The idea of picking up the phone and calling powerful people in Washington can be intimidating; even Hollywood heavyweights agree.

But it's much less terrifying than it seems — and it can make all the difference.

In a new PSA by Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a chorus of celebrities urge viewers to pick up their phones and hound representatives in Congress when it comes to new gun legislation.



Emma Stone, Tunde Adebimpe, Melissa McCarthy, Moby, Bill Hader, and Julianne Moore (among many others) appear in the relatively unpolished but powerful two-minute spot, which was released just over two weeks after a gunman killed 59 people in Las Vegas — one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history.


"The mass shooting in Las Vegas has all of us grieving, scared, and angry," Stone began.

"It can sometimes feel intimidating to make these calls," actor Julianne Nicholson acknowledged in the video. "But it actually couldn't be easier."

The celebrities are urging viewers to demand that their reps oppose two bills currently hanging in the balance.

One is the Share Act. This legislation would ease restrictions on gun silencers, making it easier for potentially dangerous people to purchase them.

[rebelmouse-image 19532003 dam="1" original_size="500x254" caption="Julianne Moore. GIF via Everytown for Gun Safety/YouTube." expand=1]Julianne Moore. GIF via Everytown for Gun Safety/YouTube.

The other is the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. This legislation would nationalize so-called "concealed carry" — the allowance of guns in public spaces (as long as they're concealed in, say, a bag or coat pocket). This would let gun owners with conceal carry permits ignore state or local ordinances that contradict that standard.

[rebelmouse-image 19532004 dam="1" original_size="500x241" caption="Tunde Adebimpe. GIF via Everytown for Gun Safety/YouTube." expand=1]Tunde Adebimpe. GIF via Everytown for Gun Safety/YouTube.

"See? That was a little bit scary, but not too scary," Nicholson says, hanging up the phone after calling her representative. "So I really recommend you try it."

Viewers are encouraged to text R-E-J-E-C-T to 644-33, connecting them to Everytown for Gun Safety. The organization will then immediately call to connect you with your representative, and even provide guidelines on what to say.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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