The nationwide survey, sponsored by the Entertainment Industries Council, covered 462 people, about half of them adults and half of them teenagers. The survey shows that gun violence in movies or TV is, brace yourself, the least attractive dramatic element. At 19 percent, gunplay comes in dead last, so to speak, on a long list of movie-TV attractions, below physical conflict (40 percent), sex/romance (55 percent), suspense (67 percent) and adventure (75 percent). Put that in your storyboard and write it.
But, wait, there's another plot twist: The survey was actually done in June, way before the events of Sept. 11 drilled home, live on TV, the awfulness of real violence and its sudden life-snuffing consequences.
Like all of us, the entertainment industry was stunned by the terrorism. Some movie releases were postponed and other plans were shelved, at least for a time - with the unspoken expectation that Americans, with their Wild West and enduring gun culture, eventually would return to fascination with violence. Maybe.
But entertainment by definition is escapist. Whether most Americans, youths included, still want to escape to explosions and murder after witnessing the real things remains to be seen.