At the intersection of post-shooting panic and our hyperpartisan culture wars, the film The Hunt was struck by a semi-truck of stupid outrage and cancelled.
The Hunt, an R-rated violent satire of the very attitudes that ended up destroying it, is based on the well-worn horror trope of people hunting other people for sport. The twist for The Hunt is that the hunters are rich urban elites (read: liberals) hunting average Joes with accents from flyover territory (read: conservatives). The movie comes from Blumhouse Productions, the same folks behind the Purge series and Get Out, which also involve the privileged violently taking advantage and killing the less privileged.
Here's the trailer:
In movies like this, the audience is expected to identify with and cheer for the people being hunted. The elite liberals are the bad guys of the movie. They are hunting down and murdering conservatives because of their opinions.
Yet somehow, thanks to Fox coverage and some subsequent tweets from President Donald Trump, the movie's concept was twisted into an idea that Hollywood wanted us to be rooting for murderous elites. The Daily Beast notes that The Hunt has been the subject of at least 21 segments on Fox News and Fox Business Network (including reruns), and that these reports have generally assumed that the movie is a celebration of murdering conservatives:
For instance, during Thursday night's broadcast of Lou Dobbs Tonight, host and top informal adviser to the president Lou Dobbs described the film as a "sick, twisted new movie," adding that the prospect of "globalist elites hunting deplorables sounds a little too real." His guest, Fox News contributor and close Trump ally Robert Jeffress, further noted that this "revealed the hypocrisy of the left" and if the movie "was about conservatives killing liberals, you would see an outrage on the left."
The movie was scheduled to open on September 27, but now Universal Pictures won't be releasing it at all.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that the decision not to release the film also follows those shootings. This is true. It is also true that they alread yanked ads for the film in the wake of last weekend's mass shootings. But of course you cannot help but note that Donald Trump tweeted out attacks on the film the day before the cancellation came.
This is stupid snowflake nonsense from right-wing pundits—and probably just the pundits. (Are any conservatives who don't make a living off the televised culture war offended by the film?) It is as inane as blaming video games for real-world violence.
Certainly, movies and television shows have been pulled or delayed when the timing of violent or deadly real-world incidents intersects in a potentially traumatic way. But this isn't really a case of that. The Hunt is being cancelled because a group of vocal partisans cannot handle a movie that satirizes the caustic turn the culture war has taken.