This is tough, because if there’s anything that the Elliot Rodger’s shooting spree (and the #YesAllWomen movement) has highlighted, it’s the prevalnce of mysogyny in our culture and that the eradiction of sexism has to start with men. This is, in fact, the point that the White House was making in the recent PSAs on sexual assault.
But I still think it’s an unfair leap to make to suggest, as Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday did, that Neighbors and the other movies that have come out of the Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen school of casual sexism ultimately helped to shape the misogynistic beliefs of Elliot Rodger.
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”?
I mean, look. No. Movies have happy endings. It seems like Hornaday is suggesting that wish fulfilment and escapism is bad because it makes us envy for the happy endings we can’t have, an envy that we take out on others with violent crimes.
It’s a weird leap. Rogen thought so, too, as he suggested on Twitter:
Yes, obviously, there are some major problems with sexism in the film industry, and a wide percentage disparity between the number of male and female directors in Hollywood. Those problems exist. They are real. And this is a valid conversation. But while having more films pass the Bechdel test would be great for the industry, and it would certainly improve gender relations in our culture, I think Rogen is right in that Hornaday is trying too hard to draw a connection between a tragedy and the dumb comedies it’s her job to talk about.