News Ian O'Doherty

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Seth Rogen – his movies will kill us all!

Ian O'Doherty

Published 28/05/2014 | 02:30

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Seth Rogen with Rose Byrne in Bad Neighbours

We all love a good row about a movie. I don't mean one of those animated debates between the chin-strokers and pointy-beards about whether Lars von Trier is a genius or the biggest chancer this side of David Blaine. No, I'm talking about a good, old-fashioned moral panic, when people start to blame a movie, or a genre of movies, for all sorts of bad craziness in the real world.

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These types usually fall into two categories. The conservative religious ones who picketed The Last Temptation Of Christ as blasphemous but who, weirdly, had no problem with The Passion Of The Christ, which was as close to a two-hour, gross-out torture porn flick as you're ever likely to see.

Then there are those who are so evolved and sentient that they feel they should decide what is suitable for the rest of us. They are the ones who decried movies like Natural Born Killers and are convinced that while they are immune to the corrupting moral influence of certain films, the rest of us are so stupid that we simply can't be trusted.

It was only a matter of time before movies and Hollywood were dragged into the Elliot Rodger shooting spree in California, which left six people dead. But did anyone think the cold, gnarly finger of recrimination would be pointed at Seth Rogen, of all people?

His latest piece of harmless junk is Bad Neighbours (just Neighbors in America). But according to a fantastically snotty piece in the Washington Post, film critic Ann Hornaday claims that the rise of the lovable goofball has merely increased alienation amongst young men: "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 ... find that those happy endings constantly elude them and conclude, 'It's not fair?'"

The op-ed then goes on to condemn 'white, male culture' and adds, for good measure: "If our cinematic grammar is one of violence, sexual conquest and macho swagger – thanks to male studio executives who green-light projects according to their own pathetic predilections – no-one should be surprised when those impulses take luridly literal form in the culture at large."

In other words, monkey see; monkey do. Or, rather, spoiled, narcissistic rich kid see; spoiled, narcissistic rich kid do.

There's no proof that Rodger ever saw Neighbors, but how desperate do you have to be to start pinning the blame for a massacre on a dumb comedy?

I suppose we shouldn't be surprised. I suppose that when man started to dabble in the first cave drawings he was confronted by Homo Sapien Mothers Against Indecency who objected to the violence and nudity on walls where the kids could see them. You think those blurred bits on the Lascaux cave paintings are the result of erosion? Wrong, they're humanity's first ever pixels.

Obviously, that's absurd, but when you see a frat-boy comedy used as the latest excuse for bad individual behaviour, then you know you have truly entered the arena of the absurd. Because this isn't even a row over excessive violence in movies; it's a row over the fact that Seth Rogen usually gets the girl, and that, apparently, enrages other men.

If we are to accept, if only for one demented moment, that the sight of an ordinary Joe bagging the hot chick at the end of movie is likely to incite frustrated, envious violence, what do we ban next?

Well, we'll obviously need to burn every print of It's A Wonderful Life. After all, George Bailey has the happiest ending in Hollywood history, and few people who have dealt with the banks in real life enjoy such an outcome. Is watching this masterpiece going to make killers of us all?

It's easy to blame movies, even if the argument is so convoluted that you have to wonder what meds some people are on.

But the uncomfortable reality, and one which would-be censors – both conservative and liberal – refuse to acknowledge is that life is just a bunch of stuff that happens, everyone is responsible for their own actions and sometimes people are just jerks. Murderous jerks, in some cases.

Or we could blame Bad Neighbours. You decide.

LADIES LOVE BIG PARKING BAYS

As a non-driver, I've never been able to understand the myth about women drivers being worse than men. Frankly, some of the most terrifying moments of my life have occurred when I was in a car driven by a bloke and, for what it's worth, Mrs iSpy is the best driver I know. But in a move that is sure to delight little wimmin everywhere, a multimillion-dollar initiative has kicked off in Seoul which sees larger parking spaces reserved for South Korean women who, apparently, have a problem parking in regulation-sized spots.

And just in case that wasn't sufficiently patronising, they are also including signs of a woman in a bright pink mini-skirt to make sure the poor things don't get confused.

That won't change the mind of anyone who thinks women are worse drivers than men. But for those who like to use broad generalisations, maybe they should look at a story from Oregon yesterday. A 19-year-old man caused a three-car crash when he fainted – while trying to hold his breath for a bet as he drove through a tunnel.

I can think of a few parking signs that would suit that guy, but this being a family newspaper and all that ...

WHAT'S IN A WORD? A LOT ACTUALLY

As the executives at the BBC now seem to spend their time running around in a blind panic about offending anyone, the latest word to be excised from the language is 'girls'.

During a documentary about the Commonwealth Games, a male presenter was given a judo demonstration by a young woman and he laughed "beaten by a 19-year-old girl".

The word 'girl' was then taken out of the repeat, "just," said the Beeb, "in case someone was offended."

I guess this means they won't be broadcasting Lena Dunham's show anytime soon, then.

Small mercies, and all that.

Irish Independent

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