Yesterday, Forbes’ Roger Friedman asked if Fox would pull Neighborhood Watch, an action comedy about overzealous neighborhood watchmen whose vigilance turns out to be justified when they have to battle an alien invasion. Today, in light of the ongoing investigation into the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin at the hands of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, Fox has pulled a teaser trailer and poster for the movie from theaters.
The trailer shows the neighborhood watch volunteers, including Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill as feared (if somewhat over the top) figures in the suburban streets they patrol, dragging a white child into a police department for pelting them with eggs:
A Fox spokesman told the Hollywood Reporter that, “We are very sensitve to the Trayvon Martin case, but our film is a broad alien invasion comedy and bears absolutely no relation to the tragic events in Florida.” That’s probably true. But it’s worth interrogating why we find images of over-the-top approaches to law enforcement funny or compelling, whether it’s the main characters in 21 Jump Street busting out their guns to keep the peace in a sun-filled, peaceful public park, or Elliot Stabler beating up a suspect on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. It’s not just laughable when this sense of puffed-up bravado is played out in the real world. It’s downright dangerous.