Jesse Winton, Millennial
Lily Mackay, Senior Media & Communications Editor
Jesse Winton: student, actor, director, millennial. At the age of 22, he finished creating a movie that was shown in theaters nationwide. After spending three and a half years working on “Targeted: Exposing the Gun Control Agenda,” it was so successful that it warranted another theater release after the first so that people could go back to see it in theaters that had been previously sold out. What is it like to have a pipe dream you began working on become even bigger than you had envisioned? Jesse got to find out. He drew from the things that inspired him the most (stories, specifically films) and started walking in that direction. “When I sit in a theater and watch a well-made film, I walk out incredibly inspired. And I now have in my mind where I want to go, I just have to take about 2 billion steps to get there.”
During the making of the movie, Jesse and the production team were met with some resistance. In an attempt to create a true documentary that tells both sides of the story, they contacted Senator Barbara Boxer’s office, Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office, and several groups that fight for more gun control laws. While all of the offices they contacted appeared to be interested up front, once they saw any materials or heard what the premise of the documentary was, they would always refuse to participate. Even after being assured that they wouldn’t be mis-edited and could even get final approval on the cuts used of them in the movie. They would refuse to be a part of something that challenged their point of view. “A lot of people on the right feel that our point of view is misrepresented by the left, so we wanted to give them the opportunity to speak their mind and provide their perspective.” Even when provided with an opportunity to push a gun-control agenda in a movie where gun control is being presented as ineffective, they rejected it.
This particular story should be very telling about today’s politicians and their refusal to listen to or accurately represent the constituents, the people for whom they are supposed to be fighting. When confronted with people who didn’t agree with them, they were unwilling to engage from their perspective but instead shut down all conversation. “It was frustrating that these politicians didn’t want to be involved because there are an enormous amount of statistics that say they are wrong, but their utter refusal to confront them in any way means that they don’t want to represent us accurately and don’t want to listen to us.”
As stated in the movie: “The right to bear arms does not come from the government but rather the right is granted by God.” If we somehow take our first ten rights outlined in the Constitution and say that those are malleable whenever culture sways, it means that our rights will come from the government and thus means that they can be taken away at any time by the government. Instead, the Bill of Rights is worded (specifically the Second Amendment) to state that the government shall NOT infringe on the rights laid out. “You can say that [the Second Amendment] applies to the militia all you want, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that I have the right to defend myself. We have to have an understanding of where our rights come from.” One thing is for certain, if we give our rights over to be doled out by the government, we no longer have the right to liberty. Ben Franklin once said:
Those who would give up an essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
As millennials, it is important for us and furthermore it is our responsibility to change how our country deals with the issues of the moment. Rather than demonizing others and jumping on the bandwagon of the day, we should thoughtfully consider both sides and move forward with empathy while still sticking to our principles. “Many millennials jump on a specific bandwagon. Safe spaces, for example. It’s absolutely ridiculous. It blows my mind that we live in a country where that is looked on as the great thing for millennials to do. We have to be willing, moving forward, to have a discourse and most importantly to LISTEN to each other. We shut ourselves off from different opinions to a point where it’s dangerous. If we don’t listen to each other, we don’t understand where they’re coming from, we don’t empathize, we will never get anywhere.” That is especially apparent in the aftermath of the election: the majority of people are so focused on their point of view that they cannot even see how someone on the other side of their thinking must feel. When asked if he would change anything looking back on the movie, Jesse replied: “The only thing I wish I had done differently: giving more empathy. I stand by what I said and I believe it’s true, but I wish it had been more empathetic. At least saying something about: I get why people want this, but here are the facts.”
Now, after the documentary has been released on DVD and continues to be met with success, Jesse will be majoring in theater and continuing to act. “I want to build a full-fledged production company for TV, film, and theater that is independent of me as I continue to direct.” He seems to be well on his way. To continue to promote Targeted, he will hopefully be able to travel to different campuses on a speaking tour in an effort to reach more of our generation. Rather than be considered a one-issue millennial, he would prefer to build political interest and inspire other millennials to be more involved in the things that interest them. “When people complain about [millennials] not voting, it’s not for our lack of interest or motivation, but we tend to be more specific about the issues we care about.” Millennials are more interested in people and ideas that appeal to their principles rather than going along with the status quo of the establishment. For instance, Bernie Sanders and Ron Paul drew enormous crowds and garnered a huge amount of millennial support because they presented new ideas in which we were interested.
So what can we take away from Jesse Winton’s accomplishment? We have two options: we can say “wow, he is so lucky, too bad I’ll never have that opportunity” or we could say “how cool that he looked at where he wanted to go and started walking in that direction. Maybe I can do that too.” It can be that simple. Our generation really likes the idea that we provide our own opportunities. So who says you’re too young or inexperienced to start walking in your own direction?
Idea meets opportunity. Don’t sit around waiting for the opportunity. If you have an idea, start doing it. A lot of millennials do, but that would be my encouragement. Have the mentality of: get out and do it.
Follow this author on Twitter: @lilymackay14
MORE ON JESSE WINTON:
Based in Northern California, Jesse Winton is a screenwriter and director whose documentary, “Targeted: Exposing the Gun Control Agenda", debuted in theaters nationwide in September of 2016. Targeted returned for an encore nationwide on October 12th. You can learn more about Jesse Winton at jessewinton.com