodist replied, "I'm stationed in the secret underground bunker beneath the NRA headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, with the reanimated corpse of Charlton Heston."
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Though the parody points out the delicate line many celebrities walk with regard to violence, it doesn't diminish the central issue of the mayors' campaign, according to Glaze.
"Would it be useful for Hollywood to spend less time glorifying gun violence? Sure," Glaze said. "But the problem isn't Hollywood make-believe. It's easy access to guns. Nobody in those movies actually died."