Sunday, September 27, 2009

Where is Your Line on Comedy? Tucker Max & Rape Humor

The Tucker Max film I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell has drawn a lot of controversy, regarding everything from the subject matter of the film, to the ad campaign. Max and his supporters maintain the protesters are “kooky activists bullying the media into propagating a minority viewpoint” by manipulating his work because they can’t take a joke. All this controversy begs the question, where is your line on comedy? The following are a compilation of responses from various men and women, most of whom belong to Max's intended target demographic.

Carmen Rios, a 19-year-old undergrad, part of Max’s intended target demographic, called the ads “disrespectful and callous.” Dan Wald, in his early 20s, said the ads frustrate him as a man, because “a few men are hurting the whole, hurting our gender and women fear us for it.” Wald called the ads “hate speech that promotes violence.” Ben Siegel, also in his 20s, said the ads “promote violence against women” and “promulgate a dangerous, misogynistic attitude.”

When asked about Max’s response that the activists can’t take a joke, John Foubert, author of The Men's Program: A Peer Education Guide to Rape Prevention, stated, “His [Max’s] dismissal of his statements as being ‘just a joke’ suggest to me that either he is incapable of empathy - or that he has no conscience - both high risk factors for [committing] rape. Either way, women, and people who care about them, should be deeply concerned about this man and his statements.”

Max maintains that he does not promote rape, stating in reference to protesters “Fucking rape sucks…It’s, like, not a joke … But I feel like they’re fucking it up, man, because what they’re doing is really kind of devaluing the seriousness of an actual crime. . . . I mean, the discussion about where consent lies and doesn’t lie is an important one, and should be had, but…that’s never been an issue for me.”

In response, the interviewees pointed to his administered message board, which started a photo-caption contest in which Max’s fans inserted their own slogans in the place of actual protest signs. The photo-shopped signs ranged from “I’m mad cuz no one will rape me” to “Women deserve to call rape ‘surprise sex.’”

Nancy Schwartzman, a young filmmaker, was recently interviewed in Time Out New York’s “Sex Issue 2009” for her work on the short documentary “The Line,” which explores sexual boundaries and consent. She found the message boards ironic, since men who protest rape culture are seen as lame and either gay, or unable to ‘get laid.’ She pointed out, “If Tucker Max and his crew feel like they have to trick women into sex – either by sneaking up behind them or get them wasted – what does that say about his game? Why can’t he actually get a woman into bed when she’s sober or actually looking at him? Is he that bad when it comes to sex? Seems like it.” Schwartzman just produced a brilliant video response to Max's filth 
that targets his few "rapey fratty" fans.  Lance, a 26-year-old lawyer, called the film “a sad reminder that insecure men perceive sex as fundamentally adversarial, using Max’s stories of casual sex and nonconsensual activity to remove the perceived ‘gatekeeper’ role from women.”

The ads and Max’s message board aside, the film itself has also drawn sharp criticism. Rios said, “It is clear that the film approaches rape with a humorous lens.” One of Max’s defenders protested on a blog post that dialogue like “Fat girls aren’t real people” is taken out of context. Siegel disagreed, saying “These comments cannot be removed from their context, that context being a mentality of sexism and a tolerance for violence against women.” Schwartzman said, “Most men don’t hate women, and most women don’t hate men, so this kind of film does everyone a disservice by pitting men and women against each other. It makes a minstrel show of masculinity and male behavior.”

Foubert finds Max to be “a pathetically insecure man.” He believes Max says “wildly outlandish” things to get attention and make money, adding “His statements about women make it clear that he hates them and sees them as nothing more than objects. This attitude is very dangerous, because those of us who study rape know that objectification is one of the major underpinnings of rape.” By “reinforcing the objectification of women,” the movie… “makes rape more likely among those” who see it. Foubert unknowingly predicted one of Max’s fans’ behaviors. As reported on True Crime Report, a 21-year-old UConn Student and Max fan was charged with rape and home invasion. Not to say that every Max fan is a rapist, but Siegel pointed out, “the type of person who would pay to see [this film] doesn't consider sexual violence against women from the victim's point of view, nor could they be bothered to take this issue seriously.” Rios agreed, “A lot of jokes can still leave resounding messages with their audiences... if he [Max] thinks a comedy that jokingly allows rape-prone behaviors will not influence his viewers, he is mistaken.” Siegel concluded, “He doesn't seem to understand that…his jokes aren't funny.”

But don't take their word for it. The entire script can be found on the Tucker Max Lies blogspot here:
Try not to lose your lunch - if you so choose to read it.

Posted by:
Jerin Alam
Co-Chair, NOW – NYS Young Feminist Task Force
National NOW Young Feminist Task Force


SaraK said...

Hi Jerin,

Thanks for posting this. Tucker claims that his misogyny is all an act that he plays up for laughs, but it's certainly not funny that his movie promotes rape culture, not to mention racism and ableism. I started a Facebook group to let people know that this movie's message is not okay and that it should be boycotted by anyone who feels women deserve an equal place in our society: Keep up the good work!

the national gadfly said...

First, I’m glad you wrote this post.

Second, look at the target audience: 18-22 y/o males. Holy Shit! If anyone wants a cross-section of the least informed and simultaneously most opinionated sector of society – look no further. I was one once, and let me assure you – they are complete morons. Not partial – complete. Add alcohol and recent separation from parental supervision – and it’s “fuck-up City.”

Third, the reason this demographic is so challenged in the first place is that for the most part, society views women as sperm-buckets, housemaids and unpaid farm hands.

Finally, we have that same mindset employed by an exploitative schmuck that is clearly out to make money off the worst crap that he can find.

Add that up, and Voila! we have ignorant, uninformed, sexist, manipulative strategies for ’stealing pussy’.

Which is why my daughter is in Tae Kwon Do this afternoon.

Jerin said...

Thanks, Sara! I joined and invited all my friends to join. John Fubert made some great comments on the wall.

joe87 said...

What are you people even talking about? There is no rape in the movie. (Have you SEEN the movie?) Every sexual situation is 100% consensual. One character is engaged and loves his fiancee very much, one goes home with a stripper WHO IS NOT DRUNK, and the third also goes home with a midget. All portrayed as 100% consensual.

It's ironic that you're all against "rape culture" and yet you're the ones throwing rape accusations based on nothing substantial.

Did any of you protest Wedding Crashers? The movie where the MAIN goal of the two characters was to trick women into sleeping with them??

YoungFeminists said...

Joe - please read the ENTIRE blog post before commenting on it. Do you understand the difference between rape and rape culture? If you read the post carefully, you will see that the people interviewed are not saying there is a rape scene in the film. They are saying his ads, the film and Max's writings promote rape culture. How do YOU translate "blind girls don't see you coming" and "fat girls aren't real people?"

SS said...

Hi Jerin! Thanks for posting a really insightful overview of the Tucker Max situation. The NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault will be posting a link to your post tomorrow w/ some thoughts about how dangerous it is to brand this type of misogynist idiocy as 'humor.' We hope you'll stop by and comment!

Jerin said...

Thank YOU for all the great work you do. We post your link on our blog to the right and try to publicize and attend your events as much as possible. I look forward to the post tomorrow.