Hit & Run

Makers of The Hunting Ground Are in Denial About Their Film's Flaws

'There is no controversy'

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The Hunting Ground

“There is no controversy.” This lengthy interview with The Hunting Ground producers Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick could be distilled to that one lineâ€"a line the filmmakers desperately insist upon over and over again.

The interviewer, Robert Scheer, outs himself as both an unabashed admirer of their point of view and as someone who doesn’t believe what critics (at Reason, presumably) are saying about the film’s reliance on flawed statistics and dishonest sources. But he’s forced to confront the controversyâ€"the one the filmmakers deny is a thingâ€"anyway, not because he accepts it, but because so many other people are beginning to.

Eventually, an exasperated Ziering gave the following response:

No, I think [the film] is provocative and threatening because it puts limits on men's entitlement to a woman's body. Honestly, profoundly and deep down, it's when you said -- you know, it's interesting; we didn't get the same backlash with the military that we've gotten with this film. And when you look at why is that, or if you, you know, sort of dig deep and question, the military -- the critique is of a male population in the military, whereas the critique of our film is of a white, middle-class or upper-class, privileged male population. And so now you're seeing, suddenly it's a controversy; suddenly there's a problem with the statistics. No problem with statistics when it's about serial predators in the military. Suddenly now there's, you know, a fake -- you know, and this whole even -- I'm so irritated, like really, we're spending 40 minutes talking about a controversy? There's no controversy. It's like talking about climate change and controversy right now. It's exactly analogous. But what you're hearing is this backlash because there's a threat to the dominant white male power. That's the deep-down thing, and that's why all these sort of crazy, hysterical articles; that's why a crazy reaction from Harvard Law professors; this is nothing -- all we have is a film in which people are going forward to report a crime, and most of the time they're only going forward to report a crime because someone committed it to someone else! So this is not about any kind of glory -- I wish -- I've got better things to do with my time than run around talking about fake [accusations]! This is happening, it's a horrible thing; there's no controversy; let's just get busy worrying about the problem!

Emphasis mine. Is it any wonder a documentary filmmaker with that perspective produced something so one-sided?

Meanwhile, Variety’s Ella Taylor put The Hunting Ground on her “empty prestige” list for 2015:

Speaking of shoddy journalism, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has succumbed without a murmur to â€œThe Hunting Ground,” placing on its documentary feature shortlist a loaded piece of agitprop that plays fast and loose with statistics and our sympathy with victims of campus sexual assault. With death-defying leaps of logic on the basis of skimpy and distorted evidence, Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering’s film does violence to both the legitimate fight for women’s rights and the honorable cause of advocacy filmmaking.

I guess Taylor is just doing her part to defend white male dominanceâ€"alongside Emily Yoffe, Jeannie Suk, Martha MacCallum, Ashe Schow, and all the other influential women who don’t completely buy The Hunting Ground’s narrative.