Saturday, October 23, 2021

Repeated For Emphasis


Go back and read the part of the last post where I wrote the following:

Spare me your butthurt.

1) Movies are the dominant culture medium in America, and by America. On my side of that argument are nearly 53,000 MPAA-registered productions, just since the Hays Code. (India makes more than the U.S. year in and year out, but no one sees them outside of India. US movies go literally everywhere, by vast contrast.) Game over on that point.

2) Of those 53,00 or so, it's 99:1 if you're reading this, you've seen The Terminator (1984), Heat (1995), Saving Private Ryan (1998), Ronin (1998) , and/or Blackhawk Down (2001), if not all five. But in case you lived in a cave the last 30 years, some excerpts from each:

Shot in Tunisia, France, Ireland, and downtown L.A.

Now, the salient point: How many people were accidentally killed in those shootout scenes, with a combined round count in the thousands to tens or hundreds of thousands?

ZERO. That's Ze-fucking-ro. Period.

"Witchcraft! How can this be?!?" I hear you gasp.

Safety Bulletin No. 1: Recommendations For Safety With Firearms and Use of "Blank Ammunition"

Literally the very first (of 44, so far) Industry-Wide Safety Bulletins whose rules are, quite literally, written in blood.

Rigorous adherence to which, on all five productions, resulted in exactly no deaths whatsoever, despite using enough live arms, full-auto capable, to take over pretty much any country in South America or Africa, in any given year since 1900.

Let me underline that: the death toll from firearms at the US Capitol demonstration on January 6th (one person, Ashli Babbitt) was higher than the death toll of those five movies, combined. In fact, that panty raid had a higher body count by firearms than every movie made by Hollywood starting right after The Crow in 1993, until Thursday on the set of Rust up to 1PM, NM local time. Twenty-eight years of no deaths from firearms fuck-ups, in point of fact, on any movie or TV show.

(To whatever Hollywood industry anti-gun jackhole suggested banning all live firearms because of one death in that time - and some halfwit did, already - take those facts, and pound that dumbass idea right up your tailpipe with a shovel, good and hard. "Live guns" aren't the problem. Dumbass actors and slipshod productions are, every single time. Maybe require a minimum IQ to get a SAG card? Say 85 or so? Now you're onto something. Imagine John Lennon singing "Imagine no dumbass actors; it's easy if you try...")

Now, the "spare me your butthurt" part of that?

Weapons safety on set is not the job of actors, except to a very minor (almost negligible) degree. On purpose. The proof of the wisdom of that is the safety record you just read.

"Foul!" cries the peanut gallery. "The Four Rules!"

"Fuck off, dipshits!", sez I. The entire point of acting involves considered and deliberately breaking the Four Rules. 

Pay attention now:

Difficult as it is for some people's minds to grasp, "on a production set" is the one place in the universe where you should know that pointing a gun at someone, and pulling the trigger, will not result in any harm or destruction coming to them, or anyone else, ever, contrary to all rules of safe firearms handling elsewhere.

Otherwise, Hollywood would just use real bullets all the time, hire homicidal maniacs for lead actors, and fill out the rest of the cast with condemned prison inmates in their last starring roles. And movies would be called "non-fiction".

Anyone who cannot grasp that obvious truth is going to have their ass handed to them by the realities which proceed from that situation, and it will seem to them like Opposite World, whereupon their eyes will cross, then glaze over, smoke will issue from their ears, and vague seizure-like activity of the whole body may afterwards be noted.

Case in point:

Okay, actually 25 cases in point, if he'd updated it for the latest films. Total bodycount for all those scenes: zero. Yawn. Over nearly sixty years.

(Total number of people, anywhere, ever, who've whinged that Sean Connery/George Lazenby/Roger Moore/Pierce Brosnan/Daniel Craig "broke the Four Rules" by pointing right at the camera (and the camera operator[s], DP, director, and any number of other crew persons) in all that time: zero, in the history of the Internet, or in print before that.)

Look, I've wanted to spoof that exact opening shot, and have bodies dropping like flies while the camera wobbles and people start running and screaming, spurting blood everywhere, but the comedy in that is because that's never happened, not even once, on that set. Or damned near on any other, for decades. And add in the other 100 takes of those title openers they did, and the count - dead and wounded - is exactly the same.

In fact, AFAIK, the body count of dead people from firearm screw-ups on production sets could be counted on your thumbs (until Alec Baldwin got into the act this week):

1) Brandon Lee catching a wad in the gut on The Crow in 1993;

2) John Eric Hexum cancelling his show Cover Up (and himself) in 1984;

3) Director of Photography Halyna Hutchins getting capped Thursday by Alec Baldwin.

That's. It.

In fact, for the cherry on the cake, peruse this:

Let's grant the nonsensical premise of everyone screaming "Baldwin on a rope!" because "Who would ever shoot a prop gun at a person on a movie set?"

We join the case as the defense calls Alec Baldwin to the stand, after showing the two video clips to the jury.

Mr. Baldwin, what is your occupation?

I'm an actor, sir.

For how long have you been working as an actor?

Forty-one years, sir. Since 1980. 

 And that movie was made in...?


So, tell us, Mr. Baldwin, how dangerous were those scenes?

Not very.

"Not very" dangerous? How can that be? There was gunfire, three people carrying weapons, bullets hitting and ricocheting off the hull of a nuclear submarine. That sounds extremely dangerous.

As I mentioned, sir, I'm an actor. That was a movie.

Can you please explain what difference that makes to the jury, sir?

Of course. First of all, there was no nuclear submarine, those are all miniatures in a swimming pool tank. We were on a sound stage in Hollywood a couple miles from downtown Los Angeles. The guns were real, but they were loaded with blanks. Nothing comes out of them. They're loaded, there's a bright flash, but no projectiles issue outwards. It's all make-believe. Sean Connery isn't a Russian submarine captain, I'm not a CIA agent pretending to be a US Navy officer, and the man playing the cook wasn't a Russian KGB agent. The sparks that fly are shot off by a special effects man with a paintball gun shooting pellets that make a spark on anything they hit, even grass or hay bales. It's all for the camera. 

So you're saying nothing we saw was real?

Oh, no, just the opposite. It was all "real", but it wasn't what was being portrayed. I was really there, the cook was really there, Mr. Connery was really there. The blanks were fired, with the guns pointing at each other, they made loud "bangs", there were flashes, brass cases were ejected. The sweat on my face was real, but it was sprayed there just before each take by a makeup person. The clothes were real, the walls were real. But they were just painted luan, with blinking lights, to make it look like the missile deck on a Russian submarine, rather than a big empty soundstage on a movie lot. 

I see. And how many times did you shoot that scene?

Well, I'd have to look at the production notes, but my best recollection from thirty-two years ago is that we shot the scenes about four times apiece, and we filmed Mr. Connery getting shot, and the cook getting killed twice.

Wait! So Sean Connery was "shot" two times, and the cook was shot two times, over and over?

Yes sir. 

And each time, the props and weapons people would do what?

They reloaded the weapons, checked them in between takes, got them all ready, and then just before we were ready, they handed them to each actor.

I see. And how many times did you fire your weapon? And how many times did you and Mr. Connery get shot at?

Well, I got shot at probably 50-70 times on the various takes, and I shot the cook at least ten times, maybe fifteen or so. On one take I fired until the gun was empty, so maybe 100 shots fired, for that one scene.

And how long did that take?

Most of the afternoon.

 Why so long? And why so many shots for just a few takes?

Well, we had to shoot everything from both perspectives, ours and the cook's; and we had to move along, plus reloading the guns, re-applying my sweat, and I had a lot of movement the camera had to cover, from in front of me looking at me, and over my shoulder towards the other guy.

And yet no one was hurt, despite all of you shooting off all those guns?

No sir. That's how it works. They tell us we're ready to go, and we can blast away. And then break for lunch.

So everyone is okay now?

Well, Mr. Connery passed away from natural causes last October, 30 years after the movie, and the guy who played the KGB agent/cook has been acting pretty consistently ever since, so apparently shooting him 10-15 times hasn't hurt his acting career. And until this incident, I've done alright myself.

How can you take a gun and point it right at someone, and deliberately shoot it at somebody all afternoon, and no one gets hurt?

It's Hollywood, sir, THAT'S WHAT WE DO.

And then one of the jury members says "Duh!", and the deliberations last about two seconds, and they find Baldwin not guilty on all counts.

Then the entire jury looks over at the prosecutor and says


My point in all this is that unlike "reality", Hollywood is making film fantasy, and they're friggin' jet-fuel geniuses at that, unlike you, or any 500 or 5000 dipshits you know personally.

If you cannot grasp that difference between actual reality, and realistic fantasy, I have some other shocking news for you: the castaways aren't really on an island 200 miles southwest of Hawaii, Sheldon Cooper didn't win a Nobel Prize, Steve Rogers can't stop bullets with his vibranium shield, Wakanda isn't real, and you can't go off a cliff and run in place in midair with an anvil on your back for several seconds before gravity kicks in.

When all that sinks in, try not to get dizzy and throw up on the carpet.

What you think you know about how this goes, or should go, is quite simply wrong.

The rules don't apply, and you don't want them to, unless you're a moron.

Do you want an assclown like John Eric Hexum ("Just blanks, see? BLAM!") in the safety loop on determining whether a gun is safely loaded with blanks?? HELL NO! 

Do you want well-known public assholes like Tom Sizemore (amazingly in three of the five referenced clips, above) or frothing moonbats like Robert DeNiro in any sort of position of responsibility for deciding what constitutes safe firearms handling and use?? FUCK NO YOU DON'T!!!

The director and the 1st Assistant Director are responsible for blocking the shot and safety on set.

The prop master (and any weapons handler[s]) are responsible for making sure weapons are loaded properly, safe to operate, and taking custody of them before, after and between takes, and in all respects where firearms are concerned.

The Grip department and Special FX are responsible to make sure there are shields and screens erected to protect crew, bystanders, and actors from inadvertent harm from wadding, muzzle flash, and anything else.

How does that system work out, in actual practice, versus the one in your head that's used nowhere, on any set, ever?

One dead person in 28 years, over 25,000 movies since 1993. Your local shooting range doesn't have that kind of safety record, in all likelihood. Three dead in the entire industry in half a century, AFAIK.

And with overwhelming likelihood that either the actor, or more likely the amateur hack propmaster, or both, broke the guidelines in Safety Bulletin No. 1 about ten different ways, to a metaphysical certainty.

So look, the fact that he was holding a loaded movie weapon, and pulled the trigger on it, does not ipso facto make known blowhard boob Alec Baldwin guilty of anything but being there, prima facie.

IF it turns out Baldwin was horsing around between takes, that's different.

IF this was a case of pointing a weapon with blanks at someone else too close, he's culpable.

IF someone loaded a live round into the gun, they deserve to go to prison, and probably will.

But trying to pretend there weren't any ten other people, far more circumspect (or at least supposed to be, both morally and legally) is fun, but jackassical in real life. Which is what we're talking about.

I repeat what I also said yesterday:

Alec Baldwin is now the Ted Kennedy of firearms safety: he's killed more people with his gun than most of you will ever kill with your entire collection, whether that's one gun, or one hundred, even if they're all misnamed "assault" weapons, which are no such thing.

That takes all the anti-gun gas out of him, and probably ends his career. Boo frickin' hoo. Sweetest revenge would be Trump getting back into office in 2024, and Baldwin a washed-up has-been unable to even get a gig on SNL.

If he performed some additional jackassery that leads to him getting charged, well and good.

But ixnay on the yapping about how this shoulda/coulda/woulda gone if only we used your imaginary rules. Hollywood does a better job on firearms fuck-ups than the Capitol Police, since EVER. So unless you have some wee understanding of set operations, and who's responsible for what, please, for the good of all concerned, STFU.

Hate Baldwin for being an @$$hole if you must. But stop trying to pin something on him that in all likelihood, wasn't his direct fault.

Wanna dish on him for being a cheapskate producer of a schlock production using non-union amateur propmasters? Go on ahead. Hollywood will, I assure you.

As for the rest? Spare me your butthurt, until and unless something more damning than your predilection comes to light. If that happens, they'll be plenty of time to pile onto Quickdraw McJackass, and we promise, we'll be riding on that posse too. Until then, salve your buttcheeks, and get over it.

And if it doesn't turn out that way? Chill the fuck out, and enjoy the fact that besides pulling the trigger on a homicide, morally and legally culpable or not, Baldwin probably just shot his career in the heart as well.

Learn to take "Yes!!" for an answer from Fate.

Otherwise, apply the recommended balm, fill out the form below, and file it:


Jaybo said...

Bullshit. He was pointing the gun a these people who were not in the movie. This guy has AN GER issues.

Charley Waite said...

No, come on, stop sugar coating it. Just come out and say how you really feel… lol

Well done. Everyone talks about Baldwin’s tweets on gun violence not aging well, but what else has not aged well, and quickly, are the original hot takes on the internet by “experts” about “what happened”

Aesop said...


If you're going to comment on a post without watching the 20 clips of James Bond actors doing the same thing in every movie opening for 40 years, you'll understand if I call "bullshit" on your entire pointless point, right?

I don't know at whom he was pointing the gun, nor under what circumstances, as I wasn't there at the time, and neither were you.
I do know who he hit, but how and why remain open questions.
So maybe try a little more intellectual curiosity, and tad less moral certainty, on something that's still a wide-open question.

Enjoy his predicament all you like, but don't assert facts not in evidence.

millerized said...

Damn...that makes him over qualified in applying for an Imperial Stormtrooper slot.

Gator McCluskey said...

Is it wrong that I get such a kick out of you schooling morons on this (and many other) topic?

lpdbw said...

Occasionally, there are miscarriages of justice.

It may be confirmation bias, but it seems that these mostly fall on those of the right. For instance, the peaceful protestors still under lock and key for the capitol protest.

If Alec Baldwin is as innocent as you claim (and I'm not arguing with you), but ends up in legal jeopardy anyway, can I feel joy at seeing him run through the same legal gauntlet he wishes upon all of us?

It just might be that I'm not satisfied at him losing his career. I don't need him jailed; it would be sufficient to know he's living in a cardboard box somewhere, eating out of a dumpster.

RandyGC said...

Valuable perspective provided by a man that knows what color the boathouse in Hereford is.

Sam said...

"Weapons safety on set is not the job of actors, except to a very minor (almost negligible) degree. On purpose. The proof of the wisdom of that is the safety record you just read."

Accidents happen.

I was never an actor, nor did I ever play one on TV.

I was, however, a soldier. In every new company, every single time I checked out a new weapon, the armorer was supposed to issue a clear weapon. Every time I, and every soldier I ever knew, checked that the weapon was unloaded and working. My responsiblity. It was in my hands now. A deadly weapon. My responsibility.

Accidents happen. I've heard, but have never seen, that every once in a while during training someone shot the blank adapter off their rifle because "someone" loaded up live ammo. Who's at fault? The rifle? The shooter? The ammo loader? The system that allows one person to load the firearm and another to fire it without checking it out?

Aesop said...


How many accidental deaths in the military just last year?
How many were firearms-related?

Hollywood, firing more rounds year in and year out than the military, accidentally shoots one person about every 17 years.

Give a holler about the military way when privates in the dotMil match or beat that record.
Not until.

Just a hunch, but I suspect Baldwin, although morally and legally not culpable for what happened, besides cancelling his career (in all likelihood) and forever being poison to the anti-gun crowd (except as part of the problem, not the solution, and still being fleeced for funding by them), as producer of the film, is going to get ass-raped so hard by the family of the wounded director (avg. salary $250-500K/yr for feature filmmakers) and dead DP (avg. annual salary >$200K/yr) for hiring an incompetent bimbo as weapons master, he'll be rectally bleeding until the victim's child graduates Harvard Law or Medical School, in 20 years.

Ruth said...

I do think that if Baldwin was part of the decision process for using inappropriately trained crew after the union people left he OUGHT to be held for part of the responsibility. But I have doubts that'll happen.

Walter Coast said...

Until there are more facts, it is really hard to form a valid opinion. But we can prepare our opinions so we are ready when the facts come out.

From what we know, assuming there was no intent, there are three possibilities: accident, negligence, recklessness.

In an accident, Mr. Baldwin doesn't really have any criminal or civil worries. Is this an accident? No. He was not engaged in "normal" behavior. He pointed a gun at a person and pulled the trigger. It is a fundamental rule of firearms not to do that. He has been involved in enough gunplay movies that he must have been exposed to this information. He has likely been specifically trained. And even when an actor shoots blanks directly at the camera, the rule is the people behind the camera get out of the way before shooting. This was no accident.

Was he negligent? That would open him up to civil liability. Did he double check that the firearms was, in fact, unloaded? No. Did he point it at a person and pull the trigger? Yes. Very likely he has documented his opinion that guns are dangerous, even unloaded ones. Yet he pointed a gun at a person and pulled the trigger. His actions, at the least, seem negligent rather than accidental.

Was he reckless? We don't know. Did he throw one of his tantrums, point the gun at people he was angry with and pull the trigger to make his point? That would be both a civil and a criminal issue.

When the facts are known, we can make some valid opinions.

Until then, boys and girls, remember all guns are loaded and don't point them at things you don't want to shoot.

Sam said...

"Give a holler about the military way when privates in the dotMil match or beat that record. Not until."

Might be an interesting question; I did statistical analysis (for money) for many years.

Of the millions of soldiers (and marines) firing billions of rounds in training, how many killed someone when they thought they were firing blanks?

Do you know? or do you know where I can find out?

If I have the numbers on how many thousands of actors fired how many thousands of rounds to kill 3 people to compare it with, I can do the math.

Aesop said...

The union camera people left because of the inappropriately-trained weapons handler.
Which was brilliant, on their part.
They saved their own lives, or it might have been one or more of them dead now.

Nick Flandrey said...

besides cancelling his career (in all likelihood) and forever being poison to the anti-gun crowd

-- from your lips to God's ears, but I don't think it will be so... I am already wargaming ways for him to "fix" this in the greater story arc of his life, so I know there are crisis management firms that are doing it too, and preparing proposals for his perusal...

[after some time passes]

Baldwin PSA, Mom's against you

Baldwin: (Head and torso shot, facing camera directly, somber demeanor and costume) Folks, I'm sure that you know by now that there was an accident on the set of a movie being made, with me in a starring role. While nothing anyone could have done would have prevented the tragedy that took place, we can at least honor the memory of those most affected by supporting and passing [insert name of new gun law]. I know first hand the devastation of a gun violence event. Even in the rigorously controlled environment of a feature film set, surrounded by the most skilled professionals in the field, a senseless gun tragedy can occur. The fact is that guns are simply too dangerous to be available to just anyone. Join me, and the other victims of gun violence in supporting the passage of this common sense law, designed specifically to prevent more tragedies. Think of the children, if it saves just one life, I humbly beg you to give it your support. I'm Alex Baldwon...."

Bonus points if it counts toward his public service requirement after his plea deal.


Aesop said...


No, he has not been "specifically trained".
This is what happens when people assume facts not in evidence.

The numbers of military members, like the membership of the movie trade guild and crafts, are open-source.
Find me any year the military accidentally killed less than three people/year.
Find me any year the movie industry accidentally killed as many as three people in one year.

The streams will never cross.
The military has to take idiots, and accepts the resultant losses.
The movie industry has to answer to liability lawyers, which takes all the fun out of peremptorily killing people just to prove Darwin was right.

Nick Flandrey said...

He was not engaged in "normal" behavior. He pointed a gun at a person and pulled the trigger.

--again, you are missing the point. It IS normal behavior for an ACTOR to follow the script and director's direction and do EXACTLY THAT. It is the explicit job of all the other people to be sure that he can do so safely WITHOUT any additional knowledge.

If you want speculation instead of facts, MAYBE the DP asked him to look down the barrel and slowly pull the trigger so she could check framing or focus, or where the sun was, or if he'd jerk the trigger, or if he could even hold the damn thing steady at arm's length. All safe actions if he's holding a banana. MAYBE he never fired that gun and wanted to know if he was strong enough to pull the trigger. Maybe he doesn't understand single vs double action and was just getting a feel for it WHILE doing other things. AGAIN, he's BEEN TOLD it's safe as a banana by the experts he hires to tell him, and VERIFY, that it's safe.


5stonegames said...

I have zero arguments with your expertise and experience here, Not one.

I do have an issue with anyone paying money to Hollywood or allowing people who want to destroy your culture.

Anyone serious about social change in a Rightward direction and most are not will avoid TV and Movies like they were bubonic plague rats. You can't put Hollywood out of business, they have plenty of money and would get bailed out but you can and should avoid voluntarily giving your money and room in your head to people who hate you and want you dead.

It wasn't always like this but the industry is getting worse and worse. Since our guys aren't making movies or TV anyway and no dumb action films don't count so saying "pass" is a good thing anyone can do. Easy, legal and saves you time and money.

Oh as for those movies you mentioned . I missed most them. I did see T1 though and I might have seen Ronin on TV maybe when I still watched that. I seem to have thought it was uninteresting.

Haven't seen any of the others wither or Godfather which is not from an era in which Hollywood was evil or Dodgeball either. Hell I think I missed most of them.

I must have been under a rock or something.

Anyway serious people don't fund enemies by choice , very serious ones think "Lord Protector Cromwell did nothing wrong"

Steady Steve said...

You left out the guy who starred in Miami Vice. Until he was screwing around and pointed a gun (filled with blanks) at his head and pulled the trigger. Blanks are not completely safe. That's how Don Johnson got his job. In the interests of safety, actors should be instructed in safe gun handling. Perhaps that would give them a bit more respect concerning firearms.

Walter Coast said...

All we have is speculation concerning the details.

We do not have to speculate how the legal system works.

But we now have the question if pointing a gun at a person is "normal behavior".

It would be considered criminally reckless behavior for everyone BUT an actor.

There isn't a good answer at the moment because we really don't know the circumstances (though we know crisis management hasn't gotten ahead of the story with a perfectly reasonable explanation that would make everyone immediately think unavoidable faultless accident rather than muse over negligence or recklessness).

Most certainly, this will be decided in a civil case and it may be decided in a criminal case.

Again, I did not voice an opinion. I simply laid some groundwork about what opinions could be as more facts come out.

If he never had any firearms training, if it is not industry standard to double check a "cold gun" (as it is in the military), if he was instructed by the director to point his gun and pull the trigger, if he followed set firearms safety policy well, well he might be in the civil and criminal clear.

If he was not just an actor but also a producer and he made decisions that replaced union labor with cheaper and less competent non-union labor which affected safety, well, that will muddy up the water a bit.

We can't say what will happen because we don't know the facts. But as the facts come out, we will know what our opinion can be.

I have nothing to argue at the moment and I likely will have nothing to argue later, as the result should be a clear outcome of the facts.

Let's see where this goes.

Chances are, it is going to be an expensive hassle for Mr. Baldwin.

It is unclear if this will give him any sympathy toward those who use a firearm to protect themselves and wind up a victim of the legal system because they didn't do everything perfectly.

Aesop said...

Actually, we have both coherent statements, and affidavits.

Any legal trouble will be handled by insurance and lawyers, as usual.

And there is no indication union propmasters/weapons handlers were replaced; it seems pretty clear they hired a non-union armorer on a non-union production.
And the DP paid the price for that economy.

As the armorer is about to.

But it's all coming out in the wash, and pretty consistently in one direction.

If Baldwin were really and justifiably responsible for what happened, based on his history, I'd be happy to pile on, but that's simply not supported by any analysis of the facts at hand, nor those liable to come up, barring a drastic and wild reversal of what we know now.

Aesop said...

@Steady Steve,
What "guy who died in Miami Vice".
You're thinking of John Eric Hexum, who I noted several posts ago at the outset capped himself on the set of Cover Up in the early 1980s, effectively cancelling the show as well as ending his career, and life, all for "Just blanks, right? BLAM!".

This is why no one trusts actors with hot guns until the last possible second before filming commences, as safety policy.

Anonymous said...

Choosing to comment on this thread to note that apparently live ammo was used (prodigiously) in the shooting (sorry) of the Team Guy/Boat Guy scenes in "Act Of Valor" resulting casualties
Boat Guy

Aesop said...

By actual active-duty Navy frickin' SEALs, who go through more live training ammo in a year than the entire Marine Corps does.

If you can get actual Navy SEALs for your "special ability extras" on a movie about Navy SEALs, I highly recommend that.

Anonymous said...

"If you can get actual Navy SEALs for your 'special ability extras' " yeah...

Or even better "... you can get actual Navy Boat Guys for your 'special ability extras'" running your boat-mounted mini-guns you're even better off...
Couldn't resist...
Boat Guy