Frankly, Hollywood Doesn't Give a Damn About 'Black Lives Matter'

Mel Gibson Force of Nature
Force of Nature comes out tomorrow. The question is WHY?!

There are a lot of questions we have about Force of Nature. Namely why it was released now and who is responsible. 

The search for answers leads to some inconvenient truths about the entertainment industry. Because while we've seen plenty of shows pulling blackface episodes and plenty of corporate statements about the Black Lives Matter movement, at the end of the day most of these businesses are out to make a buck and to quote another recently censored film... they don't give a damn. 

But let's get one thing out of the way first: 

I'm not advocating for censorship. American cinema is littered with important examples of filmmaking that are critical to the medium's development, and also extremely dated in their world views. 

The first sync-sound movie was The Jazz Singer, it is about a man in blackface. The first true epic feature was The Birth of a Nation, a celebration of the KKK. You can't talk about cinema in this country without addressing racism, just like you can't talk about this country at all without addressing racism. 

The Birth of a Nation
Hollywood's roots are racist AF

Erasing these things is akin to lying. The truth must be known and seen in a greater context. 

But as businesses and individuals around Hollywood 'talk the talk' these days, it's amazing that the ones associated with Force of Nature didn't also walk the walk. 

This isn't about censorship. It's about hypocrisy. It's about calling bullshit. 

So let's start with the most obvious thing about Force of Nature...

Mel Gibson. Are you kidding me?

Mel Gibson is an incredibly successful filmmaker and actor.

It's also shocking to see that anyone will still work with him. 

To match every cinematic achievement, the man has an equally disturbing and unquestionably intolerant recorded rant or incident in his personal life. Just recently Winona Ryder reminded us all that Mel Gibson is just flat out awful

Gibson is openly racist, sexist, and antisemitic. But hey, Braveheart is a pretty darn good movie. 

Part of the complicated nature of humanity and art is that such things can coexist. Mel Gibson can be good at some things while also being completely disgusting.

It's because he has talent that major artists and production companies in the industry continue to work with him. But you still always scratch your head a little. 

Not because Gibson isn't talented. But because "Hollywood" is supposedly so liberal and social justice based. If cancel culture, or consequence culture, really exists... how is Mel Gibson still not canceled? 

But that still only scratches the surface on  Force of Nature, which is offensive and poorly timed even beyond the fact that it stars an actual piece of shit.

Force of Nature's problems don't end with Mel

A number of outlets are already writing about how badly timed this release is, and how skewed it's whole world view seems to be. It's been called 'crazy racist' by the Daily Beast, with Digital Spy adding "this is not an okay movie."

The movie crosses several lines. Firstly, it's a B movie fictionalization of a hurricane 5 in Puerto Rico- something that actually happened and had devastating consequences. To add insult to injury the movie is about white heroic cops fighting the evil Puerto Ricans. 

"Unholy is the best way to describe sitting through 91 minutes of Mel Gibson and Emile Hirsch as rugged shoot-first, ask-questions-later cops gunning down Hispanic villains, and rescuing non-Puerto Rican men and women, set against a stormy background meant to recall a real-life disaster." - The Daily Beast.

There is a lot of problematic white-savior business going on here, plus a really poorly timed defensive position on police who use excessive force.  

Ok, so the movie is badly timed, has some out of date political and social views, and stars a guy who thinks the Holocaust isn't real and uses racial slurs constantly. It's just one B movie in a world of content, why harp on it? 

Look at the people who made it

Change doesn't come from removing an episode of The Golden Girls where they put masks on and it looked like blackface. That's fine, but change comes from actions like defunding the police, for example. Or maybe if you're just talking about the stories you choose to tell... telling ones that don't obviously support a corrupt form of law enforcement. 

It's time we hold companies responsible. Not just individuals. There is a long list of companies associated with Force of Nature

It was distributed in the US by Lionsgate and here is a list of the associated production companies: 

  • Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films (EFO Films) 
  • FON Film Production 
  • Force of Nature Film 
  • Grindstone Entertainment Group 
  • Ingenious 
  • Pimienta 
  • River Bay Films
  • SSS Entertainment 
  • Way Down East Entertainment 
  • Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Some of these were formed for this film, and the film cost a reported $23 Million. 

Lionsgate is not a small company, they are a major player. They also recently put out  statements regarding Black Lives Matter but also handed control over their social media channels to Christopher Rentz and Gerald Bush, the filmmakers behind the Lionsgate produced Antebellum. There is no doubt a lot of good being done here. 

But that's what ultimately brings us back to this issue. Lionsgate bringing this backward Mel Gibson B movie Force of Nature to audiences around the United States, calls into question the sincerity and intent behind them also bringing us Antebellum, and having a voice in the BLM movement. 

The right-hand doesn't know what the left-hand is doing (no political spectrum pun intended). But also on a larger level, the entity doesn't care. It's a massive entertainment company interested in creating content people will watch and pay for. All kinds of people. 

Lionsgate cares about BLM up to a point. It was a great way to market a film. It was also a good cause to support. But that was no reason NOT to release a movie that is antithetical to the cause entirely. 

Shouldn't it be? Shouldn't we hold Lionsgate accountable if it wants to claim it cares? 

Or... should we just accept that Lionsgate is going to pander to the right and the left with movies that cover 'both sides.' Whatever we think, let's be real about what's going on. 

We need to call bullshit on companies that say one thing and do another unless they own that. At the same time,  we also need to accept that companies don't have morals and ethics. Hollywood, despite the headline of this piece, does not have a hive mind. It's a mess of people with varying opinions trying to make a living. There is no clear agenda outside of keeping jobs and making money. 

We can choose to expect a lot less of Hollywood or a lot more. That's up to each of us as individuals. It's also, of course, problematic for some of us to call out a massive company for hypocrisy if we are trying to maybe one day work for them. I am not, so I don't care.

Hollywood can also be governed by fear of offending the person who might be your next boss or collaborator. But the reality I've observed is that many of the people working at any company today will be somewhere else in 5 years, certainly in 10. This is not a town of longevity. Trust me. I've been here for a long time. 

I'd implore you as a filmmaker to use your voice, but also to call out hypocrisy when you see it. Promote ideals you value in the stories you tell, the people you hire, and the companies you work with. These may seem like complicated times but they are actually quite simple. Stand up for things that matter to you, and don't pay empty lip service. 

If there is one other consistent quality around this industry it's people saying things they don't mean and won't follow through on. Buck the trend, and ask that of your peers. Otherwise, change will never happen.

Your Comment

47 Comments

This site has become a joke: politics, hypocrisy, rhetoric, all this bullshit are an insult to the intelligence. This is so sad, art should unite people not unleash each other, I’m out, last click you will ever get from me, you went beyond decency.

June 29, 2020 at 6:24PM

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Bye Marco, we’ll miss you!

June 29, 2020 at 8:10PM, Edited June 29, 8:37PM

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geoff webb
Director, Producer, DOP, Editor
329

Bye.

June 30, 2020 at 5:50AM

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George Edelman
Editor-in-Chief
Producer and Screenwriter

Yup. It is ridiculous how woke this site has become.

June 30, 2020 at 12:52PM

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Oh wow, a pro black lives matter article is “beyond decency”. No one on this site will miss your presence, have fun on Parler.

July 1, 2020 at 5:46PM

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seriously George ... you are a douche ..... do black lives really matter ? ...maybe maybe not ..... lets ask the folks in Chicago ... statistics suggest not so much ... real change, which is needed, is much more difficult than these bull shit articles .. if you are serious... step the fuck up ...

June 29, 2020 at 9:33PM

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Thanks for the tips Michael.

June 30, 2020 at 5:50AM

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George Edelman
Editor-in-Chief
Producer and Screenwriter

Did he really just say "maybe maybe not"? hahaha what an awful person!

June 30, 2020 at 10:42AM, Edited June 30, 10:42AM

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bp
518

Black Lives Matter Michael. There’s a certain type of person who equates that statement of continued systematic injustice to Chicago’s Southside or other poverty stricken neighborhoods in America. An area suffering from the very same systemic repression than has giving rise to poverty and crime in African American neighborhoods. That statement equates to “if you want your black lives to matter in America then some black people shouldn’t be criminals, and all injustices metted on you by racists will stop”.

July 1, 2020 at 2:26PM

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"Cancel culture isn't real"

Writes an article trying to get a move he doesn't like cancelled.

Not only is it real, it's a horrid symptom of a culture gone mad, and a people who can no longer function as adults.

BTW, cancel culture has nothing to do with whether its targets are always successful (although, increasingly, they are), it's a mindset. It's a desire to to real harm in response to a perceived harm.

Or sometimes it's purely an exercise of power for the shear enjoyment of it.

June 29, 2020 at 10:23PM, Edited June 29, 10:28PM

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Gerard- I’m not trying to cancel a movie. I said I don’t believe in censorship. I’m glad the movie came out in a weird way so we can see the people behind it for what they are and not what they claim to be.

June 30, 2020 at 5:49AM

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George Edelman
Editor-in-Chief
Producer and Screenwriter

Cancel Culture is real and people are starting to get sick of it.

July 1, 2020 at 2:52PM

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Cancel culture is simply a culture of calling out fake, hypocritical and pretentious people, which Is just what George’s article is about. The Privileged can’t be bothered about the lives and welfare of others. People should be treated equally regardless of the color of their skin. Those who refuse that should be At least bold in their stance or be canceled for pretentious. Simple as that.
For some one to be sick of people of color in America fighting for equality, especially in the film and media industry, an industry that shapes the cultural values of most Americans, is actually a sick person.

July 2, 2020 at 2:04AM, Edited July 2, 2:06AM

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No cancel culture is a bunch of people who if they don't get their way they whine about things. That is what children do. Adults, if they do not agree with something they move on.

July 2, 2020 at 8:38AM

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Hi George,

Thank you for your article. What's your take on the recent Chris Hemsworth movie 'Extraction'? It was a very interesting movie where Chris's character brutally kills dozens of local Indian and Bangladeshi police officers who all just happen to be evil. I wonder how it would be interpreted if Bollywood put out a movie with Aamir Khan gunning down dozens of LAPD or NYPD officers.

Also what was your take on criticially acclaimed films such as 'The Hurt Locker' or '300'? Would you consider these movies racist?

Would also be interested to hear what you think about the continued portrayal of Muslim Males as either abusers, terrorists or homosexuals who are afraid to come out of the closet because their abuser male fathers are terrorists and will beat them?

It's strange, I've seen hundreds of films with protagonists and heroes of African descent, but the only two films/series in recent memory where a male muslim character has been portrayed in a positive light were The Raid and Into the Night, both of which are foreign productions.

Are people of African descent REALLY that under-represented and poorly portrayed in films compared to Asian characters? What about Native Americans? When are they getting their due on film?

June 30, 2020 at 2:11AM, Edited June 30, 2:12AM

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You make some excellent points Ameer!

June 30, 2020 at 4:05AM, Edited June 30, 4:10AM

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K W
769

This is beautifully said. I agree with your sentiment. Like I said towards the beginning, Hollywood has a history with racism and its on individuals to be the change they want to see. Those portrayals of various people are really troubling and there is an imbalance. It would be nice to see more counterpoints. Thanks for your addition to this.

June 30, 2020 at 5:48AM

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George Edelman
Editor-in-Chief
Producer and Screenwriter

No problem George. I do agree, we need to be the change we want to see, hence why I’m trying to make it in the film business and tell the stories of people who are often relegated to stereotypes. I have to say though, peoples of African descent are in my opinion far better represented than other minorities.

June 30, 2020 at 7:55AM

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I understand your point about other non-white groups in the US but let's not turn this situation into the Discrimination Olympics. Black Americans have experienced a particular racist history in our own country that continues, to a certain extent, to this day. Black Americans have not only had to deal with lack of representation but also with consistent, persistent, negative, stereotypical representations that have contributed to the negative perception of all Black people. Native Americans and Asians don't matter less than Blacks, they simply have a different history and fewer numbers than Blacks. And they should be getting their due. As Blacks fight for more representation, the representation for other marginalized groups will grow, too. A rising tide lifts all boats.

June 30, 2020 at 11:09AM

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I’m just not sure that people of African descent ARE actually that under represented in the media?

I can point to plenty of celebrities, directors, talk show hosts etc.

June 30, 2020 at 12:31PM

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You make excellent points, but please clarify, are saying Muslim brothers or Middle Easterners? 30% of people of African Descent worldwide are Muslim. I don’t think you mean the religion. But I agree and support your statement. We need more positive or balanced reputations on our screens. It’s very important because the fact are facts, studies have shown systemic negative portrayals of cultures on film have strong influence on Americans stereotyping others.

July 1, 2020 at 2:33PM

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> Mel Gibson is an incredibly successful filmmaker and actor. It's also shocking to see that anyone will still work with him.

Perhaps they are mature adults, that care how good he is as a filmmaker and actor, (which is the capacity that they work with him as anyway), and not what his political opinions and personal views are?

It's called being professional.

And why should Hollywood "care" about BLM? Hollywood is an industry, industries produce what they produce, they're not there to care or give us their political wisdom.

June 30, 2020 at 4:19AM

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I actually agree Jackie and I think the article agrees as well. The problem is when companies in the industry claim otherwise. You see I didn’t tell Lionsgate they should care about BLM or anything else. They told US they cared about it. I’m pointing out the hypocrisy. Let’s just hold everyone accountable.

June 30, 2020 at 5:52AM

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George Edelman
Editor-in-Chief
Producer and Screenwriter

Stop with this woke SJW bullshit. It's a piece of art, get over it.

June 30, 2020 at 7:58AM, Edited June 30, 7:59AM

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Chris Stanley
Cinematographer
61

But it’s not just a piece of art. It’s a piece of art depicting a whole people’s as incompetent corrupt criminals. Plus it’s written to portray a one race as meta-human heros.

July 1, 2020 at 2:37PM

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Exactly. Remember when this site only talked about film making and film gear. Now it is like MTV = Music Television in Name Only. Now you have to watch a bunch of reality shows with stupid people that make terrible life decisions and get celebrated for it or a lot of dumb game shows. That is what this site is starting to become.

July 1, 2020 at 2:56PM

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This comment is beyond parody.

July 3, 2020 at 1:59PM

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Why do people get so triggered anytime they are addressed with race and racism from the past. It is almost like they feel guilty. Great article!

June 30, 2020 at 8:03AM

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Walter Wallace
YouTuber
1671

My mother always told be that she would rather someone call her the N word in her face than someone who hiding their intentions behind a smile. Same for me. I hope this makes sense. Peace, love, and justice to all. We have a very powerful artistic platform. Everyone must learn from the past (birth of a nation) to see what actions and intentions that film birthed... Hate. If this article triggers you, then you have to learn to unlearn, and learn again. And it's okay. Times are changing... Embrace each other love.

June 30, 2020 at 10:08AM

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quinton cameron
Director / Writer
19

Hand-wringing articles like this validated the directors decision to make this film.

If you hate that this movie is being released, "Dragged Across Concrete" will make you blow a gasket.

June 30, 2020 at 11:20AM

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Marc B
Shooter & Editor
1059

Great points George. And the optics are seriously questionable. Time will tell if there is backlash on hollywood. Seems like the public is reacting pretty efficiently these days. Thanks for the article.

June 30, 2020 at 11:40AM

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Dan Kim
Producer
74

He is Mad Max Rockantansky and Martin Riggs. That is why

June 30, 2020 at 12:53PM

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I appreciate your article and the points it's making, there's a good analysis of the challenges of dealing with films that have racist content from other time periods but that are still historically important and that should be viewed in context. Likewise, I think you make a great point about holding companies responsible when it comes to inconsistent messaging and cash grabs when it comes to social causes...but your headline is EXTREMELY sensationalist and indicates that you are part of the problem. When you write off an entire industry of people, including black and other minority filmmakers, you are participating in the kinds of generalizations that lead to racism to begin with. Again, your article is certainly more measured when it comes to the issue at hand, but when you use such hyperbolic language in your title as clickbait then how are you any different from Lionsgate?

June 30, 2020 at 2:39PM

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Force of Nature comes out tomorrow. The question is WHY?!

July 1, 2020 at 12:49AM

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Thợ sửa điện tử điện lạnh
Thợ sửa điện tử điện lạnh | Sửa tủ lạnh, điều hoà, máy giặt
86

George Edelman called Mel Gibson "an actual piece of shit," but claims Mel Gibson is the intolerant one. Well, last time I checked, Mel Gibson wasn't writing petty articles spreading lies about people, like George here. He calls Mel "openly racist," but with no evidence. Meanwhile, Mel is making movies with all those brown people, gay people, and Jewish people he allegedly hates, inspiring millions of people and bring joy to the world. The real evidence speaks for itself.

I'm going to see Force of Nature in the theater, as I do all of Mel Gibson's films, and I will judge it for myself.

July 1, 2020 at 6:55AM

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Sam Hays
Screenwriter, Editor, Actor, Grip, Director
28

correction: *bringing* joy

July 1, 2020 at 11:18AM

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Sam Hays
Screenwriter, Editor, Actor, Grip, Director
28

It's 11:33 my time and I've seen 253,465,657,853 articles addressing race.
Art is art. There are infinite forms.
We are dancing around nuance and history meanwhile slavery exists loudly around the world. However, 0 articles about that

July 1, 2020 at 9:36AM

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Aaron Harper
Rental House Manager
369

I this for real? This movie has nothing to do with BLM.

Youŕe asking why Mel Gibson isnt cancelled and calling him a piece of shit? We all know a world where blacklisting is okay is a terrible world.

Lets look at what is real.
A huge number of movies have been delayed because of a pandemic, film studios are loosing money, a bunch of movies that were going to be released in theaters have been pushed (some to VOD), very soon a few big films (new releases) will be dominating the theaters, not leaving room for a smaller film like this to have much of a chance making its money.

Are everyone going to pause everything, let their work fall into the trash bin to respect a movement? You should move out of that little bubble of hate you live inside George, this article is even more pathetic than what this movie looks like.

Ive learned, ive been truly inspired by NoFilmSchool for many years now, and now what is this? Please dont hire moron writers like George Edelman to cook up quick and stupid hit-pieces like these, youŕe better than this. You will stop being something special to people and just become another one of those shitpost movie news sites. Its important to remember why you exist, I doubt this type of article is why this wonderful site came to be.

Yours truly, aspiring filmmaker

July 1, 2020 at 2:53PM

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Eh, I agree with having a critical response to a film and engaging with it--and in so doing questioning it's cultural appropriateness--but putting down a list of production companies and saying "let's hold them accountable" feels like some kind of weird doxxing. The marketplace will hold them accountable--if our culture has really changed than it will be reflected in how this film is received by the public. We can't dictate that change by forcing art to TELL people how they should change. That starts verging on lecturing and moralizing. If this film does poorly because people are no longer interested in these stories, than it's unlikely these companies will continue to fund these types of film. I think engaging critically with work that is out in the world is fine and good, but trying to dictate what can or can't be made is dangerous territory. "Promote ideals you value in the stories you tell..." is well and good but sometimes the human experience veers outside the lines of our ideals. There are bad people in the world, always have been and always will be. Shutting ourselves off from telling stories that involve or even center around bad people does a disservice to what art is capable of achieving. There is greater value in allowing this film in the world and for those who choose to engage with it, allowing them to use it as a tool for reflection and analysis of their response to it as a means to understand their own feelings around these issues better.

If all we ever saw were utopian visions of the world depicted on screen, where would be the reflection of the actual world by which we might assess ourselves? It's like looking at the world through a Snapchat filter--it looks good, maybe it feels good, but it's just shielding us from ugly truths that don't go away just because we don't look at them. There are racist people in the world and saying we can't depict racist action doesn't make them go away. If anything, it steals a tool away that can help to illuminate that fact and bring about important self-reflection that leads to deep change for those open to the experience.

July 1, 2020 at 8:50PM

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great posting

July 1, 2020 at 10:36PM

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Hafiz Shahid
Social Media Marketing
64

Why should anyone care about " Black Lives Matter"? This is a shadow organization which embraces Marxist ideation and could care less about the welfare of Blacks in America today. In regard to the article many movies were made in the past, which when viewed under the lens of today, are racist but at the time, due to ignorance and not malice, were acceptable to the masses. Fortunately we are more enlightened today but such transitions do, unfortunately, take time

July 2, 2020 at 10:35AM

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Yawn.

July 2, 2020 at 5:16PM

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Great No Film school is now cnn. So let me get this straight... Good cops killing bad guys is now frowned upon?,

I bet this guy who wrote this article would literally give a rave review about a movie about bad cops being killed by civilians.... shit article, cancel culture is the first steps towards the loss of free speech. Yes you said you are not into cancel culture, but your against good cops killing bad guys in "MOVIES".... U need some chamomile tea and a new career.

July 2, 2020 at 8:03PM

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U may as well throw Braveheart under the bus, it was about the English squashing the Scottish.... History is horrible...... there is also plenty of horrible in this world today.... Please please, don't damage the freedom for film makers to create without thinking about political messages.

July 2, 2020 at 8:06PM

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I don’t think slamming Mel Gibson for racist comments made over 10 years ago benefits the wider issue. What he said back then was terrible, but dredging it back up again doesn’t contribute to the current movement. He’s apologised several times, it doesn’t make it disappear but at least he’s tried to reconcile and he shouldn't be the point of contention now.

July 3, 2020 at 3:06AM, Edited July 3, 3:18AM

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... Fahrenheit 451 here we come ...

July 6, 2020 at 12:08AM

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First, you are probably right about all you’ve written here. But, there are questions and comments that remain:

1. Based solely on the trailer, it’s clear the movie seems to be about “good” white people vs “bad” people of color. But, how do we know that paradigm is consistent throughout? It may very well be the case. But, hard to condemn without seeing it.

2. Mel Gibson has said a lot of horrible shit. But, at what point do we allow a person to change and atone? Our culture is always very quick condemn, but rarely willing to give a person the chance to change for the better. I’m not saying Mel Gibson has changed. I’m asking when do we allow a person to do so, and accept that they have?

3. Hollywood isn’t a business. It’s part of a larger industry. It’s also an obsolete part of the industry in the eyes of thoughtful people, because Hollywood films are not a representation of our culture, and has struggled to change with the times. Superhero schlock and pointless action flicks don’t exist to the change the world — even when they masquerade as if they do.

4. The idea that “Hollywood” doesn’t care about #blacklivesmatter is kind of ridiculous. What you mean is: Hollywood *Studios* don’t care about #blacklivesmatter. Individual actors, directors, and crew that make up Hollywood, I’m sure, care greatly about the movement, and would take umbrage with your comment.

5. I think the greater point here is to stop giving a shit about what Hollywood studios produce. Stop writing about it. They are an ever-shrinking appendage of a much larger body of filmmaking. We all know they suck, we all know its films tend to have a narrow world-view, and that they are an inaccurate (at best) reflection of our culture.

6. Instead, how about an official article series that brings to your readers interviews with filmmakers of color? Or articles that suggest, discuss, and analyze films that *try* to be a reflection of our culture? I’d rather read articles that expose me to new voices, or unheard voices, instead of articles that preach the obvious.

7. Some of the commenters on this thread have implied, or outright questioned, the validity of #blacklivesmatter. Some have referred to being “woke” as if it were a bad thing. To those commenters: You need to listen better. Stop being defensive and just listen. If you can’t do that, and find yourself arguing against #blacklivesmatter, and condemning people for wanting to change, you’re just another thoughtless part of the problem.

July 6, 2020 at 12:11PM

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Jeff Payne
Writer/Director
407