This past week I attended a screening of a film that deals with a lot of violence. That screening was the first time I got nervous in a movie theater. I didn’t think about it until I left to grab some popcorn and came back to see everyone being wanded with metal detectors. I actually hesitated before going back in. Just for a second, but I did. Part of it might be that, as I was driving the other day, I was rerouted around a deadly shooting in my neighborhood in Los Angeles, mere miles from my house. But mostly it’s because I can’t open my computer or turn on the news without hearing about yet another one.
This week, a jury voted unanimously that Aurora theater shooter James Holmes can get the death penalty. On July 23, a shooter killed two women and injured nine others at a showing of “Trainwreck” in Louisiana. Today “Trainwreck” star Amy Schumer joined her cousin New York Senator Chuck Schumer, and called for more background checks for gun purchasers.
Whatever your views on guns in America, it’s hard to argue with that. Schumer said she expects to receive death threats for her views (she regularly gets them for her comedy), and yet she spoke out anyway. “I was heartbroken when I heard about Columbine and Sandy Hook and Aurora and so many other names of places that are seared into our memories,” she said, “and I was heartbroken again when I heard about Lafayette. And I still am.”
Whenever a celebrity talks about something that’s important to them, there are those who say that they should “stick to acting,” as though choosing that profession means they can’t have political opinions. I don’t think that argument can be made here. I don’t think it can be made at all, anymore, about anything.
Frankly, this isn’t even a story about gun violence and what to do about it. It’s about speaking up. Yes, it’s exhausting to scroll through my Facebook feed and see how many people are pissed off about something, but at least they’re talking. I don’t know if gun violence has escalated since I was younger, but it’s certainly getting talked about more. I know it’s frustrating to hear so much virtual yelling, but hiding from controversy hasn’t done anyone any favors.
It’s frightening to speak out sometimes. After the backlash I got from writing about Gamergate and feminism, I thought about backing down. Heck, I’m nervous to even post this story after hearing what some other writers have gone through and I’m no celebrity. It’s just too important to stay silent about things that matter anymore.
Whatever you think about celebrities using their fame as a platform for a discussion about what they believe in (on either side), you have to admit that it gets attention. There is nothing wrong with that if it gets a conversation about something important going.
I’m not talking about screaming back and forth here. I’m talking about having a reasoned discussion. Whatever side of whatever fence you’re on, speak out. Things only get done when you shine a light on what’s wrong.