Neighborhood Watch/The Watch: Bad timing, bad luck

Four of my favorite comedic actors, Richard Ayoade, Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill, are teaming up this summer for the feature film The Watch.

(If you don’t know who Richard Ayoade is, go watch The IT Crowd, or this clip in which he demonstrates his enthusiasm for soccer.)

All of this wouldn’t matter at all, if it weren’t for the fact that community watch participant George Zimmerman was a free man for nearly a month after having gunned down Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, even after the police told Zimmerman to stop following Martin. (He’s now on trial for second-degree murder.)

In the right setting—and here, I’m talking about a version of the ’50s that only exists on TV and collective nostalgia—the idea of a Neighborhood Watch is a comforting thing, the kind of thing that my grandparents would have taken part in. But when you add Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law and the U.S.’s lax gun laws, it’s a wonder that this doesn’t happen more often–or at least, that it isn’t reported in the media when it does happen.

The core concept of a neighborhood watch is about knowing your surroundings so well that you can detect when something is amiss. Science fiction has always played with fear of the other: its ability to contaminate, destroy, and pollute our world and way of life. District 9 cleverly, clearly showed one possible depiction of aliens-as-a-lesser-being, forced into ghettos reminiscent of concentration camps.

The film Neighborhood Watch recently changed its name to The Watch, specifically to distance itself from the shooting.

There’s no way anyone could have predicted the bad luck that the movie was going to have. But without pre-existing branding to worry about-it’s not like Neighborhood Watch was a series of comics everyone loved–sometimes, any change is better than bad luck by association.

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