Bill Maher called out filmmakers for churning out revenge flicks and acting shocked when life imitates art
Popular HBO comedian Bill Maher skewered Hollywood liberals for allegedly glorifying gun violence, and especially revenge in their films, then acting shocked when real-life imitators crop up. He partially blamed the violence-saturated movies being marketed to young men for the high levels of gun violence in the US, during his ‘Real Time’ program on Friday.
Maher pointed out that while Hollywood might qualify as the “wokest place on earth” – having banned “bullying, fat-shaming, slut-shaming, girl-chasing, gay-baiting, ethnic stereotypes, or underage hookups where drinking is involved… what we used to call comedies” – it still embraces action heroes who specialize in “getting over a grudge by mowing down a multitude of human beings.”
The only thing we don’t call a trigger is the one that actually has a trigger.
The commentator pointed to data showing that the average American sees 200,000 acts of violence on the screen before they reach the age of 18, and that the FBI classifies a “fascination with violence-filled entertainment” as one of the warning signs of a potential mass shooter.
The issue, he explained, is not that Hollywood is unaware its films inspire imitation among their young male audience – as Maher pointed out, the US Navy is hoping the latest ‘Top Gun’ film will boost pilot recruitment.
The whole point of that blood-soaked action film is to inspire imitators – within the law, of course.
But that distinction tends to disappear in the vast majority of action films, which Maher suggested should be called “revenge movies, because that’s the plot of every one of them.” To prove his point, he read off a list of two dozen ‘action films’ with the word ‘vengeance’ in the title alone – then brought up posters and video clips from several more with the same kind of plot.
“Like every school shooter, our movie heroes are grievance collectors, and when it comes to action movies, there’s one story: ‘he was a nice guy, but they pushed him too far, and now it’s on’,” he continued, before cycling through several examples of popular films that he argued create “a culture of justified violence.”
Maher cited real-life vigilante Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot three people during a Black Lives Matter riot in Kenosha, Wisconsin after he was attacked, pointing out the absurdity of liberals clutching their pearls over Rittenhouse’s actions while churning out “500 movies about vigilantes.” Rittenhouse was cleared of murder charges late last year.
“Don’t look me in the eye and tell me this isn’t a big part of the problem,” he said, adding that “every bad idea a kid can get about how to handle feeling abused and disrespected is in all these movies.”
Maher insisted he was not calling for censorship of movie violence, claiming he would never suggest “organizing society around what crazy people might do,” but was merely pointing out that the onscreen “message from those who hate guns the loudest” works directly against what the same Hollywood moralizers preach offscreen.
Hollywood stars including Matthew McConaughey have made the rounds in media and congressional hearings demanding stricter gun control legislation, even as their coworkers continue to shoot films about people shooting people. Even the sets of such films aren’t always safe. Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died on the set of the western ‘Rust’ last year, as a prop gun held by actor Alec Baldwin, which was supposed to be unloaded, discharged a live round.