“black-ish” react: A Very Ironic Talk about Guns

When we were watching the latest black-ish episode, “Rock, Scissors, Paper, Gun,” little did we know that 24-hours later, we’d be witnessing yet another school massacre. It made the conversation that happened on black-ish paltry at best, irrelevant at worse. 

That’s not to say that the episode wasn’t a good one. It actually was a good episode focusing on the everyday opinions about owning a gun. Bow didn’t want Dre to get a gun because of the dangers it could pose, from a kid getting the gun and mistakenly shooting themselves, to what almost happened—Dre almost shooting Pops when they thought they heard a burglar. He almost shot him through the box the gun came in, but still, bullets go through cardboard.

The end of the episode had a reasonable resolution; keep the gun locked away so that Bow doesn’t feel understandably weird about having a gun and so Dre, who grew up having to keep an eye out for danger, can feel safe and like he can protect his family if need be. If we weren’t in the times we are in, this would feel like a very progressive episode. For instance, if this aired right after Family Matters‘ very special episode about guns in the community, then we’d all be like, “Wow, I really learned something.”

But the events of the day after this episode puts what should have been a reasonable conversation about guns into a different, almost elementary light. As a country, we’re way past dealing with minute issues such as simply keeping a gun in the house. We’re now at the point where we have to ask if we’re okay with the fact that kids were killed in cold blood at Newtown. Or if we’re all right with some shooting movie-goers. Or if we’re okay with the dozens of people who get shot, seemingly on a daily basis, in Chicago and, as the President said, “other forgotten neighborhoods.” Also, like what President Obama said, the American people are not okay with this, but the politicians are.

Thankfully, I did see a change in how us laypeople are handling this crisis. This time, we aren’t just watching the steps play out in rote fashion; there isn’t wall-to-wall coverage about the shooter, or talking heads debating the same gun-control arguments without the expectation of getting anywhere. This time, from the very beginning, I saw newscasters visibly frustrated with covering this type of news. Talking heads were finally saying that this is happening too many times. The President himself even said that the reactions, including his coming to the podium each time, is routine and numbing. He was the angriest I’ve seen him in a long time, and I found it refreshing. Sometimes, all it takes is for one person to call out the elephant in the room, and once the President finally admitted the open secret, it seemed like people woke up, if just a little bit.

The shooter hasn’t been glorified, like how other shooters have been in the past. Instead, we’ve focused more on the heroes of the tragedy, the victims who were taken from Earth before their time. We’ve focused more on what we should have been focusing on the whole time.

The conventional wisdom was that by focusing on the shooter, we can understand why they did what they did. The thing though, is that sometimes (and really, most of the time), there’s no justification or explanation that will pinpoint why someone did what they did. In an effort to find that outlying thing that will help us pinpoint the next shooter by focusing on the latest one, all we end up doing is giving future mass shooters the feeling that they’ll become infamous and finally attain the glory they feel they haven’t gotten in real life.

We need to stop focusing on what makes shooters tick. We need to focus on denying them the glory they want, which is wall-to-wall coverage on the destruction they cause. We’ve done that this time, and just that small action could, I think, could save lives. People who believe they can become famous this way might think twice; the precedent has now been set—the spotlight won’t be on them next time now that the public’s revolted in this small way. Hopefully, this avenue to fame won’t be afforded to them anymore.

As a show, black-ish was what it always was, which is a show that brings hard issues into America’s living rooms. This week, it did the same. But, clearly, black-ish‘s debate on guns was no match for what was to come. And it’s not the show’s fault. It couldn’t predict what would happen. But the discussion surely puts America’s problems in perspective; our country’s gun issues have ballooned out of control, and we as a country need to bring them back in line.

What did you think of this episode? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

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