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April 11, 2009

Director Jody Hill on the "Observe and Report" rape scene

Here's what Jody Hill, the writer-director of the new comedy Observe and Report, told the Onion A.V. Club about the film's notorious rape scene:

AVC: Did you get a lot of studio notes on Observe And Report?

JH: Sure. It’s like anything. There’s discussion involved. That was a big difference between The Foot Fist Way, where if Danny and me and our friends were laughing, it stayed in the movie. With the studio, you have to explain it to them. There was a lot of times—like the sex scene. [Rogen has sex with an apparently passed-out Anna Faris, who belligerently moans for him to continue at the very end.] I put it in there, and they were like, “Well, this is too far.” And I said, “You know what? It’ll just be one shot. Let’s just shoot it and see what happens. Then if you don’t like it, we won’t put it in the movie.” Then we put it in the movie, and they were like, “That goes too far.” And I was like, “Well, let’s just put it in front of the audience and see if they like it.” You know what I mean? You just gotta talk to people. I feel like you can argue passionately—as long as you don’t insult anybody, it’s okay. I think that goes a long way.

AVC: In the Times piece, they describe the scene you’re talking about as Seth Rogen’s character forcing himself on Anna Faris. Is that how you perceived that scene?

JH: [Pause.] I dunno. I’ve always kind of liked scenes that you talk about how fucked-up they are. I would have been happy without any dialogue in that scene. I wanted to show them just having sex and her passed out, and I thought that would have been funnier. But I think I have a darker sense of humor than most people. So at the end, [Faris’ character] is okay with it. [Laughs.] And that was like, “I’ll shoot it both ways.” So I actually shot it both ways. I just kept the camera rolling. There’s like a line that’s “We’re okay laughing, and you’re pushing the envelope.” But you’re not really pushing the envelope until you cross that line where a lot of people don’t go along with you. I tried to do it in a few scenes in this movie, where a lot of people aren’t going to go along with the film or with what we’re trying to do. Hopefully that means we’re actually pushing the envelope. [Laughs.] You know what I mean by that? I think if you’re really pushing the envelope, you have to not include everybody, if that makes sense. Or else it’s not really pushing the envelope.

The interviewer invites Hill to say whether he thinks he shot a rape scene, but Hill doesn't give a straight answer.

His reply seems to confirm my theory that Faris' "motherfucker" line is a cop out--a ploy contrived to keep the scene "funny" instead of taking it to an even darker place. 

It's also pretty clear that Hill thinks the rape scene is funny, not merely shocking.

Rape in movies isn't inherently offensive. Even rape jokes might have a place in a dark comedy. What's really offensive about the rape scene in Observe and Report is that someone thought that having Faris wake up in the middle and act "okay with it" made the sequence funnier or more user-friendly.

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Comments

There are so many things wrong with this thread of comments, but here is the main objection: Do any of you writing these messages and trash-talking a Seth Rogan movie think you're actually going to cause people to ponder the gender differences in this country? Seriously? A Seth Rogan movie is your call to arms? Wow.

I am a member of three different sexual aggression prevention groups and you all are making the rest of us sound like crack-pots. You really are doing more harm then good reacting this way... Hate to be the one to tell you.

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