It's hard to know what sort of approach to take with entertainment events in the face of a national tragedy. Do you acknowledge it? Ignore it? Should the show always go on? In the case of Quentin Tarantino's uber-violent Django Unchained, I think the studio made a very smart decision by canceling the movie's star-studded red carpet premiere that was planned for Tuesday.
While the film's splashy LA premiere has been downgraded to a private event with no media coverage, some are still criticizing the film's planned release date: Django Unchained is set to hit theaters on Christmas Day.
Not only that, but there's controversy behind the scenes, with the movie's star and director at public odds over the role violent movies play in events like the school shooting in Newtown last week.
Jamie Foxx, who stars in the film, spoke out this weekend about his concern over violence in entertainment content:
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.
Quentin Tarantino, as you might imagine, had a slightly different take:
I just think you know there's violence in the world, tragedies happen, blame the playmakers. It's a western. Give me a break.
Whoever you side with in this particular debate, it seems like canceling the glitzy premiere was the best move the studio could have made. A big Hollywood event glorifying a movie chock-full of gun violence ... it's just not the right time.
The studio behind Tom Cruise's upcoming movie Jack Reacher (which reportedly opens with a sniper shooting several people) must've reached the same conclusion, because they also scaled back their premiere plans, out of what Paramount described as "honor and respect for the families of the victims."
The show does go on, obviously, and the entertainment industry has reacted in ways that have been both extremely classy (the Saturday Night Live "Silent Night" cold open) and extremely awkward (Survivor's brief moment of silence for the Newtown victims before the reunion show, which made everything about the idea of contestants "surviving" a month on a game show seem petty and ridiculous).
For movies and shows that include a lot of gun violence, some may say they should be cancelled altogether. My feeling is that's unrealistic, but canceling the planned premieres -- those events intended to drum up publicity and boost audience numbers -- was the right choice.
As for Mr. Tarantino, well, I've always been a fan of his films ... but maybe he should go ahead and shut his toe-licker shut for a little while. "Give me a break," indeed.
What do you think about Quentin Tarantino's comment? Did it come across as insensitive, or is he just stating the obvious?
Image via The Weinstein Company