Honestly, the only reason why I tuned in to watch the season premiere of Sons of Anarchy was because I wanted to see who was playing Christian Grey in the up and coming book-to-movie rendition of 50 Shades of Grey. What I did not expect was a school shooting… which you can watch here.
The scene was placed at the end of the premiere, which aired the other night. At this point, after watching rape and murder happen all in one episode, I thought nothing could overshadow all of that. Turns out, creator Kurt Sutter had a little more in store for us.
The scene is innocent at first: a little boy going to school, decked out in what appears to be a Catholic school uniform. He walks to a bench, which is where things become a little suspicious. He rolls up his sleeves, his arms covered in what seems to be self-induced scars. He opens up a composition notebook and starts penning through it until the bell rings. He looks up at the school building with a bit of ‘am I really going to do this?’ in his eyes. He rummages through his backpack and draws out an uzi. He finally leaves the bench without his backpack and notebook. The camera zooms into his notebook and there, we see a few disturbing phrases like POP GOES THE WEASEL and images of corpses and someone getting their head sliced off. At this point, I knew where this was going.
He walks up the steps and disappears into the building. The camera slides to a window and we hear a man yell. Suddenly, a burst of gunfire erupts and screams start. We see blood splatter on the window.
I’m sitting there like, “Whoa!”, and I bet everyone across the United States was saying the same thing.
Despite not being gratuitous on the gory details, one must wonder why Sutter would even venture in such territory, especially with American wounds like the Aurora shooting and the Sandy Hook massacre are still so fresh in everyone’s minds. In an interview with New York Daily News, Sutter said it had little to do with politics and more so to do with progressing the storyline, moreso when Jax, played by Christian Grey-to-be Charlie Hunnam, and his motorcycle gang gets involved in selling guns. It’s apparently supposed to set up the final and defining dilemma for Jax, the New York Daily News wrote.
But of course, Sutter can’t get away that easily with just saying the scene was just for the shock factor. “I had to acknowledge some of it because if I didn’t, it would feel irresponsible,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “So I tried to, as the season progresses, layer in enough of my point of view so there is some sense of responsibility in terms of the controversy but it doesn’t become a narrative arc about gun violence.”
Despite the fact that the school shooting was indeed shocking, the scene was done, I guess you can say, tastefully. Obviously there’s death, but producers didn’t go balls out to show children’s brains splattering the walls. Brownie points for observing respect. But the implication of a school massacre is truly heartbreaking. Was all of what was implied necessary just to get the storyline up and moving? In an extreme point of view, probably yes.
What I’ve learned to like about Kurt Sutter is that he’s upfront in saying that the season premiere is no onion. There’s no underlying layer of politics. He’s got a lot of balls telling the sensitive media that it was all about getting the storyline to move forward. Despite that, he takes responsibility and offers his insights: guns affect everyone, but not one side can point a finger at the other about gun control when there are other issues like education and mental illnesses that tether in with gun violence. How he tethers that with the Sons of Anarchy storyline is beyond me, but nonetheless, it’s genius.
So should viewers flip the switch to Sons of Anarchy? Of course not. There are many movies that have pushed the boundaries just as this television show has. But I do say this, if you’re a first time viewer of Sons of Anarchy like I am, tread lightly, and just expect to see a lot.chris hunnam, school shooting, sons of anarchy, tv