Seth Rogen's new film Observe and Report is under fire over a "date rape" scene in which Rogen's character has sex with an unconscious female after heavy drug and alcohol use.
"The movie doesn't mitigate that sex scene at all," writes New York's Dan Kois of the scene, portions of which are featured in the film's R-rated trailer (below). "In fact, it makes it even more clear than the trailer does that when Brandi and Ronnie get home from dinner, she's unbelievably trashed on antidepressants and tequila. Not only does she throw up all over the place, she can barely walk -- and she certainly can't give any kind of informed consent. She's way too wasted for her yelling at Ronnie to mean anything."
Seth Rogen discussed the scene in a recent interview:
SETH ROGEN: 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: "Why are you stopping, motherfucker?"
But critics, including several prominent feminist writers, aren't satisfied. Courtney at Feministing.com wrote on Friday:
It's not funny Seth. First of all, one out of six women in this country is sexually assaulted in her lifetime. Which means a whole lot of your bromen are confused about what consensual sex is. Is the laugh you get worth making them even more confused? Basically giving them permission from one of the most adored dudes of the moment to not take rape seriously? Yeah, we didn't think so.
Lindsay Beyerstein added:
Rogen excels at a brand of awkwardness-based humor where much of the laughter is tension release. Which means that the scene fails on its own terms, unless you believe that an unconscious person can consent. Without the unexpected "evidence" of consent, it's just a rape scene. If you see the encounter as rape, Brandi's slurred semi-conscious interjection just seems piteous. It doesn't make anything "okay."
A clip of the scene is featured in the film's R-rated trailer (at 2:35):