After Donald Trump won the Nov. 8 presidential election, some professors at the University of Pennsylvania turned their classrooms into "safe spaces" where students could share their apprehension over the president-elect without fear of confrontation, and one dorm set up a "breathing space" with coloring books, snacks and a comfort dog for petting. Such scenes were duplicated at campuses nationwide - though some eschewed real animals for stuffed ones and others threw bubble-blowing toys into the mix.
It's all a bunch of nonsense, say a couple of right-leaning commentators, and they're making a movie to prove it.
"When did everyone become such a colossal pussy? Having your beliefs challenged is as American as apple pie," says podcaster-comedian Adam Carolla, who will tour the country's college campuses with radio talk-show host Dennis Prager for a documentary movie titled No Safe Spaces.
Carolla, whose podcast was once recognized as the most popular one in the world, has often teamed with Prager, whose show on KRLA AM 870 in Los Angeles is syndicated nationally, even though the two seemingly have little in common: Prager is an observant Jew, Carolla is an atheist; Prager attended graduate school at Columbia University, Carolla never attended college, for example.
"He's Ivy League and I'm bush league, but it works," Carolla quipped.
The movie will also explore the phenomenon whereby conservatives who are invited to speak at universities are routinely shouted down or, in some cases, disinvited due to liberal opposition, say the filmmakers.
"College campuses are supposed to be where diversity of opinion is celebrated, not silenced," Carolla said.
The film will be produced by Mark Joseph, whose recent projects include The Vessel with Martin Sheen and Max Rose with Jerry Lewis, and will be directed by Justin Folk for Madison McQueen Films. Folk has worked in visual effects on The Incredible Hulk and The Matrix franchise and is making his debut as a film director.
Madison McQueen is best known as a creator of lighthearted commercials for Doritos, Mattel and the like, and also for its ads promoting conservative causes and candidates (see one for Sen. Ted Cruz below). The company is making its first foray into feature-length films and is seeking a theatrical release for No Safe Spaces, but there are no deals in place yet.
The movie will have Prager and Carolla visiting college campuses across the nation this fall, where they'll talk to students and professors and visit their so-called safe spaces. Presuming the students allow for it, the pair will attempt to debate those who advocate for such policies.
"Universities have become a laughingstock," Prager said. "When prestigious institutions of rigorous academic instruction give out coloring books and Play-Doh to 20-year-old students in designated safe-space areas on campus, we are failing them."
Prager and Carolla are no strangers to documentaries. Carolla wrote, co-produced and directed Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman, and directed and co-produced The 24 Hour War, about Enzo Ferrari and Henry Ford II at Le Mans. Prager starred in Baseball, Dennis & the French and co-wrote and co-produced For Goodness Sake, directed by David Zucker, and two sequels directed by Trey Parker.