The Outrage Mob Wins: 'The Hunt' Getting Yanked is a Pro-Censorship Embarrassment

Posted: Aug 13, 2019 10:25 AM

We wrote about this controversy late last week, then Matt brought you the news over the weekend that 'The Hunt' had been pulled by Universal altogether.  Some Trump supporters have celebrated this outcome as a "victory," but I'd argue that it's nothing of the sort. Once you-know-who got involved, the ante was upped -- and rather than real with a public relations headache, the studio decided to cave to the mob, following the perceived path of least resistance.  Congratulations, everybody:

Universal has decided to scrap the release of The Hunt — an R-rated satire in which elites hunt "deplorables" for sport — following a series of mass shootings across the country. The film had been set to hit theaters Sept. 27. The studio's announcement on Saturday came a day after President Donald Trump took aim at the pic — though he didn't identify it name...Even before Trump weighed in, the movie sparked an outcry on social media amid the public anger over gun violence, while networks entered into the conversation when ESPN pulled an ad for the film that it had previously cleared. Subsequently, Universal pulled all its spots...The violent movie from producer Jason Blum's Blumhouse Productions follows a dozen individuals who wake up in a clearing and realize they are being stalked for sport by elite liberals.

In my Thursday post, I echoed the point I'd made on Fox News about the wisdom of temporarily suspending promotion of the film, in light of the national mood in the wake of several mass shootings.  I hastened to add "my opposition to any effort to cancel the film's release altogether. Satire and art can be offensive and dark; it shouldn't be censored."  I also noted that despite the fury among the MAGA crowd, the entire premise of the movie suggested that the flyover country "deplorables" were the good guys, fighting back against monstrous leftist elites who'd drugged and kidnapped them in order to hunt them for sport.  This is exactly right: "This is a way-way-way over-the-top populist revenge fantasy, in which working-class people are treated like animals (literally) by the rich but heroically fight back. It’s a reboot of “The Most Dangerous Game” aimed at America’s cultural divide, with evil elite Hilary Swank hunting average joes for sport. If 'the deplorables' are being satirized here, it’s only by virtue of how extreme the movie is in flattering their sensibilities." 

The cancellation of 'The Hunt' is embarrassing.  Conservatives who decided to target the movie as the grievance project du jour adopted the very pro-censorship, 'snowflake' tactics they proclaim to loathe.  It was an especially stupid mission to boot, considering that Trump supporters were the obvious protagonists, given the film's formula.  Watch for yourself.  Who do you suspect the audience is supposed to be rooting for?  Universal also deserves blame for collapsing under pressure.  Empowering mobs begets more mobs, both woke and anti-woke.  In America, we should really avoid censoring art that we don't like.  If you don't like a product, don't buy it.  But don't try to prevent others from making that decision for themselves.  One more point:

It's frustrating to see yourself quoted like this.  Technically, the quote is accurate because I said those exact words, in that order, on television.  But to hold me up as an example of someone who 'criticized' the film is a real stretch.  Commenting positively about the decision to pull some ads for the movie in the immediate aftermath of mass shootings is not, in fact, a criticism of the film itself.  My anti-censorship, anti-outrage admonitions were ignored.  It's not the end of the world, but that's misleading journalism -- especially when I've worked to be consistent on this sort of thing.  Parting thought: The studio clearly spent a pretty penny on this movie.  Are we to believe it will never see the light of day?  Or will they release it by other means once the furor has died down?