Movie posters banned for 'glorifying' guns

Out-Law News | 21 Nov 2007 | 12:16 pm | 1 min. read

Two ads for the movie Shoot Em Up have been banned in the UK. The national advertising watchdog said they could be seen to condone violence "by glorifying or glamorising" the use of guns, in breach of rules on social responsibility and violence.

Banned: Paul Giamatti poses with gun and phoneOne poster showed actor Paul Giamatti pointing a gun while holding a mobile phone to his ear. Another showed Clive Owen leaping in the air and aiming two guns towards the viewer, though not pointing directly at the viewer. A third poster showed Owen with a gun by his side.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received complaints that the ads were irresponsible. Others said they were offensive and insensitive towards families affected by gun crime, in particular the family of Rhys Jones, the 11-year-old who was recently shot dead in Liverpool. Three people said the posters might distress young children.

Entertainment Film Distributors defended the posters. It denied that they glamorised gun violence. The company said the weapons in the image of Clive Owen holding two guns had been specifically designed to angle the guns away from the viewer. It also said the poster had been approved by the Advertising Viewing Committee of the Film Distribution Association, the body that approves promotional material for all 18 certificate films.

Banned: Clive Owen leaping in the air, aiming two handgunsThe ASA acknowledged that the text on the posters – including "Just another family man making a living" and "I'm a British nanny and I'm dangerous" – gave an ironic effect.

But it added: "We were nevertheless mindful of growing leve ls of public concern about the use and threatened use of guns. We concluded that, when taken together, the image and text in [the poster showing Owen with a gun by his side] would be seen by most people merely to reflect the content of the film and was unlikely to be seen to glamorise or glorify real gun crime. However, we considered that the prominence of the gun in [the poster showing Giamatti holding a gun and a phone] and the action shot and the actor's expression in [the poster showing Owen aiming two handguns] suggested a direct aggression that could be seen to glamorise the use of guns and violence."

The two offending ads "could be seen to condone violence by glorifying or glamorising the use of guns," said the ASA. It ordered that they should not be shown again.

Approved: Clive Owen with gun by his sideThe ASA rejected the complaints about insensitivity towards families affected by gun crime and the risk of distress to children.

The ASA has received complaints this year about 523 ads that depicted or alluded to violence. That is more than twice as many as the number of ads that were the subject of similar complaints last year. A spokesperson told OUT-LAW that the ASA is concerned by this increase and is hosting a seminar in Nottingham today to debate where the line should be drawn in future.