Damp and cool-ish, some sun, if we’re lucky. Yesterday ended up that way, light misty drizzle. That stifled some of my plans. Teh intarwebs ate more of my day. Who knew my time in Hollywood would have relevance here?
I don’t want to spend any more time on it, unless someone has read through the relevant threads and comments at Aesop’s and the whole comment thread here yesterday and still has real questions. I’ll try again to state what I believe and why, and why you should believe me. It comes down to this being a workplace accident. Baldwin was not acting as a private citizen out in the world where one set of rules applies. He was working, in a [nominally] controlled environment, at the direction of others, under a different set of rules. They are different because the work aims to create the illusion of dangerous reality, while minimizing the actual danger. That the rules work when followed is attested to by the safety record of the industry. That the rules were not followed in this case seems pretty clear and the result is death, injury, and trauma, followed by massive economic losses. The economics are important because it was WORK undertaken by a business, and economic considerations probably contributed to the situation.
In the working environment, under the rules established, the actor IS NOT responsible for gun safety. Like it or not, he is not. The actor is not in any way shape or form a “competent person” under workplace safety laws. The actor is not a “responsible person” under workplace safety laws. They have only the general responsibility to be safe at work that every employee has. They are very fancy ‘temp’ workers. Actors, even principals (main characters) might only be on set for a couple of days total. They don’t necessarily know anything at all about movies, production, anyone’s job, or any other thing besides ‘stand here, look here, say this, do this.’ The job of keeping all these baby ducks safe and getting a usable work product out of them falls to the professionals in the production. They include people who DO meet the definition of “competent person” and “responsible person”. The crew is there for the duration, the actors come and go. The actors are literally shuttled and herded, coddled and ‘managed’. Everything is done for them that can possibly be done because they can’t be trusted to do it themselves.
If this sounds awful to you, again, it doesn’t matter. This is the way it works, and you are not an actor. FWIW, most ‘actors’ are not primarily actors either. Cliches are sometimes cliches for a reason. Sometimes they are not and there are actors who are sharp as razors. There are football players who are Rhodes Scholars too, but most of them are not. Even an incredibly sharp actor doesn’t necessarily have any interest in learning about something he’ll be using for 10 minutes out of two days, 3 times a year. And that’s how long and how often he might hold a gun in a movie shoot, if he’s a working character actor. An action star might get considerable screen time using weapons but actually shooting them is only a small part of the time on screen and a vanishingly small part of their yearly work hours. I mean, jeez, how many times do you hear gun people complaining about guns or techniques shown in the movies? Well, that actor might have spent a whole couple of hours over a week holding a gun. And then he did nothing for two years, before showing up on set for his three day shooting call for his next project. They are pretending to competence, and the vastly larger crew that shoots the film makes it possible for them to do so.
The actors are usually the least safe, and least competent people involved, which is why the competent crew people are the ones trusted to make decisions like “is this gun safe”. FFS, you wouldn’t trust an actor to make life or death decisions in an operating room, why would you let him make that decision with a gun? His whole life is pretending to competence he doesn’t have.
I get it that people are angry that this particular anti-gun douchebag isn’t going to be held responsible for a deadly accident involving a firearm that happened in his workplace. If it had happened at his home, or your home, or on the street I’d be making a different argument. I don’t go into mines and tell the miners that their work rules are stupid and criminally negligent when someone dies. I don’t go down to the fire station and tell the firefighters that they are doing it wrong because I wouldn’t do it the way they do. (I might lobby that their doctrine should be changed, but not at the station house.) I don’t tell pilots that they are full of sh!t for believing that their way is the safest way they can think of to do things, even when their way breaks down and kills people.
I once did enough rigging (hanging stuff in the air) in the theater and entertainment world that I was at least competent enough to spot bad rigging when I saw it. Then I helped set up a Cirque du Soleil show and realized I knew NOTHING about circus rigging. It was completely different from what I did know, and looked unsafe as HELL to me. But it wasn’t. They had CENTURIES of tradition and methods of work to draw on, and smart people adapting it to new materials.
This is all to say that a movie set is a workplace. The actors are employees, and temps at that. They have no expectation of competence outside of pretending to be something they are not. They are told what to do, guided and instructed at every step, the way is made clear for them, and they do their job, which is only to convince you of the lie, and the truth of the story. The crew is the responsible party, in every sense of the word. A shoot is not your workplace. It’s not a town square, or anywhere in real life. The rules are different because they have to be, because they are what keeps the workers safe, just like the rules in a mine are different from the rules in a restaurant, are different from the rules for a steeplejack, or a merchant marine vessel, or an aircraft carrier.
The movie business – Hollywood – is an industry with its own set of rules and regulations, its own set of laws in some places, and its own way of doing business. It’s not a mine. It’s not a daycare. It’s not a shooting range, or a gun club, or a school for actors. Compared to other industries it’s incredibly safe. Compared to other regular gun users it’s astoundingly safe.
As an actor, if the reports so far hold up, Baldwin was not responsible for the death and injury. As a manager/ maybe part owner of the company, he might have responsibility if his decisions as a manager/owner contributed to the accident. The armorer has the primary responsibility in fact, legally, and in practice. The AD who handed the gun to Baldwin and declared it ‘safe’ might be found to have more responsibility than the armorer, but that’s for lawyers and courts to decide, he certainly shares it with the armorer. That is my understanding under the work rules and practices prevailing in the industry. It’s the understanding of the knowledgeable lawyers I quoted in comments yesterday, of the crew actually working on the set, and of almost everyone working in the business who has commented.
It’s clear that in this case the industry rules were not followed, and actually competent people were not involved. People WILL pay for that. It just might not be the anti-gun hypocrite Baldwin.
And I hope that’s all I’ll have to say about that.
Now, don’t join the blood dancing howler monkeys who WILL use this for more attacks on our gun rights. And because I blog about prepping, consider that they might ram something through, and think about the effect on you and prep accordingly.
Don’t be distracted from the real threats we’re facing. Keep stacking.