50 Cent vs 007

November 27, 2006posterwireNews, Outdoor, Posters10
Casino Royale movie poster

Casino Royale movie poster

Guns in Movie Posters

Get Rich or Die Tryin' billboard

Get Rich or Die Tryin' billboard

Rap star and actor 50 Cent is revisiting the controversy from a year ago when Paramount Pictures (and Clear Channel) decided to take down billboards for his film Get Rich or Die Tryin’ due to protests. Critics and activists accused the film’s outdoor billboard ad (featuring the back of “Fiddy” holding a microphone and a gun) of promoting gun violence. Fast forward to the present, and apparently 50 Cent hasn’t forgotten about the gun ad controversy. According to the entertainment news service WENN, the rapper is bothered by the Casino Royale posters for the new Daniel Craig James Bond film:

50 Cent is accusing Hollywood of double standards after seeing the new James Bond holding a gun in posters for Casino Royale – a year after billboards of him sporting a weapon caused a furore.

The rapper — real name Curtis Jackson — is appalled by the fact no one has raised a fuss about Daniel Craig’s gun-toting posters when he was castigated for posing with a weapon in billboards for movie Get Rich Or Die Tryin’.

He says, “Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ comes out and they want to protest because they see a gun in my hand but James Bond comes out or Mr + Mrs Smith will come out with guns and it’s acceptable.

“You can see any kind of gun there is to see on the covers of films. You can go in Blockbuster and see every gun that was ever made.”

The rap star calls for one universal ruling about weapons in movie posters – and he’ll accept whatever the Hollywood film police decide.

He adds, “Let’s not start with 50 Cent and stop with 50 Cent. Let’s do it everywhere else and make it unacceptable period. I would gladly join the rest of entertainment if we get there.”

50 Cent (correctly) points out that there is no standard as far as the depiction of guns on movie posters. The MPAA and studios don’t really have clear guidelines with regards to guns in key art. In fact, what is and isn’t allowed on domestic one-sheets isn’t always clear and tends to change with the times (and political climate).

Lara Croft Tomb Raider movie poster

Tomb Raider movie poster

For example, as we’ve mentioned in the past, studios sometimes avoided showing a character wielding two guns on a U.S. domestic movie poster. This is why Angelina Jolie is holding the trademark “akimbo” dual pistols, but it is implied as only one hand gun is visible on the Lara Croft Tomb Raider movie poster. You’ll notice Jolie’s left hand and pistol conveniently fall into a shadow on the one-sheet. Times change, or more accurately, the lack of consistency continues, and everyone from Jada Pinkett Smith to Kate Beckinsale happily wields two pistols.

Magnum Force movie poster

Magnum Force movie poster

Another example of “gun control” in posters: Back in the 1970s, Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry character would happily point his trademark .44 Magnum directly at the viewer on a Dirty Harry movie poster.

But in later years, some studios avoided showing a large gun barrel pointed directly at “camera” on a one-sheet. Enter James Bond and the Goldeneye teaser poster, and suddenly it became acceptable again to point a large firearm directly at the viewer. Then everyone from George Clooney to Bruce Willis started giving the proverbial “stick ’em up”.

Universal Soldier The Return movie poster

Guns removed from Universal Soldier The Return movie poster

Sometimes the rules can change as a movie poster is being produced. In 1999, shortly after the Columbine high school massacre, Sony Pictures was set to release the Jean-Claude Van Damme action film Universal Solider: The Return. Before anyone could even think to complain, the studio suddenly became “gun shy” and quickly revised the Universal Solder: The Return movie poster by removing all the rifles from the small row of soldiers at the bottom of the poster and had it reprinted.

Is 50 Cent right? Is there a double standard with regards to firearms on movie posters?

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  1. Rob WeychertNovember 27, 2006 at 7:31 PMReply

    Double standards will exist as long as censorship exists. Neither the MPAA nor the FCC has any hard and fast “code” which artists can refer to, because even if such a subjective document could ever be completed, it would take a lifetime to read it. Maybe they should put something like that together. It might cripple the imagination and homogenize everything in its path, but it would sure create a lot of jobs.

  2. Bobby DragulescuNovember 28, 2006 at 2:19 AMReply

    I never thought I would utter these words, but Fiddy is exactly right!

    I’m going to chalk up the logic to this: Black actor holding a gun, who has actually USED a real gun = scary and offensive. Hey, I didn’t say it was right, but you know it was what they were thinking.

  3. Bill CunninghamNovember 28, 2006 at 1:43 PMReply

    There’s all sorts of rules that vary as the situations arise:

    – you can’t have more than two guns.
    – you can’t point the gun out at the audience.
    – you can’t show an open barrel

    All in the name of protecting the public.

    Imagine how boring comics would be if they had to follow these rules…

  4. KaonashiDecember 10, 2006 at 5:36 AMReply

    The second commenter is spot on. There’s totally a double standard. If a black actor is holding the gun in a poster, oooh he looks scary, he’s a gangster. But if a white actor is holding the gun, he looks cool, like James Bond. And it’s ok for female actors to hold two guns, since who would take women seriously as badasses anyway?

  5. ClayDecember 13, 2006 at 8:56 PMReply

    I’ve noticed that in the poster for City of God, the guns held by a row of children and teens have been airbrushed out. Perhaps because of their age?

    Also, in publicity still for The Departed, a shot of Matt Damon and Leo DiCaprio on the roof looks as if they’re in the middle of a fistfight. In fact, DiCaprio is holding a gun to Damon during that hold scene. I believe it has been airbrushed out.

  6. des merrionDecember 17, 2006 at 7:45 AMReply

    The gun Clint Eastwood was pointing in the poster for Dirty Harry was a Smith and Wesson .44 magnum, not a .357 as stated.
    A small correction, but necessary.
    The whole hype of firearms in posters is rubbish.
    Almost every programme on tv openly shows firearms.

  7. adminDecember 17, 2006 at 1:01 PMReply

    Thanks for the correction — I’ve changed Dirty Harry’s gun caliber.

  8. Ken PeggsFebruary 13, 2007 at 12:04 AMReply

    Why assume it’s a race issue? My first thought was that despite what the MPAA said, the key factor in the “Get Rich or Die Tryin'” poster was the title. That title *combined* with the gun seemed to be exhorting poster-viewers to consider violence. I expect the actual film’s message was more complex (although i don’t know, maybe not).

    If you kept the gun in the 50 cent poster, but *changed the title* to, I dunno, “Harry Potter and the ennui of the lost tundra”, I bet no-one would have complained, except JK Rowling.

  9. ILLICITMarch 31, 2007 at 12:00 AMReply

    It’s all true. Double standards to the maxx right there. I suppose they thought that because the film focuses on the violent past that most rappers came from, they thought that the poster glorified it or something, which is bullsh*t.

    A gun in one hand, Fifty in the middle, and the microphone in his other hand could be seen as symbolising the connection between rap and violence. I mean think about it:

    The gun symbolises violence, the microphone symbolises music (more specifically; rap), and Fifty is the medium betweeen the two.

    BTW, I never realised that was the poster they were talking about. I thought they were talking about the picture of his back, holding his child, with his 9 in his waistband. Anyone with the album knows which one I’m talking about

  10. ILLICITMarch 31, 2007 at 12:04 AMReply

    This is the poster I was talking about.

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