Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday published an op-ed over the weekend about the young, sexist, and mentally disturbed man who went on a female-targeted killing spree in Santa Barbara on Friday, attributing the source of the tragedy to Hollywood’s domination 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).” In the piece, Hornaday specifically called out Judd Apatow as well as Seth Rogen’s newest film Neighbors as guilty of breeding the misogynist attitude of sexual entitlement the killer possessed:
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”?
Rogen was quick to respond to the accusation yesterday:
Apatow also chimed in with a string of responses:
While the end of Hornaday’s piece makes some valid points about the male-dominated state of Hollywood – including that women make up “just 16 percent of directors, writers, producers, cinematographers and editors working on the top 250 movies of 2013” and “just 15 percent of protagonists in those films” – to put the weight of the blame for a senseless killing spree on a single Apatow or Rogen film is not only unfair but dismissive of the much more alarming issues of gun control and mental illness, not to mention the millions of people who watch said “frat-boy fantasies” knowing today’s films are just that – fantasies. In any case, Hornaday has yet to respond to Rogen and Apatow.
UPDATE: Hornaday has responded to the backlash in the below video. “In singling out Neighbors and Judd Apatow, I by no means meant to cast blame on those movies or Judd Apatow’s work for this heinous action, obviously not,” she says in the clip. “But I do think it bears all of us asking what the costs are of having such a narrow range of stories that we always go back to.”