As Americans continue to debate guns and not the bad guys who use them for bad purposes, I thought it important to put Americans today into a bit of context.
To that end, the number one box office hit in the nation earlier this month was “Texas Chainsaw” (they left out the word “Massacre” from the 1974 version, for sensitivity reasons) — in 3D.
That’s right. The most popular movie in America during the week of Jan. 3-10 — smack in the middle of another gun debate — was about a crazy man who cuts innocent people to pieces with a power tool designed to cut trees or branches. You can imagine what that looks like in 3D. If you think that’s something worth paying to see, I can’t help you.
It does seem rather odd to be discussing guns and what they can do in the wrong hands — and the solution is not taking them out of the right hands — while flocking to see bodies shredded by chain saws as you’ve never seen them shredded before, complete with surround sound.
And, no, I’m not a sissy. I went to see “Jack Reacher” last week and he killed six or seven people before I could finish my popcorn. I just don’t get the attraction to movies like the “Texas Chainsaw” (Massacre) and I think you have to have a fairly twisted sense of entertainment to watch something like that.
The real scary part is that there must then be a lot of twisted Americans running around, because an estimated 2.5 million of us have paid good money to see “Texas Chainsaw 3D” since it opened.
Without having seen “Texas Chainsaw 3D,” I’ll guess most all the victims were unarmed and walking around in places they shouldn’t be. When you hear screeching violins in the background, it means there is someone standing behind you with a mask and chain saw. The same goes for closets. Never open a closet door while the music is building to a crescendo. Something will jump out at you, and it won’t be a set of golf clubs.
I saw Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” when I was a kid and didn’t take a shower for a week afterward. I still peek through the curtain every now and then just to make sure there isn’t someone ready to knife me.
You are never more vulnerable than you are inside a shower, with just your rubber ducky to fight back with. Years later I took a college film class and the instructor showed that same “Psycho” shower scene, but without the music, and it wasn’t half as scary. The difference between that movie and movies like “Texas Chainsaw 3D” was that Hitchcock never had to actually show the knife stabbing the naked woman in the shower. The music and her screams were enough.
Most of those movie victims, by the way, would be alive today if they were armed. A butcher knife and chain saw are no matches for a gun, although I’m not suggesting you shower with one.
I did buy a shotgun the other day, and yes, I filled out the form and the clerk called in my particulars to someone with a government computer who has access to the chip inside my head and could verify that I am not as crazy as the leather-faced guy with the chain saw.
I’d been thinking about a shotgun for some time because I like the sound they make when you rack the slide (it’s my cellphone ringtone). Most bad guys know what that sound is when they hear it in the middle of the night and will likely run as fast as their little nasty feet can move.
Many, including the president, argue that there is really no need for assault rifles, or magazines with more than 10 rounds. And they may be right, unless the bad guys have them and, as a result, have innocent people out-gunned.
They say it’s never a good idea to bring a chain saw to a gunfight and most people I know just want a level playing field. Most people I know have also figured out that the world isn’t what it once was and that it makes sense to have an ability to defend yourself and your family.
In fact, many among my generation of so-called baby boomers don’t trust politicians (for reference, look up Tricky Dick or LBJ). Especially politicians whose own children are guarded by Secret Service agents armed with automatic weapons.
Others simply look at the facts. Violent crimes dropped for a fifth consecutive year in the U.S. in 2011 (it was down 4 percent, according to the FBI), while London’s Bobbies are now having to carry machine guns in some parts of town where armed gangs rule the night.
And I have yet to see a stat showing the number of gun crimes in the U.S. committed by registered, or responsible gun owners (versus, say, repeat felons). Bad guys will always look for an edge, or opportunity to be bad. Al Capone was a great supporter of Prohibition, and I know guys who have reaped huge profits from America’s pot laws.
So while we continue to espouse the need for stricter gun laws, it might be a good idea to spend a little time at the movies. It’s a great way to get a slice of Real Americana today. Just leave the chain saw and steak knife at home.
Jeff Ackerman is publisher of The News-Review. He can be reached at 541-957-4263 or firstname.lastname@example.org.