Most people like silly slapstick humour - I have ever since I saw Leslie Nielson in The Naked Gun when I was a child. I would laugh at his stupid jokes, the shameless impersonations, and the crude boob/sex humour. Even co-stars Priscilla Presley and O.J. Simpson could get laughs out of me. Looking back, I realize that for the time, these were 'edgy' comedies; that is, the humour was pushing boundaries. So when I contemplate the date-rape scene in the Seth Rogen flick Observe and Report, I get concerned for several reasons.
NOTE: Spoilers ahead. Read on, but you've been warned!
First off, kids will see this movie. Despite its 'R' rating (thankfully), there will be flocks of teenagers and younger siblings who just so happen to 'wander' into the theatre, or stumble upon it online. Second, many moviegoers associate Seth Rogen with solid, funny films, and will be pinning their $14 on him. Lastly, and perhaps most concerning, is this question: is this what passes as funny these days?
The scene in question involves a head-over-heels-in-love (read: obsessed) Ronnie (Rogen) feeding his 'date' Brandi (Anna Faris) alcohol and pills. As her speech starts to slur and she begins to puke, his eyes widen as he realizes his chance has finally come. She passes out on her bed, face-down in her own vomit, and Rogen begins to have sex with her. When he stops for a moment to catch his breath, she mutters, "Did I tell you to stop, motherf---er?" (Ugh, even writing this second-hand description makes me feel awkward).
In an interview with Anna Faris for the AV Club, the actress was suprised the scene was even included in the movie: "Jody [Hill]'s comedy was so appealing to me, and I really wanted be part of it. I'm so grateful I was cast, but when I read the script, I thought, 'Well, this is Warner Brothers. This is a studio movie, so this is all gonna be softened up. It's a comedy, right?' So when we were shooting it, even the date-rape scene-or as I refer to it, 'The Tender Love-Making Scene' - I just thought, 'We'll shoot it, but it's not gonna be in the movie. I don't have to worry about that one.' And yet there it is."
Judging by the tone of the scene, the 'motherf---er' line is supposed to make everything OK. It's like after-the-fact consent for date rape, which of course doesn't make it OK. Lord knows what impressionable kids will think when they see Rogen doing this and getting away with it. Worse, he's supposed to be in a position of authority (yeah, yeah...I know, he's only a mall cop, but still).
I know many fans of the genre will disagree with my point of view and say it's all in good fun, but even movies like American Pie and the aforementioned Naked Gun avoided this type of humour. Lines have to be drawn, and I think having sex with an unconscious lush lying in her own vomit is a good place to draw it..