If you watch Condition of Return, there is an element of the film that does very much focus on the mental health of the film's protagonist. My final question to McCord was a tough one—what is her response to criticisms from those who might think the film is trying to sympathize with mass shooters by focusing on mental health? "I—meaning me personally, because I can't speak on behalf of the film or anyone involved—am giving sympathy to mass shooters," McCord says. "And I can do that because I have compassion for the man who sexually abused me as a child for years and years, and I know a lot of people don't appreciate that—even my friends don't. I have compassion for the man who sexually assaulted me as a teenager, and I have a compassion for the inappropriate misconduct abusers who have perpetrated onto my body or into my field—I have compassion for all of them."
She continues, "So I do have compassion for mass shooters because they would never do this if they are fully loved. They will never do this if they are in a safe space. The National Institute of Justice funded a research project for the DOJ—100 percent of the shooters out of the 172 shootings that they researched were in a state of mental crisis at the time of the shooting. So yes, I, AnnaLynne McCord, have deep compassion for them, and that is a big part of why I did this film because we will never fix this if we do not go to the root cause. One of my friend's always says that the people in power will never solve anything as long as the problem is more beneficial than the solution. That's what it's been—our politicians love every mass shooting—and they won't admit to it because they can't. But they'll be like, 'This is why you need to vote for me.' But what do you actually do? Nothing has changed. They all talk at the far end of the spectrum but nothing changes."
McCord suggests an alternate path. "I'm offering something different. I'm offering compassion to end this as a pathway forward versus just talking about it," she says. "The way that we do that is through non-judgment, critical thinking—the way I approach a villain when I play them on camera. I cannot judge my character. If I do, I should offer that film back to the producers and tell them to go find another actress, because I've already ruined the project before I started it. I withdraw my self-righteous ability to say they are wrong and I'm right, because I've done many things I'm not proud of. I'm not here to be the judge, jury, and executioner, but I know the power of love and profundity of compassion. That energy will get us much further in moving towards the root of the issue, and that is the only thing that will move us towards a solution."
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