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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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41 Responses

  1. MaggieK
    MaggieK April 13, 2009 at 10:05 am |

    That is absolutely disgusting.

  2. Holly
    Holly April 13, 2009 at 10:31 am |

    Awesome. Well, it was just a matter of time before “Schlubby Anti-Hero You Love to Hate” got around to raping some sluts, LOL except not really ha ha ha. Barf x 1000.

  3. Caro
    Caro April 13, 2009 at 10:35 am |

    I’ve been so glad to see a lot of coverage and discussion of this on feminist blogs… there is plenty of rape culture exhibited in mainstream movies, and particularly in movies targeted to teenage and young adult males, but this is particularly blatant. However, I don’t think I’ve seen much crossover of this issue into coverage of the movie on mainstream movie/entertainment blogs and sites I’ve seen recently. (There have been some oblique references to its “dark humor” or “uncomfortable humor.”) Perhaps this is just because the bigger sites and movie reviewers (like E! Online, etc) have symbiotic relationships with film producers and actors and wouldn’t want to bring up such a serious critique in their discussions of the movie? I worry, however, that it’s not just that — that most people have seen so much rape culture in films that they merely find it “edgy” and “uncomfortable” rather than appalling.

  4. kittensmash
    kittensmash April 13, 2009 at 10:38 am |

    I think what most pissed me off about that comment from Rogan is the implication that this joke is just SO TRANSGRESSIVE. It seems like all rape jokes are treated as if they are skewering some sacred cow of dark humor when really it’s just status quo.

    Rape jokes are not original or funny. Well, the Jesus one from Megan made me chuckle, but I think that’s because the punchline was more about religion than rape. A “But the totally incapacitated women WANTED IT” punchline is not funny at all.

  5. Scully
    Scully April 13, 2009 at 11:11 am |

    “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.”

    This is something that sounds true, and often IS true, but for anyone who is being honest it’s not ALWAYS true. Everyone has had the experience of laughing at jokes that they feel they SHOULD be offended by. There’s often a big discrepancy between what we think we should find funny and what we do find funny. Humor works on many different levels, and what you’ve done to the joke in the movie is reduce it to the point where it’s not funny anymore — but this can be done with just about every joke out there. High humor is rarely funny. The vast majority of the things that people laugh at, whether in real life or at the movies, sound stupid when broken down and analysed. I’m not claiming that anyone who doesn’t find this scene funny is a humorless person or that they need to lighten up. I understand why it would make many people extremely uncomfortable. But I think it’s possible to find it funny and offensive at the same time without being a bad person. And I do think it’s possible to find rape jokes, even jokes where the humor lands on the rape victim, funny. Which isn’t to say that every lame rape joke out there made by an asshole is funny, but merely that in certain circumstances and contexts they can. The same can be said for holocaust jokes, jokes about violence, mean-spirited jokes, etc.

    It’s true that the joke isn’t original, but humor rarely is, and high humor is rarely funny.

  6. Lance
    Lance April 13, 2009 at 11:15 am |

    That’s a shame. I defended “Superbad” because I felt it fell on the right line of dark/wrong. Now I’m wondering if I was wrong all along.

  7. mzbitca
    mzbitca April 13, 2009 at 12:01 pm |

    My biggest complaint with the people saying it’s dark humor is two parts.

    1. They were keepign the fact that this movie was so dark hidden. None of the previews show the violence in the movie and there is little evidence that Ronnie is NOT a good lovable guy. So if you go by what they are trying to portray and they still included the rape scene that goes to imply that they don’t consider showing that a big deal. IF it was supposed to be part of how fucked up Ronnie was why would they show it in a trailer designed to market the movie as light hearted fun. It implies that they dont consider the rape seen as dark but as actually something to be played for laughs.

    2. If they do consider it dark this is the only scene in the movie as far as I can tell from reading many many recaps that comes with a qualifier, a way to redee, the character. IN order words, as I said on Natalia’s blog: He can be a violent crazed asshole but heave forbid he be a rapist

  8. Caro
    Caro April 13, 2009 at 12:04 pm |

    Perhaps I spoke too soon, just saw this post on EW.com’s Hollywood Insider blog discussing “the scene.” Though I think they (and some of the commenters) are miss the point, bringing up “why aren’t people outraged by SVU’s depiction of rape victims.” First of all, there are plenty of people who take issue with the treatment of rape in certain episodes of SVU… but anyway, it’s not that people are upset because this movie depicts rape — it’s that people are mad because the moviemakers are trying to play it off for laughs, act like it’s okay to rape women who “slutty,” and show no consequences for the rapist (from what I have heard of the film at least).

  9. Erik
    Erik April 13, 2009 at 12:41 pm |

    OK, but let me quibble with one bit here–should it be Rogen you are slamming on here or the writers and director of this, by most accounts, really bad movie? I know there is leftover annoyance with Rogen for Knocked Up, but I’d rather place blame where the blame belongs–with the person who wrote this stuff and the person who directed the movie. If Rogen adlibbed this or pushed for its inclusion, then by all means get after him. But if he’s just the actor speaking these words, I’m not sure how fair it is to blame him. He could have said he’s not going to utter those words I suppose.

  10. Endor
    Endor April 13, 2009 at 12:44 pm |

    “but I’d rather place blame where the blame belongs”

    With the guy who took on the project, acted in the project and then goes to interviews, etc. talking about how funny the rape scene is.

    They’re all at fault, of course, but Rogen is the public face. Farris is no better.

  11. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan April 13, 2009 at 12:48 pm |

    High humor is rarely funny.

    In isolation, I don’t disagree with this sentence. In context… SETH ROGAN DOING A RAPE JOKE IS “HIGH HUMOR???” *mindsplode*

    …and show no consequences for the rapist (from what I have heard of the film at least).

    This might actually be better than the rapist getting some sort of humorous comeuppance (if done correctly, which clearly it *wouldn’t* be in this film.) I hate it when some little punishment is tacked on to make everyone feel like both people got it “equally” bad, as if getting slapped or flipped off by the woman is equal to yanno, *raping* her… If both parties get in some sort of hit (no matter how inequal) the public sees it as a “fight” instead of a “beating” for example. I prefer the abuse to be obvious in movies, and for the scene to just strip away any pathetic excuse the guy might have for hurting someone.

  12. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan April 13, 2009 at 12:52 pm |

    Farris is no better.

    I saw part of an interview transcript where it sounds like she *did* have a problem filming this, and had assumed it would never make the cut… It certainly didn’t sound like she was defending the scene at all. So I’ll give her that. No way she could throw her weight around like Rogan could’ve if he’d had a problem with the scene. (Which he *clearly* did not.)

  13. William
    William April 13, 2009 at 1:02 pm |

    It seems to me that the purpose of humor (deep, real, freeing humor) is to plumb those things that the people involved don’t feel able to talk about. It gives us a chance to walk right up to a line we can’t cross, look at what scares us, and take a little bit of the power out of them. Thats what good humor does, and it often leaves someone in the room feeling as if some unacceptable transgression has taken place (Bill Hicks is a pretty good example).

    That said, I think the humor of this scene tells us a lot about who is uncomfortable and what they’re trying to challenge. I don’t think that the joke in this scene is fundamentally about rape, or even about rape being funny, but about the rapist. The humor in this joke seems to be aimed at diffusing the anxiety produced not by the fact that a rape is happening, but by the fact that people are uncomfortable identifying with the rapist. The joke is reducing the anxiety felt by the rapist who knows what he is doing is wrong. It sets it up as romance, it tells us the woman wants it, that what he feels uncomfortable about isn’t really something he needs to feel uncomfortable about. You’re not laughing at the rape, you’re laughing with the rapist.

    Thats why I have some trouble saying “no rape jokes are funny.” There are plenty of rape jokes I find funny, but they tend to be the ones which allow me to laugh at my experience and push back against the anxiety I feel as a survivor. Rogan’s joke isn’t a rape joke, its a rapist joke.

  14. Holly
    Holly April 13, 2009 at 1:19 pm |

    In case anyone’s confused, I think the disconnect here is that Rogen (and presumably the director) think there’s a “relief” line that’s been crossed once Faris’ character is shown to be conscious enough to mutter something that sounds like consent. What they’re not really considering is that the fact that she’s so drunk she can’t open her eyes or move or do anything more than form some barely coherent words, so it’s really hard to say if any kind of meaningful consent has actually happened. So maybe some people in the audience are relieved, along the lines of “oh man, that was uncomfortable but now I see it’s not REALLY a rape, and we’re back to two really fucked up drunk crazy asses making fools out of themselves, phew.” But I don’t think that’s really possible for any number of other audience members who are really intimately aware that uh, no there’s no clear relief in crossing that line, it’s still full of rape and brings up a lot of stuff without really “reliefing” it at all, etc.

    And I mean, this could be an area that some really smart dark humor could explore: the convergence of alcoholism and wanting sex and not really being able to consent to sex because you are too fucked up. Uh, how many people have some history with that? I certainly do, not that I really want to talk about it. I don’t think Rogen’s bro-humor is the kind of smart dark biting humor that this subject needs, though. Wanda Sykes, maybe. That jezebel post linked above runs it all down pretty well, I guess.

  15. Holly
    Holly April 13, 2009 at 1:22 pm |

    Also, what William said, he get at the “well some people in the audience might find it a relief” idea I was trying to express much better than I did. It’s a relief for people who worry that they might be rapists. Rogen’s character is worried that he might be raping someone, then decides he’s not. Clearly for this movie, most everyone is supposed to identify with Rogen. And maybe Faris realizes that it’s a much worse feeling to be identifying with her character, if she has been talking about this scene as uncomfortable.

  16. Richard
    Richard April 13, 2009 at 1:29 pm |

    I don’t find humor in rape, nothing makes it “OK” or even remotely humorous. I also don’t find humor in alcoholism or mental and physical disabilities. Is our concept of humor now limited to the degredation of human beings? What is even less funny are movie reviewers who try to paint this excrement as some form of comedic art and the people who are only too quick to defend this type of “comedy” and eat it up like chocolate. I find this form of humor on par with “The Family Guy” making fun of people with AIDS and children with terminal illness. Our downward spiral continues.

  17. Scully
    Scully April 13, 2009 at 2:07 pm |

    “I don’t find humor in rape, nothing makes it “OK” or even remotely humorous. I also don’t find humor in alcoholism or mental and physical disabilities.”

    Speak for yourself. It’s fine if you personally don’t enjoy that kind of humor, but the fact that many people do doesn’t necessarily make them assholes. And the fact that you don’t find those topics funny, doesn’t make you a better person than those who do. Some rape victims laugh at rape jokes, some alcoholics laugh at alcoholic jokes, some gay people laugh at gay jokes, etc., etc. That doesn’t mean that any offensive joke is funny (most probably aren’t), but in some situations they can be to some people. People who expect humor to be moral are setting themselves to be hypocrites because there’s always exceptions and there’s always a discrepancy between what we think should be funny and what is funny. Good people often find themselves laughing along at mean-spirited humor. My girlfriend, for example, who has a heart of gold, is a special education teacher with a brother with down syndrome, and normally hates all “retard” jokes. Yet she laughed against her will upon hearing one such exceptional joke. How do you account for that?

  18. Endor
    Endor April 13, 2009 at 2:57 pm |

    “I find this form of humor on par with “The Family Guy” making fun of people with AIDS and children with terminal illness. Our downward spiral continues.”

    Family Guy also routinely uses rape for jokes, mocks victims, etc. Wouldn’t at all surprise me to learn the people defending this rape joke like others.

  19. EndorEndor
    EndorEndor April 13, 2009 at 3:00 pm |

    “How do you account for that?”

    There is a world of difference between people who’ve been through x or live with x laughing at a joke and outsiders laughing at the same joke. One has the gravity of experience, the other has the privilege of cluelessness.

    It’s the difference between laughing with and laughing AT.

  20. Talulah
    Talulah April 13, 2009 at 3:39 pm |

    Ugh. I knew I was going to skip this one after I saw the trailer where he’s like, trying to make out with her as she barfs and drunks all over the place, but this? This is even worse than I thought.

    Well, on the upside, at least now I won’t have to pretend to find everything made by the Apatow crowd funny. On the downside, an entire generation of young people just got another mass media confirmation that date rape doesn’t really exist.

    Think positive, think positive, think positive…

  21. Matt
    Matt April 13, 2009 at 3:56 pm |

    I can understand the uncomfortableness. But I think more engagement with the film might be worthwhile. (Maybe I’m just in that mindset after having watched and enjoyed Storytelling. It has a few issues that are kind of similar, perhaps.) Anyway, the director was pretty clear about the general sense he was going for.

    And I wanted the film to end that way, where the audience—at least the mainstream audience, you guys are probably a little more intuitive about watching films—but hopefully the mainstream audience will watch that and cheer and get their rocks off, that kind of stuff. But then on the car ride home, be like, “Wait, so we were supposed to praise a murder?” You know?

    Regarding the specific scene, he didn’t want to soften it. He didn’t want to make it acceptable:

    [Pause.] I dunno. I’ve always kind of liked scenes that you talk about how fucked-up they are. I would have been happy without any dialogue in that scene. I wanted to show them just having sex and her passed out, and I thought that would have been funnier.

    And an observation about the film in general:

    AVC: In terms of the blurring of reality and fantasy, I’m thinking specifically of the scene where Rogen beats up a bunch of police officers, and there don’t seem to be any negative consequences. There’s a certain disconnect from reality.

    Whether (and how) it works or not is a different matter, but it doesn’t seem the scene can be so easily divorced from the rest of the film. It seems at least the intention of the particular scene (though, of course, intention is not the be-all-end-all — and it doesn’t seem entirely thought out) was that it was meant to be seen as reprehensible. After reflection. And not necessarily the accurate/objective depiction we usually think of film cameras as providing.

    Lindsey writes:

    They’re right that the scene is not an endorsement of rape; it’s just a cheap rape joke. If you’re going to introduce a high stakes and potentially exploitative element into your movie, you’d better do something interesting with it.

    And:

    Hill doesn’t want us to approve of Ronnie’s behavior, but he’s not prepared let us be totally repulsed, either.

    But “us” there is weird. Us is a rather broad and heterogeneous audience. It seems Hill wants a “mainstream audience” he can subvert more than a hip audience that gets the scene right away.

    Holly, you write

    Clearly for this movie, most everyone is supposed to identify with Rogen.

    I’m not sure that’s really true. But what if you’re supposed to identify with the character, but that identification isn’t supposed to be a comfortable one?

  22. Ali
    Ali April 13, 2009 at 5:08 pm |

    I would have been happy without any dialogue in that scene. I wanted to show them just having sex and her passed out, and I thought that would have been funnier.

    1) Matt, you say he didn’t want to make it acceptable but then back that up with a quote where he says he wanted the rape scene to be funnier? I’m just not following your connection there.

    2) “having sex and her passed out” It’s fucking RAPE and it’s disgusting that the director (and the actors involved) can still claim it’s sex even when it’s absolutely clear one partner is passed out.

  23. William
    William April 13, 2009 at 5:43 pm |

    There is a world of difference between people who’ve been through x or live with x laughing at a joke and outsiders laughing at the same joke. One has the gravity of experience, the other has the privilege of cluelessness.

    It’s the difference between laughing with and laughing AT.

    That kind of undercuts Richard’s original assertion that “I don’t find humor in rape, nothing makes it “OK” or even remotely humorous.”

    The reality is that people find things funny that they’re “not supposed to” precisely because humor helps us diffuse anxiety. The reason someone might laugh at at a joke about disabled people is pretty closely tied to the reason that I, as a disabled person, might laugh at the same joke. In the case of someone who isn’t disabled they’re pushing back against the anxiety that comes from the nearly universal fear of becoming weak, for me its pushing back against the experience of being weak. The fact that the fear is coming from a lived experience for me and a theoretical experience for someone else doesn’t really change if something is funny.

    For me what is important isn’t so much whether someone laughs at a sacred cow, but at what fears that laugh is pushing back against. Theres a hilarious depiction of rape in the video for Amanda Palmer’s song “Oasis,” but the reason it’s funny is very different from the reason Rogan thinks his rape scene is funny.

  24. Jha
    Jha April 13, 2009 at 5:56 pm |

    I like to say that if you pick apart a joke, skit, or something that was meant to be funny, and upon being explained / picked apart the whole thing doesn’t look funny anymore, chances are it wasn’t funny to start with.

  25. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte April 13, 2009 at 6:51 pm |

    Perhaps this is just because the bigger sites and movie reviewers (like E! Online, etc) have symbiotic relationships with film producers and actors and wouldn’t want to bring up such a serious critique in their discussions of the movie?

    I think it’s because they’re part of the same culture as the rest of us, and the subject makes them queasy.

  26. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan April 13, 2009 at 7:43 pm |

    I like to say that if you pick apart a joke, skit, or something that was meant to be funny, and upon being explained / picked apart the whole thing doesn’t look funny anymore, chances are it wasn’t funny to start with.

    Reminds me of some advice (from a Racialicious post) on how to point out that a racist joke is racist without coming across as a killjoy (for example, in the workplace.) Act dumb, and ask them to explain it. Halfway into it they’ll basically be saying crap like “well, it’s funny ’cause black people are lazy, yanno?…” and then their dickishness is pretty much obvious to everyone with minimal effort on your part. If a rape “joke” basically amounts to “it’s funny ’cause he screws her while she’s unconscious” then it’s pretty clear that the joke really is only funny if you think rape is acceptable…

  27. Matt
    Matt April 13, 2009 at 7:44 pm |

    Matt, you say he didn’t want to make it acceptable but then back that up with a quote where he says he wanted the rape scene to be funnier? I’m just not following your connection there.

    People keep brining up the line he didn’t want because it makes rape palatable, but the director is clear that he doesn’t want to make it palatable. He wants it unpalatable. He wants it clear that it’s fucked up. As for that being “funny,” maybe it’s like people who like their food so spicy it hurts to eat.

    But it’s clearly not that rape is something we shouldn’t take seriously or that the scene depicts role model behavior. He seems to understate how reprehensible it is — in that quote he doesn’t dispute that the scene depicts a rape, but he doesn’t acknowledge that it does either — he merely calls it “fucked up” — but he’s quite clear that he’s not condoning the actions of the character.

    He’s pretty clear that the humor for him comes from the incongruity between the formal expectations of the genre and the content he’s put in it. He hopes that will give people headaches and make them question stuff. Like a koan. I’d have to see the movie before I start saying much about how well it works — I guess I won’t know that really until I come across someone using the scene to justify behavior — but there’s a certain sense there, given how few date rapists read feministe regurlarly.

    So, at TNR, Christopher Orr writes:

    Some of Hill’s provocations are idle ones (for instance, a couple of dull sex jokes regarding Ronnie’s mother) and some of those that have teeth (Brandi’s quasi-date-rape) bite off more than they know what to do with. But the ones that focus on Ronnie’s monomania and inchoate rage fare better, thanks in large part to Rogen’s straight, almost painful performance…

    Observe and Report is brutally funny, in the literal sense of the modifier. Unlike, say, Superbad, whose indecencies were underlaid with innocence, there is nothing gentle about Hill’s vision. Which is fine, to a point. But especially when taken alongside his previous film, the slender indie comedy The Foot Fist Way, Observe and Report unsettles in unintended ways as well as the intended ones.

    And at reelviews, we get:

    Rogen succeeds in making Ronnie, who initially seems like a harmless dufus, into a creepy individual. Here’s a guy who lives with his perpetually drunk mother (Celia Weston), doesn’t think twice about date raping a girl who has vomited all over herself, and liberally spews racial epithets and “fuck you’s.” (There’s one scene in which that un-rhyming couplet is uttered about 30 times.) Yet he craves respect and adulation and somehow always sees himself as “the good guy.” At one point, he is called delusional and that sums him up in a word. The movie is designed to make viewers a little uncomfortable – that fuels the humor and provides the edge.

    So far, I’m not seeing reviews saying “and it was hilarious how she wanted it.” The positive reviews I’m seeing take it as something painful to watch. If audiences see it the same way these reviewers see it, then I’d say the film was pretty succesful in a way discounted here. In a way that happens to be what the director seems to be going for.

  28. Lauren
    Lauren April 13, 2009 at 8:14 pm |

    That said, I think the humor of this scene tells us a lot about who is uncomfortable and what they’re trying to challenge. I don’t think that the joke in this scene is fundamentally about rape, or even about rape being funny, but about the rapist.

    Honestly, that’s what I’m getting from it too. I’ve put way too much time and energy into explaining why I want to see this movie, but I do. While I have a feeling I won’t like the movie as much as I’ve liked their previous stuff, I feel like what I’m seeing in the trailer is completely different from all my peers. I don’t see a funny feel-good movie, I see a pretty shocking critique of the behavior people seem to think they’re promoting. I could be wrong, but I’m curious.

    And I also have a feeling that when it comes down to it, the rape scene is probably lower down on the list than you might think as far as things to critique. I argue it may be a “comedy” about masculine pathology, but from what some reviews are saying, this is essentially a comedy about mental illness. Which has it’s own can o’ beans to contend with.

  29. Kathleen
    Kathleen April 13, 2009 at 8:34 pm |

    William — that was a spot-on comparison with Amanda Palmer’s “Oasis”. Rape can be played for laughs — any tragedy can, hence much of the comic material known to humanity — and that music video does it brilliantly. But the way rape is handled in Observe and Report just reveals how much everyone involved DOESN’T get it, the same way AP’S take in “Oasis” shows she does.

    the key difference seems to be that in Oasis the tragedy played for laughs is Amanda Palmer’s, being raped. While in O & R the tragedy played for laughs is Seth Rogen’s — poor guy is so socially inept he doesn’t even realize he’s a rapist! Aw puddin. The empathy for the woman being raped? Filmmakers set the dial at zero.

    Actually I’m just re-stating your spot-on rape/rapist distinction!

  30. Natalia
    Natalia April 14, 2009 at 3:20 am |

    As I said over at my place – it’s not my type of film, but it shouldn’t be censored, etc. (and yes, I fully engage in all sorts of humour myself, some of it definitely not particularly comforting). I just want Seth Rogen and Jody Hill to be able to come out and say it’s rape.

    We already know that Rogen’s character is a bad guy. Why the hesitation in admitting he’s a rapist on top of it all? – With our without the late-breaking “consent”?

    It all goes back to the foolish and dangerous idea that “it’s not rape if she’s passed out.”

  31. Joker2
    Joker2 April 14, 2009 at 5:35 am |

    Um, as for “Things that can’t be joked about” — how about “a hilarious comedy” about some guy having his penis mutilated. Really, boys, where’s your sense of humor?

  32. Matt
    Matt April 14, 2009 at 7:25 am |

    Natalia, I’ve been thinking about that since my last comment. I’ve decided they probably want to engage the people who don’t want it to be rape, so those people can wrestle with the question.

  33. Laughingrat
    Laughingrat April 14, 2009 at 8:37 am |

    Oh, Matt.

    “…but he’s quite clear that he’s not condoning the actions of the character.”

    Oh really? Oh really? Because that’s not clear to me at all.

    “He’s pretty clear that the humor for him comes from the incongruity between the formal expectations of the genre and the content he’s put in it. He hopes that will give people headaches and make them question stuff. Like a koan.”

    Get your dirty patriarchal-apologist hands off my Zen, foo’.

    I think the impression we’re supposed to get here is that Matt Knows A Lot About Movies. Step back, feminists! Matt’s gonna unleash his movie expertise and let us know why this is all really actually edgy and subversive and okay!

    Oh lord. Do you not realize that you’re in a forum with a whole bunch of educated people, some of whom analyze culture for a living? That most of the people here probably know a whole lot about movies too? It’s nice that you like movies, and it’s nice that you can handily use academic terms to talk about it, but please do not think you’re telling most of us something new because of that. If we’re not addressing the “incongruity between the formal expectations of the genre” and the film’s content, it’s because we’re already past that kid stuff. It’s because we know that’s a cheap diversion, and that the issue, really, is that some young men with a reputation for cleverness made a sexist movie, and that we’re being told that the violence and misogyny contained therein is somehow excusable.

  34. William
    William April 14, 2009 at 9:17 am |

    Um, as for “Things that can’t be joked about” — how about “a hilarious comedy” about some guy having his penis mutilated. Really, boys, where’s your sense of humor?

    I seem to remember that being one of the earliest jokes in “Theres Something About Mary” (a movie which was unfunny primarily because a complete lack of comedic timing). Its also a central theme in the campy-as-hell “Teeth.” A man having his penis chewed off by a dog was the set up for a running gag in the Preacher series of graphic novels. Just last week on South Park there was a reference to genital injury played as comedy in South Park. I remember as a kid watching America’s Funniest Home Videos and every third video or so being a guy having some kind of trauma to his crotch. Guy start making broken dick jokes about a second and a half after they the social value tied up in having a penis and the anxiety they have around losing that power; they only stop when the ink dries on their death certificate.

  35. Matt
    Matt April 14, 2009 at 11:45 am |

    Do you not realize that you’re in a forum with a whole bunch of educated people, some of whom analyze culture for a living?

    Whoa, laughingrat. If you want to talk about the content of the film, go right ahead.

  36. Lauren
    Lauren April 14, 2009 at 11:54 am |

    Yeah, my comment is directly under Matt’s, and at the link posted to my personal blog I say essentially the same thing he did. I think reasonable people, peers even, can disagree.

  37. Holly
    Holly April 14, 2009 at 12:26 pm |

    I agree with Lauren and Matt, and I didn’t mean to suggest before that I think the audience is meant to identify with Rogen’s character in an uncomplicated way. What I did mean was that the “relief” of the joke here is, like William said, relief about “oh phew, not actually a rapist after all.”

    Now, that may not have been the director’s original intent. It sounds like he wanted to go much darker and just have a rape committed by an essentially awful (BUT ALL TOO FAMILIAR) iconic character. And maybe that would have worked better in some ways — maybe the audience would have been more struck by how awful this character is and the depths to which both Rogen’s & Faris’ characters are sinking (she’s portrayed as pretty self-destructive and fucked up too).

    However, I think it’s much harder to do that in a dark comedy, because it’s so dark. He couldn’t get away with it for a bunch of reasons. Some of those have to do with the genre and what actually works in the “doofy slapstick unlikeable anti-hero genre” as its defined not only in the industry and by individual creators but by audience expectations and understanding too. Some of those have to do with how bad rape is and how uncomfortable it makes people. Rape does make people uncomfortable — that’s why a lot of the bullshit about rape culture is about pretending that a lot of rapes are not “really rapes.” And that’s what Seth Rogen was talking about — Faris’s line is inserted in there to let the audience off easy, keep them from being so uncomfortable that they have a bad time at the movies seeing a dumb comedy, to create a sense of comic relief instead of utter laughing-in-the-abyss darkness. It definitely is the easier way out, and I think William still had it spot-on when he talked about how it’s “relief for the person worried about being a rapist.” It’s also relief for the audience worried that they are witnessing a rape, worried that they are complicit in a rape or even a straightforward depiction of a rape. Oh phew, Faris’s character is giving consent (sort of! but phew ok we’re looking for anyway out of this hell, that’s enough we’ll take it and run) so now we’re just watching two really messed up people playing on the edge of alcoholism and blackouts and desperation and comfort-pity-fuck-the-pain-away and consent/non-consent. Oh phew, it’s really dark. But not too dark. “Real” rape (the kind that “really” bothers people) is too dark for the creators of this film to really be able to go there.

  38. William
    William April 14, 2009 at 12:53 pm |

    Oh phew, it’s really dark. But not too dark. “Real” rape (the kind that “really” bothers people) is too dark for the creators of this film to really be able to go there.

    I think that analysis might be giving a bit too much credit. We live in a culture which has, as Warren Ellis put it, “Law & Order: Child Rape Cavalcade” on as syndicated prime time entertainment four or five times a day in most cable markets. I sat down after cooking dinner last week and saw an episode about a man running around Manhattan gluing people’s assholes shut. Rape might be dark, but I think showing a straight date rape scene isn’t going to be “too dark” in the current social context. I can think of three adult-targeted basic cable comedies off the top of my head that have gone pretty dark as far as rape-related humor.

    What is most telling, for me, is that the makers of this movie likely could have gone as dark as they wanted. They could have done a straight up rape scene. They could have made their protagonist as creepy as they wanted to. For some reason, they decided that this scene was going to be softened and they decided to soften it by essentially vindicating the rapist. They didn’t choose to make it an almost-rape, they didn’t create some humorous comeuppance for the rapist, all the did was remove the discomfort felt by the rapist. I mean, when all is said and done, the “consent” given isn’t really consent and just about anyone who wasn’t desperately looking for a way to pump up their own self image could see that. But it doesn’t seem like we’re supposed to be laughing at Rogan’s character’s denial…

  39. Ms. Annie Creamcheese
    Ms. Annie Creamcheese April 15, 2009 at 12:00 am |

    I know I know, I’m on this bandwagon quite a bit late, but that’s what happens when your internet gets broked.
    William, first I would like to say that I have found every single comment you have posted to be more enlightening and thought provoking than the last. Now that my kiss-assery is done, I have to say that I agree with your last comment (#38) completely– the makers of the film could have made the scene as “dark” as they wanted, but they chose to “soften the blow” by avoiding writing it as (what average-blissfullyignorant citizen would consider to be) a “straight up rape scene”. How could anyone take this as anything but a signal that the contents of this scene are not seen as rape? You hear about the masses bitching and moaning about how violence on tv and in movies is corrupting our youth– and with good reason too, take a good look at the studies and you’ll see why– but nothing about the kind of message a scene like is sending. The sheer fact that it’s supposed to be funny is telling the viewer that “it’s not a big deal”; doesn’t the saying go “the smartest thing the devil did was convince the people he didn’t exist”? Something like that… anyway, I’m sure my point has been made.

  40. Julia
    Julia May 7, 2009 at 7:18 pm |

    I agree with everything you said — well said. Check out my response to this movie — it’s a song I wrote:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGIQPTa4s_g

    If you like it, join the facebook group:
    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=72409291708&ref=nf

  41. Why Rape Jokes Aren’t Funny « Gallivant by POPPY GALLICO

    [...] rape jokes aren’t funny‘.  You really don’t need to take my word for it, when so many other amazing, strong feminists have written about it.  (warning: some are triggering.)  [...]

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