Jason Bourne is not your straw man
As America’s lawmakers try to figure out how to address legislation about gun restrictions, so too are the very public figures lobbying for such change. With a fresh mass shooting in the news seemingly every week, people are angry, and when you’re angry you’re prone to making rash decisions.
Such was the case with Lena Dunham and a producer partner of hers named Tami Sagher. On Tuesday, Sagher posted a photo of promotional posters for the new movie Jason Bourne that are pasted up on the walls of New York City subway platforms and suggested that people tear the guns out of the images, theoretically staging a mild protest against gun violence.
Dunham decided to run with the message and advocated for the same action on her social channels as well, reposting Sagher’s picture and saying, “Good idea… Let’s go!” But just one day later, the link to that Instagram from Dunham is dead. And it’s probably for the best.
Tearing guns off of movie posters or replacing them with bananas or flowers or whatever your non-weapon of choice may be only serves to make fictional guns invisible, while real ones are still very much a threat. The character of Jason Bourne always has and always will carry a firearm, as will James Bond and Jack Ryan and Lara Croft and Ethan Hunt and so on and so forth. But those franchise film characters have about as much to do with mass shootings in America as video games and Marilyn Manson, a few of the chosen straw men that have been blamed for poisoning our society so completely that people have been driven to kill compulsively. Or something.
Civil disobedience is one thing, but tearing some paper off a wall—in a context where those pieces of paper are routinely defaced and destroyed anyway—is just more like civil annoyance. Dunham clearly understands some version of this to be true, otherwise she wouldn’t have deleted the post about disarming paper Matt Damon. And her other posts in the wake of the shootings of Philandro Castile and Alton Sterling have been very thoughtful and well directed.
After all, if people affected real change by defacing public property on subway platforms, there wouldn’t be any movies or TV shows left to see anywhere. Ever. Including and especially Dunham’s own TV show.