There are so many reasons why Halyna Hutchins should still be alive.
The 42-year-old mother and cinematographer was reportedly struck by a live round of ammunition from a prop gun on the set of Rust by the film’s star and producer, Alec Baldwin. Just hours before, the Los Angeles Times reported on Friday that camera crew workers—all of whom were members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE)—walked off to protest labor conditions on the small film set. Members of the crew, including Hutchins, advocated for workers to be treated with respect—namely, that they would be able to stay in a hotel by the filming location of Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe. Instead, the crews were told to drive 50 miles to Albuquerque. Instead of acquiescing to their demands, production decided to hire a non-union crew to take up the work, and as The Daily Beast reported, the set was subsequently plagued by a number of gun misfirings prior to the tragedy.
While the tragedy has drawn comparisons to Brandon Lee’s sudden death at the pull of a prop gun during the making of The Crow in 1993, the response to Hutchins’ death (director Joel Souza was also hit in the shoulder but is expected to recover) has been divided by partisanship and a rather disgusting kind of celebration over Baldwin’s—a loud, staunch liberal whose portrayal of Trump on SNL has made him a lightning rod for right-wingers—grief. Conservative commentators, social media personalities, and lobbyists have come out of the woodwork to pile on Baldwin without any mention of Hutchins’ tragic death.
“Conservative commentators, social media personalities, and lobbyists have come out of the woodwork to pile on Baldwin without any mention of Hutchins’ tragic death.”
Alt-right trolls like InfoWars’ Mike Cernovich—whose claim to fame largely consists of defending sexual abusers and pushing the Pizzagate conspiracy theory—took to the spirit. “I do believe we summon energy with our words and thoughts and it’s why I try to measure my own,” he tweeted early Friday morning, “Hollywood’s treatment of conservatives and disdain for people – that can’t be overlooked as a cause, on a spiritual level, of the Alec Baldwin incident. Hatred summons hatred.”
The poor grammar notwithstanding, a man who questions the sheer concept of date rape has no place to talk about what hatred begets. In that same line of unthinking, right-wing followers claimed that in “normal circumstances” they might “feel sorry” for Hutchins and Souza, and maybe even for Baldwin, but it’s Baldwin’s political stance that makes sympathy “hard to muster.” This attempt to grasp at the empathy that right-wingers have never shown to victims of gun violence seems, at best, intellectually dishonest and at worst, completely depraved.
It’s not just the MAGA crowd, though. Bloomberg Opinion writer Eli Lake quipped that “SNL should hire Trump to play Alec Baldwin this week,” and Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert—who proudly wields a rifle in her Twitter avatar—retweeted Baldwin who said he’d make Hands Up/Don’t shoot T-shirts. The gun lobbyist then added, “are these still available? Asking for a movie producer.” Hutchins name, again, was not even mentioned much less honored here.
The hypocrisy is so blatant. The overproliferation of firearms in this country—though touted by both political parties as a necessity—is most often championed by these very same pundits. Baldwin may have pulled the trigger but he, nor the film he’s on, is the root cause of the issue.
This idea that Hutchins’ death is some divine retribution inflicted upon Baldwin because of his politics is so deeply craven, especially because white Christian conservatives are deeply entrenched in the gun lobby. Folks like right-wing author Michael Malice (promise I’m not making that name up) posited that Baldwin, until his dying breath, “will have to hear ‘the difference between you and Donald Trump is that Donald trump never killed anyone.’” Even more so, GOP Senate candidate J.D. Vance is using the tragedy to advocate for Twitter to reinstate Trump for the sole purpose of enjoying the pumpkin dunking on a man who will be haunted by the death of a colleague for the rest of his life.
Of course this hasn’t been the entire internet, There are plenty of people who are grieving the loss of Hutchins and offering their sympathies to Baldwin. No one should be silly enough to deem Baldwin a saint. As the producer and star of the film, he had the power to listen to the crew and advocate for their demands to be met, if not because they’re human beings but also because it placed the entire production at risk. It’s a shadowy coincidence that in the midst of Hollywood’s biggest labor fight, if those with power had listened, perhaps this accident could’ve been avoided. Even more, if Hollywood would reassess its use of dangerous prop guns with live ammunition more generally, Hutchins might still be with us. But that’s a life-giving reality that the right wing opts to ignore when hate is the most accessible weapon at their disposal.