"Set the Movie Free:" In Defense of "The Hunt"

Promotional image via Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/TheHuntFilm/photos/a.447926521961318/560419664045336/?type=1&theater

Promotional image via Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/TheHuntFilm/photos/a.447926521961318/560419664045336/?type=1&theater

Scheduled for release in mid-September amid a media blitz, a movie called The Hunt was first forced to delay its opening and then forced to shelve the project until a later time.  Part of the reason cited was that the release coincided with two mass shootings- one in El Paso and another in Dayton.  There was certainly a lot of angst over release of the movie from the Right.  The movie is based on The Most Dangerous Game, a 1924 book where humans are hunted and killed.  In the latest incarnation, a group known as “deplorables” find themselves captive on a large property where a group of elites hunts them down.  The use of the phrase “deplorables” is unfortunate given its use in political parlance these days.  In other words, it is a case of liberals hunting and killing conservatives as a subtext.

There was tremendous outrage on these pages and elsewhere where some tried to imagine if the situation were reversed and deplorables hunted liberals and what the media’s reaction would be.  To highlight the Left’s hypocrisy is now so self-evident it needs no commentary at times.

Regardless, these scribes failed to see a very important component of the movie.  The liberal elites were portrayed as cartoonish buffoons who end up getting knocked off one-by-one by the deplorables.  In short, the deplorables win and why anyone on the Right would fear a movie where deplorables/conservatives end up being the good guys is perplexing.  Therefore, it boggles the mind why anyone on the Right should object to the movie except for one reason (to be explained shortly).

Soon after this “victory,” the Right cheered on the release of Rambo with its cast of villainous Latinos.  Predictably, the Left attacked the film as “racist” and called it dangerous (for reasons to be explained shortly).  Many of the same critics who reveled in the cancellation of The Hunt did a head-spinning 180 and poo-pooed the Left, declaring them snowflakes who needed to get a life.

Articles at American Thinker by the same columnist are emblematic of this tendency.  In one instance, they called for the cancellation of The Hunt because it could inspire violence against conservatives.  When liberals complained that Rambo could inspire violence against Mexicans, this same writer attacked the critics for being “politically correct” and characterized the movie as much needed “welcome revenge porn,” or a must-see.

In both instances, different sides of the political divide attacked a movie because it glorified violence based on the politics of the time.  Both are flip sides of the same coin.  Whether hunting down deplorables or mowing down Mexicans, both movies are glorifying violence.  In effect, both sides are attacking the glorification of violence with one exception: namely, our violence is not as bad as your violence.

And in both instances, the Left and Right base their logic on a faulty premise: that violence in movies begets violence in real life.  Fearing words or images is what makes a liberal a liberal.  When conservatives fear words or images, it makes them hypocrites.  Forcing the cancellation of a movie like The Hunt, in which (again) the heroes are conservative deplorables, is akin to acceptance of a mantra on the Left: Bad speech makes people do bad things.  But can the simple viewing of a film, the reading of a Tweet, attendance at a Trump rally or hearing of a joke really inspire people to do bad things?

The very reason the Right went after The Hunt is the very reason the Left goes after speech in general- people would be influenced by the film and go out in the real world and perpetrate acts of violence.  One supposes Catcher in the Rye inspired Mark David Chapman to kill John Lennon.  In 1984, Danny Lee Young mowed down 48 people in Los Angeles with his car and blamed Stevie Wonder’s music for the crime.  Blaming books, movies, speeches, Tweets, and jokes- not the perpetrator- is not a very conservative position to take.

Claiming that a movie like The Hunt would inspire people to hunt down conservatives or a movie like Rambo would inspire people to kill Mexicans is to accept the theory that criminals are not really responsible for their actions.  It is not only unconservative, but it is antiscientific.  However, some point to the advertising industry.  Again, an important point is missed here.  Take the case of fast food advertisements.  The goal is not to make you hungry.  The goal is the next time you are hungry, perhaps you will think of fast food.

If sitting at home watching a McDonald’s commercial cannot hypnotize you into a late-night drive-through fast-food restaurant, just how the hell is a movie going to hypnotize you to go on a mass shooting spree?  More planning and preparation goes into a mass shooting than a trip to a McDonald’s drive-through window.  I am not trying to be flippant, but if the best anyone can come up with is advertising, study after study has shown that television commercials are overrated in influencing behavior (and online commercials even more overrated).  Despite the occasionally reported deviation, one suspects movies fall somewhere below online commercials when it comes to influence.

The media cannot make a nonviolent person a homicidal maniac, and anyone who already has homicidal tendencies can use anything for their obsession or excuse.  It could be Catcher in the Rye or Stevie Wonder’s music or even Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.  The paranoia exhibited on the Right over The Hunt is predicated upon our correct, in many cases, dislike of the media to the point we now overestimate its influence.

The movie Joker has created much buzz here and elsewhere.  Prior to its release, the FBI and the military were issuing warnings about the violence it would engender.  Such is the pervasive pseudoscience reduced to a catchphrase: “Bad speech makes people do bad things.”  As the FBI and US Army proved, it has become official canon now.  It is nonsense actually embraced by both the Left and the Right as the two movies the subject of this article prove.

It also proves another political maxim: When the Left and Right agree on anything, it usually ends up a disaster.