God FUCKING dammit, I had this long and hopefully interesting post on the “Observe and Report” controversy. But of course, Expression Engine logs you out if it takes even more than half an hour to write a post, and so when I hit “submit”, I was logged out, and when I went to hit the “back” button and copy/paste it, I accidentally closed the window.
I wanted to revisit the issue after Friday, because I found it interesting that Wired blogged the controversy (in a style that could have been generated by a “get your readers riled up about how much they hate women while maintaining a veneer of journalistic objectivity” program), and they buried in the second to last paragraph what I think was the most relevant piece of information—actress Anna Faris disagrees with director Jody Hill and actor Seth Rogan about whether or not the rape was really a rape.
“I’m so grateful I was cast,” she said, “but when I read the script, I thought, ‘Well, this is Warner Bros. 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.”
Lindsay took a bullet and saw it. I have to say that I agree pretty much exactly with Lindsay’s take. 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.
He also makes Brandi’s character so shallow, manipulative, drug addled, and “slutty” that target demographic feels she deserves what she gets.
According to Lindsay, the filmmakers aren’t done with punishing Brandi for being sexy but not giving it up willingly to every guy that asks, either. She gets dressed down later for having the temerity to have sex with another man because she wants to, despite the fact that Rogan’s character apparently claimed her by raping her (where’s that rule written down?) and the audience ate it up. The problems she finds in “Observe and Report” are what bugged me about the second half of “Foot Fist Way”, too. The first half is a hilarious satire of this middle American overblown cult of masculinity, but then halfway through, Hill loses his appetite for having an anti-hero protagonist and starts setting up villains for the protagonist to struggle with and become a hero by default. If it had ended halfway through the movie, then it would have been really great, but he ends up using the exact same trope—the protagonist’s wife has sex with the more powerful man and the newly minted hero gets his revenge on both of them—as he does in “Observe and Report”. The satire is over, and the whole thing is a nerd’s revenge against evil women and more successful men. And even though the movie starts off satirizing the cult of masculinity, but the end of the movie, the basic rightness of the cult is upheld as the hero wins by pissing on his wedding ring in a manly man fashion, and winning a battle of physical prowess.
As a “certain feminist”, I feel I have to address this comment.
I’m curious why someone like Roman Polanski, who admitted to raping a minor, gets a pass from certain feminist bloggers because they like his movies and art isn’t affected by it’s maker or something, while depictions of sexual violence by non-criminal movie makers is awful and instructive and bad.
Aren’t they one and the same? Or shouldn’t they be similarly condemned?
As I said in the comments, if they were one and the same, I’d suggest that Jody Hill and Seth Rogan should go to jail, which is what I think should happen to Polanski. (And considering his advanced age, I think that Polanski should die in jail, because he should do the time for his crime, even though he probably never will. I fail to see how this is letting him off the hook, because last I checked, dying in jail is a far worse fate than having people pretend your movies aren’t as good as they are.) But obviously, I don’t want them to go to jail, because they didn’t commit a crime. Rape apologism is bullshit, but bullshit has as much a right to be expressed in an artistic format as anything else. This is a simple, 101 criticism basic. What’s onscreen is dealt with as what’s onscreen, and what’s off is dealt with as if it’s real life. One is subject to being read as a piece, and one is subject to being dealt with as a real life event. I wouldn’t have Polanski in my house, but I like his movies.