Now the right-wing snowflakes are going after movies

The decision to pull The Hunt is a new low for the culture wars.

Tom Slater

The Hunt, a violent satirical thriller starring Hillary Swank and Betty Gilpin, has been pulled from release after the killings in Dayton and El Paso and criticism from Donald Trump.

The film focuses on a group of Trump country hicks who are kidnapped and then hunted for sport by rich liberals. According to the Hollywood Reporter, in the script the ‘hunters’ bash the ‘ratfucker-in-chief’ and salivate over ‘slaughtering a dozen Deplorables’.

The weekend of those two mass shootings, ESPN pulled a trailer it was due to run and the studio behind the film, Universal, suggested it was reassessing its promotional strategy. Then Trump piled in, tweeting:

‘The movie coming out is made in order to inflame and cause chaos. They create their own violence and then try to blame others. They are the true racists and are very bad for our country!’

Though he didn’t mention it by name, he was clearly talking about The Hunt. Not least because, as the Daily Beast points out, Fox News (Trump’s go-to source for all information) had as of last weekend broadcast 21 segments on the film, with pundits blasting it as ‘sick’ and ‘twisted’.

Under pressure, Universal pulled it from release entirely, issuing a ridiculous statement that proclaimed ‘we stand by our filmmakers’ before conceding that ‘now is not the right time to release this film’.

A studio feeling skittish about promoting a violent film just days after two mass shootings is, perhaps, understandable. Executives care about the bottom line. Their bet is that punters might be that little bit less receptive to a gory, gun-toting thriller in the wake of such real-life horror.

This sort of thing has happened before. Collateral Damage, an Arnold Schwarzenegger flick about a firefighter doing battle with terrorists, was originally slated for release a few weeks after 9/11. It was recut and had its release pushed back to February.

Though it is patronising, and undoubtedly chilling to artistic freedom, to assume audiences need to be sheltered from all-too-relevant subject matter, you understand why Hollywood does it.

But there is clearly more to this particular story. A good chunk of Hollywood’s output is incredibly violent. While 9/11 may have made some studios think twice about certain projects, mass shootings certainly haven’t stopped gun-toting thrillers being released year on year. To pull The Hunt entirely seems strange.

It is hard not to conclude that the interjections of Trump and assorted wingnuts had some impact on Universal’s decision. And that’s a shame. Because not only do these right-wing snowflakes need to be resisted, but they also had no idea what they were talking about where this film was concerned.

From what we do know about The Hunt, it was clearly not a sick exercise in violent coastal-elite wish fulfilment. Going by the trailer alone, which is all Trump and Co could possibly have seen before making their comments, the Deplorables look like the good guys in this movie.

The morality of the piece looks a touch more murky: according to the Hollywood Reporter, the ‘hunters’ pick their prey because they express anti-choice positions or use the n-word on Twitter. But few liberal moviegoers hate Trump voters enough to side, wholeheartedly, with prole-murdering rich people.

That Trump and Co are spitting blood about a film they haven’t seen and do not understand, purely to bash liberals and distract from more pressing issues, is hardly surprising. What is surprising is the willingness of Universal to cave in, and the noticeable lack of outrage from some liberals.

Variety’s chief film critic, Owen Gleiberman, says Universal made ‘the right call’. He argues, remarkably, that it is bad political strategy to release a film like this at a time when the Republicans are on the backfoot about gun control, presumably as it tosses Republicans a lifeline in the form of a conveniently distracting talking point.

But pop culture must not be reduced to just another weapon in the culture war. And it’s a damning indictment of where politics is at right now that both sides increasingly see it as such. As Scott Shackford puts it in Reason, this film, which set out to satirise the culture war, has been cancelled by the culture war.

Pray for America.

Tom Slater is deputy editor at spiked. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Slater_

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.


SNJ Morgan

17th August 2019 at 10:33 am

If anything, Trump would have wanted this film released because it provides further proof of just how ghastly the left in America is right now. From ugly Maxine Waters to maniac Sean Penn – they do nothing but promote Trump to anyone with an ounce of civility in their bones.

Universal made the right call – for the Democrats, not for Trump.

Jake K

15th August 2019 at 1:17 pm

“But pop culture must not be reduced to just another weapon in the culture war. ”

Pop culture is the battleground of the culture war.

Aberrant Apostrophe

15th August 2019 at 12:09 am

So if these shootings had happened on Obama’s watch, presumably he would have been called a ‘left-wing snowflake nut-job ‘ for asking for violent films to be postponed or even canned?

Joe Hadley

14th August 2019 at 10:52 pm

Imagine a film about going around making fun of killing black people, because you don’t like them and you want to connect with an audience who takes pleasure in imagining a world like this…. it would be rightfully be called creepy and evil.

It’s not being a snowflake – it’s common decency, don’t make films expressing your hatred of a group. It’s not funny, it’s just abusive and tyrannical because it’s trying to stem nothing but hate from the movie. In this day and age, we don’t need more of it.

Poose Taine

13th August 2019 at 9:54 pm

Hang on, this is a bit unfair. I like to put the boot in to closet lerftards as much as the next person but slater strikes me as a fairly committed libertarian.

Hana Jinks

13th August 2019 at 8:45 pm

Pom Prater.

This has gotta be satire. You can’t actually be this fey-gay in real life. Let’s imagine l made a movie about rounding the Fey-Squad up.

You lot need to get me on a podcast.

Hana Jinks

13th August 2019 at 8:52 pm

What kind of story would it have been from the Fey-Squad if a movie about Trump supporters rounding up commies and trannies had been made? Yeah, I’m just talking about being made.

Just an absolute and utter phuckload of snivellers. Utterly vile.

Hana Jinks

13th August 2019 at 8:58 pm

If l had my way, I’d make a human-centipede out of the Fey-Squad. You’d be somewhere near the tail, Pom Prater.

Hollywood would love it. Weirdo.

Jonnie Henly

14th August 2019 at 12:18 am

No-one would’ve complained in such a scenario, because they made 4 Purge films like that and there was no problem.

Hana Jinks

14th August 2019 at 1:43 am

I’ve never heard of any of this, and l think it’s all just to generate interest. Puked has exactly the same photo as some other fake news outfit on my google news thing.

Danny Rees

13th August 2019 at 5:30 pm

Gahh imagine if a movie showed violence against supporters of Corbyn or Khan.

The libs would be demanding it be a banned.

Gahh gahh

Jonnie Henly

13th August 2019 at 7:16 pm

Err, you mean like the 4 Purge films?

No one demanded those films be banned.

Joe Hadley

14th August 2019 at 10:54 pm

The difference between the purge and this movie is that the Purge is a horror movie showing the horros of this world…. They’re not promoting it by dehumanizing a group of thinkers and claiming it’s comedical to go out and butcher them and show them hate.

If the victims in the film were black people (etc) you would rightfully condemn the point of the movie for trying to dehumanize and legitimize violence against them.

Jonnie Henly

18th August 2019 at 8:02 pm

This film doesn’t legitimise violence against anyone though so that’s an utterly mute point.

Marvin Jones

16th August 2019 at 8:56 pm

That would make it a documentary then.

Robert Weitzer

13th August 2019 at 4:51 pm

There was no demand against the movie’s release… so now one is a snowflake for criticizing something? I don’t agree with Trump’s take on the film’s premise (one would have to actually watch it), but I would assume that he was looking forward to its release… it was the mass shootings that caused the film to be squashed, obviously. Spiked’s anxiety about being perceived to be “right-wing” is watering down much of its content.

Robert Weitzer

13th August 2019 at 4:53 pm

i.e. Trump likes open conflict. His criticism of something is not intended to silence, but draw out into the open something he disagrees with.

Jonnie Henly

13th August 2019 at 7:18 pm

“so now one is a snowflake for criticizing something?”

That appears to be the position of many right wingers in recent years.

Charles Stuart

14th August 2019 at 7:17 am

Tu quoque Jonnie

Jerry Owen

13th August 2019 at 2:28 pm

Poor old Tom. desperate for a story to attack the ‘right’ .. just who are the ‘wingnuts’, a few names would be helpful ?
As for the POTUS ‘spitting blood’ .. you quoted him in your article , if that’s spitting blood then you are the real snowflake here !!
As for the film I would happily see it anytime.
A poor article that smacks of some desperation !

Jonnie Henly

13th August 2019 at 7:18 pm

It’s your comment that smacks of desperation.

A fair amount of damage control going on from you there Jerry.

jessica christon

13th August 2019 at 2:12 pm

This isn’t just snowflakery, this is also pushback and it’s been a long time coming. Why should the ID left be allowed free speech if they can’t accept it for those that don’t agree with them? Free speech is for everyone or no one.

Danny Rees

13th August 2019 at 5:31 pm

Yet we see most who rail for free speech coming down against it here.

Jerry Owen

14th August 2019 at 9:53 pm

Really ?

Danny Rees

13th August 2019 at 5:31 pm

He is pointing out the Right are just as much snowflakes.

That has been seen recently.

jessica christon

13th August 2019 at 9:06 pm

There were snowflakes on the right long before the word “snowflake” had it’s other definition, and they specialised in sexual/morality based outrage while the left defended free speech and quoted Voltaire. Yes there were some left wing snowflakery from a few feminists mainly, but on the whole it was practised by the right and the left disdained it.

Fast forward to today and we have exactly the reverse situation; snowflakery – and by that I mean weaponised offense taking as a means of getting people and ideas banned/fired/silenced – is overwhelmingly a passtime of the ID left. They even do it to their own – look, we have Sarah Silvermann as the newest victim of the friendly fire!

Jonnie Henly

13th August 2019 at 7:17 pm

Pushback against who exactly?

It seems the right has given up fighting for free speech and become just as big a snowflakes as everyone else the accuse of being snowflakes.

jessica christon

13th August 2019 at 8:42 pm

Did you think it was going to be a one way street forever?

Jonnie Henly

14th August 2019 at 12:19 am

Well no, seeing as the right has only cared about free speech for about 4 years.

Before that they were happy to see people censored all over the place.

Jerry Owen

14th August 2019 at 8:30 am

Little Jonnie
So before Four years ago the right were happy to see people censored ‘ all over the place’. Can you explain with examples of this phenomena?

Jonnie Henly

18th August 2019 at 8:03 pm

Yes Jerry, it’s called conservative Christianity. Look it up and educate yourself.

Paul Robson

13th August 2019 at 1:09 pm

I would point out that whilst it does seem that the “Deplorables” are the good guys, that doesn’t mean cinema goers would treat it as such. At best, it’s a really daft idea.

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