Yesterday, Jim Carrey surprised everyone by publically distancing himself from the upcoming film Kick-Ass 2. Citing a change of heart after the horrifying Sandy Hook massacre, the comedian used his Twitter account to say he’s not ashamed of the project but no longer feels any level of support for it. Not surprisingly, his viewpoint generated plenty of debate in the comment section here, on social media platforms throughout the world and even amongst the writers here on CB. Some of us thought it was pretty impressive that he took a stand on a subject he felt strongly about, and others of us thought his change of heart was weak and uncalled for.

To try and cut through some of the noise, we scheduled a great debate between Cinema Blend writers Sean O’Connell and Mack Rawden to see if they could expand on their opposition more fully and perhaps find some common ground. What follows is an unedited transcript of their GChat…

Mack: So, Sean, I think it's fair to say we were both surprised by Carrey's tweets, but beyond that, we seem to be on different sides of the fence. Why are you so pleased by the actor's message?

Sean: Because I think it's an honest reaction, which is so rare in Hollywood (and in the media) these days. Carrey has to know the deep impact his statements were going to make -- and are going to continue to make. By speaking out against a movie he acted in -- and no doubt was paid handsomely to act in -- he runs the risk of appearing hypocritical. But he still chose to air his opinions, and I have to admire that courage. I believe that Carrey has every right to have a change of heart regarding a project, even one he worked on months ago but has yet to see the light of day. As he says, Sandy Hook happened AFTER he shot Kick-Ass 2, and the atrocities of that actual event have helped change the way he sees gun violence. I don't think he specifies "on-screen" gun violence. Just gun violence. And he shouldn't be dragged over the coals for changing his mind and evolving his opinion, one way or the other. But you disagree? I wonder why?

Mack: Carrey may well have felt he was being courageous by airing his opinion, but I fail to see how speaking out against a group collaboration he participated in and was handsomely paid for is honorable. The script wasn’t changed. The way the film itself came out wasn’t a surprise. He changed his mind about the merits of a project, and now, he’s throwing everyone else under the bus because of it. Don’t you think there’s more honor in sucking it up and being a team player for the sake of your co-workers and those who spent millions of dollars on the project?

Is that really so much different than say David Cross ranting about Alvin And The Chipmunks because he didn't like how the movie came out?

Sean: Because Carrey goes one step further to say "I am not ashamed of it" in the second Tweet, which I believe gives his personal reaction real context that can't be ignored. Also, in now way is Carrey telling people NOT to see Kick-Ass 2. He actually apologizes to those who worked alongside him on the film. And at no point does he condemn the actual film. He simply suggests that Sandy Hook changed something inside of him, personally, and now he doesn't feel comfortable promoting the movie.

I'm sure it's safe to assume that if Carrey were pitched a role in Kick-Ass 2 now, in the wake of Sandy Hook, he'd pass. But the dice already has been cast with regard to the movie, and I do prefer that he speak out now -- honestly -- as opposed to doing an insane amount of press saying wonderful things about the film, then turning tail and "abandoning" it after it had played theaters.

Mack: We live in such a reactionary culture. From Paula Deen getting fired over decades old n-bombs to people ranting about guns after every violent tragedy, we can’t ever just let a tragedy pass without pointing fingers and trying to blame as many people as possible. By now, I expect it from the media and I expect it from spineless corporations looking to avoid controversy, but I guess I never expected a guy who got famous playing Fire Marshal Bill to tell everyone he can’t support something because it’s too violent. Besides, that implication doesn’t even make any sense.

He seems to think irresponsibility equates to levels of violence when it comes to movies, but to me, it’s far more important that a movie bother to portray the consequences of violence. And Kick-Ass is a franchise that actually does that. Getting hit with a baseball bat hurts in the world of Kick-Ass. It really fucking hurts. People wind up in the hospital, and their bruises don’t heal immediately. Some of them actually never heal. If Carrey actually thinks movies have any tangible impact on violence whatsoever, this is the type of movie he should be supporting because you can almost feel the pain these characters are going through as a viewer. I guess that’s what pisses me off the most. I feel like Carrey overreacted to a tragic event and lashed out at a film he’s in without even thinking about the situation logically.


Sean: Except we haven't seen this film yet. And maybe, once we see it, we'll see it from a different point of view. Ironically, I don't think that this falls that squarely on the "violence in movies is bad" discussion that many are foisting on Carrey. I think it's limited, really, to his opinion on violent films. Look over Carrey's filmography. He hasn't made a lot of violent films. Some of his films are dark, and the Ace Ventura movies are demented. But he isn't Jason Statham. He isn't trying to be the next Tony Jaa. And again, I don't think he's lashing out at the film. People reacting to his Tweets are elevating his intent. He simply says "he" can't support that level of violence. Maybe this is something that nagged him before he took the gig. Maybe in the process of playing Colonel Stars and Stripes, he felt ugly or off-kilter. And again, if he were to Tweet, "Stay away from this film," I'd be slightly more skeptical. But he isn't. He's just saying, "I can't do it." And I find that admirable.

Here's a comparison. Paramount had a broken film in World War Z. They could have ignored that, and just released the film, then dealt with the ugly consequences. But they didn't. They owned up to the error, and they fixed it. I think Carrey's owning up to a difficult situation. I'm not sure how he felt, one way or the other, with regards to violence BEFORE he made Kick-Ass 2. But according to him, his opinions and feelings on the movie have changed even after filming it. Maybe it's Sandy Hook. Maybe it's the final cut of the movie. Maybe it's something altogether different and personal we don't know about. But to say that he should maintain his opinion from weeks ago and not allow his thoughts or opinions or feelings to change in light of recent (or not-so-recent) events is short-sighted and, I think, unfair to Carrey.

Mack: I get where you’re going with the World War Z comparison. Everyone involved was honest, and I really do think that honesty has played in the film’s favor. At no point, however, did it feel like everyone involved in that film wasn’t in the same boat. As an observer, I felt like all involved were honest about how much they collectively struggled to make a film that didn’t blow. When it comes to Carrey, I can’t shake the feeling that he took himself outside the boat with his comments and greatly distanced himself from the fate of this film that’s very much still in the balance.

Life mostly comes down to perspective. To me, it’s more important to slap on a smile and be a team player, even if your perspective has altered. To you, it’s more important to be honest and true to your innermost feelings, even if it creates a bit of a rift. So, I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

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