Elevate Difference

Get Him to the Greek

Aldous Snow (Russell Brand)—the uber-sexual, tongue-in-cheek (and anywhere else you’ll let him stick it) Brit-rocker introduced to audiences in 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall—is back in the latest film from yet another member of the Apatow Film Club for Boys. Based on characters created by Jason Segel, and written and directed by Nicholas Stoller, Get Him to the Greek is an often-comical, always offensive satire of the music industry, rock ‘n’ roll culture, and America’s reverence for all things celebrity.

Capitalizing on the fervor ignited by Brand, Get Him to the Greek succeeds in blurring the line between reality and fiction through inclusion of an original soundtrack and videos (performed by Brand and co-star Rose Byrne) and cameos by more than one recognizable pop artist and media outlet. Brand is refreshingly genuine as a privileged star struggling to gain control of his life, while Byrne offers hilarious support as Snow’s ex-wife and musical partner, Jackie Q. Effortlessly, she rivals Brand with her own sincere wit as she admits on Showbiz Tonight how bored she is with her husband’s sobriety.

I expected to like this film—and I did. Stoller bravely explores intimacy among men and, similar to I Love You, Man, his manuscript explores the complex dynamics of male relationships by offering glimpses of sincerity, vulnerability, and affection, elements often ignored in favor of more acceptably masculine attributes. However, as is often the case in Hollywood, without being well-versed in feminist values, what is meant to be ironic instead reinforces stereotypes and makes it that much harder for girls to be in on the joke.

Some attempts at humor are more problematic than others. While attempting to wrangle Snow in Vegas and escort him to New York City, music intern Aaron (Jonah Hill) is ordered by his boss Sergio (Sean “P Diddy” Combs) to have sex with a woman he’s just met, Destiny. Actually, Sergio commands Destiny to “[t]ake this man into the bedroom and have sex with him," and she readily complies. What follows is a pointless scene in which the petite Destiny forces the hefty Aaron to have sex with her. He says, “No.” He “protests.” (In reality, he could have easily tossed her off him.) Finally, he returns to his friends and announces, “I think I was just raped.” They laugh, and so does the audience. Gross.

In a perfect world, we can laugh about anything. Considering the world we live in, however, perhaps the more appropriate question is "who is allowed to laugh about rape?" When victims speak out with humor about their own lived experience, they are ridiculed or shamed, but when white men in Hollywood poke fun, its satire. Satire, by definition, is an exaggeration that is so far from reality that it is ridiculous to even consider. (The punchline to this joke being how ridiculous and non-threatening rape is for men – that men can’t be raped.) Unfortunately, this moment in Get Him to the Greek reinforces cultural myths surrounding the acceptance of rape. Instead of calling attention to the cultural, systemic, powerful epidemic of sexual violence, the "joke" nullifies its severity by applying it to the most powerful social group (white men).

The film industry is a site where creative potential can be harnessed to provoke meaningful change, and this band of brothers has the ability to lead the way for other Freaks and Geeks. But if we don’t start getting some feminist minds in on the action, these bright men are headed straight for the John Mayer Celebrity School of Shame.

Written by: Alicia Sowisdral, June 15th 2010

Awesome - thanks for the feedback. I get what these guys are trying to do, and on the one hand, I appreciate their clumsy attempt at exploring an alternative narrative, but I wish they would take a gender studies class. I tend to think smart sells just as much as sex.

Guys can be raped. Thinking otherwise is ignorance. But, guy rape is played as 'funny.' It's offensive. I agree with this interpretation: http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/5912667-rape-culture-get-him-to-the-greek

I like your review of Get Him to the Greek and particularly where you point out the Aaron rape scene. I know it was played for laughs because it happened to a white male but I had the same discomfort and "gross" reaction to the scene. The movie 40 Days and 40 Nights had a similar scene at the end of the movie, although no one points out the rape, almost as if that wasn't what happened because a guy can't be raped.

Overall I liked Get Him to the Greek but this scene left a bad taste in my mouth.

Alley (Red) http://whatredread.blogspot.com

While sexual assault is not a funny matter, people need to understand how to take a joke now and then. I'm not trying to be insensitive to those who have been affected but if the argument is made that sexual assault can't be funny in movies, then other types of violence and affliction should not be scoffed at either. Movies such as Hook, Kick-Ass, Pulp Fiction and thousands more turn even the most gruesome of murders into scenes where the audience responds with laughter. Why isn't this an outrage? I believe murder to be a worse crime than rape. Saying that one funny scene in a crappy movie that most people wont even see is detrimental to sexual assault victims and the progression of women empowerment is ludicrous. It's a movie. The main goal is to entertain and make money; not influence society. The average movie goer (especially to a movie such as Get Him to The Greek) is not expected to take any social commentary from the film. I mean, most people couldn't even follow the plots of the Matrix ans Inception when they came out. They just want to turn off their brain for an hour and a half after a day of school or work.

While I see your point, I note that you left out that the petite Destiny shoves a rather large dildo into Aaron's mouth and then into his anus (the specifics of this are off camera of course). Aaron then asks "why this keeps happening" to him (a reference back to Brand forcing him to hide heroin in his anus on the trip to Vegas). What seemed apparent to me was that Aaron was being feminized by Destiny - and this was the joke. That perhaps is enough for feminists to be angry about - but the specifics of the scene should be fairly reported for us to generate a valid opinion.

Also, some might view the scene as potentially having progressive potential - it is an important reminder that heterosexual men brutalize each other as well as gay men and women. (After all, Destiny is acting on orders from Diddy). It might be seen as a reminder of how masculinity works - by some straight men forcing other straight men to do things to prove their masculinity, which may make them feel vulnerable, violated and feminized. Just some things to think about . . . .