Should conservatives want The Hunt to hit theaters?

The hunt is over before it even began.

Universal Pictures has canceled the theatrical release of its summertime bloodfest The Hunt in response to — twist ending! — conservative outrage.

Fed up with the Left's cancel culture, conservatives adopted the same stratagem to brief against a major motion picture.  The message from right to Left: you boycott SoulCycle, we'll boycott Hollywood.

The man leading the sally against the objectionable flick?  Noted Hollywood star holder and 45th president of the United States Donald J. Trump.  "The movie coming out is made in order to inflame and cause chaos.  They create their own violence, and then try to blame others.  They are the true Racists, and are very bad for our Country!" Trump tweeted, in his sui generis style.

With so much pushback, you may be asking yourself, What's all the ferment about?  Partisan bickering, of course!  The Hunt, before getting effectively pulped, was premised on a kind of Hunger Games–esque contest of survival between elites and provincials.  The original title was reportedly "Red State vs. Blue State," which gave no ambiguity to the political dimension of the conflict. 

The blues control the deathly agon, forcing the decerebrated deplorables to fight for their life.  The Hollywood Reporter synopsizes: "The blue-state characters — some equally adept with firearms — explain that they picked their targets because they expressed anti-choice positions or used the N-word on Twitter.  'War is war,' says one character after shoving a stiletto heel through the eye of a denim-clad hillbilly."

Ah, yes, Jimmy Choo versus Wrangler — our real political divide.

Conservatives were unsurprisingly nonplussed at being portrayed as pawns in liberal murder porn.  But they weren't the only critics.  Progressives weren't thrilled about the movie's fetishization of gun violence so soon after two mass shootings.  Even some Universal executives were dubitative about the divisive premise.  A filmmaker close to the studio asked, "In light of the horrific [recent shootings], is this not the most craven, irresponsible, dangerous exploitation?"

A better question to ask might be, is Hollywood really Hollywood without irresponsible and dangerous exploitation?  Harvey Weinstein would like a word.

Not everyone on the right is pleased to see The Hunt shelved.  Kyle Smith of National Review writes that conservatives "ought to make it clear that we are not only not offended by the premise of [the movie], we're delighted."  The anonymous wag Allahpundit says it's "dishonesty" to call The Hunt "anti-populist or anti-deplorable."

Both are fair points.  The movie isn't explicitly anti-conservative; the sadistic toffs are the bad guys.  The Hunt may be the first major film since Forrest Gump where blinkered culchies are the good guys.

Shouldn't the right, then, embrace it?

No, not necessarily, unless you view civil war as a necessary antidote to our current political distemper.  Partisan acrimony is only getting worse, with socialists shooting up ballfields and fisticuffs outside Trump rallies.  Tempers aren't going to be cooled by the cinemization of our domestic cold war.  If anything, highlighting the very real contempt urban dwellers have for hayseeds enlarges the darkening gorge between red and blue.

I'm hardly doleful to see The Hunt go unreleased (for now).  Still, some conservatives are tut-tutting the right's rush to reproach the film before opening night.  Sonny Bunch says judging the movie before seeing it is "anti-art."  I suppose, by his definition, that passing on watching an endless loop of a papillon doing his business is also anti-art.  If that's the case, call me a Jacobin.  Or, better, someone with a modicum of standards.

Conservatives don't help themselves by taking the libertarian position on art, dumping Pietà and "Piss Christ" into the same bucket of regard.  Ars Gratia Artis is cultural nihilism when it isn't balanced with an objective standard, or even decency.  Art doesn't exist when, as Milan Kundera wrote, there is "no longer any difference between sublime and squalid, angel and fly."

So, spare me the entreaties to remain neutral on another slam-bang shoot-'em-up.  If you want a reminder of liberalism's sniffy disdain for the hinterlands, watch MSNBC.  No need to fork over $20 for a ticket, plus $10 for popcorn, to see it reified on the big screen.  It's my hope that The Hunt remains stored, unlabeled, on a Universal backlot, gathering dust until decomposition takes its course.

The hunt is over before it even began.

Universal Pictures has canceled the theatrical release of its summertime bloodfest The Hunt in response to — twist ending! — conservative outrage.

Fed up with the Left's cancel culture, conservatives adopted the same stratagem to brief against a major motion picture.  The message from right to Left: you boycott SoulCycle, we'll boycott Hollywood.

The man leading the sally against the objectionable flick?  Noted Hollywood star holder and 45th president of the United States Donald J. Trump.  "The movie coming out is made in order to inflame and cause chaos.  They create their own violence, and then try to blame others.  They are the true Racists, and are very bad for our Country!" Trump tweeted, in his sui generis style.

With so much pushback, you may be asking yourself, What's all the ferment about?  Partisan bickering, of course!  The Hunt, before getting effectively pulped, was premised on a kind of Hunger Games–esque contest of survival between elites and provincials.  The original title was reportedly "Red State vs. Blue State," which gave no ambiguity to the political dimension of the conflict. 

The blues control the deathly agon, forcing the decerebrated deplorables to fight for their life.  The Hollywood Reporter synopsizes: "The blue-state characters — some equally adept with firearms — explain that they picked their targets because they expressed anti-choice positions or used the N-word on Twitter.  'War is war,' says one character after shoving a stiletto heel through the eye of a denim-clad hillbilly."

Ah, yes, Jimmy Choo versus Wrangler — our real political divide.

Conservatives were unsurprisingly nonplussed at being portrayed as pawns in liberal murder porn.  But they weren't the only critics.  Progressives weren't thrilled about the movie's fetishization of gun violence so soon after two mass shootings.  Even some Universal executives were dubitative about the divisive premise.  A filmmaker close to the studio asked, "In light of the horrific [recent shootings], is this not the most craven, irresponsible, dangerous exploitation?"

A better question to ask might be, is Hollywood really Hollywood without irresponsible and dangerous exploitation?  Harvey Weinstein would like a word.

Not everyone on the right is pleased to see The Hunt shelved.  Kyle Smith of National Review writes that conservatives "ought to make it clear that we are not only not offended by the premise of [the movie], we're delighted."  The anonymous wag Allahpundit says it's "dishonesty" to call The Hunt "anti-populist or anti-deplorable."

Both are fair points.  The movie isn't explicitly anti-conservative; the sadistic toffs are the bad guys.  The Hunt may be the first major film since Forrest Gump where blinkered culchies are the good guys.

Shouldn't the right, then, embrace it?

No, not necessarily, unless you view civil war as a necessary antidote to our current political distemper.  Partisan acrimony is only getting worse, with socialists shooting up ballfields and fisticuffs outside Trump rallies.  Tempers aren't going to be cooled by the cinemization of our domestic cold war.  If anything, highlighting the very real contempt urban dwellers have for hayseeds enlarges the darkening gorge between red and blue.

I'm hardly doleful to see The Hunt go unreleased (for now).  Still, some conservatives are tut-tutting the right's rush to reproach the film before opening night.  Sonny Bunch says judging the movie before seeing it is "anti-art."  I suppose, by his definition, that passing on watching an endless loop of a papillon doing his business is also anti-art.  If that's the case, call me a Jacobin.  Or, better, someone with a modicum of standards.

Conservatives don't help themselves by taking the libertarian position on art, dumping Pietà and "Piss Christ" into the same bucket of regard.  Ars Gratia Artis is cultural nihilism when it isn't balanced with an objective standard, or even decency.  Art doesn't exist when, as Milan Kundera wrote, there is "no longer any difference between sublime and squalid, angel and fly."

So, spare me the entreaties to remain neutral on another slam-bang shoot-'em-up.  If you want a reminder of liberalism's sniffy disdain for the hinterlands, watch MSNBC.  No need to fork over $20 for a ticket, plus $10 for popcorn, to see it reified on the big screen.  It's my hope that The Hunt remains stored, unlabeled, on a Universal backlot, gathering dust until decomposition takes its course.