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Jack Reacher, Django Delays: Do Movies Really Play Role in Violence?

Jamie Foxx as Django in Quentin Tarantino's 'Django Unchained.

Jamie Foxx as Django in Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained.

Quentin Tarantino’s latest film “Django Unchained” and Tom Cruise’s “Jack Reacher” have both delayed splashy premieres as a result of the Newtown elementary school massacre. Is Hollywood finally admitting a connection between film and real life violence?

Critics have long contended that the increasing explicit violence of modern movies and video games is desensitizing and in some cases encouraging young people to commit murders. There is, however, no direct evidence yet that movies or videos motivated Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza.

The delay in premieres for both violent movies was ostensibly done out of respect for the families of the children and loved ones murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

But it could also be construed to mean Hollywood is tacitly admitting that a connection really exists between movie violence and the random acts of violence that have swept the country in recent years. Although Tarentino hotly denied one.

“I just think you know there’s violence in the world, tragedies happen, blame the playmakers,” he told reporters according to the BBC. “It’s a Western. Give me a break.”

Movies and video games have become increasingly realistic in the portrayal of killing people and often feature the use of sophisticated weapons to kill scores of people.

Like Tarantino’s other films, “Django Unchained,” is particularly gruesome and explicit. The movie, set in the pre-Civil War south, is about an ex-slave’s revenge on white people in response to the injustice of slavery.

Jamie Foxx, who plays the ex-slave turned bounty hunter, said during the opening monologue on Saturday Night Live Dec. 8, that “killing all the whites” in his new movie was “great.”

Foxx, however, did acknowledge a connection. “We cannot turn our back and say that violence in films or anything that we do doesn’t have a sort of influence. It does,” he told The Associated Press.

Ironically, “Jack Reacher” is about a highly decorated ex-military man who becomes a loner and drifter. The plot involves a random shooting where a sniper kills five people in Pittsburgh, Penn. Police arrest a man, and Reacher is called in to unravel what’s behind the shooting.

The Weinstein Co., which produced “Django Unchained” offered the company’s “thoughts and prayers” to the families of victims and said it decided to forego the event “in this time of national mourning.”

The company had planned a red carpet event and party. Instead, it held a private screening for the cast and crew and their friends and families. Despite its violence, the film has been nominated for five Golden Globe awards.

In another irony, the film will be released Christmas Day, supposedly a day of peace.

Paramount Pictures canceled a weekend premiere for “Jack Reacher” and New York’s Lincoln Center Film Society postponed a Monday screening and talk with Cruise out of respect for the Newtown families.

The Newtown massacre has renewed fervor on Capitol Hill for stricter controls on guns and a possible ban on the sale of assault weapons. Should film, television and video game violence be part of the debate?

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