On Friday morning, National Rifle Association executive VP Wayne LaPierre—the guy who once accused the Clinton administration of tolerating gun violence in America so that Clinton could bolster the case for gun control legislation—held a press conference (finally) in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. LaPierre called on the government to pay for an armed police officer in every public school in America.
He also made a series of dated and often bizarre cultural references in large chunks of the speech. Here are some of the things he blamed for gun violence in our country:
Through vicious, violent video games with names like Bulletstorm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse. And here’s one: it’s called Kindergarten Killers. It’s been online for 10 years. How come my research department could find it and all of yours either couldn’t or didn’t want anyone to know you had found it?
Then there’s the blood-soaked slasher films like American Psycho and Natural Born Killers that are aired like propaganda loops on “Splatterdays” and every day, and a thousand music videos that portray life as a joke and murder as a way of life. And then they have the nerve to call it “entertainment.” But is that what it really is? Isn’t fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography?
This all begs the question of what year LaPierre’s speech was written.
Of all these specific references, Bulletstorm (2011) and Grand Theft Auto are the most recent—but the debate over the GTA video game series’ content has been raging since 1997.
A rundown of why these references were so strange:
- Bulletstorm was the center of an entirely Fox News-driven controversy. (The video game hasn’t been the center of any other major controversy or crime, and the hysterical video-games-will-turn-you-into-a-rapist coverage by Fox probably helped sales.)
- Mortal Kombat was first controversial when George H.W. Bush was president.
- Splatterhouse—in which the gamer plays a dude named Terror Mask who fights demons in order to save his lover—was first released when Ronald Reagan was in office.
- Kindergarten Killers is a pathetic and perverse internet cartoon game that virtually no one has ever heard of or played.
- While there were widely publicized—and even academic—controversies surrounding both Bret Easton Ellis’ novel (1991) and the film adaptation (2000), American Psycho isn’t actually known for causing or inspiring murders.
- The Oliver Stone hyper-violent satire Natural Born Killers is still fairly controversial, particularly for the copycat killings it has allegedly motivated. The film is somewhat of a relic of the mid-’90s.
- “Splatterdays” refers to the Saturday night double-feature of horror movies that airs on The Movie Channel. Selected films often involve zombies and killers with large knives. “Splatterday” has been at the center of precisely zero controversies, in this country or any other.
So this is where the NRA is today—doing what they typically do when in damage-control mode: Painting arcade games, books, and “Splatterday” as the “filthiest form of pornography,” and then blaming them for national tragedy. Click here for things the NRA didn’t blame for mass murder in America today.