Culture Clips: The Hunt for the Truth

The Hunt CC

A swath of horrific violence across the United States may have claimed another victim—albeit one few families will weep over: The Hunt.

The Universal Pictures movie, which (according to its trailer) depicts a wealthy group of elitists literally hunting down and killing people called “deplorables,” was shelved Aug. 10, with a Universal spokesman saying in a statement that “now is not the right time to release this film.”

Universal didn’t pin its decision on any particular reason, though some speculate that this bloody movie—released on the heels of the shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas—just felt in particularly poor taste. “In the wake of the shootings in El Paso and Dayton, any film that serves up, as megaplex escapism, the spectacle of Americans ritually shooting other Americans feels like the wrong movie at the wrong time,” writes Variety’s Owen Gleiberman. But the decision also came after political backlash against the film, too—backlash alleging  that The Hunt was literally taking aim at Red State America.

Was it? Todd Starnes of Fox News celebrated The Hunt’s cancellation, calling it a “victory for gun-toting, Bible-clinging patriots.” But the conservative National Review had a different take: Kyle Smith blamed the cancellation on the failure of some conservatives to understand irony and pushed for the film to be released anyway. “The Right ought to make it clear that we are not only not offended by the premise of The Hunt, we’re delighted,” he wrote. The Atlantic, meanwhile simply noted that the movie—even though no one has actually seen the thing yet—became something of a “political Rorschach test.” The magazine’s David Sims added this:

But if its release was canceled only because of the very real gun violence plaguing America, why isn’t a movie like Angel Has Fallen, distributed by Lionsgate and overflowing with brutality, also being pulled? That film is the third in a series that has been criticized in the past for its crass, button-pushing politics, for portraying Korean and Pakistani terrorists as one-dimensional psychopaths for its hero (Gerard Butler) to destroy.

(Perhaps if bloodshed is the problem, people might want to stop seeing movies and play a videogame, given that lots of game publishers are increasingly gravitating toward pacifistic experiences.)

Universal’s not the only movie studio mothballing movies. Since Disney merged with Fox, the House of Mouse has taken scissors to the 246 movies that Fox had listed on its forthcoming docket and sliced away all but six. (Sayonara, Assassin’s Creed 2. Farewell, Flash Gordon. See you later,um, Play-Doh pic.)

But if Disney is hacking away at its newest division’s movie slate, it’s all in on its upcoming streaming service, Disney+. Disney is already trumpeting its planned slate of Marvel-based shows (and yes, there are a lot of them), and plans to reboot (as Disney is wont to do) a bevy of classic movies for the service, including Home Alone. (Original Home Alone star Macaulay Culkin has some thoughts on that.) Oh, and Disney says says that it’s creating a streaming bundle with Hulu and ESPN+ for $13 a month.

Not to be outdone, Apple is trying to drum up interest in its own upcoming streaming service (perhaps a bit uncreatively called Apple TV+) by releasing a trailer for its upcoming drama The Morning Show. The show stars Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell, so yeah, it’ll probably be a big thing. Meanwhile, streaming services are getting ready to bid for the rights to stream Seinfeld, one of Netflix’s most popular series. The price tag could be massive: NBCUniversal got rights to stream The Office for $500 million, and WarnerMedia plunked down $425 million for Friends. (And for those really hankering for another Friends fix, they can always go to the local multiplex: In honor of the show’s 25th anniversary, more than 1,000 theaters across the country will be airing what amount to big-screen reruns.)

Naturally, pundits are predicting that Disney and its fellow new streamers will pretty much squash Netflix, despite Netflix’s head start and bevy of original content. But others believe that Netflix may survive the onslaught of competition. They just won’t be able to raise their rates as much anymore.

Where are teens learning about this (ahem) stream of new shows? Potentially YouTube. That’s where teens are getting a lot of their news these days,  especially from celebrities who appear on the service. And that’s even though that less than 40% of those same teens believe that those same celebs and influencers “generally (get) the facts straight.”

YouTube and other forms of social media cause loads of other problems, too. Daniel Henninger, The Wall Street Journal’s  deputy editorial board editor, argues that social media and the internet as a whole push us to be self-absorbed. And because we’re not designed to be “so inner-directed,” he writes, that leads to a lot of angst.

“Forget alt-right, forget alt-left, that world online is an alternative reality,” he wrote. And that alternative reality is a hard habit to break—harder than an addiction to cigarettes is, experts say Oh, and if that wasn’t alarming enough, kids’ screen habits are forcing more of them into glasses.

Clearly, the entertainment/streaming world could use a good housecleaning. And guess what? It’s getting it—if somewhat more literally than we’d anticipated.

The latest YouTube stars are folks who record themselves cleaning their homes. That’s right: They vacuum their floors and scrub their kitchens as thousands—sometimes millions—watch. And these new internet stars, called “cleanfluencers” by The Atlantic, are seriously cleaning up. One says she was able to purchase a 4,500-square-foot house based on her YouTube income.

All the more house to clean for her audience, I suppose.

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous 18 hours ago
If we at Pluggedin don't know what constitutes cussing and non-cussing then we're more messed up than I think we are.
Anonymous 12 hours ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

I’m pretty sure you’re the one who doesn’t know what constitutes as cussing and what doesn’t.
Anonymous 3 days ago
The bottom line is people need to stop saying bad things about Disney, because for the most part they make wonderful movies.
Anonymous 3 days ago

I didn't even see Into the Spider-verse until March and nowhere did I call it God-awful. Garish and ugly looking, but not God-awful.

Believe me, I've been around long enough and heard enough curse words in movies, on tv, on the bus, and growing up in school, to know what is and what is not a curse word. If you can believe it on my very first day of 6th Grade Middle School some guy came up to me and randomly spouted off a whole bunch of dirty jokes to me, so I've heard it all and then some, lol. I certainly don't condone cursing, and try to not do it myself if I can help it, but I know it's out there and for some people it's just their everyday vocabulary.

Anonymous 2 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Um, no, you’re wrong. I was there. I said back on November 19th, 2018 that I was excited for Spiderverse and Aquaman, and you told me that both seemed dumb as heck, and that I should go see the Crimes of Grindelwald instead. In a later reply to me you then described the animation of Spiderverse in the same way you described Toy Story 4.

And as further proof that you misused God’s name, your comment down below got deleted.
Anonymous 12 hours ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

I know what you said, and I know what I said. And I’m not being confrontational for the sake of it. I’m being confrontational because you misused God’s name, which the Bible says in an unpardonable sin.
seraph_unsung 3 days ago
1) For the people talking about how to treat terrorists, before we do anything else, let's pray that God leads them toward repentance and redemption.

2) Gun violence happens somewhere in the world every single day even if it doesn't make widespread news. I feel like it's insular to say, "We're going to not promote this entertainment product glamorizing fictional violence," just because the violence happens to occur on American soil, but then to go back to business as usual any other day.
Anonymous 3 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Not going to subscribe to Disney+. The only reason that I would subscribe would be to watch Clone Wars season 7. Otherwise, no thanks. 

Come to think of it, I'm not interested that much in anything that Disney is offering at all in the future. I don't like most of the new Star Wars films, I hate how they're rehashing their animated films by making live action remakes of them, they're pretty much milking Fox just for profits, and aside from Guardians of the Galaxy 3, Black Panther 2, and the future Spider-Man movies, I just don't care about the MCU anymore. 

I genuinely hope Disney stops raking in so much dough every year sometime in the future, because as time goes by and they acquire more studios and franchises, I can't help but feel like they're turning into the EA of Hollywood. All they do these days is just make movies that rely on nostalgia instead of good storytelling, and they still make money hand over fist. It's frustrating for me that people still pay money to see these films even though they don't like them. A YouTuber I watch was hating on the Lion King remake before it came out, and he saw it anyway just to complain about it. Why?
Big Mike 3 days ago
hey fcg you wouldn't watch the marvel tv shows?
Anonymous 3 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

No, I wouldn't. WandaVision and Loki will both be set in an alternate timeline, so they'll have little to no impact on the main MCU storyline. I like Hawkeye, but not enough to the point where I think he needs his own movie, let alone a tv series. I was a little excited for Falcon and the Winter Soldier, but even then that show's production is reportedly a disaster. I will say though that the Marvel What If? animated series sounds intriguing, so I guess you could add that to Clone Wars season 7 for what I would watch.

I also think it was very cynical of Disney to force Netflix to cancel their Marvel shows. I get why they did it; it makes sense financially and to avoid competition, but I feel like cancelling them just wasn't fair for the creators of the show and the fans. I know the shows are very mature in their content and putting them on Disney+ wouldn't make sense, but since Disney also owns Hulu, couldn't they have found a way to move the production of the shows over there?
Big Mike 2 days ago
 wandavision isnt set in alternate reality though
but to his his own opinion
charitysplace 3 days ago

I'm not interested in Disney+. I already own their movies that I care about and burned out on Marvel a long time ago. As long as I can buy the occasional Bluray I'm good.

I'll keep Netflix for The Crown and the new Narnia. It's getting hard to find good programming; a lot of original content from streaming companies is MA. Lately I've just been dipping into my movie collection instead.
Karl The Klown 4 days ago
Anyone who watched the trailer would realize that the film was not an attack on Red State America, but rather a defense of it. I was honestly looking forward too seeing this. But once again outrage culture wins.
Anonymous 3 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

I agree. The trailer itself makes it clear the Red Staters are the good guys. I saw the trailer and came away more with the feeling that it was less about the glorification of killing such people and more about them rising up against their oppressors.
Anonymous 4 days ago
Terrorists should be destroyed plain and simple, so I see no need for the Hunt to be pulled from theaters.