"It’s a hate movie, not a Date
Movie," chanted nearly 30 protestors outside the Regal Cinemas Clarks Pond
8 movie theater in South Portland this afternoon.
The movie, which opponents say contains a scene in which a
couple out on a date see a homeless person sleeping outside, yell
"Bumfight!" and attack the person, is a spoof of romantic comedies,
according to film publicity materials.
("Bumfight" is a reference to a series of unrated,
privately sold videos of street fights, including assaults by and on homeless
people. Video stores in Southern Maine that had sold the films have been asked
not to, according to advocate Chip Land.)
"All Mainers should boycott 'Date Movie' now," said
homeless activist Steve Huston of the Preble Street Resource Center organization,
which supports homeless people and others in need.
"Being homeless in real life is hard enough,"
Huston said through a bullhorn.
The cinema's manager, David Goodwin, said he did not know
about the protest until asked about it by the Phoenix. He referred comments to
Regal Cinemas' corporate office in Tennessee. Dick Westerling, the company's
senior vice president for marketing, did not immediately return a phone call
Advocate Donna Yellen said the group is especially concerned
in the wake of the beating death of a homeless man in Florida in January and
the burning and beating of a Boston homeless man over the weekend. Teenagers have been allegedly involved in both incidents, though three Florida teens entered not-guilty pleas to their charges.
Those attacks are part of what advocates see as a national
uptick in attacks on the homeless.
Yellen said the Maine Legislature's Criminal Justice Committee will take up a discussion of whether to add the homelessness of a victim as an
"aggravating factor" in an assault, as a stepping stone to a law
protecting homeless people against discrimination in the same way that people
of different races, genders, religions, and sexual orientations are now
protected under the Maine Human Rights Act. As of Monday afternoon, March 6, there is no mention of either of these initiatives on the committee's public hearing schedule or its work session schedule.
While Yellen said she does appreciate the protection of the
First Amendment, "you would never see our culture, our society tolerate
this" if the movie "promoted" violence toward ethic or racial
She cited assaults around Portland, including accounts of a
group of Portland High School students seeking out homeless people to assault.
The group of protestors said they want the cinema to pull
"Date Movie" from its run.