Dear Jim –
I’ll be honest. Most of your comedy since the fabulous In Living Color hasn’t resonated with me much. I prefer your work done in skits. But events of this last week have put me squarely in the category of Jim Carrey fan. A fan of the man even more than the entertainer.
The satirical video you did that went live on Funny or Die last week, well, it was brilliant. For those who missed it, “Cold, Dead Hand” is a play on Charlton Heston’s infamous declaration that we’d have to pry his precious firearm from his cold, dead hands. You made it into a song featured in a Hee Haw spoof in the video.
“But the psychos win no matter what you do, because they’re always gonna buy more guns than you,” you sing with a golly-gee smile in a cowboy getup.
It’s clever, well executed and spot on funny. And it in no way calls for disarming anyone or repealing the Second Amendment.
I suppose that is why it was so astonishing – or maybe not, given the drama-filled climate on this topic these days – to see so many people projecting those very messages on to the video. The vitriol in the reactions showed that the satire in your piece went zooming over their heads and the paranoia in this nation regarding guns isn’t subsiding any time soon. As long as there are people benefitting financially from keeping the belief alive that gun control = gun elimination, we’ll continue to be polarized and talk at each other instead of to each other.
But your video performance and the ensuing reaction and then your response to that have been an apt reminder of how difficult it is to have a reasonable discussion about guns in the United States. Every day my Facebook feed is filled with untruths about what might potentially become law regarding firearms. Are there some hysterics on the side of gun control? Absolutely. But there is something decidedly more eerie about hysterics who are armed to the gills.
I keep shaking my head at those who call you a hypocrite because you have armed bodyguards. What does that have to do with the message in the video? You don’t call for the elimination of guns. You make a statement about the unhealthy attachment some Americans have to their guns, as it’s clearly not just about sport or protection. It’s identity. It’s insidious fear of some kind of impending revolt.
“These thugs, though menacing, are a minority but they will have their way if good people don’t step forward now and make a difference,” you write in a follow-up piece published on The Huffington Post. “Every American has the right to speak their mind. Every American has the right to bear arms. But it is up to every American to draw the line when it comes to the type of guns that are considered a reasonable means of self-defense.”
You have called attention to that angry element that muffles the voices of responsible gun owners. Kudos for exposing them in a brighter light and in turn showing us why it is more important than ever to address gun violence and brainstorm potential solutions.
While so many dismiss the opinions of celebrities on the bigger issues of our time, I find it courageous when you and your colleagues speak out with passion. You have a lot to lose, so it must mean you feel strongly about a cause when you go public and get vocal. There is this feeling that you couldn’t repress it any longer, regardless of the cost to your popularity or your pocketbook.
“And to the bullies who will try to marginalize and discredit me by saying, ‘Shut up, you’re just an actor,’ while they brag about what a great president the ACTOR Ronald Reagan was, who threaten me with the demise of my acting career and much worse, I say SO BE IT!” you write in The Huffington Post. “How shallow do they think I am? I would trade my money, my fame, my reputation and legacy if there were the slightest chance of preventing the anguish of another Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, or Sandy Hook Elementary School. I ask you, truly, what manner of human being would not?”
I wish I didn’t know the answer to that question.