Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Hooray for Hollywood...Not Really

Here's an interesting little tidbit I gleaned off the Brady Center site, from a heartland newspaper:
It’s been just two months since Paul Helmke left Fort Wayne to lead a national gun-control organization, and already he’s gone Hollywood.

But hobnobbing with Dustin Hoffman, William Shatner and other Tinseltown stars is just another day at the office when you’re a Midwestern Republican trying to convince mostly liberal donors of your good intentions.
Now here's what interesting...as soon as Helmke signs on to run the Brady Confederacy of Dunces, the first thing he does is run off to Hollywood!

Now, here's a quiz...why do you think that Brady found it important enough to send their top shill on a tour of Hollywood studios? Don't worry, it's a multiple choice test!
1) There's gobs and gobs of Hollywood bucks to be picked up!
2) Hollywood has an amazing ability to help shape the social landscape through movies and television.
3) You get lots of great PR pal'ing around with the stars, even decrepit old stars who did their best work in the 1970s.
4) You look like you're part of the "mainstream" as opposed to a coalition of effete Northeastern urban socialists sucking the teet of a corrupt Jabba the Hutt like George Soros!
5) All of the above!
That's right, the correct answer is Number 5! Here's what is really interesting...all of the above points would apply to the firearms industry if we bothered to try and reach out to Hollywood. We could get the bucks, the PR, help reshape the social landscape (or at the very least blunt the antigunners' efforts to shape it their way) and help move ourselves back into the mainstream.

That's why the industry puts so much money in their Hollywood initiative...no wait! There is no Hollywood initiative from the firearms industry! In fact, we don't even answer the phone when Hollywood calls!

Is that because everyone in Hollywood hates us? No...we have a solid core of actors and film and television professionals who support our side of the argument, and a larger group of up and comers would would come over to our side if we reached out. But we now offer Hollywood exactly nothing...Bad Michael!...that's not true either...when a Number 1 rated television series came to one of our largest organizations and asked for a poster to put in their Number 1 rated show, well hell, we gave it to them! Just like that! Put it in the mail and sent it to them! Man, we are the masters of our fate; we are the captains of our volleyball team!!! [social reference for quote...Mad Magazine, circa late 1960s]

Do you suppose that Brady would have mailed the poster to them, or do you suppose that Brady might have sent Shill #1 in person, with poster, flowers and a split of Cristal Champagne?

As you know, my team ran a successful Hollywood operation for the industry that was canceled because it cost too much.

We needed that money to promote hunting, because as we all know, the Founders insisted the Second Amendment be included in our Bill of Rights to promote duck hunting, a primary activity when not shooting the British or various and sundry indigenous peoples.

I did get that right, didn't I?

PS: Above cartoon, "What if Ducks Hunted Men?", is from here...


Anonymous said...

Respectfully submitted:
What was this campaign?
How did you define sucsess?

Anonymous said...

Sad but true, the captains of the gun industry largely consist of ostriches, many of the effete urbanist variety with their heads firmly buried in the sand. Those gentlemen all believe we're selling nice bolt action hunting rifles and pretty target over/under shotguns.

Now what was that my mother always says about Cristal, not vinegar, attracting flies? Wise she is, very wise...

Anonymous said...

What? You say the industry isn't doing anything to interact with Hollywood? I'm shocked! Shocked and dismayed!

Michael Bane said...

Briefly, my team was tasked with gnawing out a "beachhead" in Hollywood. We decided that the most fertile ground would be the stunt, propmaster, armorer and second-unit director communities; our strategy was really really tricky...we asked those communities what type of services they needed but did not have.

As a result, we set up a series of "seminars," essentially days at the range with top-notch high speed training. We offered everything from very basic firearms handling to long-distance precision rifle to team tactics with MP-5s.

At one event, several stunt practictioners and second-unit guys (second unit directors handle the action sequences in movies) asked us what a real police traffic stop gone bad would look like. Since more than half of our instructors were LEOs and had been in those Real World situations, they set up a series of traffic stop scenarios and ran them the rest of the afternoon.

While we didn't ram politics down everybody's throat, our politics was inherent in what we did.

The intent of the program was to have movie and television people looking to us for information, instead of going to Brady's "experts." Our longterm goal was to be in a position to influence content, exactly as the antigun movement does on a daily basis.

For example, while a movie or television show's plotline is pretty much sacrosaint, there are numerous subplots going on. The antigunners actually fund a service that provides consistent talking points and complete antigun subplots for movie and teevee shows. That's why so much of the antigun dreck you see on network teevee sounds the same.

When "ER" was the top-rated show in America, they routinely picked up subplots from the service (example...family member with gun in home mistakes child coming home late for home invader...dropped gun goes off and shoots owner...those are actual "canned" subplots written by the antigun lobby and used on the hit teevee show).

When the firearms industry pulled the plug, we were already get solid requests for info from Hollywood, and several of our instructors did some consulting. We were also on the verge of cracking the A-List...at least one famous director had asked if he could attend the next seminar, and a top actor's representative had floated a "trial balloon" whether we'd be able to put together something exclusive for her.

Let me say right off that these kinds of games are pure relationship stuff...you can't work Hollywood with a strict ROI standards. The stakes are huge; so are the risks...I won't lie to you about that.

Was it expensive? Depends...more expensive that writing a letter to the NYT, but much less expensive than producing your own promotional film promoting hunting on game preserves.

I still get requests for help from the industry, and I do what I can. My partners in the enterprise have been amazingly successful at placing SIGs and Glocks in movies (check out MIAMI VICE),so something useful came of the effort.

Anonymous said...


We did get to a few. At the least, we made the effort. But not many wanted to walk the high wire with us - and those that didn't held the purse strings.
Walt Rauch

Anonymous said...

Maybe if you did a seminar all about hunting. Maybe then the industry would be interested. It seems like the industry is made up entirely of hunting companies. I thought S&W, Glock, Kahr, STI, Kimber, Sig and others were also part of the industry, yet their interests don't appear to be part of the official nssf effort. What gives?

Anonymous said...

Michael, do you think that the companies not fully represented by the industry organization (the one that is obsessed with hunting) will ever form their own organization?

Michael Bane said...

You know, I've actually wondered why the firearms industry puts up with this incredible myopia.

I'm not saying that hunting access isn't an important issue...to an increasingly smaller segment of the market.

For the handgun companies, the black rifle companies, the manufacturers of .50BMGs and other precision rifles, for the trainers and the HUGE training industry, for the shooting sports, for the accessory manufacturers that serve those segments of the market— in short, the people who are driving the market — they receive NO benefits for the huge amounts of money they pour into various and sundry groups.

I rag on the legislators, but really they listen to the people who are supposed to be representing us.

I got a snotty note today from the Colorado State Shooting Association about how much they were doing for me...that's funny...I haven't seen any of them at public meetings or meetings of the Ad Hoc Committee addressing USFS issues...and for the life of me I couldn't find anything about the fact that we're losing our shooting areas on their website...instead, they focus on CRITICAL issues (here comes the surprise!), like...hunting!

If we don't find a way to take control of this machine, we're all gonna have plenty of cammie underwear but damn few guns!


Anonymous said...

Received a letter from NRA today. It contained a bumper sticker: NRA Sportsmen for Beauprez. I'm thinking to myself,"Am I a sportsman, as I don't hunt or fish?"

Anonymous said...

I consider myself a sportsman, I participate in a martial art.

One approved by the founding fathers.

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