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Controversial film postponed in light of violence

By Staff | Aug 28, 2019

Editor’s note: The views expressed in Graffiti are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of Graffiti, its editors or staff.

“The Hunt” has been tracked, trashed and degraded. It’s made an “enemy” of Fox News and its viewers – based on two 30-second trailers. Based on the uproar against the alleged political satire (this writer has not seen the movie), Universal pulled the marketing approach and postponed release of the movie that involves people hunting people.

Pardon the pun, but everyone is jumping the gun. A Marshall University graduate and former President of Production for Columbia Pictures once told me he welcomes criticism of all films. What he objected to was, blasting the film before it’s been viewed.

I’ve adopted his credo in my long history of reviewing/critiquing movies. My eyes and ears have endured much “abuse,” but I’ve not walked out on a movie for which I later penned a review.

A little message from the other side pricked my ears to the misuse of video games and violent films as an excuse for diagnosing mass murders. In the heat of the week, I had tipped leaning toward doing something about guns, particularly the AKs.

However, a source quoted me recent crime stats: 1 in 19 homicides is committed with a handgun (1 in 9 of gun deaths which incorporates suicide). That’s the rubric -nearly all of the random massacres involve automatic AKs defined as weapons of war, not sport or self defense. Most of the random attacks of public violence at schools, places of worship, concerts, or other gatherings have the shooter carrying full magazines and an AK type of weapon. The shooter may murder 25-50 people at a nightclub, but every weekend in, for example, Chicago, the total body count equals or exceeds those murdered in a single mass attack.

Blumhouse produced the societal satire which appears to pit Red State conservatives (“deplorables”) against Blue State liberals (“elites”). It’s a group known for meshing horror/thriller and satire i.e. “BlacKkKlansman,” “Get Out,” “The Purge” series and “Whiplash.”

When violent incident strike, sooner or later popular culture (comic books, films, video games) catch hell. In the ultimate show of profit and political correctness, Wal-mart has ordered employees not to play violent content in store… but you can still make your purchase there of the item. Weapons too.

“Witnessing violence whether on screen or in games desensitizes people to it, ” explained Sue Dean, a psychiatric nurse.

S. Jeffers, a Marshall graduate, told Graffiti: “I don’t personally feel violent video games and movies play a part in gun violence. For the most part guns are easily accessible to anyone. It’s easy for them to fall into the wrong [hands]. I feel like anymore, most of the gun violence is centered around drug activity. Half the drug people who are from Detroit come (to Huntington) for the weapons because they are so easy to obtain.”

“Mental health can play a role, but I would not say it plays a role in every situation,” Jeffers continued. “Children can be brought up in dysfunctional homes, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the reason they go out and shoot someone. As far as AKs go, if a person wanted one they can get them, but I don’t think it’s a weapon that should be easily accessible to every one.”

Dave Williams, a mental health counselor and freelance writer, explained:

“Mental illness is at the root of mass shootings. There’s just so many people disenfranchised from society. They are living in the real world and are responding to internal stimuli. Modern medicine with therapy can work miracles, but the trick is getting people the help they need and keeping them on those meds. At the hospital I work at, we see a lot of the same patients. They quit taking their meds and get shot back out there somewhere.

“I don’t blame violent games, music, or movies. Hate has more to do with it than that stuff. There is just so much anger in the world. So many people are consumed with hatred. They just want to blame something…to blame and retaliate.”

Speaking on conditions of anonymity, a former school counselor disagreed with the overly used violent media stereotype and continual blame placed on family life:

“I don’t think that video games or violent movies are a direct cause of mass shootings in this country! Other countries have access to the same video games and violent movies but show significantly lower rates of gun-related deaths, including mass shootings than the US.

“Many countries have much stricter laws concerning gun control including stricter background checks, gun license and training, as well as banning assault weapons. The number of gun-related deaths are significantly lower. You can’t put everything down to bad parenting or mental illness either as other countries have mental illness and parenting issues as well.

The fact is there has been a rise in white supremacy and hate groups which is not synonymous with mental illness. That coupled with lax gun laws has made this a very dangerous and violent epidemic in the US!”

Ken Schrupp writing in The California Review apparently had had an opportunity to either view or read portions of “The Hunt’s” script:

“Before boycotting the film, consider that the film’s protagonists – from whose point of view the movie progresses and with whom one is ostensibly meant to sympathize with – are the “deplorables.” If the film were promoting violence against conservatives, surely it would have been from the point-of-view of the hunters, not the hunted. Second, the film’s villains are a satirical if not wholly inaccurate vision of how many conservatives view the liberal elite. ‘We paid for everything, so this country belongs to us,’ says the film’s antagonist before she uses a stiletto to terminate an unfortunate “deplorable” who had been chosen for slaughter based on his social media activity. Furthermore, the use of violence in the film against conservatives does not necessarily normalize violence against them. Indeed, the film’s protagonists ultimately do get “even” with their hunters by their own bouts of gratuitous violence… “

Schrupp defends the right of conservatives to oppose the movie; it’s their free speech too:

“Free speech exists to protect us from the tyranny of an imposed cultural homogeneity that suffocates dissent with censorship and social ostracization, and conservative efforts to prevent the film’s distribution are a manifestation of this very tyranny they purportedly aim to prevent,” Schrupp said, “it is hypocrisy of the first order for those who condemn liberals’ use of social media to censor and censure conservatives then attempt to use the same tools for the same ends in the name of ‘safety.'”

“[Free speech] may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger. Speech is often provocative and challenging. It may strike at prejudices and preconceptions and have profound unsettling effects as it presses for acceptance of an idea,” wrote Justice William O. Douglas in the Supreme Court’s increasingly prescient majority opinion for Terminiello v. City of Chicago.

In its ruling, the court ultimately overturned the conviction of a man whose words of racial animosity roused a crowd of opposition so great that the police were unable to maintain order, deciding that one’s right to speak one’s opinion, even in the face of a hostile public, trumped the immediate requirements of public safety. Indeed, conservatives would be well-served to remember that free speech does not exist to protect our feelings and comfort-it exists to protect everyone’s rights.

According to Universal, “The Hunt” will come to cinemas. Just not in September.