If you are a fan of either the original Kick-Ass movie or the Kick-Ass comic books from Mark Millar and John Romita Jr., then you know that both contain copious amounts of gun violence, much of which is doled out by Hit-Girl, a once child and now teenage assassin.
That violence is shocking, graphic, and according to the cover of issue #2: “Sickening violence: Just the way you like it!”. So, in short, it’s kinda their gimmick and sorta their thing. That’s not to say that the book is dripping in blood and that it contains little to no virtue — that’s not at all the case. But if you are one of those people, the people who have put pop culture in the cross-hairs following the shocking shooting sprees in Aurora, Colorado and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, then you’ve surely taken notice of the Kick-Ass comics, the original film, its upcoming sequel, and now, Kick-Ass 2 star Jim Carrey‘s stated objections to the violence in the film.
I did Kickass a month b4 Sandy Hook and now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence [...] my apologies to others involve with the film. I am not ashamed of it but recent events have caused a change in my heart.
The above was tweeted out by Carrey yesterday, causing a stir, some praise, and a deluge of negative press for the star, with one headline calling Carrey’s statements “Career suicide”. Mark Millar also reacted to Carrey’s statements via his Millarworld site, though the modesty averse comic superstar approached the matter with a civil and complementary tone while artfully defending the art-form of fictional violence.
Here is some of that:
As you may know, Jim is a passionate advocate of gun-control and I respect both his politics and his opinion, but I’m baffled by this sudden announcement as nothing seen in this picture wasn’t in the screenplay eighteen months ago. Yes, the body-count is very high, but a movie called Kick-Ass 2 really has to do what it says on the tin. A sequel to the picture that gave us HIT-GIRL was always going to have some blood on the floor and this should have been no shock to a guy who enjoyed the first movie so much. My books are very hardcore, but the movies are adapted for a more mainstream audience and if you loved the tone of the first picture you’re going to eat this up with a big, giant spoon. Like Jim, I’m horrified by real-life violence (even though I’m Scottish), but Kick-Ass 2 isn’t a documentary. No actors were harmed in the making of this production! This is fiction and like Tarantino and Peckinpah, Scorcese and Eastwood, John Boorman, Oliver Stone and Chan-Wook Park, Kick-Ass avoids the usual bloodless body-count of most big summer pictures and focuses instead of the CONSEQUENCES of violence, whether it’s the ramifications for friends and family or, as we saw in the first movie, Kick-Ass spending six months in hospital after his first street altercation. Ironically, Jim’s character in Kick-Ass 2 is a Born-Again Christian and the big deal we made of the fact that he refuses to fire a gun is something he told us attracted him to the role in the first place.
Ultimately, this is his decision, but I’ve never quite bought the notion that violence in fiction leads to violence in real-life any more than Harry Potter casting a spell creates more Boy Wizards in real-life. Our job as storytellers is to entertain and our toolbox can’t be sabotaged by curtailing the use of guns in an action-movie. Imagine a John Wayne picture where he wasn’t packing or a Rocky movie where Stallone wasn’t punching someone repeatedly in the face. Our audience is smart enough to know they’re all pretending and we should instead just sit back and enjoy the serotonin release of seeing bad guys meeting bad ends as much as we enjoyed seeing the Death Star exploding.
Now, Millar is right: this is Carrey’s decision, and I’m sure it’s not one that he came to lightly. Putting his advocacy ahead of his career is not likely “suicide”, but it could be detrimental and lasting. Not just because there will be some who disagree with Carrey’s politics, but because some may perceive this as Carrey being either unstable, disloyal, or both while putting his advocacy ahead of his castmates and the studio’s interest as well.
Speaking of Universal’s interests, I can only imagine how they feel about this mere days after taking a risk and rescuing Carey’s Dumb and Dumber sequel from the burn pile.
As for why Carrey felt the need to be so public and not just have his morality cake while silently abstaining from doing press for the film, well, one assumes that he has an obligation to do press for Kick-Ass 2, and one wonders if the studio will now silently abstain from pushing him to do that, lest they crave the carnage of another derisive statement from the star.
Would he go this far again, though? Frankly, it already feels like a bit of damage has already been done, and we’re talking real damage to Carrey’s career, because he badly needed Kick-Ass 2 to be a smooth success. Unless you count kiddie fare like Horton Hears a Who, Carrey hasn’t had a hit since 2008′s Yes Man and a blockbuster since 2003′s Bruce Almighty, and his last film, Burt Wonderstone, was a certified bomb.
The actor is teetering on the edge of box office irrelevancy, no longer a certified draw and certainly not able to command the same fees that he once was.
I don’t think Kick-Ass 2 would have been a way back to the glory days of Carrey talking out of his asshole for $20 million dollars (though, some would say he’s now doing it for free on twitter… har… har), but it could have stopped the slide and re-introduced Carrey to a younger audience and a slew of different roles. Maybe it still can, but right now, it doesn’t seem like Carrey or Kick-Ass 2 is goona come out of this un-bruised… that is unless Carrey takes this a bit further and puts his money where his mouth is.
All throughout twitter and in articles, people are responding to Carrey with a shrug and something to the effect of: “Well, then donate your salary to the victims”. Carrey actually has a history of impressive charitable acts, so that may yet happen, but embracing that challenge and making a real statement with actions and not mere words… now that would be praise worthy.
Kick-Ass 2 opens up on August 18th, no word on when Jim Carrey’s wallet will do the same and catch up to his mouth.