Is NRA TV Dangerous, Or Only The Most Ridiculous Network In America?

By Emily Chambers | Last Week Tonight | March 5, 2018 |


I want you all to know that John Oliver made his staff watch many, many hours of NRA TV for your specific benefit. Whatever they’re getting paid, they deserve a raise. Because this shit? It’s awful. But being able to determine that the programming offered by the country’s largest gun rights advocacy group manufacturer’s lobbying group isn’t “good” only requires a person to have two eyeballs connected to a brain. The more important questions are:

- Why is this so ridiculous?

- Is it dangerous?

The answer to the first one comes in the form of two short words, and those words are Dom and Raso.

It would be fun were it not so, so sad. In addition to ruining Petr’s favorite movie Heat, even more so than other recent attempts, Raso’s entire existence is an insightfully sad note on gun culture and toxic masculinity (yeah, I said that shit. Deal with it). Because, and this is where you’ll want to say goodbye to any attempt at logical thinking, Raso is a former Navy SEAL. He had the actual experience training in hand-to-hand combat and working with assault weapons, and that experience wasn’t good enough for him. He now has to recreate fight scenes from his favorite movies in order to get the “real” experience of being in the middle of a life or death fight. Meaning Raso has devoted his entire life to a figment of his imagination.

And I’m not saying you couldn’t theoretically make a decent show about recreating iconic action scenes from movies. How could you do it without a green screen? How could you do this on a budget? Even the Heat was interesting in that they learned the duffle bags used couldn’t have held the amount of money and allowed the robbers to be effective during the shootout scene. There’s a whole lot of interesting shit to mine there, if you’re interested in making movies. Raso’s devoted his entire life to a figment of his imagination. He doesn’t love guns, he loves the way guns in movies made him feel. He was supposed to be Dawson Leary, and instead, he’s a roided up Eric Cartman. It’s sad, and yes, those are my most recent references. I’m old.

So it’s easy enough to think a channel devoted to selling people gun and gun accessories would be bad at making good programming. It’s clearly ridiculous, but Oliver argues it’s not nearly as dangerous as the NRA itself. And that’s the part I’m not so sure about. The NRA is bribing members of Congress to make sure that the rest of the country can’t implement even the most common sense gun control measures. Even when a majority of the country wants them. These things are all horrific.

But they aren’t enough by themselves to make people feel like they need to buy as many assault rifles as they can. Movies have told everyone that guns are cool, but only Dom Raso wants to devote himself so thoroughly to guns that he spends his days recreating those scenes. No, in order to get people to buy all the guns so that the NRA can give all the money to your Congresspeople, you’ve got to make them afraid of everything. And that’s what NRA TV is selling. Pure, unadulterated fear. Fear that the government is going to take away your freedom. Fear that ISIS is going to invade your house. Fear that sex traffickers will sell you and/or your white women into slavery. Fear of pot. Which honestly I can’t really understand other than the fact that hippies (along with everyone else) are into pot, and the NRA really hates hippies.

The NRA needs to make as many people as possible feel like Death Wish is right around the corner, and the only thing that will prevent the destruction of your family is a custom painted, fully accessorized AR-15 and its little puffs of happiness. Do they have any credible evidence that literally everyone is seconds away from being brutally murdered? No. Because when you google to find out what your chances of being the victim of a violent crime are, you get this report from the Bureau of Justice. From 1987. But do we at least know that having a gun will increase your chances of being able to fend off a violent attacker? Fuck all that too. We can’t learn jack until the Dickey Amendment is repealed, and that can’t happen because the NRA is staunchly opposed to it. It’s almost as if being able to prove that guns are effective self-defense tools is even less important to the NRA than keeping its customers ill-informed on the realities of crime in the country. Weird.

So yes, I understand that NRA TV might not be the biggest issue currently facing the country in combating gun violence. They’re a ridiculous cross of QVC and teenage-boys’ semen stained drawings of ‘spolsions. And they’re continually selling fear-based versions of the superiority of white, Christian America in order to sell more death machines. They’re laughable, and scary as shit. We can handle acknowledging both.

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