While conservatives love to heap scorn on Hollywood, seeing it as a bunch of gay-loving liberals, it’s still a fact that that Tinsel Town likes to make cheap, anti-gay jokes whenever it can, and doesn’t see much wrong with it (probably because the audience still laughs).
Numerous people have commented on such jokes in Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart’s new movie, Get Hard, in which Ferrell’s character is wrongly convicted of tax evasion and sent to jail, and so enlists the help of his black friend to prepare him for prison life. As you can probably guess that leaves plenty of room for ‘don’t drop the soap in the showers’ type jokes, with Will’s character utterly paranoid he’s going to get raped by another man. It caused Variety to comment that the film contains “some of the ugliest gay-panic humor to befoul a studio release in recent memory.”
However Ferrell himself isn’t offering any apologies for what some are suggesting are both homopphobic and racist undertones to the movie, telling AP, “Any time you’re going to do an R-rated comedy, you’re going to offend someone. But that’s kind of what we do. We provoke. We prod. We also show a mirror to what’s already existing out there. We’re playing fictitious characters who are articulating some of the attitudes and misconceptions that already exist.”
That sounds like a whole lot of rationalisation to me, to excuse some extremely cheap jokes.
Ferell’s collaborator and fellow Get Hard producer Adam McKay adds, “Any individual going to maximum security prison would be afraid of violence and sexual assault. To equate that with homosexuality is ridiculous.”
While technically correct, it is completely disingenuous as the fact is that most jokes about prison rape aren’t based around the fear of sexual violence, they’re predicated on the idea that being the bottom in anal sex is the ultimate in emasculation. Indeed the jokes rarely focus on the rape part – it is the idea of a penis up the ass that is ‘funny’, not the fact that it has been forced on them. Indeed there’s also an edge of mysogyny, as it’s the fact they are being made the ‘woman’ in sex that is often presented as the central fear, and apparently a truly hilarious idea.
To be honest, prison rape jokes are old, lazy and you would have hoped Hollywood would have grown past them, or at least found more mature ways to deal with a genuinely serious problem in jails. Instead they use jokes that, whatever they claim, rely on outdated gay sterotypes, not on the fear of sexual violence as McKay suggests. Sure Get Hard is a comedy, but that doesn’t mean it has to be ugly.