The following article is an opinion piece.

Over the weekend, change.org posted a petition to halt the release of a new horror movie.  The movie is titled “Del Playa” and the reason for the petition is that the plot, according to descriptions and the trailer, closely resembles the real-life shooting on the University of California Santa Barbara campus 18 months ago.

On May 23, 2014, Santa Barbara City College dropout Elliot Rodger posted a video on Youtube titled “Elliot Rodger’s Retribution,” which described his rage against women for sexually rejecting him, as well as men who had more successful romantic lives.  In the video, Rodger detailed his planned attack: go into the most popular sorority house on campus and “slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up, blond slut [he] [saw] inside there.”  After he uploaded the video, he emailed a 107,000-word document titled “My Twisted World” to several family members and acquaintances, which was a detailed, autobiographical manifesto outlining his hatred towards women, racial minorities, interracial couples, and his ultimate attack on the UCSB student body, which he called “My War on Women.”

Rodger then murdered six people and wounded fourteen others before turning his gun on himself, robbing his victims and their families any chance of seeing justice for his actions.

In a press release for the movie, the production company Berger Bros Entertainment is quoted saying “In less than one year from the inception of the idea to the answered print, we are proud to present to the world the trailer and poster for our horror film, Del Playa.”  Such a statement strongly suggests that the writer and directer of this film, Shaun Hart, came up with the idea for “Del Playa” shortly after Elliot Rodger’s shooting spree.  While it’s true that art imitates life, many people, myself included, believe that this is a gross lack of judgement and tact on Hart and Berger Bros Entertainment’s part.

After the petition garnered media attention from numerous news and entertainment sites, Hart released the following statement: “First and foremost, I would like to publicly apologize to everyone who has been offended in any way by our making of this film. It was never our intent to monopolize on the tragic shootings in Isla Vista that took place last year. While I do admit there is the connection of Santa Barbara, this film is not about Elliot Rodger. The fictional character in the film is not meant to portray anyone in particular. It is meant to portray incidents that take place, not only in Santa Barbara, but across the country on a daily basis. Our intentions were not to make light of such a serious issue, but to engage our audience in an active discussion about bullying and violence.”

Hart’s statement is bullshit.  Here’s why:  the trailer that Berger Bros released opens with a beautiful high school girl rejecting a guy’s invitation to school dance.  The trailer then spits out snippets of bullying, domestic violence, and high school parties complete with pretty girls drinking out of Solo cups with their jock boyfriends, followed by shots of a masked killer going after students with a knife.  The trailer (and presumable the film) is rife with tired stereotypes of the kind of kids who bully “nerds” and overlaying texts that reads “In every school there’s a girl that every guy wants and can’t have.”

From the scenes of violence, “party girls”, and that grossly sexist opening statement, we can surmise from the trailer that, in addition to a slasher flick, this movie’s premise, is, at its core, a revenge fantasy for men who have been rejected by women and mistreated by other men.  By making the film’s protagonist/ anti-hero echo the sentiments and actions of Elliot Rodger, Hart forces the viewers to empathize with a violent misogynist. The film’s tagline is “Monsters aren’t born. They are created” also adds a level of victim-blaming; particularly important to note because after the shooting, there were many people (mostly men) who wondered why even one woman couldn’t “take one for the team” and sleep with Rodger to prevent the shooting.  Because, you know, women are responsible for keeping men happy so they don’t commit atrocities. Right?

The petition, created by Kate Nollner, says it best:  “The film “Del Playa” intentionally seeks to commoditize the death of six beloved students, and makes light of the tragedy faced by the entire Isla Vista/ UCSB community.  “Del Playa” not only justifies the motives behind the Isla Vista gunman, but also glorifies his actions.  Releasing such a film merely 18 months after this tragedy recreates the helplessness and horror felt by the Isla Vista community.”

Hart claims that the film is meant to “engage [the] audience in an active discussion about bullying and violence.”  This is especially insulting to the memory of the people murdered by Rodger because it blatantly ignores the root cause of the shooting spree.  Rodger didn’t set out on a rampage for the sole reason that he was bullied.  In the year leading up to shooting, Rodger frequented online forums dedicated to misogynist interests like “Men’s Rights Activism,” “Pick-up artistry,” and “The Red Pill.”  These hotbeds of sexist rhetoric, rape apologism, and toxic masculinity, combined with his own pre-existing anger towards women is what caused him to seek revenge for the lack of attention, sex, and affection from women to which he felt so entitled; not merely bullying.  And the shooting was not an isolated incident.

In short, Shaun Hart’s movie is nothing more than a callous piece of sexist trash.

So far, over 25,000 people signed the petition to urge Berger Bros Entertainment to do what they should have done when Hart pitched the idea: scrap the whole thing.

I could go on further about the societal issues surrounding male entitlement, rape culture, and toxic masculinity, complete with citations from both prominent feminist scholars and Youtube-famous pop culture critics like Anita Sarkeesian and Laci Green, but instead I’ll leave you with one last thought:  we, as a community of horror fans, are better than the misogyny that permeates our global society.  It’s time we take action and stand up for what’s right.

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