After days of seeming to focus on comforting mass-shooting victims, pushing expanded background checks for gun purchases, lashing out at political nemeses, and making fun of Fox host Shepard Smith, President Trump took time out of his busy Friday to highlight yet another personal grievance: an upcoming “Racist” movie from “Liberal Hollywood,” the satirical point of which the president couldn’t understand or seemingly didn’t care to grasp.
“Hollywood, I don't call them the elites,” Trump complained to reporters at the White House on Friday. “I think the elites are people they go after in many cases, but Hollywood is really terrible. You're talking about racists? Hollywood is racist.”
He added, “What they’re doing with the kind of movies they're putting out, it's actually very dangerous for our country. What Hollywood is doing is a tremendous disservice to our country.”
Later, he posted to Twitter, “Liberal Hollywood is Racist at the highest level, and with great Anger and Hate!” and that “the movie coming out” is made to “inflame and cause chaos. They create their own violence, and then try to blame others.”
Though he did not name the movie, Trump was almost certainly referring to The Hunt, an upcoming, blood-soaked satire starring Hilary Swank, Betty Gilpin, Ike Barinholtz, and Emma Roberts, and produced by Jason Blum. The thriller takes place at “the manor,” where wealthy, liberal elites hunt and kill for sport a group of political “deplorables” who’ve been captured as prey. On Tuesday, The Hollywood Reporter published a story revealing that The Hunt features “blue-state characters” selecting their targets based on whether they expressed anti-abortion opinions or uttered the N-word on Twitter.
“‘War is war,’ says one character after shoving a stiletto heel through the eye of a denim-clad hillbilly,” THR reported.
It remains unclear what, exactly, Trump thinks is “racist” about this movie.
The satirical premise of the film appeared to turn on lampooning well-off, angry liberals, portraying them as villainous psychos and the abducted right-wingers as victims in a horror scenario.
The nuance seemed lost on the president, whose annoyance at the picture had been brewing for days. Before his outbursts on Friday, Trump had privately complained in the White House about “the movie” made “by people who hate Trump,” according to an administration official who had heard the president make the comment this week. The official said that at the time, they had no idea what Trump was talking about, but assumed it was about something the president had seen on TV.
Starting with The Ingraham Angle—hosted by Trump’s close friend Laura Ingraham—on Wednesday evening, the movie has been the focus of at least 21 segments on Fox News and Fox Business Network as of Friday afternoon. (This counts late-night reruns of certain programs.)
The segments have generally portrayed the upcoming movie in an extremely negative light, especially on the president’s favorite opinion shows.
For instance, during Thursday night’s broadcast of Lou Dobbs Tonight, host and top informal adviser to the president Lou Dobbs described the film as a “sick, twisted new movie,” adding that the prospect of “globalist elites hunting deplorables sounds a little too real.” His guest, Fox News contributor and close Trump ally Robert Jeffress, further noted that this “revealed the hypocrisy of the left” and if the movie “was about conservatives killing liberals, you would see an outrage on the left.”
On Friday evening, The Daily Beast followed up with Pastor Robert Jeffress, asking what he thought of the reported premise of conservatives actually being the victims and protagonists, and the bloodthirsty liberals being the bad guys. The Dallas megachurch pastor replied that he hasn’t seen the film and “was reacting to a description that was given to me.” He continued that “anything that creates divisiveness in our country is not good at this particular time in our nation’s history,” and said movies “should not be glorifying violence in any way,” whether Trump-related or otherwise.
(As a contrast, when asked about Kingsman, a 2014 spy comedy in which—spoiler alert—the heroes blow up President Barack Obama’s head, and how that film didn’t provoke any serious backlash among Democrats, Jeffress said if he had known about that in 2014, he would’ve “spoken out against” that movie, just as he has The Hunt.)
The following hour on Thursday, on FBN’s Trish Regan Primetime, far-right Fox contributor Todd Starnes said that the “truth of the matter is deplorables have been hunted by the left and Hollywood for a long time,” adding that the plot of the film is right “out of the DNC playbook when it comes to attacking Trump supporters.”
During Friday’s Fox & Friends First, meanwhile, former Home Improvement actor Zachary Ty Bryan used The Hunt to take aim at Hollywood liberals and, for some reason, the Mueller investigation.
“In the wake of these shootings, in general, promoting political violence is always dangerous if you ask me,” he said. “Especially in the political climate we are in. What I'm learning is basically what they are accusing conservatives of doing they are doing.”
“Whether it goes back to the Russian probe, we see celebrities—starting with Kathy Griffin and the Trump severed head. Snoop Dogg, assassinating the president in his music video, Madonna saying she wanted to blow up the White House,” he added. “They say we are divided and we need unity but you don't see it coming out of Hollywood. Do as I say, not as I do.”
The president, during his week of trying to play the role of the nation’s consoler-in-chief, took notice, and as of Friday is now targeting the film from his White House perch.