Pop Culture

If you can laugh at rape then you’re a psycho

When I watched Sixteen Candles awhile back, I was ready for silly teen hijinks and possibly some outdated references I could have a chuckle at. After all, “classic” movies like this stick around for generations, show up in many answers to “What’s your favorite movie?” and even elicit eye rolls from culture snobs who love to exclaim “How have you never seen that movie?!?!?!!?”

Hate to say it, but I fail to see the charm in such films.

The bottom line: If you can laugh at rape, you need to take a hard look at yourself.

I won’t do it any dignity by linking to it, but if you haven’t seen it, Sixteen Candles contains a scene where a piece of shit dude literally passes his girlfriend’s unconscious body to another guy so he can have a go at her… or rather, her body parts (which, when you think about it, is really no different from necrophilia… Makes you think about rapey dudes a bit differently, huh!). To make it even worse, this transaction is in exchange for another girl’s underwear. So yeah. That’s real cute.

There’s all sorts of fucked up stuff in that particular movie, but this one is especially visceral, especially to young women whose worst fear is played out on screen for filmwatchers to laugh and holler at. Waking up and not knowing if you’ve had a penis in you isn’t silly, quirky, or funny.

You think I’d learn my lesson and only watch… well… actually it’s hard for me to think of any genre that doesn’t involve women’s bodies being used or objectified or brutalized in some way. ANYWAY, perhaps I should just stay away from 80s films altogether, because I recently watched Heathers, which was pretty much the same song and dance.

It had promise, until a scene where one of the Heathers is struggling in the background with a guy on top of her while we’re supposed to focus on the “main” scene happening in front of them with the film’s two main characters, Veronica and JD. Surely, rape wasn’t being used as just a silly background daring the watcher to tear their eyes away from the dialogue to watch the sexual assault happening in the background. Right?

I tried to convince myself it was a depiction of consensual sex, but that’s kind of hard to do when the girl is flailing around and the dude is trying to push her to the ground. (This also immediately follows a scene in which the boys incidentally splash cow shit on the girls’ faces and burst out laughing, which I assume is supposed to be funny? I guess?)

SPOILER: Any cleverness of the movie goes out the window 1.) when several times men force women into sexual acts they clearly are not consenting to, and 2.) it ends with a psychotic outcast trying to blow up the school.

Forgive me if it’s hard to laugh at this plot line when it’s not just fiction for young disturbed boys to turn their violence outward seeking some sort of glorious death, taking down others with them. This happens all the fucking time.

What’s the satire here?

Heathers has been heralded as a genius satire that some cynics get boners for, and the writer takes accomplishment in how rape is used as a punchline.

Both these films were written and directed by men. I’m not even going to say anything else there. Just stating a fact. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I remember recently discussing the show 13 Reasons Why with a male friend (who is no longer a friend, for reasons other than what is discussed here but that you might be able to foresee based on this person’s beliefs).

I told him how hard it was for me to watch the scenes in which [SPOILER ALERT] hulking jock Bryce rapes multiple female characters. His response: “But he was just so nice. Like I know he was a bad guy, but come on! He was a likable dude.”

I’m not shitting you. Seriously.

Why aren’t we disgusted with rape yet? Why do we act like “rape” is some distant occurrence even though it happens around the corner, down the hall, and in the room?

Why are we supposed to laugh at it?

The bottom line is: If the idea of rape, of an individual (usually a man) violating and brutalizing the body of another individual (usually a woman) doesn’t make you want to vomit, take a hard look at yourself, what you tolerate, what you’ve let happen in your life when you’re a bystander, and what you yourself are capable of.

I could talk about this forever, and I will. But for now I’m tired. (In more ways than one.)

Just, don’t laugh at rape. Don’t support movies or music or anything where rape is a joke.

Rape isn’t a wacky hijink.

Rape isn’t a punchline.

And if you think it is… what does that say about you?