In a Thursday meeting to discuss school safety in the wake of the Parkland shooting, Donald Trump suggested that movies and video games are influencing the youth’s perception of violence—and because of that, there should be a “rating system” in place, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He did not acknowledge the fact that explicit ratings systems for movies and video games have existed for decades.
“We have to look at the Internet, because a lot of bad things are happening to young kids and young minds, and their minds are being formed. And we have to do something about maybe what they’re seeing and how they’re seeing it,” Trump said. “And also video games. I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence in video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts. And then you go the further step and that’s the movies. You see these movies, they’re so violent and yet a kid is able to see a movie if sex isn’t involved, but killing is involved. Maybe they have to put a rating system for that.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Domestic Policy Council Director Andrew Bremberg, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and adviser Kellyanne Conway also attended the meeting Thursday, in addition to local officials.
His puzzling call for a ratings system aside, Trump echoed a common debate that is often stirred up after mass school shootings, one that places the blame on pop culture. As T.H.R. points out, he’s far from the first politician to voice concerns over violent video games. In the past week, Republican Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin and Republican Rhode Island Representative Robert “Bobby” Nardolillo mentioned video games, with the latter proposing a tax on games rated “M” for mature or above. (Because, again: the games already get ratings based on their violent content.) Back in 2005, even Hillary Clinton spoke out against increasingly violent games, saying they are “stealing the innocence from our children” and should be monitored like “tobacco, alcohol, and pornography.”
The vocal students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where the Parkland shooting occurred, do not agree. Rather than blaming violent video games and films, they have instead made waves by calling out inactive politicians and the N.R.A. In a stirring Wednesday night town hall meeting hosted by CNN, the students—as well as parents, teachers, and other locals—took Senator Marco Rubio and N.R.A. spokeswoman Dana Loesch to task, demanding gun-control reform. Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jamie was killed in the shooting, told Rubio outright that both his comments, as well as Trump’s comments, have been “pathetically weak.”
Get Vanity Fair’s HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Full ScreenPhotos:Allison Janney’s 2017-2018 Awards-Season StyleYohana DestaYohana Desta is a Hollywood writer for VanityFair.com.