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Universal Moves Forward With “The Hunt” After Controversy: How the Conservative Rednecks vs. Liberal Elites Movie Is Rebranding Itself

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  • Universal Studios has set a March release date for The Hunt after canceling its Sep. 2019 release.
  • Universal canceled the movie in August following two mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas. 
  • Prior to that, the movie had been condemned by conservatives—including President Donald Trump—for stoking political divisions by featuring a group of conservative “rednecks” being hunted by liberal elites. 
  • Now, Universal is using the drama around the film’s release in its marketing campaign, promoting it as “the most talked about movie of the year… that no one’s actually seen.”

The Hunt Now Slated for March Release

After canceling The Hunt for its timing and controversial premise, Universal Studios announced Tuesday that the movie will be released on March 13. 

The movie, which features a group of liberal elites seemingly hunting conservative “rednecks,” quickly caught the condemnation of President Donald Trump after its first trailer dropped in July.

In the original trailer, a character played by Glow’s Betty Gilpin is seen in a gas station, seemingly confused because she doesn’t know where she is. She’s then attacked by the station’s owners, and she manages to fight back before ultimately killing them.

While such a scene is not taboo by today’s standards, the trailer continues by introducing the elite vs. conservative premise. In one moment, an elite (played by Hilary Swank) says that the people they’re hunting aren’t human.

She also refers to those people as “deplorables,” a reference to a 2016 statement made by Hillary Clinton.

“You know, to just be grossly realistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call a basket of deplorables. Right?” Clinton said while campaigning for the 2016 election. 

Marketing Shifts Gears

While the film was marketed as a form of satire, from the trailer alone, it appeared to be a rather straightforward horror premise. It’s newest trailer, however, adds several comedic touches to drive the satire aspect home. 

It also appears that the movie may not actually be about liberal elites hunting conservatives, as Swank’s character asks in the film, “You actually believed we were hunting human beings for sport?” Rather, the film’s plot seems to be the consequence of an out-of-control prank.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, part of the plot appears to involve a reality TV show gone wrong.

In addition to revealing those plot details, Universal is now using the drama around The Hunt to market the film, with its tagline reading, “The most talked about movie of the year is one that no one’s actually seen.”

Meanwhile, the film’s creators have been largely playing damage control for both sides. 

“This is not a dangerous movie,” Producer and co-writer Damon Lindelof told Variety. “This is not a provocative movie. This is not a divisive movie.”

“[This movie] didn’t strike me as third rail,” Lindelof also told The New York Times. “I wish that [Trump] had seen it. The movie he was talking about was not the movie I feel that we made.”

Also speaking with The Times, Producer Jason Blum said, “Not one frame was changed. This is exactly the same movie.”

Why Did Universal Cancel the Film?

In addition to Trump, The Hunt faced massive backlash online in August, with the movie trending on Twitter and notable voices such as Franklin Graham expressing their concern.

To plant the thought in someone’s mind that it’s okay to shoot a person because they wear a MAGA hat or hold conservative viewpoints that may differ from theirs is reckless & reprehensible,” Graham, the son of televangelist Billy Graham, said. “That’s not satire or entertainment—that’s sowing seeds of discord & violence.” 

Ultimately, the film’s promotional campaign was suspended just days after two mass shootings that left 31 people dead in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. Several days after that Universal pulled the plug on the film altogether. 

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 company said in a statement. “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.”

At the time, Universal didn’t announce any plans to release the movie at a later date or in another way. 

Following that decision, Swank released a statement saying she supported Universal’s decision and felt the choice was necessary, adding that the country should focus on healing and other things like kindness, sensitivity, and humanity.

What Are People Saying Now?

While Trump has not spoken on the new release plans, many on social media remain divided. 

Universal originally faced accusations of bending to censorship when it decided to shelve the film, but some praised the company for moving forward to ultimately distribute the film.

Others also said the drama around the film and the way Universal is marketing that makes them want to see it.

Others, however, were still upset at the film’s subject matter.

See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (LA Magazine) (Washington Examiner)

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Alissa Violet Sues FaZe Clan Over Stock It Allegedly Owes Her

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The social media star says she was promised stock in FaZe Clan as part of a previous settlement but has yet to receive her shares.


Alissa Violet Sues FaZe Clan

Social media influencer Alissa Marie Violet Butler, known online as Alissa Violet, is suing digital entertainment and esports collective FaZe Clan over stock she is allegedly owed.

According to a Monday report from The Washington Post, Butler’s case stems from a previous lawsuit that involved both her and FaZe Clan. The report says that in 2018, Butler transferred her shares in a media company she co-founded called Clout Gang to a different company called Hubrick Limited as part of an agreement with FaZe Clan. At the time, Hubrick and FaZe Clan were partnering to develop both businesses. 

Per The Post, several other FaZe Clan members were part of a similar exchange where they transferred their FaZe Clan shares for Hubrick shares as well. The partnership between the two companies crumbled, however, leading to a legal frenzy. Butler, FaZe Clan, Clout Gang, and more ended up accusing Hubrick of fraud in a lawsuit. Hubrick tossed the allegation right back at them in a countersuit. 

To resolve the matters, The Post says Butler and FaZe Clan “entered into an oral agreement to settle the lawsuits with Hubrick,” which involved Butler giving up her Hubrick stock and dropping her claims against the company. In return, she would then receive FaZe Clan common stock.

Butler says that despite holding up her end of the bargain, she has still not received stock in FaZe Clan. 

Responses to Lawsuit

Butler has over 10 million followers on Instagram and another 3.7 million subscribers on YouTube. She has had a career in modeling and picked up a handful of acting credits in television shows and music videos. She previously dated the co-owner of FaZe Clan, FaZe Banks.

According to The Post, FaZe Clan is valued at around $300 million.

“If Faze Clan simply abided by its promise to compensate her, Alissa would not have had to sue Faze Clan,” Butler’s attorney, Bryan Freedman, said to The Post. 

FaZe Clan defended itself in a statement to the outlet, saying it “denies generally and specifically each and every allegation contained in the Complaint.”

FaZe Clan CEO Lee Trink also sent an email to The Post claiming that the matter will likely be resolved. 

“Stories get created out of any disagreement or dispute, big or small,” he wrote. “On this particular matter we’re in close communication and confident it’ll be resolved amicably.”

It is unclear how much Butler is seeking in her suit. 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post )(Dexerto) (Esports.com)

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Priyanka Chopra Jonas Says “The Activist” Reality Series “Got It Wrong”

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The controversial series is now being reworked into a documentary, which Chopra Jonas hopes will better “highlight the actions and impact” of global activists.


Priyanka Chopra Jonas Apologizes For “The Activist”

Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas responded to controversies surrounding “The Activist,” a CBS reality competition series she was slated to co-host that is now being reworked following widespread backlash. 

“The Activist” was going to show real activists competing against one another in various challenges in an effort to promote their philanthropic causes. After many expressed disgust at the premise, CBS said it would scrap the footage already shot and turn the idea into a one-time documentary special highlighting the work and impacts of different activists.

“The show got it wrong, and I’m sorry that my participation in it disappointed many of you,” Chopra Jonas wrote on Instagram. “The intention was always to bring attention to the people behind the ideas and highlight the actions and impact of the causes they support tirelessly. I’m happy that in this new format, their stories will be the highlight.”

“I’m proud to collaborate with partners who have their ear to the ground and know when it’s time to hit pause and re-evaluate,” she added.

Chopra Jonas closed her post by thanking the “global community of activists” for their hard work, which often goes unacknowledged. 

Controversies Surrounding “The Activist”

Musician Usher and dancer Julianne Hough were cast to host alongside Chopra Jonas. After a release announcing the show and their casting went out last week, it was slammed online by activists and journalists alike. 

Actress and activist Jameela Jamil wrote that the network would have been better off donating the presumably large production costs to charity instead of “turning activism into a game.”

Women’s activist Gina Martin thought turning charity into a competition was counterintuitive, arguing “the whole *essense* of activism is solidarity and community.”

Writers from The Verge, The Washington Post, Essence, and countless other outlets likewise published pieces slamming the program. The Post’s Michele L. Norris accused CBS of ​“trying to capitalize on the current avalanche of doom in the daily news cycle.”

Norris added that the show’s “prize,” which was to attend the G20 summit in Italy, boiled down to activists fighting “merely for the right to crash an international conference and try to shake down world leaders for cash.”

Responses From Those Involved

Chopra Jonas is not the only host to address the criticism. Before the idea was canned, Hough wrote a lengthy Instagram post saying she was listening to the dialogue regarding the program. 

“There is a feeling of insult, dehumanization, insensitivity and hurt that is being rightfully felt,” she wrote. 

“I do not claim to be an activist and wholeheartedly agree that the judging aspect of the show missed the mark and furthermore, that I am not qualified to act as a judge,” she added, though she stopped short of actually stepping down from the gig. 

CBS ended up releasing a joint statement with Global Citizen and Live Nation acknowledging the failings of the concept. 

“It has become apparent the format of the show as announced distracts from the vital work these incredible activists do in their communities every day,” the statement said. “The push for global change is not a competition and requires a global effort.”

The statement said the new documentary will “showcase the tireless work of six activists and the impact they have advocating for causes they deeply believe in” without any competitive element.

See what others are saying: (CNN) (Vanity Fair) (BBC News)

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Health Officials in the U.S. and Trinidad Shut Down Nicki Minaj’s Vaccine Claims

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After the rapper claimed her cousin’s friend had severe side effects from the vaccine, Dr. Anthony Fauci said she should be “thinking twice about propagating information that really has no basis.”


Health Officials Condemn Nicki Minaj’s Vaccine Statement

Health officials in the United States and Trinidad and Tobago are refuting claims rapper Nicki Minaj made this week suggesting that COVID-19 vaccines can lead to testicular swelling.

“My cousin in Trinidad won’t get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent,” Minaj tweeted Monday. “His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding. So just pray on it & make sure you’re comfortable with ur decision, not bullied.”

Minaj has not been vaccinated herself but did say she might receive the jab at some point so she can tour. Still, she sent several other tweets Monday peddling vaccine skepticism. 

The symptoms Minaj described in the tweet about her cousin’s friend fall more in line with those of various sexually transmitted diseases. The CDC has repeatedly noted that there is “currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men.”

International health officials doubled down on this after Minaj’s remarks went viral. Dr. Terrence Deyalsingh, the Health Minister for Trinidad and Tobago, said his department takes every claim of this nature seriously and found no proof that Minaj’s anecdote was true after spending hours thoroughly researching it. 

“Unfortunately, we wasted so much time yesterday running down this false claim,” he said during a press conference on Wednesday. 

“As we stand now, there is absolutely no reported side effect or adverse event of testicular swelling in Trinidad, or, I dare say anywhere else?” he continued. “None that we know of anywhere in the world.” 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s leading infectious disease expert, likewise debunked Minaj’s story while speaking to CNN.

“She should be thinking twice about propagating information that really has no basis, except a one-off anecdote, and that’s not what science is all about,” Dr. Fauci told Jake Tapper this week. 

Nicki Minaj Claims She Received Invite to Discuss Vaccines at the White House

As vaccine misinformation continues to spread and elongate the pandemic, the Biden administration has unveiled several efforts to instill trust in the science behind it. Minaj claimed Wednesday she was invited to the White House to discuss the vaccine and ask questions on behalf of those who need convincing. 

A White House official, however, claimed that she was not offered a trip but rather a call with “one of our doctors to answer questions she has about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.” Minaj slammed the White House on Instagram Wednesday night for undercutting her claim. 

“Do you think I’d go on the internet and lie about being invited to the fucking White House?” she said in a 14-minute video. “Like, what?!” 

“You know what the request was? ‘We’d like to offer Nicki an invitation to come to the White House to speak with two people,” she continued. “With, what is that man’s name? Dr. Fauci? And with the Surgeon General.” 

Minaj said that when she expressed concerns about traveling, they offered the chance to also do a live chat on the social media platform of her choice. Throughout the remainder of her video, she repeatedly made startling claims suggesting the media was targeting an attack on her to make her look dumb so people would stop asking questions about the vaccine. 

By Thursday, that video had been viewed over 1.6 million times. “I Stand With Nicki” trended on Twitter Thursday as some claimed the media has twisted her words, while others slammed her fanbase for supporting the rapper as she promoted misinformation.

See what others are saying: (Complex) (New York Times) (The Guardian)

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