The Hunt’s demise is the result of a few factors, but the blame certainly does not fall on the illiberal left. Indeed, President Trump was among the first to criticize the film on Twitter, saying that the ‘movie coming out is made in order to inflame and cause chaos’, and that liberal Hollywood ‘are the true racists’. Whether or not the president realized that the film’s plot line actually makes the true-believing MAGA folk out to be victims, not villains, is entertaining to ponder, but ultimately immaterial.
It’s inarguable that the planned timing of the film’s release was inauspicious. With the Dayton shootings so fresh in our minds, it was quite reasonable for Universal to assume that some Americans might not be interested in watching a film about a shooting rampage. And yet, the reality of the news cycle — even one filled with unspeakable tragedies — is that people move on and focus on the quotidian rituals of daily life. Those rituals include entertainment, to distract us from reality and its challenges. Had Universal gone ahead with the film as scheduled, or had they simply delayed its release by a month or two, Americans would not have been compelled to purchase a ticket the same way they are not compelled to change the channel to a show they have no interest in watching. We can vote with our wallets as well as our remote controls. The choice, however, of what to watch, and when, should not be made for us by a few outraged voices on Twitter, even if one of those voices belongs to the president of the United States.