GUN CHECK: With both the TV and music industries under fire for allegedly glorifying gun violence, HBO and the Warner Music Group are launching a series of TV public-service announcements aimed at deglamorizing children's images of guns.
Among those involved in the spots are rapper Chuck D. of Public Enemy and the group Onyx and film directors the Hughes brothers. The approaches range from humorous (confrontational comic John Leguizamo challenging the appeal of guns) to horrifying and disturbing (stark emergency room documentary footage by director Steve Conner of a young man dying from a bullet wound). The seven spots, which are set to start airing on MTV, BET, Video Jukebox and the major networks this week, were created in a joint effort by HBO Chairman Michael Fuchs, EastWest Records Chairwoman Sylvia Rhone, Atlantic Records President Danny Goldberg and independent film producer Shelby Stone.
This is not, they insist, a response to the recent congressional hearings about media and violence. "These spots were not done as defense or guilt about the music we put out, but for trying to make a positive contribution to our community," Rhone says.
Fuchs, though, hopes the campaign can promote a sense of reality about guns. "We hear stories about kids who come into the hospital with gunshot wounds who say, 'I didn't know it was going to hurt,' " he says. "The kids are so young playing with guns that we've got to let them know it's not an amusement park ride."