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Guess What’s Missing in ‘Suburbicon’s’ Press Push?

Paramount’s video teasers for “Suburbicon” reveal the kind of comedy the Coen brothers could write in their sleep.

The studio’s clips – both the trailer and a teaser promoting positive reviews – reveal a dark story of a dad in way over his head.

Suburbicon (2017) - Official Trailer - Paramount Pictures

That man, played by Matt Damon, is punched, threatened and left with a blood-stained shirt. And that’s a key element of George Clooney’s latest directorial effort. Here’s an ordinary Joe pushed beyond his limits.

And he might have brought some of it on himself.

Suburbicon (2017) - Critics Are Saying - Paramount Pictures

What about the other, critical story line in “Suburbicon?”

The film, according to the first wave of reviews, shows the chaos that ensues when a black couple moves into an all-white community.

It’s Racism, ‘50s style, an ugly part of this country’s past. Only you don’t see any examples of that in those Paramount teasers. No black cast members are prominently featured in the teasers, either. Why would the marketing team craft promotional videos leaving out such an integral part of the story?

We’re not talking about a random subplot here. The official RogerEbert.com take on the film reveals that the “two stories compete for screen time.”

What’s more curious?

Why is that angle of the film all the movie’s cast and crew interested in talking about?

Clooney confessed a ‘50s era report of a black couple tormented by an all-white town inspired him to make the movie. So he dusted off an old Coen brothers script featuring Damon’s character and fused it with the racism plot.

Clooney connected the latter to the recent racial chaos in Charlottesville, Va. A gathering of unabashed white supremacists marched, Tiki torches in hand, to protest the removal of Confederate statues.

“You don’t have to be a soothsayer to realize we’re going to constantly have to deal with these issues; they continually pop up. It’s too bad we’re still fighting these fights. I didn’t think we would, growing up in the ’60s in the South. I thought after segregation was gone we were going to really move forward, and we didn’t, really. We stalled. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

The director’s comments weren’t an isolated example. Here’s Damon weighing in on the film and why the movie’s racism echoes today.

“A lot of people, myself included, are really waking up to the extent of the existing racism, and it’s so much worse than I naively thought. I just feel naive at this point. It was shocking to see those kids — they looked 20 and 30 years old — in button-down shirts, with Tiki torches, walking down the street.”

Why would Paramount Pictures, a massive studio with a seasoned marketing team, avoid the very subject Clooney and Damon (and the movie) address head on?

This isn’t a diversity problem.

Clooney is telling this story with mostly white actors to hammer home how racism infected ‘50s America. You can’t cast many people of color when you’re portraying an ignorant, all-white community. So why won’t the marketers show their cards and let audiences know what to expect when they enter the theater?

RELATED: Does George Clooney Have a Diversity Problem?

Could it be they fear the film’s racial themes will scare off movie goers in middle America? Did they focus group the material and draw that conclusion? If so, didn’t Clooney and Damon get the memo?

Today’s trailers reveal too much of any given story. There are exceptions, of course. We still don’t know much about that “Last Jedi” plot. That likely won’t change before its December release. On rare occasions the mystery of a story is staunchly defended.

Most movie trailers, by contrast, do just the opposite. Movie goers often complain they spoil the films in question. That won’t be a problem with “Suburbicon,” apparently.

Wouldn’t a controversial topic like racism be a net positive? Any publicity is good publicity, right?

Divisive material can be a draw on the small screen. Stephen Colbert’s hard-left content is helping his ratings thanks, in part, to an increasingly fractured audience.

Movies are a bit different, demanding a far bigger audience to recoup expenses. And typically both the studios and stars realize that. Why else would the aggressively pro gun control film “Miss Sloane” get positioned as a fair assessment of a complicated issue by the film’s director, John Madden?

No, it’s not. It was never constructed as a polemic and it would not be a useful place for me to be, to come and rap the knuckles of a country and political system that I’m not actually part of, no matter how interested I may be in it. But the broad realities of politics with a small “p”? Yes, it’s definitely examining that.

He didn’t want to scare away audiences worried the film is either one-sided (it was) or flat-out propaganda (yes, again).

So is the “Suburbicon” marketing strategy shrewd? Cagey? Or is it a bait-and-switch tactic that could backfire? We’ll find out when the film opens wide Oct. 27.

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33 Comments

  1. “You don’t have to be a soothsayer to realize we’re going to constantly have to deal with these issues; they continually pop up.” Well, that’s funny, because for the last 40+ years, the trend in regards to race relations has been consistently moving in the right direction. Then we elect the first black President, which you’d think would’ve moved things even further in the right direction, but instead of encouraging people to get along, said President decided to stir the pot and pick at old wounds, talking constantly about “systematic oppression”, victimization, and so on, and a mainstream media egging him on. And then, suddenly, you’ve got a whole generation of young black and white people obsessed with skin color, with BLM/black supremacists on one side and alt-right/white supremacists on the other.

    All that progress, and then in the last decade, things have suddenly gotten the worst they’ve been since the ’60s. Gee, I wonder what happened?

  2. those guys are soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo morally superior to me.they need to realize they are nothing more then court jesters

  3. This movie shall go in the dustbin of all other bad movies that America has refused to watch because nobody likes to pay 20 bucks for a ticket for this crap……..After the exposure of Damon and Clooney protecting their buddy Weinstein from all that indictment of being a serial harasser & rapist, methinks that they might want to reconsider releasing this morally superior story, at all….I mean, after this Weinstein disaster, all of Hollywood is now exposed for being FAKE AND DEVIANT, AND THEY GET AWARDS FOR THAT BEHAVIOR WHILE LECTURING THE REST OF US ON HOW HORRIBLE WE ARE EVERY CHANCE THEY GET. They glorify gun violence and rape in their movies and personal lives, while telling us that the public is responsible for mass murder and serial rape!!!! I personally will probably give up shelling out any more on movies in the theatre….I’ll just wait for it to come on pay per view, if it is any good. I have already stopped watching the NFL. Looks like I will be saving more money in the future.

  4. these issues…they continually pop up“.

    The fact is some people don’t want these “issues” to go away.

    The would prefer race and “identity” remain issues forever, providing opportunities for cheap virtue signalling and moral preening, indefinitely.

  5. Racism is so bad that we recently elected a black man to 2 terms as President of the United States of America. Liberals are either lying, delusional or both.

  6. OK, we get it. There was racism in the 1950s. And there are still a few turds on the right (and a lot on the left, too, although no one seems to notice) who view everything through race-colored glasses. Thanks for the civics lesson.
    Not paying to watch it, though.

    1. There is racism today, in the Democrat Party and a large portion of the “black community”, not to mention colleges and universities.

  7. A few years ago, George Clooney moved away from his Italian mansion when Muslims started to “immigrate” too close for comfort. So, he packed his bags and brought his family to England.

    Then the town he stayed in became too Muslim, to he relocated to Los Angeles.

    Is George really the person to lecture Americans about Integration?

    1. Yawn. Do you have anything interesting to share? Why don’t you just remain over at Breitfart and the Gateway Fuckit?

      1. I might take you seriously if you actually said anything or offered even a hint of a counterargument. But, all you are is an anonymous obscenity generator. Your mother must be so proud,

          1. Yes, you were talking to anyone reading the thread. I am sorry you have such a poor understanding of the Internet Stick with me kid, I’ll teach you things.

          2. So, three lame and nonsensical responses without a shred of logic or counter argument culminating in a threat to block me Whoopie do. Am I supposed to feel some regret?

          1. Don’t believe everything you read. Notice the part about “former member of Congress”. Besides, it you actually read the story, you would have learned that this is a story told by Robert Reich, who is a highly partisan Democrat filled with crazy ideas,

  8. The amazing thing is that after this effort by Clooney, he finds it necessary to tell President Trump that he is not among the “Hollywood Elite”, How does Clooney do that? He reminisces on being born in Kentucky and the early jobs he had. In other words the way he denies being a “Hollywood Elite” is to go back in history and ignore the present last few decades. Figures.

  9. “…racism of the 50s…” Mostly fictional and exaggerated. There are two kinds of racism, personal and institutional; the personal form is protected by the First Amendment, and the institutional form was made illegal by the Emancipation Proclamation, although the Democrat Party kept it going until the Sixties in certain parts of the country.

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