With gun violence becoming a near-daily occurrence in America, Hollywood is hoping to use its influence to create more authentic and sensible depictions of gun ownership. In collaboration with Brady, an organization empowering the creative community in the movement to end gun violence, over 200 writers, directors and producers, including J.J. Abrams, Judd Apatow and Damon Lindelof signed an open letter to “lead positive cultur[al] change by modeling firearm safety on-set.”
And in collaboration with that several creatives of the film and television, including actors Adam Brody and Piper Perabo, are traveling to Washington D.C. to discuss the #ShowYourSafety initiative. Before heading to the White House, Brody and Perabo sat down with TheWrap for the panel “Addressing Gun Violence in TV & Film” to discuss their association with the organization and why they hope their allyship can help create actionable change with regards to gun safety on-screen.
“I work on a lot of shows that use weapons,” Perabo said. “I think that there’s a real power in storytelling to normalize culture. We can do a lot to end gun violence with some basic safety measures.” For those working with Brady on the #ShowYourSafety initiative, that includes depicting what sensible gun ownership can look like. Perabo points to an example in the Taylor Sheridan series “Mayor of Kingstown” on Paramount+ wherein a character uses their fingerprint to open a gun lockbox and checks for the weapon without using it.
“It created tension,” said Perabo. “It explains that these are heroes and responsible parents because they have children in the house, and 4.6 million children live in houses with access to guns that are in unlocked storage or unsafe storage. We can normalize that, as responsible parents, if you are a gun owner, that’s just part of the story. That’s just normal.”
For Brody, the issue is a complex one. He admits that, growing up, his mother didn’t buy him toy guns. “We [would] take cardboard paper tubes and tape everything together, whatever we [could] to [pretend to] kill each other. So I am not immune to the seductive power, to this day, of them,” he said. That being said, he sees the issue as analogous to the move to treat smoking on-screen and in advertising harshly.
“We could all have an elevated conversation, and take a step back and think twice before you write that gun into a scene. Think twice before you film it. Think twice about it before you put it in advertising and you put it on an outdoor billboard,” he said. “That stuff imprints on kids very, very early on and I’ve seen with my own kids how quick they absorb it.”
The discussion with regard to gun violence in America often brings up the double-standard involving sex. Why are sex scenes often rated harsher than violence? For Brody, it’s worth pointing out the dichotomy. “It’s crazy that you can’t see a breast,” he said. “But if you want to see a lot of heads get blown off, no problem. That’s as American as apple pie.”
Perabo is hopeful that the increase in awareness, coupled with the rise of the politically conscious generation known as Gen Z, that change can happen. “These kids are marching with signs. It’s a plan. They have a sit-in; they’re speaking to their principal; they’re speaking to their elected officials. They are so organized because they care so much and that really inspires me,” she said. It’s part of what makes this White House trip so exciting. For Perabo, she hopes the time is right to create an industry plan and try to see if they can craft actionable goals. “It’s exciting that we’re going to the White House in this moment where there’s a lot of momentum about what we can do for the future. I would love our industry to be able to say, ‘We will take this step,” she said.
Watch the full panel in the video above.