Hollywood to launch media education campaign after Newtown criticism


In the wake of the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and some lawmakers have argued that violent, shoot 'em up movies, TV shows and video games contribute to aggressive behavior in real life. At a press conference in the days after the Sandy Hook shooting, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre pointed fingers at "blood-soaked slasher films like 'American Psycho' and 'Natural Born Killers.' "

While the trade groups' statement does not mention Sandy Hook or the ongoing gun-violence debate in Washington, the new campaign reflects the entertainment industry's response to the recent criticism it has faced.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), National Association of Broadcasters, National Cable and Telecommunications Association, American Cable Association and National Association of Theatre Owners are spearheading the multimedia campaign with their member companies. The chief executives of many of these entertainment trade groups met with Vice President Biden in January to discuss ways to reduce gun violence in the United States. The groups have said they stand ready to participate in the debate and find "meaningful solutions" to gun violence.

As part of the new campaign, movie theaters will screen advertising about the film ratings system. DirectTV, Verizon and other campaign participants will also use social media to educate parents about the ratings systems and how to activate parental blocking controls.

The groups said the new multimedia initiative aims to educate the public about the diverse range of content that the TV and film industries provide, as well as the parental control technology available to parents. They also emphasized that information is available to parents to help them decide what entertainment content they do and do not want their children to view.

Former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), the head of the MPAA, said in a speech earlier this month that regulating violent content in movies is not the answer to reducing gun violence in the country. Instead, he called for reforms to the mental-health system and for more public education on the media content resources available to parents.

"There's a temptation, I think, to do that. I think the best space to be in is giving people the right information they need to make the right choice, particularly parents," Dodd said.