Homeless Advocates Protest Violence Against Homeless in New Comedy Film

 Kevin E. Cleary  

      In light of the recent violent murders and beatings of homeless people in Florida, Boston, and other cities, homeless advocates were appalled by a controversial scene in the 20th Century Fox comedy “Date Movie.”

      According to ScreenIt.com, the scene plays out as follows:

      “Yelling 'Bum fight!' Julia (Alyson Hannigan) rushes over to a bum on the street, punches and then repeatedly kicks and hits him (all played as a spoof of lighthearted romantic comedy montages). Grant (Adam Campbell) then joins her, kicking the guy in the crotch before the two rob him.”

      Advocates like Brian Davis, Executive Director of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, have called for a boycott of the film, saying, “Please do not spend money on this movie. It is disgusting and inappropriate at this time.”

      Advocates in other cities have staged protests of the film, like Sean Cononie of Florida's Homeless Voice. Cononie also expressed strong reservations about the scene and called for a number of possible remedies.

      “It is very sad that, after the beatings and murder right here in Fort Lauderdale just last January, a movie with the same inhumane thoughts would come out on the screen. We are hoping to get the theaters to put in a PSA to be played before the movie, reminding people not to commit these type of crimes against any person of any class... We feel that the motion picture industry should pull that part of the movie where it shows a homeless person being beaten for fun or at least offer a PSA warning teens not to participate in this type of behavior,” said Cononie.

      The National Coalition for the Homeless has called for a boycott of the film, and many homeless coalitions and homeless advocacy groups nationwide have protested the film or called for a boycott.

      According to an article from the Associated Press, advocates in South Portland, Maine from Portland's Preble Street Consumer Advocacy Project carried signs and chanted, “It's a hate movie, not a date movie,” while they called for a boycott of the film. The protesters in Maine were unable to meet with the theater manager to express their concerns.

      Additionally, inquiries from other media outlets and protesters have all seen their phone calls unreturned from 20th Century Fox and others. The film has been panned by most film critics, and in spite of (or because of) the controversy, the film has currently grossed $44.3M at the Box Office according to rotten tomatoes.com.

Copyright Homeless Grapevine Issue 75 March-April 2006 Cleveland, Ohio.