Guns and Other Firearms
I started thinking about this subject last week when I saw this wonderful viral video on another blog. You’ve probably seen it already, the Scarface school play. Shock and disgust quickly turned to confusion when I found out it was not “real”. It was instead simply a video made to attract viewers. I still couldn’t get my head around it. Were they marketing something? If so, where was the product placement and why hadn’t I seen it? And then, I came across this interview with the creators of the video. Ohhhh… they were trying to make a social commentary. Right. Got it.
Before I start into this next part, I must explain that I am no prude and I believe in exposing my kids to age appropriate real world experiences and themes. I occasionally catch myself swearing in front of my children; they listen to rock, r&b or rap music as we no longer have any “kids” CDs in the house (they never liked them anyway); we have already begun explaining sex to my 4 year old (although I believe Derek used the euphamism “when a man and woman spend time together”). When they ask a question, I believe in giving an honest, un-Disney answer.
But when it comes to guns and firearms, my beliefs are unequivocal. I say a big fat no. I have said “no dad, you cannot buy him a machine gun water pistol for your backyard, even if it’s at your house”, or, “no Uncle (my brother), you cannot give my 4 year-old the dart set that you transported all the way from Africa until he’s much older, even if it is magnetic (okay that’s not a firearm, but come on!)”.
My younger brother was so into guns; he and his friends would spend hours in the basement playing guns. And my parents would say, “don’t point the gun at a person”. What? What do you think they were doing down there for hours? Shooting spiders? I got many a dart from a gun in my forehead, and so did my friends.
Derek and I are 100% in agreement on guns and themes of extreme violence. Guns and firearms are deadly weapons and there is no reason to encourage any sort of imaginary play with them (no matter how creative; my brother had some really great storylines as a child). I also try to discourage cartoons with guns; what is it about Transformers that is attractive anyway? I prefer good old-fashioned hand-to-hand combat any day. Spiderman, Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny are thankfully our current favs.
There is no doubt in our mind that our boys have been, and will continue to be exposed to firearms at school, on-screen and at their friends’ homes, but not in our home. But I digress…
Back to the viral video: What were the parents of the children in this play or video shoot or whatever thinking? I think it must have been interesting for Scarface’s mother to run lines with her son.
And the producers, writers, directors, self-marketers, whatever-they were, the social commentary was less from them but about them. This video was simply a tool to get their work viewed by a wide audience. There was no original content, no creativity, just pure desire for page views (or whatever you call it for a youtube video). Simple self-promotion at its best, through exploitation.
Now I’ll tell you what I really think. Just kidding.
Here is a good PSA that explains how I feel about imaginary play with firearms:
So, the big question is, if you had a child who wanted to be an actor, and they had the opportunity to be part of this video, would you let them participate if you thought it might further their career? In this particular case, the video has been seen over 2 million times so those kids are certainly getting exposure.
One small confession: I called a little water pistol that came in a beach toy set a “water sprayer” once because Little D saw it before I could get it into the nearest trash bin.