Film critic responds to angry tweets from Hollywood stars in wake of shooting rampage

Judd Apatow, left, recipient of the Hollywood Comedy Award, poses with actor Seth Rogen backstage at the 16th Annual Hollywood Film Awards Gala on Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Movies are overwhelming told from a male perspective

wtopstaff | November 15, 2014 6:09 am

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WASHINGTON — Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday is responding to angry tweets from actor Seth Rogen and director Judd Apatow, after Hornaday’s op-ed about the YouTube video made by Isla Vista, California mass murderer Elliot Rodger.

In her op-ed Hornaday wondered “How many students watch outsized frat-boy fantasies like ‘Neighbors’ and feel, as Rodger did, unjustly shut out of college life,” and asked “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?”

Rogen had tweeted at Hornaday, “How dare you imply that me getting girls in movies caused a lunatic to go on a rampage.”

Apatow tweeted Hornaday “uses tragedy to promote herself with idiotic thoughts.”

Rogen got his start on Apatow’s TV show “Freaks and Geeks,” then followed him into films like “The 40 Year Old Virgin,” “Knocked Up” and “Superbad.”

In her first interview after Rogen and Apatow’s tweets, Hornaday told WTOP: “Blame isn’t the word I would use.”

Hornaday says her piece attempted to focus on the YouTube video Rodgers made in his black BMW.

“It was so startlingly well made. It had these traditional Hollywood production values — good lighting, careful setting and the palm trees in background.”

“Movies are an escapist art form, and they do not reflect real life,” Hornaday says.

In response to Rogen and Apatow’s tweets, Hornaday said, “I understand why they would feel defensive, because I did single out Apatow’s movies, in terms of the shlubby guy getting the girl, and I did also mention ‘Neighbors,'” starring Rogen.

“I don’t think I’m blaming Hollywood for this,” says Hornaday.

Regardless, movies played a significant role in Rodger’s life.

In his 137-page manifesto, Rodger said seeing the movie “Alpha Dog,” prompted his desire to go to college in Santa Barbara.

The film — which IMDB describes as a drama based on the life of Jesse James Hollywood, a drug dealer who became one of the youngest men ever to be on the FBI’s most wanted list — “depicted lots of good looking young people enjoying pleasurable sex lives,” wrote Rodger.

“That was the life I wanted. A life of pleasure and sex,” Rodger wrote.

Hornaday writes, “The myths that movies have been selling us become even more palpable at a time when spectators become their own auteurs and stars on YouTube, Instagram, and Vine.”

“What I tried to do is raise some questions about the knock-on effects of immersing ourselves in these same narratives and same images, over and over again.”

Hornaday says, “Obviously mental illness and guns are the cardinal things we should be talking about, but there’s also this unmistakable sense that this young man was, in a real way, a creation of Hollywood, and the stories that permeate that culture, which are overwhelmingly told from a male perspective.”

In her op-ed, Hornaday refers to recent research that “women made up just 16 percent of directors, writers, producers, cinematographers and editors working on the top 250 movies of 2013.”

“Let’s ask ourselves, what are the messages we’re giving young men, and young people in general, about entitlement and impunity?” says Hornaday.

Hornaday says she is not suggesting any form of censorship.

“I think the best response to this is just a discussion, maybe asking some hard questions for ourselves why we tell these same stories over and over again,” says Hornaday.

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