A lot of us were horrified this weekend by Elliot Rodger's awful shooting rampage and the video manifesto he left behind. My heart goes out to the families of the victims. I was especially creeped out by the anger he expressed specifically toward women. "I do not know why you girls aren’t attracted to me. But I will punish you all for it" -- as if he were entitled to a pretty girl's love just for being male and existing. Washington Post columnist Ann Hornaday picked up on this entitlement and pinned the blame partly on our entertainment industry. And she could have made a persuasive case if she hadn't brought up Neighbors and Judd Apatow movies as examples.
Hornaday does acknowledge that Rodger's mental illness played a large role in his actions. Then she adds, "It’s just as clear that his delusions were inflated, if not created, by the entertainment industry he grew up in." She says his rant "unwittingly expressed the toxic double helix of insecurity and entitlement that comprises Hollywood’s DNA." And I don't think Hornaday is entirely wrong. But then she goes here:
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”?
Apa--wha? Why is she picking on those movies? Do you kind of get the feeling she's never actually watched any of them? Sure the shlubby guy often gets the hot babe, but he has to work hard to keep her affection. You could come up with far, far worse examples of male entitlement in babeland than that. Here's what Seth Rogen had to say:
.@AnnHornaday I find your article horribly insulting and misinformed.— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) May 26, 2014
.@AnnHornaday how dare you imply that me getting girls in movies caused a lunatic to go on a rampage.— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) May 26, 2014
I mean, come on. Seth Rogen is not the bad guy here. Judd Apatow was also pissed and got started on a rant about sensationalism and money, which was almost equally as lame as Hornaday's argument given what industry he works for. And I don't think he needs to feel so defensive considering public opinion seems to be on his side. But I can see why he was irritated.
Anyway, I think this little circus distracts from Rodger's disturbing hostility to women. I don't know how much Hollywood has to do with that. But Rodger is certainly not the first guy to get scary aggro when the hot lady love he thinks he has coming never materializes. We've seen the same sentiment coming out of less violent but still creepy men who think they deserve sex just because they're "nice" guys.
We all crave connection. And many of us attribute our self worth at least partly to our ability to attract the affections of others. But what is it about our culture that makes men react so violently when they fail to make those connections? Are there ways that we send boys the message that they deserve love and sex like they deserve food and water? Like women are just utilities? And who says any of us are entitled to romantic love, male or female? I think if we weren't busy arguing over Judd Apatow movies, we could be discussing those questions more seriously and getting some clarity.
Do you think a lot of men feel entitled to romantic love?
Image via Seth Rogen/Twitter