Sunday, March 30, 2008

Damn you Judd Apatow

I know '40 Year Old Virgin' and 'Knocked Up' had some problems. I recognize the sexist sub-plots but I still had a good time and enjoyed many laughs. I acknowledge what many other feminist bloggers have said... Superbad was a steaming pile of crap. Not much to enjoy in two moderately attractive men (at best) drawing pictures of penises and tweeking hardcore at menstrual blood. Not to mention that every female character in that movie didn't necessarily need a character name as much as the word "sperm dumpster" tattooed on her forehead.

Anyway. I have been excited for the movie "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" ever since I heard it was starring Kristen Bell (the goddess from Veronica Mars). Apatow produced this movie and from initial previews, I was skeptical but hopeful. But a few days ago, I saw another trailer for this film and this time I was genuinely pissed off.

In a new scene, we see the male lead in bed with a woman. As they begin to throw off clothes, he asks, "Are you sure you aren't too drunk?" Her annoyed response is: "Don't be so sensitive!"

Damn You Judd Apatow. Seriously. Making sure you aren't about to rape someone isn't being "too sensitive."

I am so sick of these boys-will-be-boys "comedies" that all include alcohol as the only way to achieve sex. In 40 Year Old Virgin we had the "tackling drunk bitches" scene. In Knocked Up, the drunk hookup was the basis for the entire plot and the subsequent odd coupling of Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen. Then there was Superbad, where the young men had to quest for booze otherwise "the chicks won't have sex with you."

I am so tired of it.

I know we're making comedies here, but could we acknowledge that date rape is a huge, HUGE problem and alcohol is the #1 date rape drug?! I can only ignore the alcohol/sex obsession of Apatow and crew for so long. In Knocked Up, I was generally comfortable because there was a sense that yes, the liquor greased the wheels for the (highly unlikely) hook-up of Heighl and Rogen's characters but both were clearly consenting. In 40 year old Virgin, I felt pacified because (lovable) Steve Carell is clearly uncomfortable "tackling a drunk bitch" and instead chooses to find a sexual relationship with a coherent woman.

It wasn't until I watched Superbad that I got cranky. That movie seemed to poke fun at Michael Cera's character, who was too soft to accept that "getting girls drunk" was just part of the plan. His obvious discomfort with sleeping with highly-intoxicated Becca is fodder for laughs. When he says "I don't think you want to do this. You're really drunk" Her response was, "I don't understand why you have to be such a little bitch about it."

We need to stop sending messages that guys are pussies if they stop and ask women, "Are you okay with this?" / "Is this what you really want?"/ "Are you sure you aren't drunk?"

I think a lot of women find it to be a turn on when the man they're about to sleep with is concerned for their well-being and wants to make sure they are comfortable. Why do these Apatow flicks (beloved by 20-something men across America) have to call a man a pussy if he worries about having sex with a drunk woman? Not only your guy friends, but the women you try and score with will also call you a bitch or scoff at you for being "too sensitive."

I realize that I'm judging the movie based on a trailer but seriously, every single Apatow movie directs these messages at young men over and over and over again. It's not funny and it's a really dysfunctional message. Let's try and demonstrate the valid point that women appreciate a man who will think twice before just screwing you. We want a man who will stop and think, 'Hey this is a human being, not just a convenient masturbation hole.' Is that so hard to understand?

Apatow and company might just be impressed at how THAT message would widen their appeal with young women.


The Red Queen said...

Hear fucking hear!

I was forced to watch Superbad twice in the last week. When I fell asleep during the first viewing, it was decided that it should be replayed just so I wouldn't miss anything. BAHHHHHHHHHHHHH

You know- it's not the feminists that think most men are so stupid and awful that the only way a woman would want to see them naked is if she was mentally impaired by booze. That's the work o' the patriarchy. Judd Aptow is obviously one of the patriarchy's biggest tools

ouyangdan said...

as much as i like "knocked up", and parts of it make me cringe like mad, i have to ask Mr. Apatow

do you have nothing else? is this all you have? drunk frat boy date rape humor?


it's tired, it's boring, and i am so over it.

harlemjd said...

On the one hand, some girls respond this way. Aptow may have run across a few.

ON THE OTHER, MORE IMPORTANT HAND, the fact that girls sometimes have this response shows just what society tells us we are worth, that a partner showing concern for one's well-being throws one for a loop. (not to mention that I wonder how many drunk girls engaging in casual sex are drunk precisely because they feel that said casual sex is expected of them, but aren't really comfortable with that)

Kate217 said...


corey said...

Ggggrr. I do SA prevention programs for college and high school dudes and when we ask for reasons why they wouldn't ask a woman if she's cool to proceed, the whole "I'll ruin the moment" excuse was one of the easiest to knock down. How many women are gonna be totally into it and ready to get down and then react negatively when you show them the respect to make sure they're cool with it...none. Eff you, Judd Apatow. (BTW hi, I'm Corey)

tinfoil hattie said...

There's no such thing as "date rape." Rape is rape.

Emily said...

Yeeeah, but...

In the end, neither of the main characters have drunk sex and they end up getting the girls because of it, not in spite of it. It says something about out society that it's difficult for them to do the decent thing and that they are rewarded for such a basic level or respect, sure.

I think that Apatow's films are deeply problematic for feminists, but this is not the greatest of my concerns because at least he sort of gets it right in the epilogue.

Anne Onne said...

Motion seconded, thirded or whatever.
with the terribly high date rape prevalence of today, do we really need movies sending the message that men who don't want to rape women are pussies? Hell no!

I haven't seen these films (a combination of avoiding overtly misogynist-looking films like the plague, and not going to the cinema much anyway), and I probably won't, unless I feel like giving myself something to rant about, which I've been known to do. ;)

On a more serious note, I agree with HarlemJ and Corey - if women don't expect the respect, it isn't because they don't deserve it, or because it is wrong, but because they have been taught that they have no right to expect autonomy over their bodies once they walk into a room alone with a man. For a lot of women, how consensual can consensual sex be, if you know the expectation is always there in the end, and the pressure? Gah, I blame the patriarchy. And Apatow, for regurgitating the bullshit.

the red queen, definitely! How are we the anti-men ones, if we think them infinitely more capable of self-control, of respect and courtesy than a rodent. On the other hand, people who claim to be all about the men seem to believe that men really are less capable of learning behaviour than housepets, and need to be coddled and simultaneously kept at bay. Grrr...