Observe, Report, Condemn

by anna

The feminist blogosphere is all a-buzz with the date-rape scene in Observe and Report. I know I am coming to this a little late, but let me just chime in: Fuck Seth Rogen, and Fuck Jody Hill, director of this movie.

Seth Rogen, on the one hand, seems to realize the shocking nature of the scene, saying in an interview:

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?”

Though what Brandi says certainly does not make it okay, he seems to find the scene funny based on the dramatic tension between audience’s moral judgments and the films weak efforts to resolve it. Fair enough.

Jody Hill thinks portraying this date-rape scene is artistically daring. Read his inarticulate pompousness here, courtesy of the Onion’s A.V. Club:

AVC: In the Times piece, they describe the scene you’re talking about as Seth Rogen’s character forcing himself on Anna Faris. Is that how you perceived that scene?

JH: [Pause.] I dunno. I’ve always kind of liked scenes that you talk about how fucked-up they are. I would have been happy without any dialogue in that scene. I wanted to show them just having sex and her passed out, and I thought that would have been funnier. But I think I have a darker sense of humor than most people. So at the end, [Faris’ character] is okay with it. [Laughs.] And that was like, “I’ll shoot it both ways.” So I actually shot it both ways. I just kept the camera rolling. There’s like a line that’s “We’re okay laughing, and you’re pushing the envelope.” But you’re not really pushing the envelope until you cross that line where a lot of people don’t go along with you. I tried to do it in a few scenes in this movie, where a lot of people aren’t going to go along with the film or with what we’re trying to do. Hopefully that means we’re actually pushing the envelope. [Laughs.] You know what I mean by that? I think if you’re really pushing the envelope, you have to not include everybody, if that makes sense. Or else it’s not really pushing the envelope.

DID YOU SEE THAT? I think Jody needs to learn the difference between exploitation/politically irresponsible provocateuring AND ART. Just because something is daring and shocking does not mean it is “pushing the envelope.” And if “pushing the envelope” is your only vocabulary for artistic experimentation, then you need to go back to film school and learn how to be legitimately interesting.

Sadly, though, I must also throw in a heavy-hearted chide against Anna Faris. Anna, I really really really want to believe in you. You’re so funny and delightful. But you keep being in crappy movies that are sexist. WHY????????!

It could be because there aren’t many opportunities for a cutie-blond such as Anna to be taken seriously in a movie. Women like her are not leads, they are objects of our scorn or our pitying laughter. Anna has played either a superficial bimbo (Lost in Translation) or, when she had a lead of her own (The House Bunny), she plays a good-hearted by empty-headed bimbo. Remember when Katherine Heigl spoke up about her Knocked Up filming experience? That was refreshing. I’m not asking Anna F to always represent; that would be unfair. I just want to see her in some good movies, where her goofiness is on full display, and she does not play petty, bitchy sidekick to a Seth Rogen character.

Finally, I admit, I haven’t seen the movie. I plan to, because I want to see the context of this scene as wedged between other scenes of cruelty. Not all portrayals of rape in movies are inherently wrong; but when rape is made light or the object of laughter, that is indeed a problem.

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