I just wanted to quickly mention the trailer for the new Judd Apatow movie, “This is 40.”
Of course, we all know that Hollywood is guilty of all sorts of offenses all of the time, but it seems rare even today to find one that is quite so up front with its surface-level exclusion. The tagline at the end of the trailer reads: “This is not just their story. This is everyone’s story.”
Please, watch, if you’re so inclined:
(Trigger warnings regarding this trailer: man on a toilet, Megan Fox in underwear, humor about spousal death, anti-aging, inherent anti-lotsa-stuff…)
The trouble, of course, is with the assumption that “everyone” will see some aspect of themselves in this story… a story which appears to be about a wildly wealthy (do you KNOW how much a house like that costs in LA?), white, American-born, middle-aged, thin, conventionally attractive, cissexual, child-rearing, married couple. I’m going to give Mr. Apatow and his corporate marketeers the benefit of the doubt and assume they know not “everyone” will conform to all of those attributes at once, and are trying to make a more general point about the basic similarity of human experience, but even I—a white, cissexual, American-born woman raising a daughter—feel thoroughly alienated and offended by this at just a core level. My heart and stomach clench to wonder how other “everyones” must feel when watching this trailer and getting smacked by that tagline.
It’s obviously impossible to cast aspersions on Mr. Apatow’s film itself– at least until the movie premieres, this will remain a marketing problem– but he is a hugely powerful filmmaker in this town, and I believe it’s fair to say that the tagline came down to him. It represents at the very least a myopic and embarrassing perspective on the world. At worst, it suggests that those with the most privilege in this country are unwilling to even bother extending an invitation to see their new movie to those that aren’t adequately “like them.”
And frankly, in order to chalk up a box office success, they will presumably need more than middle-aged rich white people (traditionally not the most movie-friendly audience out there) to go see their film… So couldn’t they have come up with a slightly less exclusionary pitch?? (I’m kind of seriously asking this, and also leaving the comments section wide open here for complaints, suggestions and heavy-duty snark.)
I am very lenient about humor, and I know what Judd Apatow’s movies are like. Some of his stuff has made me laugh, some has made me cringe, some has made me cringe through laughter or laugh through cringing. In addition, I believe he has every right to tell this story—clearly a personal one—if he chooses to do so. But if his marketing is going to display a level of ignorance this enormous, and work to exclude us so egregiously, then “everyone” can certainly choose not to see it.