People Are up in Arms Over Tone-Deaf ‘Death Wish’ Trailer

Hollywood’s remake machine has done it again. This time, Bruce Willis stars in Death Wish, about a distressed man who takes the law into his own hands. It’s bad enough that the movie is a product of lazy plot recycling. But the creators also appear to be shockingly ignorant of the current state of our country.

Also titled Death Wish, the original film, released in 1974, starred Charles Bronson. It received a mixed bag of criticism and praise. While some cited it as a threat, others felt it was an apt commentary on the rising crime rate.

Putting aside how viewers perceived the movie in the past, what would possess someone to remake such a film today? Immediate reactions to the trailer have been almost entirely negative, and with good reason.

First of all, the film is set in Chicago. As GQ notes, this is highly problematic, as the city is known to struggles with issues of gun violence. Plus, the conversations we’re having today around gun violence stem from a place of a willfully ignorant government. Showcasing a white man who relishes in shooting down “thugs” arguably reinforces the wrong message.

Furthermore, the trailer itself uses music that gives it a light-hearted, almost motivational tone. Clearly, the trailers implies that audiences should support Willis’ vigilante, despite his clearly unsettled state.

While plenty will fall back on the argument that the film is fictional and doesn’t have real-world ramifications, this just simply isn’t the case. The Mary Sue writes about the direct correlation that can be made here to the 2012 murder of Trayvon Martin:

One of the bigger talking points around the murder was that Martin was walking around with his hood up, and thus was somehow thought of as more threatening because of it. (By somehow, I mean “due to racial profiling,” aka racism.) So now you’ve got a white guy in a movie dressed in much the same fashion, and he’s thought of as a “guardian angel” and a godsend for his extreme violence.

There’s more to unpack here. Still, it’s hard to see how anyone could think now’s the right time to remake this film.