The Trayvon Martin incident has raised a lot of controversial questions about racism and whether Geraldo Rivera ever actually listens to the words he’s saying, but if you live in the totally myopic world of pop-culture reporting that we do, there was another: How would the killing of a teen by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman affect Fox’s July release of Neighborhood Watch, a comedy about four guys who similarly take the laws into their own hands, and which is still called that? As it turns out, Fox recognizes that now might not be the moment to splash theater walls with the film’s poster—which features a Neighborhood Watch sign riddled with bullet holes—or run its teaser, in which Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayoade attack the block with intimidating stares while Hill makes finger-guns and later manhandles a hoodie-clad teen. Indeed, some might notice a parallel or two.
So the studio has already pulled both from Florida, releasing a statement acknowledging the unfortunate timing while also taking pains to point out that their film is “a broad alien-invasion comedy and bears absolutely no relation to the tragic events in Florida,” in case people are not aware how filmmaking works. The studio is also planning to move quickly to a more specific, less uncomfortable phase of its marketing campaign, one that focuses more on Stiller et al.'s suburban sad-sack characters, and less on the whole "pretending to shoot teenagers" thing. Fox also implied that these several months in between will give audiences plenty of time to forget all negative connotations of the “neighborhood watch,” and get back to thinking of it as a comically ineffectual group that is only rarely at the center of rage-inducing scandals. Perhaps look for FX to begin running Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol soon, for the healing.
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