How the Newtown School Shooting Altered the Marketing and Publicity for "Kick-Ass 2"
Following the December massacre in Newtown, Connecticut—in which 20 schoolchildren were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary—there were a lot of well-intentioned but shallow efforts by the entertainment industry to strike a chord of sensitivity. As everybody knows, violent movies mean big bucks for major movie studios. But in the wake of widely publicized tragedies, Hollywood stars and executives generally don't want to be seen as callous.
After Newtown, the LA premiere of Quentin Tarantino's brutally violent Django Unchained was canceled, and Django star Jamie Foxx even cautioned against gratuitous violence in cinema. On television, the debut of reality TV special Best Funeral Ever was postponed, and Ted Nugent's celebration of gun culture was nixed from the Discovery Channel. And on commercial radio, Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks" and Ke$ha's "Die Young" received substantially reduced airplay, due to lyrics involving children and death. It's the standard outpouring of PR gestures, however meaningless they turn out to be.
One entertainer, however, took things further than a simple one-off gesture. Actor Jim Carrey saw this as his cue to wage an offensive on gun culture in America. In February, Carrey tweeted that anyone "who would run out to buy an assault rifle after the Newtown massacre has very little left in their body or soul worth protecting." In March, he starred in a somewhat controversial Funny or Die music video that was harshly critical of gun owners and actor and NRA president Charlton Heston. He remained vocal on the matter, and in June he announced that he would not be promoting his next movie: the bullets-and-blood-filled superhero movie Kick-Ass 2, the sequel to the critically acclaimed 2010 Kick-Ass. "I did Kickass a month [before] Sandy Hook and now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence," the actor wrote. "[M]y apologies to others involve[d] with the film. I am not ashamed of it but recent events have caused a change in my heart."
In the film, Carrey plays Colonel Stars and Stripes, a former mob enforcer who became a born-again Christian/tough-as-nails vigilante hero. "Family living in the street deserves a hot meal; inebriated college girl deserves to make it home safe at night," the Colonel tells his crew of superheroes, reminding them why they do what they do. Although the Colonel enacts brutal justice against human traffickers and murderers, he maintains a personal policy of not firing guns. (That fact was actually one of the things that initially intrigued Carrey about the role.)
But yes, the movie is very violent, and those offended by gratuitous cop-killing will probably get turned off by the film's gratuitous cop-killing.