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'The Hunt,' Damon Lindelof, and the Feral Hogs Dude

By Dustin Rowles | Film | August 12, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | Film | August 12, 2019 |


Late last week, the President started ranting about racism in Hollywood, seemingly pointing toward one specific film but, at the time, I had no idea what he was talking about:

The film, as it turns out, is called The Hunt, and while it wasn’t getting a lot of play in my pop-culture bubble, it turns out that Fox News had been talking about it quite a bit. Fox News host Maria Bartiromo feared that the movie “would encourage more backlash against conservatives. Is it another call to act? It’s crazy.” Meanwhile, Fox & Friends suggested that the film dehumanized conservatives. From THR:

“At the end of the day, [the elites] look at us as deplorables,” guest Zachery Ty Bryan said. “They look at us as racists and bigoted evil people. When you can dehumanize a side or a group that supports Trump in this case…you can do anything, so why not hunt them like you would animals?” Even earlier in the 5 a.m. ET hour, the show featured tweets criticizing the film, including one calling it “the most disgusting and terrifying thing I’ve ever heard.”

I haven’t seen the film, obviously, nor have I read the script — from Damon Lindelof, and originally called Red State vs. Blue State — but I certainly didn’t see any signs of “racism” in the trailer, as Trump suggested.

Look: If you’re into a certain brand of movie, that’s a good trailer. And while it might depict a war pitting Elites against “Deplorables,” it’s clear from the trailer that “The Deplorables” here are the heroes — who could root against Betty Gilpin, Ethan Suplee, the guy from This Is Us, Emma Roberts, and Ike Barinholtz (don’t answer that question as it pertains to the last two). Basically, it looks like a reverse The Purge, which typically pits a more diverse set of people against NRA-loving conservative elites. If anything, the movie seems to be humanizing Deplorables, and knowing how Lindelof operates — he’s a liberal humanist — that’s probably the idea. Not everyone who lives in Redneckia is a Redneck, and sometimes we stereotype entire categories of people based on a combination of geographical location and socioeconomic status.

Take, for instance, the feral hogs guy who went viral last week. Here’s a guy who was insanely easy to parody, until we maybe got to know him a little. From Yashar’s newsletter:

No, I do not have packs of murderous feral hogs in my yard every day. But I know people who have farms and timberland that this is an issue for. There are numerous reports by news outlets and governmental agencies documenting this.

After the reaction to my tweet this week, my initial thought was to stay out of this debate. I am a law-abiding citizen, and this brought much unwanted attention to my family. I received numerous interview requests and declined all of them. However, after continuing to read and engage with people on my Twitter feed regarding this issue, I realized that a large portion of our country found this entire issue implausible. That’s why I’m making this statement. I also intend to reach out to and work with groups such as the Arkansas Feral Hog Eradication Task Force and other organizations to help educate the public and come up with viable solutions.

I don’t know the answer to the gun debate. I’m not the avid outdoorsman I was when I was younger, but I do believe in my right to protect my home and my family. I’m for common-sense gun laws, including background checks, closing gun-show loopholes, and mental health requirements. I’m willing to look at anything that will help this carnage stop.

And finally, regarding Jason Isbell, I love music and always have. My favorite band is Pearl Jam. They have always challenged my beliefs and opened me up to different perspectives, different ideologies, and a broader worldview. I find the same type of inspiration from Jason’s music. That’s why I asked him the question: because he grew up in the South and might be able to understand my perspective. At the heart of my question is a legitimate problem, and I firmly believe we don’t learn anything living in a vacuum. We must push ourselves as a people and a society to be more tolerant of our fellow humans, even the ones we disagree with.”

Huh. I certainly don’t agree with the need for a military-style weapon when it comes to killing feral pigs, but at least the guy’s reasoning is rooted in decency.

I’m not sure if that’s the point of Lindelof’s movie — to humanize people we so often stereotype through an entertaining, low-budget Blumhouse pic — but that’s my guess. There’s nothing racist about it, and I seriously doubt that the movie is designed to vilify Republicans. It’s probably designed to vilify bad people, regardless of party, because if there’s anything we’ve learned from Jeffrey Epstein, it’s that there are super awful people on both sides of the political spectrum.

On the other, a movie about hunting people might not play particularly well in light of recent mass shootings, and for that, I understand why Universal decided to pull the picture over the weekend. I would, too, and rescheduling it would be almost impossible, because no matter where on the calendar it is dated, there will almost certainly be a mass shooting in the weeks before or after it. The movie would invariably be used as a political football or a scapegoat in whatever debate followed.

I do find it ironic, however, that there have been three The Purge movies and a television series — all, generally, about people of color and other economically disadvantaged people being hunted because of a conservative agenda to wipe out crime — and Fox & Friends has never objected to any of those movies. It’s not hard to figure out why.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

Header Image Source: Universal