Recently, this happened.
And who can forget this?
Now, there’s also this.
Questionable depictions of rape are nothing new. Of particular interest to me are depictions of rape on film. One, because I love film, and two, because rape is rape and I’m a proud feminist.
I shall never forget the time I watched High Plains Drifter expecting only the usual ways in which women are depicted in Westerns – dumb and hapless but beautiful OR industrious yet smelly and unattractive, and always under-represented. But alas, in this one, Clint Eastwood rolls into town, grabs the first woman he sees, forces her into a barn where she struggles against his attack until part way through the rape when her exclamations of resistance turn to sexual moans and she ends up enjoying it. OMG. And of course, all the people of the shanty town who see this happen in broad daylight do nothing about it.
This is just one example of so many possible examples of the ways in which the media reinforces all those nasty stereotypes about rape. But the new flick starring Seth Rogen, Observe and Report, hits a fascinating note in the normalization of sexual assault. And by fascinating, I mean disgusting.
Essentially, the scene in question involves a woman who has ingested so many drugs and so much alcohol that she has vomited on herself and she is passed out. Rogen’s character is having sex with her anyway. If you read the third link of this post (commentary and trailer which includes the scene) you will see that Rogen himself suggests that the rape is made OK and funny by the woman waking up part way through and asking why he has stopped. Defenders are saying this is consent.
In Canada, sexual assault law precludes consent under circumstances of extreme intoxication of either the victim or the perpetrator and whether the intoxication is self-induced or otherwise. Therefore, at least Canadians will have to conclude that there is no consent given. Also…WTF. He just starts having sex with a passed out chick?!?! Not cool, man, not cool.
As many on the internet have noted, the really troubling part is that the target audience of this film are those same 18-26 -year-old mooks who are most likely to commit date rape. So now they’ll think its funny. And OK.
To this point I’ve had conflicted feelings toward Rogen; while I find Superbad to be hilarious, I also feel making-light of porn-addiction in young men is detestful. And the pseudo-porn included in the extra features of the DVD is a bit much. But I really don’t think I can respect a man who participates in making a joke about date rape.
Sure, the film is billed as a black comedy. And yes, date rape is pretty effing black. But comedy? I just feel as though some things are off limits.
Rape isn’t comedy and it isn’t art. It is a sorrowful expression of men’s incessant need to empower themselves by stealing power from women in an horrific act of terrifying, degrading, and scarring violence.
Shame, Seth Rogen and Jody Hill. Shame.