Observed and Reported


There has be a great deal of discussion of late regarding the movie Observe and Report starring Seth Rogen.  In particular there has been a huge debate over one particular scene in the movie where Rogen’s character has sex with a woman who is passed out from mixing pills and alcohol.  There are a couple of questions that have surfaced.  1) Is this scene portraying a rape or consensual sex? 2) Is this just  harmless fun because it is in a movie and not real life?

Honestly, I haven’t seen the film to be able to make a judgement.  However, I do know that by law a person cannot give consent while under the influence or drugs and/or alcohol.  Therefore, this scene is portraying a rape – period. While that is terrible, it is not the reason I am writing this post.  I am actually writing because of all of the reactions I have read in various “comment” sections and on message boards.  Many people are taking the “it’s just a movie, get over it” approach to people who are protesting it.  I am sad that more people don’t recognize that this scene is a reflection of our culture.  We live in a world where it has become acceptable for men to take advantage of women in this way.  Also, this film reinforces this behavior by normalizing and trivializing it.  The more sexism, sexualized violence and rape are trivialized by the media and entertainment industry, the more accepted and embedded they become in our culture. People are taking the “what’s the big deal?” approach because violence against women has become part of the fabric of our culture.  To them, it isn’t that big of a deal.  It is normal and seemingly harmless.

All of this got me thinking about a few other things as well.  First, how do all of the women who are survivors of acquaintance rape feel about this scene and about culture in general?  Second, I also wondered if this scene had been about a woman (or another man for that matter) sodomizing a man who had passed out from getting too drunk, would there be a similar reaction?  Would the public make statements like “that is what he gets for passing out” or “he should have known better that to put himself in that situation”? Would they even laugh? I don’t think so.  I think they would be too shocked to laugh.  It would be so out of the ordinary to see a man violated in that way that people would likely have very adverse reactions to it.  I would also bet that there would be a great deal of discussion about how wrong it is.  As it is, people aren’t shocked when they see a violent act against a woman.  They aren’t shocked because it has been normalized and accepted as part of culture.

I am also astonished by the amount ov victim blaming that has surfaced in response to this film.  I have heard and read a number of things that stated that any girl that drinks too much and passes out can expect bad things, like rape, to happen to her.  Others have said that “what did she expect would happen?”  To me, this implies that women are fair game and that men have permission to rape a women if she chose to over indulge.  It also implies that men do not need to be accountable for their actions and choices.  After all, rape is a choice not a foregone conclusion.  It is time for society to stop blaming victims and start holding men accountable for creating and reinforcing a sexually aggressive male culture.

Now that I have OBSERVED the public reaction to this film (and other media tidbits of a similar ilk) and REPORTED the damage they cause to you, it is up to you to use your voice to speak out against them.  It is easy to place blame on this film and its actors, writers, directors and producers.  We could boycott the film and protest theaters that show it.  We could vow to never see another Seth Rogen film.  But that would be like blaming Texas for being the sole cause of Global Warming.  What we really need to do is take a look at ourselves and the small ways in which all of us co-create a society that assigns women less value than men.  While we are at it, lets also take a look at the ways we co-create racism, homophobia and adultism.  If we ever hope to live in a peaceful world we have to address all forms of oppression.  If we expect to end domestic and sexual violence we must begin to treat them as human rights issues rather than women’s issues.  Most importantly, we must all work to change our culture. It starts with ourselves.

Anybody have any thoughts about this?

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2 thoughts on “Observed and Reported

  1. Melissa says:

    I haven’t seen the movie, either. I read about this scene though on another blog and that report described the scene in a little more detail.

    According to them, Seth’s character pauses while he is raping her and appears to have second thought about his actions. Then, Anna Faris’ character mumbles to him angrily “why’d you stop?”

    I imagine that this part is how many viewers justify the assault since she said she wanted it. In my opinion, though, this doesn’t reflect actual consent on her part since she was not conscious throughout the entire encounter, but the writers designed her character to reinforce attitudes held by rape apologists – that victims “want it” even if they were drunk/stoned/unconscious/saying no/coerced/etc.

  2. . says:

    I saw the movie and am myself a survivor of acquaintance rape. Watching this particular scene was difficult and offensive, and although I was not entirely grief stricken by the portrayal it undeniably led to a minimal reliving of my trauma. That being said, do I agree with the scene being in the film, No.

    I do feel after having watched the movie, that the film was in fact satirical- making fun of an American homogenized patriarchal culture, although I think it did a poor job at that. I did want to walk out more than once. Overall I support a boycott of the film, and its creators.

    Regardless of its satirical intentions to take a look at the absurdity of mainstream culture’s obsession with power and masculinity, its weak delivery of actually satirically expressing that critique is where it failed. That along with the fact that its protagonist, cast and writer-director are almost entirely all white males concerns me. Not to mention its distributor is Warner Bros. a corporate movie distribution conglomerate.

    I think this film and its creators SHOULD BE questioned and held accountable for their work. Beyond that I think the movie industry should be held more accountable for their role and participation of the images they send out in mass form. Images and media produced without critical thinking or consideration of the messages it sends.

    Overall the movie just serves as yet another example that the ongoing critique of the media industry is necessary. The mainstream media industry is one that represents societies power holders and reminds us who has access to these mediums. Undoubtedly we are also reminded that there is the continually urgent need for feminist presence in mainstream media.

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