Conservatives have been warning about cultural censorship for some time now.
The censorship in question doesn’t flow from the government, thank goodness. The impact, though, is nearly as suffocating.
It all starts with Big Tech. Social media giants like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube routinely press their digital heels on the necks of conservatives. Think PragerU, “The Dan Bongino Show,” Oscar-nominee James Woods and any number of right-leaning Twitter users banned or suspended for less than outrageous Tweets.
— Nick DiPaolo (@NickDiPaolo) August 22, 2019
Then, consider the concentrated effort to snuff out HBO’s “Confederate” project. The planned series, about an alternate United States where the South never gave up on slavery, got savagely attacked by voices eager to kill it before any cameras rolled.
The project appears in limbo at the moment.
Recent movies like “Roe v. Wade” and “Unplanned” suffered a series of setbacks few, if any, films endure. Meanwhile, right-of-center comics are finding fewer gigs, if not outright bans, for simply being GOP-friendly.
Movie projects can’t even cast the actors they want to cast without a deafening outcry from Social Justice Warriors who demand final casting cut.
And they often get it.
— Variety (@Variety) July 13, 2018
Through it all, mainstream media outlets have either been silent or submissive. Nothing to see here, news readers. Move along.
Now, things are different.
The cancellation of “The Hunt,” a Universal thriller where liberal elites allegedly stalk Red State “Deplorables,” unleashed a number of “think pieces” bemoaning the film’s fate.
The Hunt’s Craig Zobel Opens Up About Controversial Cancellation https://t.co/noJKQG3k5s
— ComingSoon.net by Mandatory (@comingsoonnet) August 19, 2019
The early press reports on “The Hunt” said the film showed liberals hunting, and killing, people for being conservative. Given the toxic state of American culture, that’s about as incendiary a topic as a film could manage. It’s understandable people might be distressed about the subject matter, assuming the actual feature reflected those themes.
The movie’s director, Craig Zobel, insists his project is far more balanced. He spoke up only after Universal yanked the film from the schedule, though.
The official RogerEbert.com review of “Ready or Not” spends the first few paragraphs wringing its hand over the cancellation – with a dash of Fake News. President Donald Trump didn’t cause Universal to ditch “The Hunt.” Nor does the critic fully describe the plot as laid out in initial press reports.
The script for the film, about rich people who hunt poor people for sport, leaked and Trump supporters missed its subtext, calling it an invitation for blue state liberals to come after conservatives with guns. The problems with this are too numerous to explain in the preface to a film review but suffice it to say Universal made a bad call. By keeping the film from the public they’ve left it to our imagination exactly how anti-Trump the film is or isn’t. What they’ve also done is set a dangerous precedent. If Republicans decide a movie is unfair (and a goodly sum of major studio product is politically to the left by default these days) all The President need do is tweet about it and that film will be shelved.
Remember the media outcry over progressives trying to snuff “Confederate” out before a single scripted page could be written? Or G-rated YouTube content like PragerU getting marked as “restricted?”
Vanity Fair joined the fray, warning “The Hunt’s” cancellation could have a “chilling effect” on the culture.
But this is the first time in recent memory that Trump’s remarks have been directly linked to the cancelation of a film. Which prompts a question: Will The Hunt’s fate set a new precedent in Hollywood when it comes to targeting Trump and the MAGA crowd?
Again, Indiewire.com’s reporting suggests this is a lie. More importantly, we’ve seen an avalanche of anti-Trump content on screens large and small, from “Saturday Night Live” calling Trump fans racist to late night shows dubbing the First Daughter a “feckless c-word.”
It’s clear the President has no interest in canceling any of the above.
The Vanity Fair piece then quotes an obscure actor as proof we’re living in a new, dangerous age.
Actor Griffin Newman, who tweeted his frustration about Universal’s decision, feels similarly. “I think people are going to second-guess anything that feels loaded in any way,” he said—adding that the cancelation, sparked in part by the president’s remarks, goes beyond setting a new precedent: “This is the endpoint we’ve been trying to avoid as a culture.”
More accurately, the actor (and by extension, Vanity Fair) is waking up to a cultural trend they’ve gleefully ignored up until now.
Need more context?
Remember the complete lack of artistic outrage when the indie play “FBI Lovebirds: UnderCovers” nearly got shelved due to death threats? Did Newman weigh in on that situation? How about the rest of Hollywood, Inc.?
Another sign of the Trump apocalypse? A graphic novelist used his Marvel Comics platform for an out-of-context rant against Trump. And Team Marvel turned him down.
Art Spiegelman says Marvel Comics refused to publish an introduction to a forthcoming book because he took a jab at President Donald Trump.
The legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novelist told the Guardian that he was informed the publisher was trying to stay “apolitical” and that the reference to Trump needed to be removed from “Marvel: The Golden Age 1939–1949” — or the entire piece would be scrapped.
In the initial essay, Spiegelman wrote, “In today’s all too real world, Captain America’s most nefarious villain, the Red Skull, is alive on screen and an Orange Skull haunts America.”
The Red Skull, Captain America’s archnemesis, is a Nazi agent.
All it took for Hollywood and the media, which too often share a single purpose, to fight potential censorship was to rope Trump into the narrative. Even if, as with the case of “The Hunt,” said rope is tied in a Fake News knot.
Now, Trump brought some of this on himself. The president’s curt, one-dimensional take on “The Hunt,” which he didn’t mention directly by name, reduced a layered media story with plenty of question marks into an angry retort.
Still, the aforementioned voices stayed silent for month after month while conservatives, and anyone questioning PC groupthink, faced the full brunt of cultural censorship. Now, those same voices are ready, willing and able to fight back … because it suits their ideological needs. Period.
They want another cudgel to wield against the President.
Meanwhile, the very week these stories broke a new censorship threat arrived … from a mainstream media outlet. Liberals threatened yet another boycott after ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” included a former Trump staffer, Sean Spicer, in the new cast.
How did the media react to the news? Variety let loose with this attempt at killing the decision.
ABC’s announcement that its newest “Dancing With the Stars” cast will feature Sean Spicer, former press secretary for Donald Trump and frequent punchline, got immediate heat. The show’s tweet sharing the news was immediately flooded with derision and calls for reconsideration given the fact that Spicer gained his modicum of fame from defending some of the president’s most toxic policies and spreading pernicious lies in the process. The backlash got so immediately bad that even host Tom Bergeron felt compelled to say something…
For those playing at home, the author used variations of the word “immediate” three times in just one paragraph.
It gets worse.
“…Spicer’s previous life as a professional liar should really disqualify him from public life, period.”
Guessing some types of censorship are still A-OK with our media betters.
UPDATE: NBC News weighs in on SpicerGate, also suggesting he shouldn’t be able to play a part in the show.