William H. Macy Criticizes Hollywood's Violent Portrayals

Exploring William H. Macy's unique take on cinematic violence.

by Nouman Rasool
William H. Macy Criticizes Hollywood's Violent Portrayals
© Jesse Grant/Getty Images

Hollywood actor William H. Macy has said what he thinks Hollywood should do in making films and TV shows that contain violence. Speaking openly during a discussion last week on Brett Goldstein's podcast "Films To Be Buried With," the 74-year-old "Shameless" star said violence in films and TV has become a crutch.

Macy has decried this level of brutality, claiming it desensitizes the audience and distorts what the emotional engagement with the content should be. Macy, an Emmy winner and Oscar nominee for his role in 1996’s "Fargo," shared insights into how modern cinema and television often mistake a high body count for high emotional stakes.

He explained, "When you kill one person in a story, it's profoundly dramatic. But when you kill 18, it becomes mere spectacle." He further proposed an alternative narrative approach, suggesting that a series could spend several episodes developing a deep connection with a character only to have them suffer a violent fate, thus exploring the real-world implications on their personal life and relationships.

Macy's Truthful Crusade

This perspective on violence is deeply personal for Macy, who admitted that his stance has affected his career opportunities in Hollywood. Despite this, he continues to advocate for more truthful storytelling, emphasizing the importance of authenticity over sensationalism.

His upcoming projects include a Western film where he aims to bring historical realism to the forefront, distancing the narrative from traditional Hollywood Westerns that often glamorize violence. Macy's reflections extend beyond his professional experiences, touching on the broader implications of storytelling in media.

He said true stories must touch the human experience and leave viewer with enough fodder to think critically about what they have just seen. The actor also shared lighter moments during the podcast, discussing his favorite comedies like "Airplane!" and "Dumb and Dumber," and his current role in "Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes." As this Hollywood landscape continues to warp and shift, one final word from Macy's commentary asks industry types and audiences, all the same to look a little closer toward reassessing the value and meaning of violence in storytelling and to go looking for those stories reflecting the genuine human experience and emotions.

His critique is not just a call for change in the industry but also a reminder of the power of media to influence and inspire.