- Following recent mass shootings in the U.S., Universal Pictures canceled the release of The Hunt, a movie where “liberal elites” hunt mostly Southern people from conservative states for sport.
- President Donald Trump criticized the project on Twitter without naming it, saying “Liberal Hollywood is Racist,” and adding that the movie was created to “inflame and cause chaos.”
- Many echoed concerns that the film promotes politically charged violence, but others said the canceling of a movie is less important than passing gun reform laws.
Universal Cancels The Hunt
Universal Pictures canceled the release of The Hunt on Saturday, saying “now is not the right time to release this film” after two mass shootings have increased political tensions across the country.
The Blumhouse film, starring Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank, and Emma Roberts was set to release on September 27. It was co-written by Damon Lindelof, who helped create shows like Lost and The Leftovers.
The trailer opens with Gilpin’s character walking into a gas station and killing the owners after they try to shoot her when she tells them she doesn’t know where she is. From there, Gilpin’s character learns she has been kidnapped and must survive while being hunted by a mysterious group of people.
The film frames itself as a satirical take on the short story “The Most Dangerous Game” and presents mostly white, working-class people from conservative states as the prey of “liberal elite” hunters who are killing them for sport.
“Your idea is incredible,” a male elite says in the film’s trailer.
“I can’t argue with that,” Swank’s character tells him. “We pay for everything, so this country belongs to us.”
“It’s just business: hunting human beings for sport,” the man says.
“They’re not human beings,” Swank’s character responds before laughing.
Characters in the film also refer to the people being hunted as “deplorables,” a reference to a statement made by then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election.
“You know, to just be grossly realistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call a basket of deplorables,” Clinton said.
During development, the movie went under the working title Red State, Blue State.
Critics of the project said the movie stokes the current U.S. political divide with violence Before universal announced the movie’s cancellation, President Donald Trump agreed with that sentiment and denounced the movie.
“The movie coming out is made in order to inflame and cause chaos,” Trump tweeted. “[Liberal Hollywood] create[s] their own violence, and then try to blame others. They are the true Racists, and are very bad for our Country!
Universal’s Official Statement
The cancellation follows Universal’s decision to scrap promotional marketing only a week after releasing the trailer at the end of July. The trailer has since been deleted from the studio’s YouTube channel, but versions still exist online. The move also comes about a week after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.
“While Universal Pictures had already paused the marketing campaign for The Hunt, after thoughtful consideration, the studio has decided to cancel our plans to release the film,” the film’s website reads. “We stand by our filmmakers and will continue to distribute films in partnership with bold and visionary creators, like those associated with this satirical social thriller, but we understand that now is not the right time to release this film.”
“I fully support the decision by Universal and the filmmakers regarding ‘The Hunt.’ It is a choice that I also personally felt was necessary,” Swank told USA Today after the cancellation. “I can’t comprehend the violence happening in our country right now. We should all focus on healing, and above all else, kindness, sensitivity and humanity.”
Universal hasn’t announced any plans to release the movie at a later date or in another way, though the cancellation has drawn parallels to The Interview, where James Franco and Seth Rogen infiltrate North Korea to kill Kim Jong-un. The film was similarly canceled back in 2014 after pressure from North Korea but is now available online for rent or purchase.
Following the cancellation, many still shared their concerns about the content depicted in the film, saying that violence does not mean satire.
Singer Charlie Daniels also referenced the belief that violent films and video games, in part, are connected to the increase in mass shootings across the country.
Actor Russell Crowe and others pushed back in different ways, saying that canceling a movie won’t solve gun-related issues the country already faces.
“While I commend Universal and Blumhouse for their humanity,” the actor said. “This is not the solution.”
Crowe also tweeted that “any adult can still buy a military grade semi-automatic rifle.” While many adults can buy semi-automatic rifles, most can not access their military-grade variants.
Others still echoed similar thoughts.
See what others are saying: (Hollywood Reporter) (Deadline) (Washington Post)
Netflix Reinstates Employee Who Crashed Director-Level Meeting After Criticizing Dave Chapelle
Terra Field had publicly accused Chappelle of making transphobic remarks in his new stand-up special “The Closer” just days before she was suspended.
Netflix Reinstates Terra Field
Netflix reinstated a transgender employee who was critical of Dave Chappelle’s new stand-up special after suspending her for attending a director-level meeting without an invitation.
Terra Field tweeted on Tuesday that she was reinstated once the company determined “there was no ill-intent in” her decision to attend the meeting.
“I’m going to take a few days off to decompress and try to figure out where I’m at,” she added. “At the very least, I feel vindicated.”
Field also shared an email Netflix sent her regarding her suspension being lifted.
“Our investigation did not find that you joined the QBR meeting with any ill intent and that you genuinely didn’t think there was anything wrong with seeking access to this meeting,” the email said. “Additionally, when a Director shared the link it further supported that this was a meeting you could attend.”
Field’s suspension came just days after she tweeted a viral thread criticizing Chappelle’s latest program on Netflix, “The Closer.” She was one of many activists who claimed Chappelle’s set was transphobic and encouraged Netflix to take action. Field wrote that his comments attacked “the very validity of transness.” Netflix insisted those tweets had nothing to do with her suspension.
Field reportedly attended the director-level meeting with two other employees who were also suspended. A spokesperson for Netflix told Deadline that those two staffers have likewise been reinstated and the company “will be distributing broader guidance about meetings and clarifying which are for which people.”
Netflix’s Response to Dave Chappelle Controversy
Netflix, for its part, has defended Chappelle and rejected calls to remove “The Closer” from the streaming service.
“It never feels good when people are hurting, especially our colleagues,” Netflix co-CEO Ted Srandos wrote in an internal memo. “You should also be aware that some talent may join third parties in asking us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do.”
“We don’t allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line,” he added. “I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean spirited but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.”
Among other things, Chappelle took time in his special to defend author J.K. Rowling, who previously faced backlash over a series of transphobic remarks she made. Chappelle said he agreed with Rowling.
“I’m team TERF,” he added. “I agree. I agree, man. Gender is a fact.”
Chappelle went on to make jokes about Caitlyn Jenner before comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.
Many employees at Netflix are still frustrated with the way the platform has handled the controversy surrounding “The Closer.” According to The Verge, a trans employee resource group is planning a walkout on Oct. 20.
“Trans Lives Matter. Trans Rights Matter,” the group said in a memo. “And as an organization, Netflix has continually failed to show deep care in our mission to Entertain the World by repeatedly releasing content that harms the Trans community and continually failing to create content that represents and uplifts Trans content. We can and must do better!”
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Deadline) (The New York Times)
Lil Nas X and Bella Poarch May Have Abandoned Plans To Participate In TikTok NFT Program
Lil Nas X’s TikTok NFT was scheduled to debut a week ago and is still not available to the public.
Creators Allegedly Leave TikTok’s NFT Program
Musicians Lil Nas X and Bella Poarch may have quietly exited TikTok’s new NFT collection, according to a report from Rolling Stone.
TikTok first announced the line, which is called “TikTok Top Moments,” at the end of September. It involves a series of creator-led NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which are unique and tradeable digital assets. TikTok’s NFTs can be purchased with the cryptocurrency Ethereum. According to a press release, the money will “largely go directly to the creators and NFT artists involved.”
TikTok said that creators like Poarch, Lil Nas X, Grimes, Curtis Roach, Brittany Broski, and more would be participating in the program. The company called NFTs an “empowerment tool” that will allow these creators to “be recognized and rewarded for their content.” It planned to debut the collection on Oct. 6 with Lil Nas X’s NFT, but that token has still not been made available. A source told Rolling Stone that it may never be released.
NFT Rollout Described as “A Mess”
The outlet also reported that Poarch is “actively contemplating pulling out of the program due to worries about its execution.” According to Rolling Stone, three sources familiar with the rollout of the program have described it as “a challenge,” “a mess,” and “a complete joke.”
Those sources claimed that in order to secure Poarch’s initial participation, TikTok offered her marketing support worth potentially $4 million for her next release. The company also allegedly promised to use one of her songs in an end-of-year campaign. A spokesperson for TikTok, however, described these claims as “not accurate.”
Neither Poarch nor Lil Nas X has commented on their participation yet. Meanwhile, TikTok declined to answer Rolling Stone’s questions about the status of their NFTs.
Some of TikTok’s announced NFTs have gone public, though. Throughout Tuesday, Roach’s “Bored in the House” video was up for auction on the platform Immutable.
NFTs took the internet by storm in early 2021, but their popularity peaked in May and declined throughout the summer. Celebrities, tech moguls, and everyday people featured in viral memes have hopped on the trend and made millions doing so.
According to Rolling Stone, TikTok has valued some of its own NFTs at $1 million. Now, it’s unclear if those tokens will ever hit the market.
See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Dexerto)
Ariana Grande, Bella Hadid, and Others Honor World Mental Health Day
A slew of stars acknowledged the day by sharing personal stories and making hefty donations to organizations that offer mental health resources.
Celebrities Donate to Mental Health Organizations
Major celebrities honored World Mental Health Day on Sunday by speaking candidly about their mental health struggles and donating to nonprofits.
Singer Ariana Grande announced that she is donating $5 million worth of free therapy through the online counseling platform Better Help. The star previously partnered with the company over the summer to give $1 million in therapy to fans and opted to throw more money at the program following its success.
“I acknowledge that there are very real barriers when it comes to accessing mental health resources, and while this is only one small gesture (and a much larger systemic problem remains) I wanted to do this again with @betterhelp in hopes of bringing access to a few more people and perhaps inspiring a few of you to try something new and prioritize your own healing,” Grande wrote on Instagram.
Those interested can sign up for a free first month of Better Help and get an additional 15% off the second month.
Model Bella Hadid also pledged to donate to mental health resources. She teamed up with the beverage company Kin Euphorics, which will donate 10% of its October sales to Gurls Talk, a nonprofit that gives adolescent girls a space to talk about mental health, along with various educational tools to aid those discussions. Hadid will match those donations.
“Dealing with mental illness for most of my life, bringing awareness to the education of mental health through my platform is something that I will continue to do until our mental is just as respected as our physical,” Hadid wrote. “I want everyone who struggles daily to know that you are not alone.”
Stars Share Resources and Personal Stories
Meanwhile, actress and singer Selena Gomez used her new makeup brand Rare Beauty to share statistics about the prevalence of mental illness and the efforts to combat it. The company, which has previously focused on several mental health initiatives, shared that just 1.3% of philanthropic investments go towards supporting mental health.
The company additionally cited information from an American Psychological Association report, which revealed that young people are particularly vulnerable to mental health struggles. It found that seven out of 10 Gen Z adults are more likely to report experiencing depression symptoms compared to other generations.
Gomez shared Rare Beauty’s post to her own story as well.
Singer Olivia Rodrigo similarly opened up about mental health and therapy during an interview with CBS that aired Sunday. In it, she said she has been in therapy since she was 16, which she believes has helped her both personally and professionally.
“That was a really big, life-changing moment,” she said. “I’ve learned so much about myself.”
“I think there’s sometimes a stigma around it, too, like I was saying,” the singer continued. “Sometimes people are like, ‘Oh, you don’t need that. You have so much. Your life is so great. What are your problems?’ I think that’s definitely a thing that sometimes older people can do to younger people to kind of trivialize what they’re going through.”