Film Critic Goes Back-and-forth With Rogen and Apatow
Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow are sticking together and taking a stand. The actor and the writer-director, who have worked together on flicks such as Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, both spoke out this week against a recent op-ed in the Washington Post written by film critic Ann Hornaday.
"As Rodger bemoaned his life of “loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desire” and arrogantly announced that he would now prove his own status as “the true alpha male,” he unwittingly expressed the toxic double helix of insecurity and entitlement that comprises Hollywood’s DNA. For generations, mass entertainment has been overwhelmingly controlled by white men, whose escapist fantasies so often revolve around vigilantism and sexual wish-fulfillment (often, if not always, featuring a steady through-line of casual misogyny). Rodger’s rampage may be a function of his own profound distress, but it also shows how a sexist movie monoculture can be toxic for women and men alike.
How many students watch outsized frat-boy fantasies like “Neighbors” and feel, as Rodger did, unjustly shut out of college life that should be full of “sex and fun and pleasure”? How many men, raised on a steady diet of Judd Apatow comedies in which the shlubby arrested adolescent always gets the girl, find that those happy endings constantly elude them and conclude, “It’s not fair”?
Movies may not reflect reality, but they powerfully condition what we desire, expect and feel we deserve from it. The myths that movies have been selling us become even more palpable at a time when spectators become their own auteurs and stars on YouTube, Instagram and Vine. If our cinematic grammar is one of violence, sexual conquest and macho swagger — thanks to male studio executives who green-light projects according to their own pathetic predilections — no one should be surprised when those impulses take luridly literal form in the culture at large."
After reading Hornaday's Washington Post article linking him to the tragedy, Rogen tweeted to his followers:
@AnnHornaday I find your article horribly insulting and misinformed.
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) May 26, 2014
.@AnnHornaday how dare you imply that me getting girls in movies caused a lunatic to go on a rampage.
Now, Hornaday has responded with a video explaining her reasons for writing the column, making this an official media battle sideshow several steps removed from the actual tragedy.
“It seemed that his self-pitying complaints, a lot of them and to do with a sense of entitlement that he had to a life he had seen reflected around him,” Hornaday explained, “and I wanted to tease out that the movies we watch that are primarily created by men and primarily pivot around male fantasies of wish fulfillment and vigilante justice, how that might inform not only someone suffering under a really terrible mental illness, but the culture at large in terms of conditioning our own expectations about what we think life is and what we feel we deserve from it.”
“In singling out ‘Neighbors’ and Judd Apatow, I by no means meant to cast blame on those movies or Judd Apatow's work for this heinous action, obviously not,” she said. “But I do think it bears all of us asking what the costs are of having such a narrow range of stories that we always go back to.”