By Arlene Washington
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Hollywood should portray safer use of guns in television and film at a time of rampant gun violence in the United States, USC Annenberg’s Norman Lear Center for Hollywood, Health and Society said in a report released on Tuesday.
“Trigger Warning: Gun Guidelines for the Media” encompasses more than 20 years of gun data and trends revolving around the statistic that firearms are the leading cause of death in children and teens in the United States.
“If television can embrace depicting gun safety, we will see people in America become more comfortable with securing their guns safely at home,” Norman Lear Center program director Kate Folb told Reuters.
Folb, who has spent years studying the correlation between entertainment and society, says that simply showing safe gun storage onscreen can have a lasting impact.
The guidelines break down the problematic influence of guns in America through myth debunking, intimate partner violence, mass shootings and children’s programming, and offers suggestions for improving the representation without sacrificing storylines.
The report was developed with support from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which after the mass shooting of children and teachers in Uvalde, Texas, a year ago, wrote an open letter committing to gun safety onscreen. More than 300 directors, producers and writers signed that letter.
Folb said the Norman Lear Center would hold presentations and meetings on gun portrayal with Hollywood and will have a presence at entertainment festivals.
The Norman Lear Center studies the social, economic and cultural impact of entertainment and has consulted on several television projects, including “Grey’s Anatomy,” “This is Us,” and “Euphoria.”
Award-winning producer and writer Norman Lear celebrated the guidelines and the mission.
“I couldn’t be prouder that the Center which bears my name is releasing this report about gun safety and the entertainment industry,” Lear said. “How guns are portrayed on screen should reflect the public health crisis we are in, and help portray responsible gun ownership.”
(This story has been corrected to show that meetings with entertainment industry are ongoing, not that they will take place only after the strike, in paragraph 7)
(Reporting by Arlene Washington; Editing by Mary Milliken and Gerry Doyle)