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“Rust” Tragedy Takes Political Turn

On October 21, actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on the set of “Rust,” killing director of photography, Halyna Hutchins, and hospitalizing Joel Souza, director. A recent affidavit indicates Baldwin was rehearsing unholstering his prop gun as camera positions were changed when the gun, which was declared a “cold gun” when handed to him, fired unexpectedly. While the projectile type is unclear at this time, the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office is conducting a thorough search of not only the events that led to Hutchins’ death, but also the overall safety measures on the set for the duration of the filming. 

The tragedy has taken on an unfortunate politicization as conservative personalities have been quick to capitalize on the misfortune. Candace Owens was one of the first in her now-deleted social media posts that initially labeled Baldwin as a murderer and found the entire situation to be “poetic justice.” She then backtracked and clarified that Baldwin is not, in fact, a murderer, but failed to reevaluate or apologize for the hatefulness that comes with using a person’s death as a political “gotcha moment.” Since then, Donald Trump Jr. began selling t-shirts on his websites with the message “Guns don’t kill people Alec Baldwin kills people.” 

The general consensus among those lambasting Baldwin seem to be that his politics justify their statements. Baldwin had a recurring role on Saturday Night Live as a less-than-flattering portrayal of Donald Trump during his presidency, and has also been known to advocate for stricter gun laws. 

Of course, there are currently very valid questions being raised around this tragedy and the gun safety measures that were (not) implemented, and these issues should be raised in order to ensure something similar never happens again. There may even be some concrete criticisms that should be made as more information surfaces. However, the way right-wing personalities are making a mockery of this tragedy is not only a crass display, but further traumatizing to the family of Hutchins. 
Jake Tapper described it best when he noted political polarization is taking moments like this and ripping away any sense of humanity. In a time of tragedy, especially coupled with the current movement pushing for improved working conditions for filming crews on set, we should all be working toward the common goal of making sure this never happens again and offer love and support to the families of all those impacted. This is a scarring moment for so many, including Baldwin, so rather than trying to quite literally turn a profit, we should be turning to each other and aiming to make improvements.

Liz Whitmer

Bucknell '23

Liz, a Political Science major at Bucknell, is from Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania and began writing for Her Campus during the spring semester of 2020. In her free time she enjoys watching Schitt’s Creek, online shopping, and arguing about politics.
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