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April 12, 2009

Review: Observe and Report

So, I saw Observe and Report, the new Seth Rogen vehicle written and directed by Jody Hill...

On Friday, I posted about the movie's appalling trailer which shows the main character raping an unconscious woman, who wakes up just long enough to indicate that she's enjoying being raped.

I was repeatedly reassured that I was interpreting the trailer out of context and that I couldn't possibly judge the movie until I'd seen it in full. That seemed like a reasonable argument, so I did.

O&R is billed as a dark comedy. Fans assured me that the rape scene wasn't an endorsement of rape, but rather a darkly funny illustration of the true depravity of the main character, mall cop Ronnie Barnhardt.

They're right that the scene is not an endorsement of rape; it's just a cheap rape joke. If you're going to introduce a high stakes and potentially exploitative element into your movie, you'd better do something interesting with it.

As a dark comedy, O&R is a failure. A mall cop martinet seems like a great target for satire. I was disappointed to see the director pulling his punches time and time again. Apart from the physical and sexual violence, it was pretty easy to watch but only intermittently funny.

O&R is supposed to be a satire of delusional machismo, but it falls flat because Hill won't risk alienating the college boys who make up this movie's core demographic. A really dark comedy makes us uncomfortable not just by showing gross things, but by forcing us to question our own reactions to what we're seeing.

We all buy into the macho mythos to a certain degree. As any moviegoer can attest, it's easy and fun to identify with charismatic action figures who play by their own rules. A good satire might challenge us to reexamine those ingrained reactions.

The joke is that poor Ronnie is just too lame to pull off the macho fantasy, not so much that the fantasy itself is bizarre and destructive. Ronnie is so pathetic that he's easy to laugh at without thinking too hard.

Hill doesn't want us to approve of Ronnie's behavior, but he's not prepared let us be totally repulsed, either. The most disturbing parts of the movie are Hill's attempts to twist logic to make Ronnie seem like less of a monster than you'd expect, given his behavior.

Ronnie is the head of security at a suburban mall. He's not a real policeman. He's not even allowed to carry a gun. But Ronnie's lowly position does nothing to diminish his delusions of grandeur. In his own mind, he's a powerful law enforcement official defending an oasis of commerce in a dangerous world.

The calm of the shopping center is suddenly shattered when a cackling bespectacled flasher darts around the parking lot exposing himself to women in broad daylight. The perp escapes.

Ronnie rushes to warn Brandi (Anna Faris), a cosmetics salesgirl and the object of Ronnie's futile crush. Brandi finds Ronnie's attentions unwanted and embarrassing.

"Everybody thinks they're okay until someone puts something in them they don't want in 'em," Ronnie tells her portentously.

The next day, Brandi pulls into the parking lot with sexually explicit music blasting from her car stereo. The flasher jumps out at her. She freaks out, but Anna Faris plays her distress as a transparent ploy for attention.

To Ronnie's dismay, the real police are called. In one of the funnier scenes in the movie, Det. Harrisson (Ray Liotta) attempts to question Brandi. Rogen, obviously insecure about having a real cop grilling "his" woman, tries to convince Det. Harrisson and Brandi that the stalker is targeting her for murder. 

Ronnie embarks on his own crusade to catch the flasher. He confides to his mother that the perv may be the best thing that ever happened to him. He's going to prove that he's a hero by catching the perp.

After dark, Ronnie catches up to Brandi in the mall parking lot. He scares the hell out of her in the process of offering her a ride on his golf cart, but he won't take no for an answer, so she gets in. Instead of letting her off at her car, he keeps driving, joking that his brakes have failed. He asks her out on a date, making it clear that the only acceptable answer is "yes." She grudgingly agrees to go out with him.

Ronnie takes Brandi out to dinner. Before the food is served, he takes out a pill bottle and tries to discreetly swallow a tablet at the table. Brandi immediately demands to know what the meds are and whether she can have one. "Don't be stingy!" she chides. Her eyes light up when she learns that Ronnie's got a bottle of clonazepam (a tranquilizer similar to Valium, which has been used as a date rape drug).

Visibly impressed, she tells him she didn't know he liked to party like that. Ronnie replies, "Yeah, I party like that every four to six hours." To him, the pills are just boring bipolar medicine that keeps him from getting too excited. He's a little perplexed about why she's so interested in them, but he happily gives her the entire bottle. She immediately downs a handful, followed by six shots of tequila.

Some commenters have attempted to explain away the rape scene that follows by arguing that Brandi is obviously getting wasted in order to psych herself up to have sex with Ronnie. But there's no evidence to support that inference in the movie. Even if there were, it wouldn't establish consent. Hoping or intending to consent to something in the future is not the same as closing the deal.

To all appearances, Brandi's getting wasted because a) she loves alcohol and drugs and b) she hates being around Ronnie.

After dinner, Brandi throws up all over herself. Two seconds later she can't figure out why her mouth tastes so bad. Ronnie kisses her. Critically, she gives no indication of being aroused by or affectionate towards him. He more or less carries her into his house. The door closes behind them.

Cut to the rape scene with Ronnie grinding away on top of an unconscious Brandi. Her eyes are closed and there's fresh vomit in the pillow. Ronnie stops momentarily, as if conscience-stricken, but Brandi stirs and mutters, "Who told you to stop, motherfucker?" The audience in my theater thought that line was hee-larious.

As Seth Rogen explained in an interview, you think he's a rapist, but he's not. Psych! The joke only works if you assume that it's not rape to have sex with someone who doesn't even realize she's covered in her own vomit.

The rape scene was a missed opportunity to force the viewer to confront the parallels between Ronnie and the flasher. As David Edelstein put it, "The fat creep has not only given Ronnie’s life a focus—he’s virtually Ronnie’s doppelgänger."

Ronnie thinks that he's a knight in shining armor who's protecting Brandi from a sexual predator, but he ends up raping her. In a movie where every other important point is stated clearly in the dialog, the understated comparison seems like weak sauce.

Frustratingly, everything about the rape sequence is contrived to make Ronnie seem as non-predatory as possible. Hill implies that Ronnie's just so infatuated with Brandi that he doesn't notice the difference between a disgusting date rape and a romantic evening. It would have been more honest, and much darker, to allow Ronnie a more realistic macho mindset--like just not caring, or feeling entitled.

We're led to believe that Ronnie is some kind of lovesick idiot manchild who just doesn't know any better. Hill doesn't want his frat boy audience to have to grapple with the idea that Ronnie's macho messiah complex has anything to do with rape. So, Hill includes dialog that's supposed to indicate, belatedly, that she consented all along.

He also makes Brandi's character so shallow, manipulative, drug addled, and "slutty" that the target demographic feels she deserves what she gets. Brandi's character is noteworthy because she has no redeeming characteristics whatsoever. Even Ronnie has his good points, like his tenderness towards his falling-down drunk mom, and his refusal to steal from his employer, and his heartfelt thirst for justice. I defy anyone who has seen O&R to cite an example of a good, or even neutral, characteristic of Brandi.

Stung by dismissive comments from Det. Harrisson, Ronnie decides to apply to the police academy. He gets permission to go on a ride-along with Harrisson, who is still pissed off at Ronnie for derailing mall investigations. So, Harrisson drives him to the worst neighborhood in town, offers to let him do a "foot patrol" and speeds off.

This is the setup for Ronnie's first episode of murderous rage. A little kid tries to sell Ronnie some crack, whereupon he attempts to make a citizen's arrest only to be surrounded by the boy's gun-toting crack dealer father and his heavily tattooed entourage. The father pulls a gun on Ronnie. Ronnie pulls a blunt object out of his pant leg and beats them all savagely. The next day, he marches the kid into the police station and announces to the amazement of the officers that he has killed six crackheads.

Some have argued that Ronnie is a totally unsympathetic character and the viewer is always meant to be horrified by his violent and predatory behavior. But the crackhead beat down (murder?) scene is clearly played for vicarious thrills in usual action movie way. We're supposed to cheer on Ronnie because he sure showed those crackheads and those sneering cops who thought he couldn't do the job.

The violence in Observe and Report comes in several flavors. Some of it is played purely for laughs or squirms, like when Ronnie turns his Taser on a lippy patron who's parked in a loading dock. Some of it is just surreal and pointless--like the scene where Ronnie and his top lieutenant, Dennis (Michael Peña), get high and brutally assault a crowd of skateboarders in the parking lot.

But the most important plot-driven violence is supposed to be cathartic.

When Ronnie finally snaps, he decides to avenge the maltreated wheelchair-bound girl at the food court counter by nearly shoving her boss's head into a blazing pizza oven, a scene reminiscent of the pizza oven scene in Goodfellas, except that the fast food boss has been set up as such a jerk that Ronnie seems like an avenging angel instead of a sick bully.

Ronnie's illusions about Brandi are shattered during a midnight parking lot patrol when he peeks in the window of Det. Harrisson's car and sees Brandi having enthusiastic consensual sex with the real police officer in the back seat. (Another genuinely funny moment.)

Ronnie eventually gets fired after an equally bizarre standoff with the real police.

When he finally returns to the mall as a dejected civilian, the flasher suddenly rears his ugly schlong.

The flasher once again accosts Brandi. Ronnie pulls out a gun and shoots him in the middle of the cosmetics section. The  flasher falls to the floor in a lake of blood. Even the blood-spattered Brandi is impressed, but when she compliments Ronnie on his "nice work" he takes the opportunity to humiliate her in front of the entire crowd. He tells them that Brandi's the kind of woman who will have sex with you and sleep with your enemy.

Hill rewards the frat boys by letting Ronnie take Brandi down a peg. The folks at my screening hooted appreciatively--clearly, Brandi's an uppity bitch who betrayed her rapist by having consensual sex with his rival. This isn't such a dark and transgressive comedy that female sexuality goes unpunished.

We think the flasher's dead, but Hill flinches yet again. He turns out to be only slightly wounded. So, Ronnie gets to frog march him to the police station past a throng of admiring policemen. As Ronnie triumphantly points out, he has caught the perp that the police couldn't nab.

After that, everything falls into place for our anti-hero. He gets his job back. He gets the good girl--that self-described born again virgin from the food court, whose boss he assaulted.

In the final scene Ronnie regales a TV news team with his professional and personal triumphs. Pointing to his now-girlfriend he explains that she has made a promise not to have sex with him, but that he intends to make her break it. 

Observe and Report has a promising premise and some decent acting, but it's just not funny enough to be an action comedy and not gutsy enough to redeem the rape scene as anything but crass exploitation. Hill congratulates himself for pushing the envelope, but the envelope is empty.


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RE "Ronnie stops momentarily, as if conscience-stricken,"

Did they ever show Brandi unconscious before Ronnie is on top of her?

If not, my interpretation is that she wasn't passed out when he started, and she passed out in the middle, and he stopped when he noticed that she had passed out.

The editing makes it ambiguous, I think deliberately so, as to exactly when she loses consciousness. We see her being more or less carried into the house, but she's not unconscious before the door closes. In the previous scene, we saw her swallow a handful of clonazepam tablets washed down with six or seven stiff drinks, so the director is beating us over the head with the idea that she's not just impaired but obliterated.

Hill reinforces with the vomiting scene that she's so wasted that she can't even remember having vomited on herself two seconds earlier. And we see in the next shot that she has thrown up again while she's on the bed.

So, we never see the moment when Ronnie starts having sex with her. It should be noted that there's never any discussion between them about sex, or any kind of display of arousal on her part. He kisses her after she throws up on herself and she doesn't respond like you'd expect someone to do if they got drunk in order to have sex.

She's clearly so out of it that any meaningful consent is impossible. Perhaps the filmmaker is leaving ambiguity about her actual unconsciousness so as to retain the audience's identification with Ronnie, but this should not have done it. Except that in the director's mind any semblance of consent is enough for it not to be rape. She doesn't really mind (she might even have liked it), and there's no consequences for Ronnie, because she's promiscuous, right? That attitude already has a sick hold on the American psyche and this film perpetuates it. The saddest part of Lindsay's review is the audience reaction in the cinema.

Two questions, Lindsay:

1. Problems aside, would you recommend seeing this movie?

2. You say that Hill pulls his punches and doesn't try to shock frat boys. Is it just the rape scene and the crackheads' murder, or is there something more fundamental there?

No, I wouldn't recommend it.

I expected it to be a lot funnier and/or a lot more disturbing. I love movies that make fun of self-important cops and other macho officious types, everything from Monty Python's "Pirhana Brothers" sketch to Fireman's Ball to Robert Altman's MASH.

It's easy to get a rise out of the audience just by depicting a taboo like an explicit rape and vomit scene. And if you care about rape as a real-life phenomenon, it's creepy to be in a theater with a bunch of guys and some girls hooting at the scene. But if I just look at is as a piece of comedy/satire, episodes of The Office have gotten under my skin more than O&R did. O&R wasn't interestingly disturbing like Mulholland Drive or Pulp Fiction.

I didn't think the crackhead beatdown scene was problematic in and of itself. It was just a very conventional action movie scene that seemed to conflict with the black comedy idea that were supposed to be appalled by Ronnie's behavior.

The deeper problem is that the movie can't decide whether it wants to be a standard comedy/action movie, or whether it wants to be some more sophisticated sort of satire, so it vacillates between the two and doesn't really succeed as either one.

RE "the scene where Ronnie and his top lieutenant, Dennis (Michael Peña), get high and brutally assault a crowd of skateboarders in the parking lot."

Did the audience seem to like that scene?

There's probably a fair criticism of Jody Hill as a misogynist in the fact that both of his movies involve a man shouting "fuck you" at a woman in the climactic scene.

He pushed this button on purpose because he thinks there's something funny about it and he thinks there's something funny about upsetting people who are likely to be upset by Ronnie's conduct. The "something in you you don't want line" and the sex scene are all coded to piss you off, and Hill is excited enough about being provocative that he is willing to sidetrack his plot and thematic development.

However, nobody in the movie thinks Ronnie raped Brandi.

We see how Brandi behaves when she is the recipient of an unwanted sexual assault after she is flashed, and her behavior toward Ronnie is entirely different.

Brandi also conveniently knows a police detective who hates Ronnie's guts, so if she believes she has been raped it's not as if she doesn't have an obvious recourse.

She is ambivalent toward him prior to their date, and ambivalent toward him afterward. This is a one-night stand for her.

Brandi is someone who will very enthusiastically pound six tequila shots and chase them with a fistful of tranquilizers, while she's out on a date with a man that she knows is sexually interested in her and is almost certainly planning to make a sexual advance.

She does not seem enthusiastic about sex with Ronnie, but she is enthusiastic about the booze and the drugs. I don't think there's any way to read the circumstances other than that Ronnie is someone who Brandi is content to have sex with if he will pick up the tab for her to "party."

Hill pushed her intoxication to falling-down, passing-out drunk because it is kind of funny to do so, especially since it creates a parallel between Brandi and Ronnie's mother who is also routinely passed-out drunk. But Brandi certainly anticipates sex and doesn't object to it, and Ronnie, who sees himself as the antithesis of the flasher.

Stuff like what happens between Ronnie and Brandi goes on every night in every city. Wherever there is free-flowing alcohol, you are sure to find severely-impaired decision-making and bad sex. Some people think this indicates cultural norms that are riddled with inequality and permissive of rape, and it's that viewpoint that animates this controversy.

Hill understands totally what is offensive about this, he thinks it's funny to offend, so he decided to push the scene very close to the line in order to amuse himself and upset people. What should happen there is a one night stand between Ronnie and Brandi that Ronnie misinterprets as something much more significant.

It would be reasonable for a woman in Brandi's position to be terrified by Ronnie's creepy advances. The tension Hill should be building is Brandi acting in ways that appear to be provoking Ronnie toward some kind of violence, while she remains oblivious to the danger.

This whole rape issue is a digression that doesn't help the movie and isn't honest to Ronnie's character. He is someone who may be viewed as sexually threatening, but he would never intend to be.

His views himself as the very antithesis of a sex offender. The flasher's behavior is profoundly offensive to Ronnie, and that offense drives the plot.

The big fights with the crackheads and the police are almost certainly supposed to be fantasy sequences. Other scenes in the movie may be as well, including the oven scene and the ending.

If Ronnie actually killed six crackheads, both he and Harrison would wind up in very big trouble. It's unbelievable that Ronnie could kill a bunch of people, and that event is never subsequently mentioned.

Similarly, if Ronnie had actually fought a bunch of cops, they would not have let him out of jail. The film cuts from Ronnie getting beat by the cops to Ronnie sitting in a jail cell with visible injuries, to Ronnie sitting in his bedroom, still injured, to Ronnie lying in bed, no longer injured.

This either denotes the passage of time, as Ronnie heals, or that Ronnie was never injured in the first place.

Ronnie talks about vivid recurring nightmares from which he awakes screaming, and about waking up naked, a mile from home, with his feet bloody, holding a gun.

He is delusional, mentally ill and off his meds, and his experience does not reflect reality.

Good review, Lindsay. Gives a lot of perspective to the whole discussion of the movie that's been going on here and other places.

Stuff like what happens between Ronnie and Brandi goes on every night in every city.

Yep. Rape is incredibly common. That makes the problem worse, not better.

Lindsay: I haven't seen the other things you compare the movie to, but MASH seems a bit misplaced. MASH is almost congratulatory - it depicts people who play by their own rules and get away with it, who are ultimately good because they're good doctors and make fun of incompetents like Frank Burns (the series does this even more, with all of Hawkeye's flaws gone by season 2). Do you believe that's what Observe and Report should be compared to? The way you and other commenters have talked about it, it seems more like a failed imitation of Taxi Driver.

Ugghh. I know just where and how I'll wind up seeing this movie. My job takes me to crappy little motels in crappy little towns out in Bumfuck Nowhere cowboy country. I'll be lying on cheesy polyester sheets, channel surfing through the bargain cable TV package the cheap motel can afford with a remote control that has the numbers worn off, and I'll stumble on it. Tired, and in no mood to watch some shitty "reality" show or an idiotic documentary about ghosts, I'll start watching the movie halfway through. After about twenty minutes that I'll never get back, I'll realize this is the movie with the lame rape scene and I'll give up and switch to FOX News, turn the sound off so as to use the TV as a night light, and try to grab some sleep.

Yeah, I can't even BEGIN to imagine that the climax of the film reflects the reality of the film. It's in such marked, sneering contrast to most of what we've seen that it's almost certainly Ronnie's delusion. It's kind of a raised middle finger.

Nevertheless, a very thorough and un-pre-judged critique, to my eyes.

Eric Jaffa writes | April 12, 2009 at 07:28 PM

Did they ever show Brandi unconscious before Ronnie is on top of her?

If not, my interpretation is that she wasn't passed out when he started, and she passed out in the middle, and he stopped when he noticed that she had passed out.

Wow, I haven't seen wishful thinking this disturbing in a long time. I am totally creeped out by Eric's thought process here. He is just itching to give this asshole male character the benefit of the doubt despite all of the evidence Mr. Mall Cop's behaviour is atrocious. WHY IS THAT?

Eric's thought process mirrors every groping self-rationalizing pervy asshole I've ever met.

He kisses her after she throws up on herself and she doesn't respond like you'd expect someone to do if they got drunk in order to have sex.

How would you expect someone to respond if they got drunk in order to have sex?

Lesley -

The question is why does Ronnie stop while he's on top of Brandi and start talking to her.

That it's because Brandi has passed out and he wants to see if she can reply seems like the most likely explanation to me.

If she were passed out before he started, and he became "conscience-stricken" while on top of her, then he could have stopped and gone away without saying anything to her.

O&R is deliberately coy about the sequence of events. Whether Brandi was awake when he started has no bearing on whether it's rape, because the setup establishes that Brandi has no higher mental function left by the time she gets to Ronnie's house.

Hill wrote that he didn't want dialog at all, just Ronnie having sex with the passed out Brandi, but the studio made him insert the dialog to make it seem less horrifying. It's part of the pattern, the movie sets you up to expect rape, but then backs off.

Parse, some people have argued, perversely, that Brandi actually consents to sex because she voluntarily gets drunk. That's not a good moral argument, but moreover, it's not a good interpretation of the evidence provided in the film.

The last we see of Brandi, she's not acting like someone who's eager to have sex in any way. Even if she thought she was getting drunk in order to reduce her inhibitions, it doesn't seem to have worked.

Editing is all about setting up expectations so that our minds fill in the gaps between the shots. The last we see of Brandi, she's just totally out of it. If the director wanted to suggest drunken affirmative consent, he would have shown Brandi acting affectionate or horny just before they go inside.


The fact that she got voluntarily drunk at his expense is certainly indicative of what she expected to happen. It's not very usual that a woman will allow a man to buy her dinner and seven drinks, ride home on the back of his motorcycle, and then slam the door in his face.

Certainly, accepting dinner and drinks doesn't obligate her to sleep with him, but offering and accepting these things is symbolic and indicates people's intentions. Brandi never indicates in any way thar Ronnie's advances are unwelcome.

Sexual timidity or passivity is not encouraged in men. A guy is expected to make the first move, and he generally tries to judge from his date's behavior and from recognized ritual or symbolic gestures, whether that advance will be received favorably. But some guys are dumb and some guys are socially inept, and Ronnie is both. If his affection is undesired, somebody needs to tell him.

I think he would back off immediately if she did; he seems to lack the capacity for dishonesty, and he doesn't seem sexually agressive at all.

He's extremely enraged by the behavior of the flasher. We see Ronnie, later on in the film, refusing the temptation to steal jewelry that must be worth at least several months of his pay.

Ronnie doesn't take advantage; everyone takes advantage of Ronnie. When Brandi claims she's too upset to walk after she's flashed Ronnie carries her. When Ronnie says he's got the check at the restaurant, she screams at the waitress for ten weeks.

Harrison takes advantage of Ronnie's trusting nature to humiliate him for sport, while Dennis takes advantage of Ronnie's trust to steal from under Ronnie's nose and to hit him when he exposes his back.

Ronnie's mother takes advantage of Ronnie's support for her alcoholic lifestyle.

The narrative momentum of the movie is that all this humiliation is piling up on Ronnie, and Ronnie has a gun and a psychological disorder, and may be building up toward a spectacular act of violence.

The fact that she got voluntarily drunk at his expense is certainly indicative of what she expected to happen.

That a lot of women are stuck in a hellish loop where rape seems inevitable may be true, but that doesn't make it less rape or less horrifying.

She was in a horrifying, hellish, inevitable spiral toward rape when she was at a table in a crowded restaurant, so she ordered six tequila shots?

Look, if she says "no," and he does it anyway, then it's rape.

If she doesn't say "no," it might be hard for a guy like Ronnie or a jury to understand that she does not consent.

Your perspective is about how she might experience the situation, but the crime of rape requires a culpable mental state as a necessary element, so what's going on in his head is important as well.

You posit that the fact that she is very drunk signals that the guy should not make a sexual advance. this is contrary to the prevailing social norm, however.

Expecting is not consenting. Let's say I've got some books in my Amazon shopping basket right now. A reasonable person would infer that I put them there because I intend to buy them. But Amazon can't just charge my credit card and ship the books because, they "knew" I was intending to buy them.

Regardless of what Brandi set out to do, when the decisive moment came, she was either unconscious or reduced to the cognitive capacity of an infant. The lights may have been on, but nobody was home.

As you said, Mitch, Brandi's supposed to have a lot in common with Ronnie's wetbrain drunk mom. So, if you think Brandi's motives matter, consider that Ronnie is taking advantage of someone who seems to have serious substance abuse issues. Alcoholics don't binge drink because they want to get raped.

I would have liked to have seen Hill pay more attention to the contrast between Ronnie's tender regard for his mom and his disregard of Brandi. (A virgin/whore dichotomy common to the delusionally macho.) We see him taking care of his mom when she's passed out on the floor. You can bet he'd be horrified if he thought of anyone taking advantage of her in that position. Yet somehow it doesn't occur to him that Brandi is worthy of the same respect.

I don't think Ronnie perceives his mother as virginal. She is evidently very promiscuous, and she doesn't do anything to hide that from him.

It seemed like getting falling-down drunk and sleeping with people in that condition is pretty common for Ronnie's mother, and that probably shapes his expectations about dating.

There is no way to tell whether Brandi is an alcoholic, or whether she just takes full advantage of someone picking up her bar bill. She's not portrayed as a sympathetic character at all.

Look, if she says "no," and he does it anyway, then it's rape.

If she doesn't say "no," it might be hard for a guy like Ronnie or a jury to understand that she does not consent.

That people will deny that rape exists doesn't make it not rape. The more you defend rapists who slide in under this technicality, the more you contribute to the problem. If you're honest about being against rape, you should encourage men to consider anything short of enthusiastic consent from a woman to be wrong, and most likely rape.

Mitch, don't you see that all these "maybes" demolish the idea that drinking with a man says anything about consent to future sex. Maybe she's drinking because she's an alcoholic, or because she's nervous, or because she just likes to drink and she trusts the guy (Ronnie does, after all, present himself as a protective authority figure), or because 'hey, free booze.'

At best her behavior suggests one hypothesis about what she might be intending to do at that moment, but it's not a reliable indicator, let alone a proxy consent to sex.

Just because you think at 9pm that you're going to want to have sex at midnight doesn't mean that, when it comes down to brass tacks, you're still going to want to do it. Stuff happens, people change their minds. Maybe the guy does something that totally turns you off, or you start feeling creeped out by the situation. Maybe you're puking your guts out, which wasn't part of the plan. Maybe you're unconscious. Point is, a lot can happen between nine and midnight to make you change your mind.

That's why you have to actually ask at midnight. If she says yes at midnight and she shows evidence of knowing who you are and what's going on, then go for it. If she can't understand the question at midnight, or you don't even bother to ask, then you're a rapist. It's not really that complicated.

If you really think that drinking implies consent, why not test that hypothesis on your next date? After the third round of shots, ask the girl, "So, if you pass out, can I fuck your unconscious body?" I bet the answer isn't going to be, "Yeah, sure, whatever, I'm planning to sleep with you anyway."

On a tangent, but relevant to the discussion. Lindsay much of your response is based upon unconsciousness means lack of consent. So for example, if someone is vegetative and the spouse (gender neutral) wants to have children does for example pulling eggs to implant, or semen to fertilize constitute rape? That means lack of consciousness to consent? Aside from the movie the issue is a deep disability rights issue concerning the many people who might for example be labeled traumatic brain injury. And how consent is created in social networks. I could see this being satire material in the sense that 'consciousness' is related to a variety of conflicting needs and social values.

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