So, Is 'The Hunt' Worth All That Controversy?

By
The Hunt, Betty Gilpin
Image via Universal Pictures

In an alternate timeline, we saw The Hunt when it hit theaters in September of last year, said what we had to say, stanned Betty Gilpin and moved on. In our reality, @realDonaldTrump started subtweeting the movie, calling it "racist at the highest level" (racist against...Republicans, I guess?) and claiming it'd been made to "inflame and cause chaos."

Which is when all hell broke loose. In the end, taking into consideration dual real-world mass shootings and the continued stoking of tensions online, Universal Pictures scrapped its release...only to announce earlier this year that The Hunt was on again, with a new release date (March 13) and a troll-y new slogan: "The Most Talked About Movie of the Year Is One That No One's Actually Seen."

Well, ET has now seen The Hunt. So it's time to decide whether all the controversy -- over the purported concept of "liberal elites" hunting "deplorables" for sport -- was warranted or not and break down who, exactly, will be offended by The Hunt.

Will Democrats Be Offended?

We don't imagine so. The hunters are depicted as caviar-eating socialites who are completely out of touch with reality and caricatures of woke culture. They wring their hands over un-PC jokes about AIDS and abortion and have big buzzword debates about appropriation, feminism and general problematic-ness. "Climate change is real," one elite shouts out of the blue as he makes a kill shot. It's all very over the top, even if climate change is, ya know, real.

Will Republicans Be Offended?

Generally, no. The huntees are, for the most part, portrayed as rural right-wingers who hate "snowflakes," love Fox News and own seven guns because it's their constitutional right. Hilary Swank's character calls them "gun-clutching homophobes" and "educationally challenged racists," and while it's largely cartoony in presentation -- especially because the movie lets you know it's honing in on a very specific type of alt-righter -- the anti-immigration sentiments and casual anti-Semitism from this lot may have some people feeling a certain way.

Will Donald Trump Be Offended?

Of course. Trump is never mentioned by name, but the very first scene does refer to the "ratf**ker-in-chief" and makes mention of "deplorables," the Hillary Clinton-coined phrase used to describe certain members of Trump's base. (It's in a text correspondence that sets the events of the film in motion and includes the line from the screenplay that sparked the frontlash: "Nothing better than going out to the Manor and slaughtering a bunch of deplorables.") That said, Trump will never see this movie. But he will surely say it is racist against presidents.

So, Was It Worth the Commotion?

It's important to be sensitive -- or at least conscious -- of what media is being presented about and in correspondence to real-world gun violence, as increasingly difficult as that proves. That aside, the biggest shock upon seeing The Hunt is that it inspired all this fuss in the first place. This is a B horror flick that, sure, plays off our current hyperpolarized political climate, but with notions of left-versus-right that are painted in the broadest of strokes, the worst on both sides as stereotypes engaged in an internet comments section battle to the death. That may have some metaphoric truth, but there's not enough nuance here to pass for a provocative partisan message that would actually cause or inflame chaos. But still go see it for Betty Gilpin!

The Hunt begins March 13.

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