In the last few years, there have been a handful of movies that just made me thrilled to be alive. One of those was Kingsman: The Secret Service. With its nod to classic James Bond mixed with 21st-century action movie sensibilities, I was hooked and couldn’t wait for a sequel. After all, there just had to be one.
Now there is, and it’s a hit. However, it seems the director made an unusual decision regarding Trump-bashing this time around.
“In the edit, we toned down some stuff,” [Director Matthew] Vaughn told EW prior to the film’s release.
Poppy, the nefarious CEO played by Moore, had expressed her desire to host NBC’s The Apprentice — Trump’s flagship reality show for more than a decade. “We actually took out the Apprentice line,” the director says, “because we felt it was too close to the bone. I think America’s going through a pretty interesting and rough ride at the moment and I wanted this movie to be escapism. And that means not suddenly have half the audience going, ‘That’s not cool, that’s not funny!’ as the other half is cheering.”
That same impulse control also led to one of the film’s pivotal sets being redesigned. “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?’ And he was like, ‘Trump will never win.’ And I said, ‘You know what, I have a weird feeling he might. 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.”
Probably a wise move.
To be sure, the original Kingsman movie didn’t mind taking shots at President Obama, perhaps most famously showing a black president’s head (that bore a suspicious resemblance to Obama’s) exploding at the end along with all the bad guys and other fellow travelers. However, that was then and this is now.
Today, people on both sides are hypersensitive to political slights, and Trump supporters, in particular, are sick of being lectured by Hollywood on what they’re supposed to think.
By steering clear of this, Vaughn gave his film a fighting chance, which is for the better. Honestly, Hollywood needs to stop pretending it has the moral standing to lecture anyone on anything. Their job is to entertain, not moralize, and if they fail to do their job then we’ll go somewhere else. Just ask how well moralizing is working out for the NFL, why don’t you?
Vaughn, however, seems to understand the nature of movies. He understands that if you don’t entertain, nothing else matters, so he made a decision to focus on entertaining and not preaching.
Here’s hoping that the rest of Hollywood will catch on.