What in the world was Ann Hornaday thinking with this anti-science tripe that attempts to blame Seth Rogen’s Neighbors and Judd Apatow films for the actions of 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, the confessed killer who went on a shooting/stabbing rampage in Santa Barbara over the weekend. Her column is obviously her own cry for attention and a pathetic attempt to exploit a tragedy to nudge the agenda of empowering more women in Hollywood:
Indeed, as important as it is to understand Rodger’s actions within the context of the mental illness he clearly suffered, it’s just as clear that his delusions were inflated, if not created, by the entertainment industry he grew up in. With his florid rhetoric of self-pity, aggression and awkwardly forced “evil laugh,” Rodger resembled a noxious cross between Christian Bale’s slick sociopath in “American Psycho,” the thwarted womanizer in James Toback’s “The Pick-Up Artist” and every Bond villain in the canon.
As Rodger bemoaned his life of “loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desire” and arrogantly announced that he would now prove his own status as “the true alpha male,” he unwittingly expressed the toxic double helix of insecurity and entitlement that comprises Hollywood’s DNA. For generations, mass entertainment has been overwhelmingly controlled by white men, whose escapist fantasies so often revolve around vigilantism and sexual wish-fulfillment (often, if not always, featuring a steady through-line of casual misogyny). Rodger’s rampage may be a function of his own profound distress, but it also shows how a sexist movie monoculture can be toxic for women and men alike.
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, raised on a steady diet of Judd Apatow comedies in which the shlubby arrested adolescent always gets the girl, find that those happy endings constantly elude them and conclude, “It’s not fair”?
In her final paragraph, Hornaday does admit what came before is pseudo-intellectual crap: “Even if 51 percent of our movies were made by women, Elliot Rodger still would have been seriously ill.”
Using Twitter, both Apatow and Rogen swung back, calling her thoughts “horribly insulting and misinformed” and the using of a tragedy to “promote herself with idiotic thoughts.”
Hornaday’s column is every bit as stupid and willfully ignorant as those who blame hurricanes on The Gays.
For all its sex and drug antics, Neighbors (which I saw over the weekend) is ultimately a film about accepting responsibility and moving on past the sex and drug antics. This is also true for Judd Apatow’s most popular films.
Does the Bible promote sex and violence? There is plenty of sex and violence in the New and Old Testaments — but of course not. Other than exploring actual history, the sex and violence in the Bible is used as a device to promote a positive message.
I’m certainly not comparing the Rogen/Apatow canon to the Bible, but the message in those films is the exact opposite of the nihilism and narcissism that seemed such a large part of what drove Rodger.
As far as Toback’s The Pick-Up Artist, all Hornaday’s got is a completely-forgotten 27-year-old film that flopped upon its original release.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC