LOCKED & LOADED: The Gun Industry’s Lucrative Relationship With Hollywood
By Gary Baum & Scott Johnson
The NRA and the entertainment industry interact publicly as mortal enemies. But as the number of weapons shown in movies and TV steadily increases — and stars like Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie make fortunes wielding guns onscreen — a co-dependence that keeps both churning is revealed: “making the liberal bias a lot of money”
BURNISHED BY THE LOW LIGHT OF GLASS-WALLED DISPLAYS, THEY seem like ancient artifacts, but the objects here are beloved contemporary icons. One case houses the massive Smith & Wesson Model 29 wielded by Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry” Callahan in the 1973 film Magnum Force. In another rests the Beretta 92F used by Bruce Willis in Die Hard. All the great shoot-’em-up classics — The Bourne Identity, Pulp Fiction, The Wild Bunch — are here. This exhibit, celebrating cinema, isn’t in Hollywood; it’s thousands of miles away, in a museum at the headquarters of the National Rifle Association in Fairfax, Va.
The NRA is proud of its “Hollywood Guns” exhibit. It’s the most popular of more than a dozen rooms and multiple showcases, which include the gun that Theodore Roosevelt took on a 1913 expedition to the Amazon. The shiny allure of the Hollywood gun room comes last in the museum tour — “like a reward,” says an NRA official.
The exhibit highlights the sometimes uneasy but fruitful partnership between the gun industry and Hollywood, where firearms are an integral part of life and storytelling. Meanwhile, gun manufacturers say that there’s no better way to brand, market and sell a weapon than to get it placed in a big Hollywood production. And most of the time, it’s free — product placement at its finest.