Don’t tell me what your priorities are.  Show me what you consume, how you spend your time, and where you spend your money--those actions reflect your priorities.

Yesterday’s article talking about guns and FEAR seemed to go pretty well.  No trolling to date and the conversation seems to be civil. Well done everybody.  High five. So now we get to the media part of this discussion.

Most people think we’re going to be discussing the less-than-informed teleprompter readers, but no.  We’re going to discuss Hollywood, and what we as a species, consume in the form of entertainment and media.  Have no fear, we’ll get to the talking heads in a future installment of this series.

Based on the first sentence in the blog post, our priority is violence.  

Did that hurt?  I hope that statement punched you right in the feels and you’re offended.  Yes, our priority is violence. Don’t believe me? Look at the data.

Top Grossing Movies from 2019



Gross Sales



Avengers: Endgame




The Lion King (2019)


Circle of Life


Toy Story 4




Captain Marvel




Spider-Man: Far from Home




Aladdin (2019)








John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum




Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw




How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World



Is it just 2019?  You can check out 2018, 2017, and 2016.  We love to consume, spend money on, and utilize our time with violence.  

But those movies are the only thing that’s playing in the theatres… and movies are fun to watch on a Friday night.   Ok then, were you a part of the Game of Thrones wave?  Watch Triple Frontier on Netflix?  Or any of those other serial killer profiles?  The data on Netflix, HBO, and other on-demand streaming is lackluster, but do a quick Google search of the most-watched movies of 2019 in Netflix and you’ll see multitudes of website promoting Rated R films and violent content.

And the videogames… Oh, the videogames.  The repetitive, competitive violent images that we drive; take pride in sniper shots, team kills, spectacular hand grenade tosses.  Immersive violence for children and adults.

In my travels around the world, I’ve had interesting interactions in developing nations when I invite people to visit America.  The response is something along the lines of, “No thank you. It’s dangerous there. Big cities, lots of car wrecks, and everybody is shooting at one another.”


Then I think of the bootleg DVD stands adorned with our latest Hollywood blockbusters.  That’s the majority of interaction these communities have with America. They watch our films, align those movies with our demonstrated military actions in their communities, and make fairly logical conclusion about Americans.  We prioritize force and violence. That’s America to a lot of the world.

Do you know what a hypocrite is?  Who isn’t?

I grew up watching action films, playing violent video games, and living a life of extreme violence until my late 20’s.  Like many of us, I believed the good guy was the one with the gun that killed the most bad guys, got the girl, and lived happily ever after.  Decades of conditioning led me to that belief. It’s reasonable that millions believe the same thing.

There are a few of you reading this with similar, real-life experiences of extreme violence.  In the case of military violence, you understand that you don’t come back the same, your girl or guy doesn’t look at you the same way, and it’s not happily-ever-after.  In the case of domestic violence, there are drawn-out investigations, legal ramifications, and emotional duress that affects everyone involved.  

Hollywood simply isn’t real life.  Yet we’re conditioned to believe it.  So much that a few act it out in our communities.  And somehow we're shocked?  Really?

There’s a saying in our home, “Good in.  Good out.” If we eat good food, read good information, and do our best to bring goodness into our home, then we’ll put good out into the world.  As you go about your day, take a few minutes and think about the violence you consume, spend money on, or waste your time watching. Are you bringing good in?  And is it enabling you to put good out?

A few days ago, I watched Dave Chappelle’s new standup special, Sticks and Stones.  F-ing hilarious.  It’s comedy people.  Try not to be so offended.  If you made it all the way through the routine to the epilogue, there’s a story around a transgender audience member and a discussion about his transgender jokes after a show.  

The discussion revolved around the media’s reaction to Dave’s R-Kelly jokes.  Apparently the media accused Dave of normalizing child abuse because of his jokes about R-Kelly.  Then the transgender person questioned, “I wonder why your transgender jokes don’t normalize the transgender community?”  

Interesting perspective.

If the media is so up-in-arms about a famous comedian making jokes about a child abuser, then why isn’t the media up in arms about Hollywood actors normalizing violence with automatic weapons, endless gore, and making billions while doing it?

We’ll get to that in Part 3.

Matthew Griffin Combat Flip Flops CEO Guns and FEARAbout the Author: West Point Graduate, Special Operations Army Ranger, Entrepreneur, Public Speaker, Henry Crown Fellow.


To tag on Josh’s comment, Why does this seem to ONLY be an American problem when there are countries that have a much more involved gun culture. (i.e. the Netherlands)

A big part of that problem stems from ignorance. Gun culture used to be taught in the U.S. as Griff alluded to in his first part in this series. His father taught him, and sent him to safety classes. (which IMO should be required for all adults)

Nowadays there seems to be less care to teach children (anything) at home and to rely on the Public Schools, Media, and Movies to raise our young. Other cultures actually take the time to teach them how to cook, clean, and yes even handle a weapon. To teach them that movies and videogames are fantasy not reality.

— Robert

Part I and Part II of this opinion piece on Guns and Fear have been great. I really appreciate your approach with an open mind. Lots of great info. I hope to hear how fear is used to sell gun control, as well as fear is used to sell the 2nd amendment. To me CNN uses one fear tactic, and Fox uses another fear tactic. When it comes to violence through the media we consume, I very much agree that it is garbage in, garbage out. But you do have to ask yourself one thing. Our media is the World’s media. i.e. South Korean’s, European’s, Japanese, Austrailan, and other developed countries are all obsessed with the same first person shooter games, and violent movies. This is not new. Yet they don’t have our problems with mass shooting. Why?

— Greg

I’ve typed and deleted and typed my response like 3 times. I’ll be fair and let you conclude your opinion before I comment on specifics. Fear is a motivating factor but what shouldn’t be discounted is sometimes… fear is warranted.

— Andy

I’ve seen many of the films listed, and I hate to say it but violence (and the threat thereof) actually is a major plot point in Toy Story 4. It’s kind of masked by the fact that they’re toys, but that actually allows for some things to happen that would definitely land a live action film in hard-R territory.

— Derek

As always Griff… SPOT ON. Great read!

— Tony

My only issue with this is that it seems to ignore the fact that the rest of the world has the same movies and video games that we have in the United States.
Why is this an American problem if it’s a media problem?

— Josh