Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Natural Born Killers

Grisham vs. Stone: A Clash of Titans, Part II

To get back at the film industry for turning out gory movies of this type, Grisham suggested two courses of action. One was a boycott of the film, but he conceded that it probably wouldn't work. Curiosity about why the film was being boycotted would likely stimulate enough interest to generate a strong box office. The second course of action he suggested was a lawsuit.

In pursuing the latter course, Grisham took a legalistic approach in trying to define a movie as "a product," and therefore subject to product liability laws. He likened movies to breast implants or defective motor vehicles. If they go bad the victim has recourse to sue the manufacturer or provider of the service. The same analogy, he said, should apply to moviemakers.

"The notion of holding filmmakers and studios legally responsible for their products has always been met with guffaws from the industry. But the laughing will soon stop," Grisham continued. "It will take only one large verdict against the likes of Oliver Stone, and his production company, and perhaps the screenwriter, and the studio itself, and then the party will be over ... A jury will finally say enough is enough; that the demons placed in Sarah Edmondson's mind were not solely of her making.

"Once a precedent is set, the litigation will become contagious, and the money will become enormous. Hollywood will suddenly discover a desire to rein itself in.

"The landscape of American jurisprudence is littered with the remains of large, powerful corporations which once thought themselves bulletproof and immune from responsibility for their actions. Sadly, Hollywood will have to be forced to shed some of its own blood before it learns to police itself.

"Even sadder, the families of Bill Savage and Patsy Byers can only mourn and try to pick up the pieces, and wonder why such a wretched film was allowed to be made," Grisham concluded.


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