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Shorter Seth Rogan: Rape is Hilarious

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.

Feminist Movies and TV

So I was updating my Netflix queue and started looking for feminist and feminist-friendly movies, decided to do a Google search, and found out that The Apostate was in the same conundrum last year. She and her commenters came up with a good list, including awesome staples like If These Walls Could Talk, Thelma and Louise, Frida, Maria Full of Grace, and Fargo. The problem is, I’ve seen most of these.

Any suggestions? And if the movie’s “feminism” is ambiguous, can you explain why you think it would be fun or interesting for a feminist to watch as entertainment?

“Dirty Driving”

HBO usually has a variety of great documentaries every month, and this month the one that caught my eye just happened to take place in Anderson, Indiana, a very blue collar area within an hour of my home. Anderson, like many manufacturing towns in the Midwest, is steadily heading towards the likes of Flint, Michigan: struggling, dying, devastated. But like many Midwestern areas, if you ask Anderson’s residents, they’re struggling but on the up-and-up, aiming to be positive despite the loss of jobs, staying afloat by focusing on family and other interests.

“Dirty Driving: Thundercars of Indiana” is about the struggling Midwestern middle class and the hobbies that take the place of work and career when industry dies, in this case the individual innovation that is a forefront in Indiana’s racing culture. When the auto manufacturing plants that pumped small towns full of money up and left, they also left behind the driving culture that so infects the workers that once populated their lines. In “Dirty Driving,” laid-off workers and their car-fanatic families remove all their ambitions from job and career and put all their knowledge and passion for the industry into their junk cars to race at the Anderson Speedway, talking shit and fighting over their victories and losses as the cameras roll.

Read More…Read More…

The stupid, it burns

Kathleen Parker suggests that David Zucker (director of Airplane!, The Naked Gun and Scary Movie 3) deserves a Nobel Prize because his latest film makes fun of Michael Moore. Are conservatives really that desperate for something funny and entertaining that also reflects their political ideology? Are the Left Behind books just not cutting it anymore?

Here’s how Parker describes the film:

As the title suggests, the story line is based on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Ghosts of the past — George Washington (Voight), Gen. George S. Patton (Grammer) and John F. Kennedy (Chriss Anglin) — squire America-bashing filmmaker “Michael Malone” around to see how the world would look if America hadn’t bothered to fight any wars.

Malone, brilliantly played by Farley, has joined forces with a left-wing group,, to ban the Fourth of July. He also has been hired by terrorists to make a propaganda film to help recruit a diminishing supply of suicide bombers.

And you thought suicide bombers weren’t funny.

The joke begins when two would-be terrorists enter a New York City subway station and are met at a security checkpoint by two NYPD officers. Just as they’re about to be searched, in rushes a squad of ACLU attorneys with a stop-search order.

“Thank Allah for the ACLU,” says one of the terrorists — and we’re off!

The vignettes keep coming so fast, it’s hard to keep up.

One memorable scene has “Rosie O’Connell” appearing on The O’Reilly Factor to promote her new documentary, The Truth About Radical Christians. The documentary shows two priests who hijack an airplane and storm the cockpit brandishing crucifixes. Next, we see two nuns festooned with explosives boarding a bus as passengers shout: “Oh no! Not the Christians!”

Another standout has Patton’s ghost showing Malone a modern-day plantation full of happy cotton pickers who thank Malone for being such a humane slave owner. Malone staggers at the sight only to learn that this is his plantation and these are his slaves — thanks to anti-war sentiment that prevented the Civil War.

In a line that filmmakers are still debating whether to cut, a smiling Gary Coleman finishes polishing a car and tosses his rag to someone: “Hey, Barack!”

No, he didn’t say that. Yes. He. Did.

And for spreading this message, Parker says, “maybe Zucker deserves not an Oscar, but a Nobel Prize.”

I need to go rinse the dumb out of my brain now.

Doing the analysis so I don’t have to

wall-e and eve

Pixar’s Gender Problem, by Caitlin GD Hopkins at Vast Public Indifference, via ill Doctrine.

. . . Whenever a new Pixar movie comes out, I wrestle with the same frustration: Pixar’s gender problem. While Disney’s long history of antipathy toward mothers and the problematic popularity of the Disney Princess line are well-traveled territory for feminist critiques, Pixar’s gender problem often slips under the radar.

The Pixar M.O. is (somewhat) subtler than the old your-stepmom-is-a-witch tropes of Disney past. Instead, Pixar’s continued failure to posit female characters as the central protagonists in their stories contributes to the idea that male is neutral and female is particular. This is not to say that Pixar does not write female characters. What I am taking issue with is the ad-nauseam repetition of female characters as helpers, love interests, and moral compasses to the male characters whose problems, feelings, and desires drive the narratives . . .

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About Erasing …

It has not exactly gone unreported that the casting of 21 is racist. (One widely linked critique is here. I found another here but I feel like there must be a whole body of WOC coverage of this story that I missed. If I did, my mistake and I will gladly update if anyone brings it to my attention.) Since I read the light but fun book on which it is based, Ben Mezrich’s “Bringing Down the House,” I thought I should add my voice.

It’s not just that the film took a bunch of really interesting Asian characters and made them white. That’s the traditional Hollywood racism. This is much worse. Some folks may have already read elsewhere that in Mezrich’s book, that the team was majority Asian worked to their advantage, so it was important to the plot. But it’s even worse than that.

In the book, Mezrich reports the main character’s own view of the interplay of racist stereotypes and his livelihood: that dealers and pit bosses and casino security are creatures of stereotypes and assumptions, so they only see what they believe. They believe only middle-aged white men count cards; they believe that Asians are all basically compulsive gamblers. In order for the team to effectively make money from the numerical advantage that a rich deck offers the player during a blackjack game, the players had to be able to bet heavily while the shoe was full of face cards; the kind of betting that might raise suspicion. But, Mezrich tells us, in the experiences of this team of Asian professional counters, the casino workers don’t see anything unusual about college-aged Asian males betting like they have all the money in the world to lose. Because their lens is racist.

The book doesn’t put a lot of weight on this, but it is a plot element; and more than that, it’s a critique. So Hollywood, by casting the Asian characters as white, has also erased a critique of racism. So that’s, to my mind, several levels of not okay.

Update: Kai, in comments, graciously provided links to work on this story by Jenn Fang of reappropriate and a discussion on NPR. I am particularly remiss in having missed Jenn’s piece; I read her blog occasionally and I thought I searched there but I somehow missed this. I’ll pull out this portion from a post that, if folks have a minute, they ought to read in full:

And though the story of the MIT Blackjack team centres on the Asian American identity of the team members, the movie loses its opportunity to explore this reappropriation of stereotypes by real-life Asian American men who used society’s perception of them — for better or for worse — to steal millions from Las Vegas casinos. Instead of exploring this interesting (and arguably empowering) story of racial identity, the movie becomes yet-another “boy-meets-girl” trifle with Asian American characters existing only as props to further a story about White protagonists.

Finally, in response to Jenn’s use of the word “steal,” I will note that I disagree. Mezrich is clear in the book that the tactics — counting cards, doing it as a team and passing signals about the state of the decks, are within the letter of the law, at least in Nevada. The casinos could bar them temporarily or permanently for any reason or no reason, but could not prosecute. For that reason, they resorted to dirtier tactics, but I won’t post spoilers. The book is a fun read.

FWIW, also, Jenn makes clear that Mezrich himself understood that this was wrong and said so.

April 26th: Screening of “Still Black” in Chicago

Still Black” is Nubian from Blac(k)acadmic’s film project. Screening details are:

april 26th @ 8 p.m. @ GENDER FUSIONS 4 (Columbia College Chicago: Conaway Center, 1104 S. Wabash, 1st Floor) $5 students / $10 general

The headliners of the event:
Marga Gomez, Matthew Hollis, Ryka Aoki de La Cruz, and Teatro Luna

*all proceeds of GENDER FUSIONS will support the post-production of the film. if you can’t make it to the event and still want to donate to the project, please visit our website. we are still seeking to reach our goal of raising $5,000 to complete the project.

It will also be screened on April 25th at 8pm at Northwestern University’s Queertopia.

Check out the trailer, from the film’s website:

And Sylvia reminds us that donations are always much-needed. You can donate to the project by going here and clicking on “support,” or buying goods from their CafePress store here. Donors will even receive a credit in the film. So if any of you are still looking for something to do with that tax return, this is a good option.

Thanks to Coco in the comments for the link.