Guns are cool?

Last night, thanks to the efforts of a member of the ascuk forums I was able to view the Channel 4 documentary I, and many other electrowerkz brethren, were interviewed for. Its subject was “Guns are Cool” and Airsoft was featured heavily.

Check the banner image: Thats DA Chong in the middle and Nick on the right (I am just out of shot). They call the image “Young men in riot gear with guns pointed”, which is funny as Nick is like 40 and an ex Special Forces type.

Note: I am restricting my comments to the parts of the show regarding Airsoft.

Courttia Newland, the film maker, came down to Electrowerkz a few months ago with a film crew and other staff. Due in part to the shoot being delayed a week, the event was packed. All sorts of players I haven’t seen in ages, if at all, came out of the woodwork like worms coming up from the lawn after a storm. Some serious assholes (hot gunning – I have the picture evidence) that no body in their right mind would want to be there to represent our sport arrived dressed inappropriately, and I am taking about sheet metal Goth spiky arm guards like Lancelot might wear and of course the film crew went straight for them like flies on shit.

After many and endless delays the games got on and the film maker himself was invited to join in, where he was promptly laced to hell and back during combat because he was wearing a bright top and lit up by the lighting on the camera. Desperately those of us trying to look after him battled in vain, but the OpFor that night were taking no prisoners and I certainly took some painful ones on his behalf (I don’t think I would like to be a secret service agent after all!)

Through the night he interviewed a ton of players and Simon (Firefight) asked myself and Trip to take part, mainly because we met and became friends at electro and we are both normal working family men (city banker and builder respectively). During our interview I became worried. It seemed to me that the interviewer wanted us to dish the dirt of airsofters motives. Every time we talked about the “…team work…” and “…friendly atmosphere of a game based on honour…” he wanted to know if I liked John Woo movies and what was my favourite gun. We named dropped Arnies Airsoft as an example of the self organisation and policing of the sport.

Anyway, months go by and we hear nothing, then I get a call that the show aired that morning… at 9:45am! Now, at that time in the morning I can still taste the toothpaste and am at work, so I missed it. But why air it then? A quick look around the web turned up this micro site:

Guns Are Cool
14–19 years
Guns Are Cool explores the issue that guns are seen as cool, fashionable and desirable by many young people today and until we change that perception, we’re not going to solve the problem of rising gun crime.

Which is in the channel four education section. Yes, our documentary and chance to say something good for airsoft has been edited to go out to school kids during P.S.E. lessons! I have asked channel four for more details, but nothing so far.

And this outline of the show from the “Don’t trigger” campaign:

Channel 4 film one hour documentary about gun crime, featuring Urban Concepts
Urban Concepts have made a valuable contribution to a one-hour documentary presented by author and academic Courttia Newland which examines gun crime and its social context.
The film addresses such issues as exploitative advertising, poverty and crime, education and opportunity, reputation and honour, in order to dissect gun crime from the inside looking out.
Courttia has had some experience of the effects of gun crime, and so is well placed both to reach those immediately affected and to contextualise their experiences in an authentic and credible documentary.
The film will not repeat the trend set by previous investigations into gun crime which take a distanced approach presenting individuals as though they are far removed from mainstream society.
As we are directly accountable to C4’s public service department, and because the commission for the programme comes from the Education department, we have a responsibility to produce an informative and conscientious film which engages and captivates the target audience of 14 – 25 year olds without using sensationalist shock tactics.
Raw TV, set up in 2001 is a documentary production company which has a good track record of covering difficult subjects responsibly and informatively, and has made films on a wide range of subjects from the war in Iraq to observational films about young British musicians.
We believe (as do Channel 4) that this is a very important issue, and one which we can help educate Channel 4’s audience about

Then last night someone posted it on the web and I finally got to see it. The visit to electro was in as was many of the interviews (not mine thankfully). There was lots of action shown as well as the safety brief (in which yours truly can be seen) and the interviewer’s comments before and after the skirmish.

Because the link may be taken down, I typed up the interviews here. Because I haven’t asked them, I haven’t taken any screenshots or named anyone:

Electro Marshal: “Its not violent at all actually, its a sport and the more you play it the better you get at it. So, its not violent at all.”

Electro player: “I quite like to collect the guns, like my favourite gun is pretty much the reason I do it”

Electro player 2: “My favourite pistols is probably a Beretta, its very modern looking, very sleek”

Electro Old Hand: “Certain people like to the shirt stubby’ness of the P90, others like the big sort of Vietnam M16’s”

Electro Player: “..93r right? And you can just literally just go like that…full auto”

Electro Marshal 2: “I have three pistols; I have several different accessories, red dot scopes, torches, loads of stuff.”

Next the interviewer talks about where he got shot and that it was cool, but not for him.

Electro Old Hand (again): “I have been playing airsoft for about a year and a half, its fantastic, it is the ultimate catharsis, I do a very stressful job so its fantastic to be able to come and play a target sport like this. So yeah its just great fun, I enjoy it.”

Interviewer: “What job do you do?”

Electro Old Hand (again): “I’m a police officer.”

Firefight organiser: “We have got people from University… students, paramedics, guys that work in the city, solicitors. A lot of military, ex and serving…”

Electro Old Hand (again): “When I was a very small boy, I can remember running around playing cowboys and Indians, it certainly didn’t turn me into a gun criminal, bottom line is that we are all here to let off some steam, have some fun and enjoy ourselves while we are doing it”.

Overall I think airsoft gave a very good account of itself. The program didn’t shy away from the “alternate” aspects of the sport, which I feel we should all admit, but he made great pains to show that we were normal people. He commented, “Policemen, solicitors, bankers… these guys are the establishment!” and that airsoft included “…professional men in the city…” Frankly, I felt that was a fair comment.

The rest of the show was full of background shots from Wolf Armouries.

I felt he obviously didn’t want to paint us in a bad light. They didn’t show the “Gauntlet boy” or any of the other Muppets who showed up just to get on the TV and the theme of the program was “Guns are cool. Now what can we do about it?”

All in all I think I can relax a little. Perhaps they will show it at an adult hour soon and the hard work put in by Firefight and the Dark Angels (mostly) will help our cause.

Hey look Ma’ It’s me! (far right)