Brow Beat

HBO Makes a Play for Trump Voters in This New Fahrenheit 451 Trailer

If there’s one lesson to be learned from Black Panther’s box office success, it’s that representation doesn’t just matter culturally: it can also be great for a studio’s bottom line. And yet despite the fact that millions of people voted for Donald J. Trump—apparently on purpose—Hollywood has been leaving their entertainment dollars on the table. (To their credit, newspapers haven’t made this mistake: they’ve been working round the clock to please Trump voters and no one else.) There have been a few notable exceptions: Hulu treated Red Staters to a visit to the Republican utopia of Gilead, Amazon did its own dabbling in utopian fiction, and HBO took a sympathetic look at the alt-right. But for the most part, studios and networks are behaving as though they think Trump voters are a bunch of barely-literate boneheads, an audience not worth chasing.

That ends in May, when HBO’s Fahrenheit 451 will finally give right-wingers the heroes they deserve: firemen! These brave first responders serve in an idyllic futuristic America where, as the giant holographic eagle head in the trailer makes clear, citizens all feel safe expressing their patriotism, as well as their intense dislike of the printed word. And not just any printed words: specific books burned in the trailer include Brown Skin, White Masks (The Islamic Mediterranean),  by Hamid Dabashi and the Brooks Brothers edition of How to Raise a Gentleman, by Kay West. That means Trump voters can be confident the show will evince the proper attitude toward critical thinking about colonialism and properly-sized neckties: burn them with fire. The film, an adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s classic novel, comes from 99 Homes writer-director Ramin Bahrani. Michael Shannon plays the happy-go-lucky lead fireman; his sidekick is played by Michael B. Jordan, who starts off as a hero, but, if the trailer is any indication, starts having doubts about the whole book-burning thing. Let’s hope Shannon can get him back on the straight and narrow before he starts reading!

Matthew Dessem is Brow Beat’s nights and weekends editor and the author of a biography of screenwriter and director Clyde Bruckman.