Sexism Watch: Date Rape Gets Mainstream Film Release

by Melissa Silverstein on April 9, 2009

in Box Office,Movies,Sexism

I have pretty much ignored the new Seth Rogen film Observe and Report coming out tomorrow.  I saw him on the Daily Show earlier this week and all Jon Stewart talked about was his weight loss, and on SNL last weekend they made fun of the fact that he is in the second mall security guard comedy this season.  Yes, you read it right.  This is the second mall security guard film.

Over the last day I’ve started to notice some disturbing posts about the film and date rape. So I forced myself to watch the trailer and there for all the world to see is Seth Rogen raping the passed out Anna Faris (a woman who is supposed to protect from a streaker.)  She is clearly not able to make a conscious decision, her eyes are closed and there is a trail of vomit on the pillow. She is being raped but since it’s a comedy they can mitigate it by giving Rogen  a moment where his brain goes huh maybe she’s unconscious and stops pumping briefly only to hear Faris shout out something like “Why are you stopping motherf***er?”  Like that makes it ok.  Passed out screaming implies consent.  Bad premise.

I’m just wondering what some guys will think about when they come out of this film.  We all know there is so much sexual violence perpetrated against women that having a film like this treat this epidemic so lightly is shocking.

And how can a film like this get an R rating?  Depicting sexual violence as a comedic vehicle is just not ok.  Seth Rogen used to be a stoner schlub and now he’s a stalking, date raping mall security guard.  He’s going to play a super hero next in one of the comic book movies so his career is on the fast track.

Both Rogen and Faris have been offering excuses for the film and with all due respect Farris needs to seriously consider her career because funny and stupid (The House Bunny) is one thing, but making fun of being raped is in a whole different category.

To her credit even Faris thought the script would be toned down:

…when I read the script, I thought, “Well, this is Warner Brothers. This is a studio movie, so this is all gonna be softened up. It’s a comedy, right?” So when we were shooting it, even the date-rape scene—or as I refer to it, “The Tender Love-Making Scene”—I just thought, “We’ll shoot it, but it’s not gonna be in the movie. I don’t have to worry about that one.” And yet there it is. (H/T Tiger Beatdown)

But I guess the point is that because the scene wasn’t a problem and didn’t need to be toned down shows us another example of Hollywood’s misogynistic treatment of women.  Do these guys (and probably some women) who greenlight these movies think about their sisters and daughters?

The message is that date rape is appropriate comic fodder for a mainstream Hollywood comedy.  This film makes Knocked Up‘s sexism mild.

Sady at Tiger Beatdown sums it up best:

maybe I’ve reached the precise point at which I cannot be a “good sport” any longer and that is the point at which I am asked to pay ten fucking dollars plus however much a soda is these days for a movie that may very well insult me and every woman who’s ever had an unwanted dick shoved into her body. I could talk about how, even though I got warned in advance, even though I won’t be seeing the movie, the incredible frequency of rape and sexual assault in our society means that many, many victims of rape will see it, and the PTSD that often accompanies rape will mean that, for a joke, for some dipshit filmmaker’s attempt at being edgy, they are going to experience all of the pain and psychological trauma associated with that experience, they are going to feel that rape all over again, there, in their seats, in the theater, and they are going to pay for the experience, and if they try to talk about what that filmmaker did to them it’s probably going to get sidetracked into some conversation about the Sanctity of Art which is invariably given more consideration than their actual lives.

Here’s an idea.  Don’t see this movie this weekend.  Stand up and say no.  Why should we spend our good money watching a movie where we get raped for comedic purposes?

Rape is not funny. Ever.

Anna Faris (AV Club)

Does Seth Rogen Rape Anna Faris in Observe and Report? (The Vulture)

Share

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Gina April 9, 2009 at 10:44 AM

That is awful. This is exactly why men do not understand it is wrong. Or rather, why they SAY they don’t get it.
The movie is saying “Hey, its OK because this is the only way this guy can get laid”.

chuck mason April 9, 2009 at 11:27 AM

hahah get a life lesbians……you take this shit to literally

Milla April 9, 2009 at 12:14 PM

Sigh. I hate that actresses like Anna Faris have to be so afraid for their carriers they don’t dare to contest the script, for the fear of losing that gig. I hate that sexism, and especially the visual and narrative objectification of women is so common in our society that it raises no outrage in mainstream media. Oh and I especially hate the fact that there’s always some dick-wit like ‘ol chuck mason, who’s ability to articulate commentary on women’s issues is limited to calling all feminists lesbians.
Sigh and sigh again.

Mr. McGinnis April 9, 2009 at 5:32 PM

objectification is awesome.

Allison April 9, 2009 at 6:16 PM

I think this is disgusting, but I’m not shocked considering how terrible 2009 has been to women in the movies so far.

I don’t think much of either Farris or Rogen for participating in this grotesque “comedy”. But, hey, they needed the gig to make lots of moola, right? I will be avoiding their movies from now on.

Wanna bet idiots like chuck mason and Mr. McGinnis make this movie number one at the box office? Sigh….

chuck mason April 9, 2009 at 6:40 PM

why dont you stupid liberal feminist treehugging hippies wait to see the movie before you flip over stuff….you are flipping out over something you havent even seen yet.

Thomai in L.A. (it rhymes) April 9, 2009 at 11:41 PM

thanks for your work Melissa, Keep on Keepin on.

p.s.
I linked to this from FB.

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! April 10, 2009 at 7:29 AM

Chuck Mason, darling, shut up and go back to the playground. Or should I punch your filthy mouth and put you in the corner?

grrljock April 10, 2009 at 8:13 AM

Don’t feed the trolls. As cool as Jon Stewart is, the Daily Show still only has room for one female correspondent. Probably because women are just not funny…(sarcastic, if you can’t tell).

Feminist Lesbo Movie Lover April 10, 2009 at 8:27 AM

I’ve already seen the film and that scene pretty bad – it’s a fuzzy disgusting line they play with and certainly offensive to women (and men). I audibly expressed my repulsion in the theater and there was nothing humorous about it. However, those two characters in that situation are not out of the realm of the expected. They are both idiots and Rogen’s character is mentally ill. But, worse still, the rest of the movie isn’t funny. I was all set for a dark comedy, but it’s just gross and the story goes nowhere.

stephanie rosenfeld April 10, 2009 at 10:04 AM

Below is an email I sent to my city’s film critic (SLC) in response to Melissa’s comments. I usually don’t form opinions of things I haven’t seen, but…. in a way, I HAVE seen it… over and over again, lately – and since I have a general beef anyway with the way the guy covers movies and leaves out all mention of the sexism, I used the opportunity to write. It kind of goes on, but if anyone’s interested, you can get the gist in a few sentences… and two more things:

a) I know I’m preaching to the choir
b) That male comment “Get a sense of humor, ladies” that you just hear over and over and over again to any attempt at intelligent analysis… so dumb, so inadequate, so weak and lame.

Sean Means -

Not mentioned in your review was the “date-rape — or is it?” scene in the movie. In case you’re interested:

http://womenandhollywood.com/2009/04/sexism-watch-date-rape-gets-mainstream-film-release/

I haven’t seen the movie, so I can’t speak in a specifically informed way, but…

Sometime it would be great if you would publish something specifically looking at the way the whole Apatow-and-disciples crew treat/show/talk about women and girls — and the lines, if there are any, between humor and hatred, how far is too far to go to get a laugh, etc. As I said, I can’t speak specifically to the scene referenced above, but I have seen my share of them recently, and also am aware of the way that part of the whole Apatow juggernaut has created an “upping-of-the-ante” effect for gross-out sexual humor that keeps getting played out with young women as the butt of the joke.

I find that except for feminist blogs and female journalists, the subject gets pushed under the rug — probably because it’s too difficult to reconcile, or the answer “: It’s here to stay, driven by box office reality, so get used to it,” is not a great conclusion to have to come to.

You’re not a TV critic, and I doubt the Trib’s TV critic is up to it, but also: “Entourage.” “Rescue Me” — great shows, in some ways. As a woman, I am surprised I enjoy them, given the way they are all about, or 90% about…. either/or the “Women: can’t-live-with’em-can’t-live’without-em dilemma,” and the perpetual “hunt for pussy.” (Sorry about the language but if I hear it coming through my TV 20 times a night, I feel it’s probably okay to project it back to the world.)

Anyway, my point: I’m not criticizing your work or your coverage. But I do have a sense that you ignore the topic (and the reality) of gender politics, at all levels, in film. Okay, maybe that’s for the NYT, and I should either look to the wider world for the discussion, or write about it myself and post to the blogs. But I actually think there are a lot of readers — say for example female viewers of all ages who might see a borderline date-rape scene and want to hear some intelligent discussion of it in the media, or even just have a sense of, “Yes, I did see that, something wasn’t right, and IT’S NOT JUST ME” — who would benefit from more awareness of the box-office driven phenomenon of humor at young females’ expense.

Stephanie Rosenfeld

Ennetee April 10, 2009 at 11:51 AM

I linked to this with some choice comments of my own.

Sigh.

Will also send this over to Shakesville for a head’s up.

Ennetee

Jennifer April 10, 2009 at 12:55 PM

For those of us who have a sense of humour and intelligence; we understand that equating rape with art or comedy is crossing a line that does not enhance either of the two. There is nothing funny about rape and knowing that comes with a compassion and maturity these people who made the film and those that defend it lack. Comedy done well, wouldn’t need to go down the road of date rape being a bankable laugh.

What a joke April 10, 2009 at 12:59 PM

You have got to be kidding me. The old no means no still sticks. She never says no, but instead says “why are you stopping…..” This is not date rape by any means, she made stupid decisions and decided to make a more stupid decision by sleeping with him. Women have more rights than men do now so stop bitching, enjoy life, and relax. If you don’t like what they put in this movie, then make your own movie.

Movie goer April 10, 2009 at 1:17 PM

Hey, wake up “what a joke”! its a movie with writers that put that crap in, of course they are going to write in “why are you stopping” how else are they going to justify their scene? Not interested in making my own movie, got a job thanks, that is why I pay for someone else to do that. Enjoying life too, just a little selective about what constitutes enjoyment…rape scenes just aren’t up high on my list.

Kelly April 10, 2009 at 6:05 PM

“What a joke” Even if she didn’t say no, it was rape because he started having sex with her while she was blacked out. She was clearly intoxicated, having just thrown up all over the place, and intoxicated to the point of blackout=no consent. That is the law. When you are that intoxicated you lose the capacity to make an informed decision, and because he started having sex with her while she was unconscious she never was given the chance to make that decision. Regardless of whether she later wakes up and decides that she wants to, it was rape from the beginning because it started while she was unconscious, he didn’t give her the chance to make that choice by waiting until she was conscious and sober. Their addition of the “why are you stopping” line does nothing to change the fact that it is rape, because she wasn’t allowed to make that statement before the sexual encounter happened. College guys all over are already doing this very same thing, and movies like this just make that act more socially acceptable.

Megan April 10, 2009 at 6:31 PM

I think you’re right on, Melissa. What scares me about this new genre of stupid sexist flicks is that this is what teenage boys and young men are watching – and is one of the places where they’re learning what it means to be in relationship with women. This normalizing sexual assault, making it into a joke, is exactly what’s wrong with the media we’re offered today. It’s anemic, unimaginative, violent, sexist crap. It’s why we need more women filmmakers. Thanks for a great post.

kristin April 11, 2009 at 12:02 PM

kelly is exactly right. sure, she says ‘why are you stopping’, but if you are drunk and/or unconscious, you are in no way giving consent. and sex without consent is rape. period. that’s absolutely no way around that.

and let’s think about who has the power to make these blockbuster films, and what happens to films that try to legitamtely empower women in any way. who are the people making these films? and what is the content they produce? so yes, we can say, oh go make your own movie, but that is so incredibly weak to say, given that anything i would make for example, would never ever make it to the big screen like this movie – i lack the resources, the social and economic capital to make that work. period.

spielster April 11, 2009 at 2:15 PM

Melissa,

I am conflicted with this because from what I have read, Faris said that her character purposely got to annilated in order to have sex with him. I have yet to see the film and will be doing so this weekend, and plan on presenting my review on my site.

I just hope that in these circumstances we would look at the full picture, not just a trailer or the assumption that this is a laugh a minute comedy, like the ridiculously wrong advertising is attempting to convince us it is. Everyone has the right to be offended and women do need much greater opportunities within movies, but I would hate to see Anna Faris being dogged for this if she thought this was an interesting step for her career.

Jonathan April 12, 2009 at 4:32 AM

Answer me this:

What is entertainment?

Do we really need it?

I thank you for your response. :p

Meredith April 12, 2009 at 12:03 PM

Thank you so much for writing this. I actually considered seeing that movie and I’m so glad that now I won’t have to face the embarrassment and trapped feeling of being triggered in a public place. I do have PTSD and there are a lot of triggering “jokes” or inappropriate uses of the word rape in the media. People act like it is completely trivial and meaningless and I’ve even lost FEMALE friends because they say they don’t get how a word being used inappropriately, or a joke could be triggering. This is the best explanation of that shock you get when you think you’re going to be able to see something funny and get a break from being “abnormal” or “traumatized” and then you get blindsided.

Tammy Ponville April 12, 2009 at 5:09 PM

Great job “standing up” for the rest of us. It makes me proud to know that you became fully informed before you started writing. Oh, what’s that? You haven’t watched the scene in the full context of the film? You only watched the trailer? Oh, good. It’s exactly the same thing, don’t worry.

That’s like me saying Melissa Silverstein only writes snap judgment articles, pulling info from her first Google search. I won’t do that though, since by the merit of reading one article alone I can’t tell she’s a hack.

Bren April 12, 2009 at 11:13 PM

I don’t understand what boycotting does. Yes, Ronnie does rape her. He also shoots a man in the chest and kills 6 crackheads and beats up cops. But no one seems to mind that. I understand that rape is completely intolerable, but you say Seth Rogen is a rapist. He’s not. Ronnie is. He’s a character in a movie. Seth Rogen isn’t raping anybody. It’s fictional. No one sees Ronnie as a hero or someone to look up to. If anyone here actually saw the movie (which I did) you would understand the whole purpose of the movie. The film is very concerned with masculinity and its effects on the mind. It shows how disturbed Ronnie is and it’s NOT okay to be like him. It’s a movie and it’s not the first movie to show date rape. No one thinks that rape is funny, let alone from this movie. It shows it as sad and pathetic and wrong. That’s what the movie is saying. It’s saying that Ronnie is NOT a hero because of the things he does.

Cat April 13, 2009 at 3:01 AM

I can’t believe that people here are actually saying that this article holds no truth because the writer “only watched a trailer” and “didn’t look at the bigger picture.” Okay, so lets get this straight – drunk Seth Rogen character fucks a PASSED OUT DRUNK girl. How is this consensual by any means? I don’t care if she intended to have sex with him – any DECENT role model of a man would NOT have sex with her, no matter her original intentions, no matter his selfish desires. It’s like saying because a woman kisses a guy that she is automatically consenting to sex. What is wrong with society? It is illegal to have sex with an intoxicated person. Would you fuck someone in a coma? No. Its about the same damn thing though – you don’t have sex with people in compromised states of mind, whether it be intoxication or mentally.

Unfortunately, I can’t see this movie. I’m a survivor and I have PTSD – I have anxiety, flashbacks, sleepless nights, random pain, heightened fight or flight senses… You see, the thing is, this movie is basically making a joke of what happened to me. I guess I don’t find rape funny because well, my mind is always constantly trying to figure out why everything happened to me the way it did. I thought like anyone, I had the right to drink without being violated. My drink may have also been compromised, but you see, I don’t remember. I just remember bits and pieces. It eats away at me. The cop also didn’t believe me, even though I went to the ER like you’re supposed to, and there was evidence, but I got no justice. I guess he’s like Seth Rogen who also feels that any drunk person is begging for sex. I guess my PTSD is hilarious too. After all I did have to sacrifice college and now I can’t have normal relationship with my loving boyfriend who also doesn’t find this Seth Rogen flick entertaining (but maybe he should laugh at me while he deals with my PTSD on a daily basis.)

Anyone who finds this movie entertaining is disgusting and obviously doesn’t know a rape survivor, and the long lasting mental and physical affects rape has on someone.

And thank you Melissa for writing this great article.

Sarah April 13, 2009 at 11:27 AM

Get over it, it’s a movie. No one sees this stuff and takes away lessons like “Hey, Seth Rogan is a good role model, I should date rape people too!” If you don’t think its funny, don’t pay ten dollars to watch it. Plain and simple

Donna April 14, 2009 at 4:37 AM

Sarah: Funny… I thought “If you don’t think (rape is) funny, don’t pay ten dollars to watch it” was the main point of the post.

Melissa Silverstein April 19, 2009 at 6:00 PM

Thank you so much for sharing.

Melissa Silverstein April 19, 2009 at 6:05 PM

I will look forward to seeing what you have to say on the film. I haven’t yet seen your review. I am conflicted about Anna Faris. I don’t think anyone should be punished for taking parts cause everyone needs to work, but she seems to really get off on these types of characters, characters that I find disturbing and unappealing. That’s just me. Lots of people like her movies. It’s a free country, I’m just giving my opinion.

Melissa Silverstein April 19, 2009 at 6:08 PM

Don’t feed the trolls. They will go away. Thanks

sevedra May 8, 2009 at 2:14 AM

I just wanted to stop by and say thank you for writing this. I did choose not to see this movie. I was a victim of date rape as a result of being intoxicated myself. It has been 19 years now. It took me well over 10 years to work through the PTSD. I can sleep at night cuddled with my husband. When we first married, he could not touch me in a cuddly way while i was sleeping because I would react very badly. Had I seen this movie, or any movie with a rape scene or date rape scene, I can not know that I would not start having trouble sleeping again. I appreciate that you went to the effort to warn women about this. Thanks

Margaret March 25, 2010 at 5:39 AM

Rape is never the acceptable butt of a joke. I too suffered from PTSD caused by sexual assault. During the time dealing with the PTSD I was a full time student. My grades inevitably suffered as I struggled with the flashbacks, insomnia, terror and feelings of helplessness. When I was placed on academic probation, I was told I had to attend an essay writing workshop. The first day of the workshop, the prof made a rape joke at the beginning of class. That horrible, shaky, terror in the pit of the stomach feeling returned. I had to sit through the workshop or be kicked out of school. I wrote the prof a letter telling him that rape jokes were not appropriate teaching tools. He sent me a letter back saying that, although he wouldn’t use that joke again, he disagreed with censorship. Now, I’m generally against censorship, but seriously, the amount of pain that could be avoided by not telling these jokes is staggering.

I wanted to tell this story to illustrate that we need to combat this sort of thing EVERYWHERE, even in educational institutions. Thank you for the warning about this film. I for one will not be seeing it.

Mac December 23, 2011 at 10:33 PM

Women cannot stop rape (men of women). A particular woman may be able to stop a particular man from raping her, but only men can prevent rape. Each one has to refuse to rape.
Even if it’s a woman’s “fault,” for being stupid, a tease, drunk, etc., it does not give any man any right to rape her.

Mac December 23, 2011 at 10:39 PM

My wife was raped 5 times. She was stupid. She sneaked out of her dad’s house and met boyfriends (one of whom was married with children). She didn’t put up a fight and didn’t report it to other than to her dad. He just blamed her and cringed up to avoid dealing with it.
She thinks she got pregnant once but miscarried early (I have read that it’s common).
When she was in college, a foreign student tried to rape her in a friend’s dorm room. She managed to get away.
One of my sisters was raped. She prosecuted. Our dad blamed her and would not give her any support. The rapist’s lawyer made her out to be a whore when she was just a divorced woman trying to make a living for her children. She was divorced by her husband when she ran from him after being badly choked.
Humans (SOME humans) have turned this earth int a shitball. I’d like to emigrate to another place. In my dreams.

Douglas March 5, 2014 at 11:11 AM

You can build up your village and live a peaceful existence.
Very first of Droid Some of the has brought good opportunity
for marketing experts to develop its games into Mobile platform.
What even these “Protestant Fundamentalists” quite Roman Catholically forget, and EVEN
MORE SO, for “NOT” FORGETTING IT, but ONLY IN WORDS, is, basically, that, IN THIS CASE, THE OPPOSITE OF INFALLIBLE IS,
OF COURSE, FALLIBLE.

Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: