I watched Sons of Anarchy for the first time last night (I know, I know), and hung in there for about 45 minutes. I like gritty shows (my favorite is The Walking Dead), but something about this particular episode bothered me. The plot seemed to take a back seat to the violence, and the violence seemed to focus on torture. I get The Walking Dead – it’s fantasy, zombies, etc., but with all of the real violence covered in our national news: beheadings, school shootings, police shootings, domestic violence, etc. is it redundant to put it in our entertainment? Am I a hypocrite to say this if I love Breaking Bad? I don’t know. Breaking Bad never put storyline in the back seat.
Just this week, I saw a minimum of three casting notices for small independent films all looking for “badass military” types with martial arts experience. All the plot lines centered around lone heroes who violently took the law into their own hands. The meager female roles simply required youth and beauty. With the recent exposure of football pro, Rice, punching his fiance (now wife) unconscious, I became extra sensitive when I watched a brand new rap video depicting gorgeous women as bored, horny, desperate things whose only purpose was to either please the men or annoy them.
Too often, I hear actors make fun of a project they weren’t too proud of and say “Hey it paid the bills!” All my life, I’ve heard that same justification for anything that wasn’t illegal. The American Way is to make cash above all else. But what is our obligation as artists? Are we held to a higher standard? I’m not saying turn down a series regular gig on SOA, or only do projects that are family friendly, but where do we draw the line? Everyone’s “line” is different, but if we know our personal boundaries, then the “almighty gig” won’t create them for us. My mind is spinning with this.