Here’s a movie I won’t be seeing. (Potentially triggering commentary in that link and in the rest of this post).
The summary: In the new comedy Observe and Report, Seth Rogan’s character goes on a date with Anna Faris’s character. She gets trashed on antidepressants and tequila — she pukes all over the place and can barely walk. As the movie trailer shows, Faris’s character is passed out while Rogan “has sex” with her (or as Rogan puts it, “When we’re having sex and she’s unconscious” — which is telling phrasing, because how is there a “we” involved when one person is passed out? And how is it sex and not rape if only one person is engaged and consenting?). What supposedly makes it funny is that when Rogan pauses, Faris wakes up and yells at him, “Why are you stopping, motherfucker?” Which, according to Rogan, “makes it all ok”:
SETH ROGEN: When we’re having sex and she’s unconscious like you can literally feel the audience thinking, like, how the fuck are they going to make this okay? Like, what can possibly be said or done that I’m not going to walk out of the movie theater in the next thirty seconds? . . . And then she says, like, the one thing that makes it all okay:
BRANDI: “Why are you stopping, motherfucker?”
I’m not a fan of rape jokes generally, but I will concede that just about anything can be funny (I’ll admit, for example, that when I heard Megan tell her “I was raped by Jesus” joke in person, I laughed). I also happen to find dark humor particularly funny. But it depends where the humor lands — and “Haha, see it’s not rape because she’s slutty and wanted it!” does not strike me as particularly original or ironic or humorous.
Maybe even more disturbing is this observation:
What will audiences think of this scene, which is deeply uncomfortable while also being explosively funny? “I do wonder if there’s going to be a bit of a gender divide on this movie,” Faris mused. “I think that some guys can see themselves in Ronnie, and understand him, I guess. And I’m not sure that women will go along with that.” Hang out at your local multiplex this weekend if you’re in the mood to overhear a lot of angry post-movie arguments, as couples debate the totally insane movie they’ve just seen — a truly dark big-studio comedy in which, yes, Seth Rogen rapes the girl of his dreams.
A tip, ladies and gents: If your dude watches this film and can see himself in Ronnie, DTMF and dump him now.
UPDATE: Lindsay took one for the team and actually saw the film. I’m curious to hear Lauren’s take. And Amanda’s thoughts pretty much sum up my own:
I have no problem with putting rape in a movie, or even using it for dark comedy, which could, in theory, be done well. I’ve often strained against feminists who claim there’s entire categories of things that can’t be joked about. But if you’re going to put rape in your movie, put rape in your movie. Don’t put a rape in your movie, and then create a faux “out” so that the sexist idiots who see your movie can tell themselves it wasn’t really rape. And don’t pretend it’s edgy to slap every stereotype imaginable about women who deserve to be raped, either.