Jim Carrey recently announced that he will not support Kick-Ass 2, the new feature film in which he plays a leading role, due to the extreme violence that the film portrays.
Some critics have denounced Carrey for relinquishing his support of the film many months after agreeing to portray his character; nonetheless, recent events have certainly altered many attitudes toward violence in the media.
Kick-Ass 2 is the story of a high-school hero named Kick-Ass who joins with a group of costumed citizens — led by Carrey's character named Colonel Stars and Stripes — to fight crime and enemies. It is based on the comic book series written by Mark Millar, which according tothe Rolling Stone, "boasts flashy, stylized violence and plenty of it." The movie, scheduled to be released on August 16, is rated R for its adult content, including "strong violence."
On Sunday, Carrey posted on his Twitter, @JimCarrey: "I did Kickass a month b4 Sandy Hook and now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence." He then posted, "my apologies to others involve with the film. I am not ashamed of it but recent events have caused a change in my heart." The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that took place last December in Newtown, CT lead to the deaths of 20 school children and six adults.
Throughout his extensive career, Carrey has played primarily comedic roles and has tended to shy away from taking on violent roles.
It is hard to criticize the actor for being influenced by the recent traumatic events that have shaken America to its core. In addition to the Sandy Hook tragedy, the Aurora, Colo. shooting last summer during the premiere of Batman, The Dark Knight Rises took 12 lives while over 50 were injured in the shooting.
Millar is an executive producer for the film adaptation of his comic; according to Fox News, he explained that Carrey — "a passionate advocate of gun-control" — was originally attracted to the role because his character is a Born-Again Christian who actually refuses to fire a gun.
In a blog post, Millar wrote that he respects Carrey, his opinions and his politics, but he was "baffled by this sudden announcement as nothing seen in this picture wasn't in the screenplay eighteen months ago.”
But we must recognize that the events of Sandy Hook and Aurora were not apparent eighteen months ago. Both of the massacres have taken place within the past year, and many Americans have since called for both stricter gun control laws and less violence portrayed by the media. Carrey has evidently become convinced that violent story lines and portrayals in the media promote real life violence.
Millar, however, disagrees; "like Jim, I'm horrified by real-life violence (even though I'm Scottish), but Kick-Ass 2 isn't a documentary," he said, according tothe Rolling Stone.
"I've never quite bought the notion that violence in fiction leads to violence in real-life any more than Harry Potter casting a spell creates more Boy Wizards in real-life," he added, according to the Daily Mail.
Studies about the effect of violence in the media are controversial. According to recent studies reported by CNN, it is virtually impossible to keep kids completely unexposed to violence from the influences of movies, TV, music and video games, but the effects of those images on the brain or psyche are unclear. While a violent scene in a movie is unlikely to directly drive an individual to violent action, it is not hard to imagine that such portrayals in the media could present frightening ideas.
While Carrey's decision to revoke his support for Kick-Ass 2 might sound hypocritical and unfair to the film's production team and cast, it is hard to criticize the actor for taking a public stance for a very serious issue in which he strongly believes.