The Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday has responded to outrage over a column she wrote linking Elliot Rodger’s killing spree to a Hollywood culture of “frat-boy fantasies”.
She originally said that many men might feel “unjustly shut out of college life” after watching films like the Seth Rogen-starring Bad Neighbours, and that Hollywood’s “escapist fantasies so often revolve around vigilantism and sexual wish-fulfillment… no one should be surprised when those impulses take luridly literal form in the culture at large.”
Rogen tweeted at Hornday that he found her column “horribly insulting and misinformed,” while director Judd Apatow wrote: “She uses tragedy to promote herself with idiotic thoughts.”
Now Hornaday has posted a video in which she explains her column further. “In singling out Neighbors and Judd Apatow, I by no means meant to cast blame on those movies or Judd Apatow’s work for this heinous action — obviously not,” she said. “The whole reason that I weighed in on this issue was that [Rodger] had created this video on YouTube that seemed to be such a product of the entertainment industry that he did grow up in, literally and also just as a member of the culture.” Rodger, the son of a film director, posted videos to YouTube ahead of his killings that outlined his frustrations and intent, which Hornaday then links to a broader filmmaking culture in Hollywood.
“And it seemed that his self-pitying complaints, a lot of them had a lot to do with the sense of entitlement that he had to a life that he had seen reflected around him, and I wanted to sort of tease out how the movies we watch that are primarily created by men and primarily pivot around fantasies of male wish-fulfillment and vigilante justice, how that might inform not just someone suffering under a terrible mental illness but the culture at large in terms of conditioning our own expectations of what we think life is and what we feel like we deserve from it.
“I was looking at the video as a lens through which to examine questions about sexism, insecurity and entitlement, how they’ve threaded their way through an entertainment culture historically dominated by men and how they’ve shaped our own expectations as individuals and a culture.” Hornaday also posted a blogwith a selection of the responses that readers had emailed her.
Since getting caught up in the debate, Apatow added further tweets, saying: “[Hornaday] can criticize but can’t handle criticism? That is as logical as her opinions… Remember everyone – ads next to articles generate money. They say something shocking and uninformed & get you to click on it to profit… she milked tragedy and it worked for her.”