What happens when real-world tragedy intersects with movie violence?

News that Universal is pulling all marketing for The Hunt reflects a sorry state of affairs.


Charles Bramesco


There’s a wickedly potent joke in the fourth season of Bojack Horseman about a film featuring a graphically depicted public shooting. The release gets pushed back due to a similar shooting in the show’s ‘real world’, then delayed again when another shooting takes place right before the new premiere date, and so on and so forth into perpetuity. It’s a grim, absurd reflection on the frightful frequency with which unsuspecting citizens find themselves under fire on American soil.

Two such incidents took place within the span of 24 hours earlier this week, and the ripple effects of the dual tragedies have likewise complicated the existence of art hinging on violence. After a cumulative total of 34 people became casualties of shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, Universal suddenly found itself in a distressingly familiar quandary.

The upcoming horror film The Hunt had been slated for a rollout on 27 September. The plot updates a Most Dangerous Game-type scenario for an era of class conflict, as “elites” track and kill adult prey from middle America. The trailer features a not-insignificant amount of footage in which human beings shoot other human beings, an image the American public may not be so keen on seeing at this particular moment.

Now, The Independent reports that Universal has decided to pull all advertising for The Hunt in advance of its release date, which will not be delayed. The piece quotes a representative for Universal as citing “sensitivity” as their rationale for keeping the trailer off of TV and out of the Internet.

We can expect more and more stories like this – many of them with postponements, if not full cancellations – as long as America’s leaders continue to pin the blame on the strawman scourge of video games instead of enacting sensible firearm legislation. (As long as they’re not too busy commissioning grotesque YouTube videos showing off how much shooting survivors love them.) This cycle will continue until real life grows as terribly surreal as the cartoons lampooning it.

Published 8 Aug 2019

Tags: Craig Zobel Damon Lindelof

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