Recently I’ve written about how too much politics is a bad thing. It has its place, to be sure, but if you let it infect every aspect of your life—it’s going to kill you.
We have seen that big time in La La Land. Hollywood has been making people sick with their ongoing tirade against conservatives and the president. They are supposed to produce content that entertains; wonderful diversions from the real-world fights we are daily forced to witness.
But the continued backlash against the 2016 election has made watching everything from late night talk shows to movies exhausting. We all understand that these highly-paid actors, comedians, and performers are largely liberal. Good for them, they get a cookie. Does that mean they have to throw it in our faces (especially if you live in another country that doesn’t give two craps about American politics)?
There is a glimmer of hope, though. It seems like there are a few filmmakers and content producers that understand that politics can be put aside. In the interest of entertaining audiences (and making money) they can keep the liberal tantrums to a minimum and just do what they do best: have some fun.
Sounds impossible? At least one director saw the writing on the wall. And he went the extra mile to make sure his latest film was free of miserable political jabs. That man is the unlikely action auteur, Matthew Vaughn.
The Kingsman franchise has not shied away from controversial material about U.S. presidents in the past — but director Matthew Vaughn felt specific jokes about President Donald Trump were a bridge too far for Kingsman: The Golden Circle…
“We were building a White House Oval Office in the style of Trump Tower. We were making it in all gold and blinging it up. This was in May of 2016 and then I had an inkling. I remember saying to my American production designer, ‘Trump might win, you know? Would this be as funny if Trump won?’... So let’s build a normal Oval Office and scrap the Trump version.’ I think my instinct was right. If you go too far — if movies get political when they’re meant to be fun — then it weighs everything down a bit too much.” (Source: Entertainment Weekly)
Vaughn expresses the kind of common sense that is shockingly absent in Hollywood right now. Notice what he said, “If movies get political when they’re meant to be fun…” Wow, it’s almost as if Vaughn understands what movies are supposed to be about.
Considering his past films, that’s not too surprising. Vaughn is known for action-packed romps with lots of tongue-in-cheek humor. Not the place where an anti-Trump jab belongs. But that hasn’t stopped other creators from throwing those kinds of barbs into similar content, including movies, comic books, and television.
Matthew Vaughn showed significant restraint and wisdom when he decided to pull certain scenes and lines that were aimed at mocking Trump. At the time of his film’s production, Trump was only a candidate running for the Republican nomination. The jokes would have been funny call-backs to his campaign, should he have lost.
When Vaughn considered the possibility that Trump would actually win the election, he realized the jokes would ruffle plenty of movie-goers feathers. He would be the President, after all. Why alienate a large portion of your potential audience in service of a few cheap jokes?
Months ago, there was a rumor that Hollywood was going to adapt to the changing times. That more conservative-themed content was on the horizon. But we’ve yet to see that happen, only more anti-Trump rhetoric. But with Vaughn’s decision to adjust his film, things might be turning.
Believe it or not, there were plenty of people working on the film that refused to believe Trump would win and encouraged him to leave in the content. We saw that all over the left, a kind of arrogance that convinced them Clinton would sweep the election. But Vaughn was smart enough to know anything’s possible.
You have to understand the kind of man that made this call. This director isn’t afraid of controversy. Keep in mind, in his last Kingsman film, he BLEW UP OBAMA’S HEAD. Now, he wasn’t named Obama, and we never saw his face. But in two scenes we see the back of a black American President’s head. He speaks once, sounding remarkably like Number 44. So, when at the end of the film (spoilers, sorry) when his head explodes, you can’t really separate it from the real, at the time, POTUS.
Check out the splendid scene:
I’m sure the British director got plenty of crap for putting that in his film. Did liberals in Hollywood fight against a movie that featured their beloved Barry O’s head blowing up in an orgasm of confetti? I can’t imagine they didn’t. But Vaughn prioritized a fun, outlandish scene in his fun, outlandish movie, over political hectoring.
This time, he’s pulling president jokes, but for largely the same reason. Making a movie fun and accessible is more important than shoving a “message” into it. Yes, Hollywood doesn’t like Trump. WE GET IT. Can we go back to having fun again?
I’ve yet to see Kingsman 2, so I cannot say whether or not his choice to remove the Trump references made it a better film. As a fan of the first movie, I can say I’m optimistic. But we can still learn from Vaughn’s decision. Making content is a series of choices. These things don’t happen by accident. They are the product of deliberate effort on the part of many laborers, filmmakers, actors, and money men.
You can believe Kingsman 2 had a significant budget. Maybe not as big as a Star Wars film, but big enough to make the studio want a return on their investment. There was probably an effort by the Hollywood execs to keep those Trump-bashing moments in the film, to uphold their ongoing campaign to smear conservatives.
For Vaughn to axe them shows a commitment to making a film everyone can enjoy, not just liberals who are looking to sneer at the POTUS. It’s a reminder that, despite politics, we all can—in fact—get along. We can put aside our disputes for two hours, laugh, get scared, and be entertained. Maybe even be inspired.
The real question is, will the rest of the entertainment industry follow Vaughn’s lead? Will they learn that nasty, insipid jabs at the leader of the free world will only breed contempt? That, given time, audiences just won’t’ show up?
I’m hoping so. But I won’t be holding my breath.