Date Rape in Observe and Report?

Date wha?
Date wha?

It’s time for yours truly to weigh in on the buzz about the assumed date rape scene in “Observe and Report,” which is storming the social media scene something fierce.  People are going bananas on Twitter and Facebook, and “vloggers,” including this cantankerous feminist, are demanding an apology from Seth Rogan and director Jody Hill, as well as pleading to their pals to not support the movie.

Let me give some background on the story and scene in question for those who haven’t seen the film.  Seth Rogan (“Knocked Up”) and Anna Faris (“The House Bunny”) play Ronnie and Brandi in the movie and both are mall employees, with Ronnie as the head of mall security and Brandi a cosmetics sales person at one of the mall’s stores. Ronnie is bipolar and very strange. He does not have a filter on his mouth, nor does he have a secure grip on reality. Brandi is his female equivalent. She likes to party, gossip and enjoys all the attention she draws with her puffy lips, big boobs, skinny legs and bleach blonde hair. Ronnie becomes obsessed with protecting Brandi after she is exposed to a flasher in the mall parking lot.

The scene in question happens after Ronnie and Brandi return from a date, if I can even dare call it that. You see, you’ve got to take a step back and look at this with a wide angle lens. Ronnie is clueless. After he asks her out and she agrees (out of frustration), he really thinks there is a spark between him and Brandi. It’s like the band geek going to the prom with the head cheerleader. He’s anticipating the date all week long, but when he arrives, she shows up late and has completely forgotten.

After their dinner date, which she reluctantly attends, he really thinks she has feelings for him. The problem is we see what Ronnie can’t – that she’s using him. She goes to dinner with him only because he’s paying for the booze. And midway through the movie, when he pops a pill for his bi-polar issue, she asks him for one. He gives her the bottle. He doesn’t do this because he has some grand plan of knocking her out and then having sex with her; he does this because he wants her to like him.

And then the controversial scene happens, with Ronnie shown having sex with Brandi. He’s on top of her and she’s knocked out (with a puke stain on her pillow) from the booze and pills. Ronnie actually stops, and sort of wounded, says her name, as if he can’t believe she’s fallen asleep during this glorious moment. You get the impression he’s going to call it a night, but she says, “Why are you stopping mother f***er?” And he starts having sex with her again. We don’t see what happened before, or after. Except that Ronnie shows up the next day with a flower for Brandi and is genuinely delusional when it comes to his ideas about their relationship.

So, is it date rape? Absolutely not. Out of context, with the mention of drugs and alcohol, it probably looks that way, but people crying foul need to take two steps back and put this in perspective. And that’s what has me fired up more than anything. The rush to judgment and the straining for controversy these folks crying foul seem to embody. Everyone’s entitled to an opinion, but I seem to think opinions grounded in logic and encompassing the larger picture are the ones with credence.

8 comments On Date Rape in Observe and Report?

  • Being offended and demanding justice as a way to inflate self importance is way, way, way more fun than keeping your pie hole shut.

  • Dan, you are correct. But as I was heartily laughing through that part, I was given a quick reprimand by a source close to me who is in the anti-sexual assault industry and was informed that it was indeed date-rape. And she hadn’t heard any of the hubbub surrounding the movie. Just sayin’.

  • I thought the technical definition of date rape was sexual intercourse with someone you know and trust without consent…and the instigator has to know what he/she is doing, i.e. handing out drugs/alcohol with the intent to bring the other’s guard down and have sex. If that’s the case, I don’t think his character was trying to do that. Just my opinion, though. What the hell do I know.

  • What the hell do any of us know, really. Just passing on expert opinion.

  • I don’t know anything. You can bank on that, sir!

  • No consent was given hence rape

  • Okay, but what is “consent?” A handshake? A direct “can we have sex” question followed by a clear-as-day “yes?” Isn’t rape forcing yourself onto another person without their permission, key word being “force.” I’m not trying to be smug, I just really have a hard time seeing how he raped her.

  • I tend to initiate all my exploits with a handshake. It’s surefire.

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