Pop singer Lady Gaga came out for stronger gun controls after the Newtown tragedy. But did her recent costume choice glamorize gun violence?
After the Newtown, Conn., school shooting that claimed the lives of 20 students and six adults, pop star Lady Gaga was among the prominent signees of a full-page New York Times ad taken out by venture capitalist Kenneth Lerer demanding an end to gun violence.
It wasn't surprising to see Gaga's name listed among the signatures. In the past, the singer has donated to and advocated for causes close to her, including disaster relief and LGBT groups. Gun control, it seemed, would be no different for Gaga.
But after she wore a bra fitted with two prop automatic firearms at a concert in Vancouver, British Columbia, gun control advocates exploded, according to the New York Post.
"I think it is gun porn," Ladd Everitt, a spokesman for the D.C.-based Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, told the Post. "It's almost like she's telling her fans, 'The only way I can stimulate you is to show you guns and violence.'"
Everitt asked if Gaga was unaware of or did not care about the nation's recent episodes of gun violence.
Further infuriating the public, Gaga chose to don her costume the day after Vice President Joe Biden met with Congress and the NRA to discuss firearms violence, a banner event for gun issues in the United States.
The firearm brassiere is no newcomer to Gaga's wardrobe, however. She wore it in the music video of her 2010 single "Alejandro," and again on the cover of Rolling Stone that same year.
Gaga's recent flap comes at a time when celebrities and movie studios are treading lightly with gun themes. The filmmakers of crime film "Gangster Squad," released last week, were forced to pull trailers for the feature in 2011 because they teased a movie theater shoot-out scene that could have rankled many following the rampage that killed 12 in an Aurora, Colo., cinema that same year.
Executives and director Ruben Fleischer then made the decision to cut the sequence all together, even though many on set, according to Ryan Gosling on "Good Morning America," felt it was one of the film's best scenes. Unlike many other parts of "Gangster Squad," the movie theater battle had no historical accuracy, which made its inclusion susceptible to accusations of exploitation and insensitivity.
Directly after the Newtown shooting in December, FOX studio heads, according to the BBC, decided to pull planned episodes of "Family Guy" and "American Dad" because they were concerned that the segments could possibly contain inappropriate content in light of the tragic events. The network instead showed pre-screened repeats.
Some filmmakers and movie executives, however, are defending their craft from accusations that it's complicit in American mass shootings. Quentin Tarantino, whose films are known for being especially violent, disagreed with criticism that his films are gratuitously destructive and possibly to blame for the recent spate of mass shootings.
"I just think you know there's violence in the world, tragedies happen, blame the playmakers," he said at a press junket in New York, adding: "It's a western. Give me a break."
But Tarantino's star in "Django Unchained," Jamie Foxx, felt differently than the acclaimed director about how on-screen acts affect real-life events. "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 said at the same presser.
Standing alongside Tarantino against calls to regulate movie violence, Christopher Dodd, former U.S. senator from Connecticut and current chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, told The Hollywood Reporter that while his organization is glad to engage in a discussion about how parents choose what films are appropriate for their children, it would not push for anti-violence regulations in the movie industry. Dodd said freedom of speech is a cornerstone of his industry, and any curtailment of a filmmaker's right to depict violent acts would be an unacceptable infringement on this right.
Opponents of gun violence in video games and movies have an unlikely ally in their push to enact legislation: the NRA. In the wake of the Newtown shooting, NRA president Wayne LaPierre alleged that filmmakers and video game creators bear responsibility for creating products that attract unstable personalities.
"There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt and corrupting industry that sells and sows violence against its own people, through vicious, violent video games," LaPierre said during the first NRA press conference following the Connecticut shooting.
Arnold Schwarzenegger insists that people "know the difference" between movie and real-life violence. "I wouldn't just go pointing at the NRA that it's their fault. Or video games. Or gun manufacturers," he told Reuters. "The reality is, it's a very complex issue. ... It's mental illness. Insanity. If we don't address that, we don't have much."