Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post argues persuasively that Hollywood male fantasies could have played a role in the vengeful anti-female assault at Isla Vista at the University of California Santa Barbara. Check the “last” video below of 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, in which he bewails being a virgin and proclaims his imminent status as an “alpha male.”
The essay has set off a torrent of reactions largely because Hornaday used as her examples of Hollywood male fantasies the films of Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen, specifically the current frat comedy hit “Neighbors.” This in turn has spawned the usual counter-arguments in defense of Hollywood: movies don’t kill people, mental illness and guns do.
Apatow has fought back, understandably, tweeting that Hornaday’s motivation may have been traffic-motivated.
I respect Hornaday: she is a thoughtful and serious film critic and her essay is well-reasoned. She’s not a cynical traffic-chaser. She has valid points to make.
Unfortunately citing Apatow and “Neighbors,” she picked on the wrong villains. Both Apatow and Rogen are examples of inclusive and enlightened moviemakers where women are concerned. “Neighbors,” especially features a strong and funny woman (Rose Byrne) who with her husband (Rogen) is fighting the frat boys next door. This movie hardly celebrates frat culture.
These arguments on the role of movie culture in violence are necessary and important and I would hate to see Hornaday’s valid points buried in the wrong debate.
Meanwhile, Andrew O’Hehir over at Salon makes the case that Rogen and Apatow’s Twitter reactions actually solidified Hornaday’s point about misogyny and Hollywood.