Can you guess what might happen when a politically oversensitive mind decides to remove the concept of “gun” from a “gunslinger”? Your guess is probably nothing like the pathetic reality of Feld Entertainment’s new Monster Jam, in which a backward decision by the company to censor all gun images and slogans from its show has caused a mighty cowboy-themed truck to turn slightly biblical.
All images of firearms have been covertly removed from themed trucks in the Monster Jam show. Feld undertook the change quietly in 2017, evidently seeking to avoid protests and controversy in the wake of mass shootings, such as the Pulse Nightclub shooting in 2016. No announcement was made to the public. But the results are plain to witness. A truck called Soldier Fortune has been stripped of its gun turret. Another truck called Metal Mulisha has been redesigned without its signature gun image.
However, it’s the transformation of Western-themed truck Gunslinger to Slinger that stands to raise the most eyebrows among Monster Jam audiences—when they behold a Wild West cowboy wielding a Y-shaped slingshot.
According to an article posted Dec. 30, 2014, on Miami.com, the Gunslinger truck was specially designed to represent a “Clint Eastwood or John Wayne character” in the form of a skeleton cowboy, surrounded by bullet holes and wielding a pistol. Now, thanks to Feld’s irrational censorship of firearms, the roaring giant truck sports the image of a tiny slingshot reminiscent of a bizarre reversal of David and Goliath.
Feld declined an interview on the subject. Instead one of its senior public relations executives, Stephen Yaros, released a statement in which he gave no concrete reason for the sudden changes. “Monster Jam is a family-friendly brand with an international presence, and we are always innovating and evolving the intellectual property associated with our Monster Jam trucks,” Yaros said, adding that the truck designs are “relatable to our wide range of fans and their interests.”
Feld owns and operates a large group of live-entertainment shows. The company is chaired by Kenneth J. Feld, listed as #965 on Forbes Billionaires list in 2018. Following the loss of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in 2017—a victim that fell prey to public outcry for political correctness regarding the treatment of animals—the company’s most successful venture to date is Disney on Ice.
But given Feld Entertainment’s tendency to blow with the winds of political opinions, there’s no telling what changes might happen next. Someone could decide to protest firearm violence as depicted by muskets and gunpowder in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Maybe the public would witness another bizarre transformation from Feld in the pirates showcased in Disney on Ice—such as an all-out pirate removal, or pirate weapons being replaced with tridents.
In the case of Feld Entertainment, the company’s political sensitivity has taken precedence over reason, history and common sense. Will the American public support such absurdity? Try screening a movie starring a slingshot-wielding cowboy and you might find out.