After the Columbine school massacre of thirteen people, Leonardo DiCaprio solemnly vowed never to star in another violent movie. Just after the violent murders, the U.K. Mirror reported:
Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio has renounced violent films after one of his early movies was linked to the Columbine school massacre. The actor has told aides he no longer wants to be considered for parts in any productions featuring death and destruction. The ‘Titanic’ star has been caught up in the wave of revulsion sweeping America after the slaughter of 12 pupils and a teacher at the school in the Denver suburb of Littleton. In the 1995 drama ‘The Basketball Diaries,’ DiCaprio played a teenage heroin addict who gunned down his teacher and classmates. His twisted screen character wore a full-length trench coat—just like those worn by Trenchcoat Mafia murderers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who carried out the classroom killings two weeks ago. The parents of three pupils shot dead in 1997 in a school in Kentucky have already sued the makers of ‘The Basketball Diaries’ for $100 million. The families of the 13 Columbine victims are expected to follow suit, insisting the film inspired teenage misfits Harris and Klebold to mount their terrible attack. Worried British video distributors had the entire classroom killing sequence cut from the film rather than risk sparking copycat murders in the U.K.1
Susan Sarandon warned:
Movies are important; and they’re dangerous because we’re the keepers of the dreams. You go into a little dark room and become incredibly vulnerable. On the one hand, all your perspectives can be challenged. You can feel something you couldn’t feel normally. [They] can encourage you to be the protagonist in your own life. On the other hand, [they] can completely misshape you.2
So why then hasn’t Hollywood stopped making violent movies? Director Francis Ford Coppola reveals why:
I made the most vulgar, entertaining, actionful, sense-a-ramic, give them a thrill every five minutes, sex, violence, humor, because I want people to come see it.3
After Columbine, Hollywood didn’t change its agenda of violence, even in the face of these massive lawsuits. It has the world’s best lawyers and the money to defend itself. It knows that we are vulnerable, but it also knows that we will pay up at the box office.
The Effects of Hollywood
Fans shape their bodies and souls to be like those whom they love. They want to talk like them, dress like them, look like them, and some will even kill like them. The little girl who imitates the way Britney Spears looks, dresses, and sings really does think Britney is like her on-screen image. She and millions of others don’t separate the image from the real person. It’s a mystery to them why their idol divorces her husband, puts herself into a treatment center, and shaves her head.
An actor can even have a mesmerizing influence over much of their adoring public. The fans have faith in their idol; they believe what is said about God, Jesus Christ, and the Bible. If the actor says that he protects his kids from the Bible or that he hates God, they don’t separate the idol from the actor.
Hollywood vs. Christianity
Look at these few examples (among many) of Hollywood’s distain for the God of the Bible:
In The Mosquito Coast,4 starring Harrison Ford and River Phoenix, a weirdo calling people “brother” passes Harrison Ford and some kids a Bible, and he says, “There you are. I’ve got a gift for you. It’s the latest—The Blue Jeans Bible.” Harrison Ford takes it and says, “Look at this, kids. It’s just what I’ve been warning you about.”5
“Hollywood is fostering a growing hostility toward Christians and influencing an entire generation.”
In Dogma,6 a comedy starring Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, the comedy gets a little serious when Matt Damon says:
Now the carpenter, which is an obvious reference to Jesus Christ, who was raised a carpenter’s son, he represents the Western religions…. Organized religion destroys who we are by inhibiting our actions…by inhibiting our decisions, out of, out of fear of some, some intangible parent figure who, who shakes a finger at us from thousands of years ago and says, and says, “Do it. Do it, and I’ll f—–’ spank you.”7
Robin Williams in Patch Adams looks to the heavens and says:
You created man. Man suffers enormous amounts of pain. Man dies. Maybe you should have had a few more brainstorming sessions prior to creation. You rested on the seventh day. Maybe you should’ve spent that day on compassion. You know what? You are not worth it.
In The Simpsons,8 one of the kids is asked to thank God for a meal. He says, “Dear God. We paid for all this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothin’.”
Hollywood is fostering a growing hostility toward Christians and influencing an entire generation. See if you can spot the common thread running through modern movies:
- George Clooney9 asks a man in a cheap suit (with a large patch over one eye), “What kind of work do you do?” The man enthusiastically answers, “Sales, Mr. McGill, sales! And what do I sell? The truth, every blessed word of it—Genesis right on down to Revelation. That’s right, the Word of God, which, let me tell you, there is d-mn good money in during times of woe and want.”
- A devious-looking weirdo dressed in white—with long blond hair and a large cross around his neck—is preaching on a sidewalk. A sane-looking and mystified Jodi Foster slowly walks by and looks at him as he chants a slow and horrible-sounding “Praise God, praise the Lord, praise God.” Like a salivating wolf, the weirdo then drips with lust as he looks at her.
Michael Medved, film critic and author of Hollywood vs. America, said:
But the attitude you have from Hollywood—where every time someone in today’s world is portrayed as some kind of religious believer, that person is viewed as some kind of a crook, or deviant, or weirdo, or an ugly person, or something is wrong with him or her—it’s poisonous.10
We cannot deny the strong influence that Hollywood has had on us as a culture and as individuals. Hollywood is a powerhouse that doesn’t just influence how we view the world around us but also how we function within it.
As Wheel of Fortune’s host, Pat Sajak,11 who has been working in Hollywood for more than thirty years, said:
To quote Mr. [Rob] Reiner,12 “Movies are basically advertising cigarettes to kids.” No knock on Rob. In fact, I agree with him. But why is smoking open to censorship and not these other issues? And what happened to Hollywood’s argument that movies and TV shows don’t cause bad behavior, they just reflect it?….The answer is, there is no answer. It’s just Hollywood being Hollywood. It’s monumental hypocrisy. Kids can’t pick up bad habits from what they watch…oh, except for smoking.
- Actor’s pledge after Columbine killings
- Nominated for 2 Golden Globes.
- Six nominations, including “Independent Spirit Award.”
- The Simpsons is an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Network. Thank God, It’s Doomsday typifies the screenwriter’s message. God is the almighty ruler of the Universe. He once attempted to flood Springfield (the Simpsons’ hometown) but was stopped when Reverend Lovejoy showed that God was the path to good. He also once chose to end the world. This time, he was stopped by Homer Simpson, who requested him to turn back time and leave the apocalypse off for a few years. God has two aides, Colonel Sanders and Buddha, although he is seen with Jesus in Heaven.
- For George Clooney’s beliefs, see What Hollywood Believes by Ray Comfort
- Hollywood Unmasked—www.Goodfight.org
- Host of Wheel of Fortune, television production company owner, radio station owner (Annapolis, MD), music publisher, board member of the American Cinema Foundation
- As the son of multi-talented comedic genius Carl Reiner (Your Show of Shows), Rob Reiner instantly outgrew his father’s legacy to establish himself as an independent force in multiple facets of the entertainment industry.