It’s like the old expression goes, if he ain’t gay, blame Seth Rogen. Ann Hornaday is the film critic for the Washington Post, and on Sunday, she wrote an op-ed calling out Hollywood’s casual and often-gross sexism. Which, OK! No one’s going to argue that there’s something wrong with Adam Sandler casting Selma Hayek as his wife in Grown Ups 3: Adulturds. But that’s not the only point Hornaday’s tried to make — she also drew a direct connection between the “vigilantism and sexual wish-fulfillment” of the Seth Rogen-starring Neighbors and other Judd Apatow-esque comedies and what happened in Santa Barbara, California Friday night.
How many students watch outsized frat-boy fantasies like Neighbors and feel, as Rodger did, unjustly shut out of college life that should be full of “sex and fun and pleasure”? How many men, raised on a steady diet of Judd Apatow comedies in which the shlubby arrested adolescent always gets the girl, find that those happy endings constantly elude them and conclude, “It’s not fair”?
To which Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow responded:
Later in her op-ed, Hornaday wrote:
Even if 51 percent of our movies were made by women, Elliot Rodger still would have been seriously ill. But it’s worth examining who gets to be represented on screen, and how. It makes sense to ask, as cartoonist Alison Bechdel does in her eponymous Bechdel Test, whether a movie features (1) at least two named female characters who (2) talk to each other about (3) something besides a man. And it bears taking a hard look at whether we’re doing more subtle damage to our psyches and society by so drastically limiting our collective imagination. As Rodger himself made so grievously clear, we’re only as strong as the stories we tell ourselves. (Via)
She also quotes a study from San Diego State University stating that only 16% of directors, writers, producers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 movies of 2013 were female. That’s seriously f*cked up, but so is the suggestion that Rogen and Apatow somehow, no matter how indirectly, played a part in Rodger’s killing spree. It’s reminiscent of blaming video games or that RAPPITY MUSIC for Columbine and other tragedies — connections can be made, but that doesn’t mean they should. It ultimately, and to horrible generalize things, comes down to whatever else is going on inside the killer’s head. You can be a lonely, angry guy who enjoys Neighbors and isn’t a monster, so long as you possess the awareness to know the difference between right and wrong, fact and fiction.
Hornaday’s article makes some very good points about the lack of female filmmakers, but “if our cinematic grammar is one of violence, sexual conquest, and macho swagger…no one should be surprised when those impulses take luridly literal form in the culture at large” oversimplifies much bigger problems involving mental illness.