Rape is a Crime – Not a Punch Line
Monday’s media storm after this weekend’s 2009 MTV Video Music Awards centered pretty exclusively on what many perceived as the night’s biggest faux pas – Kanye West’s outburst during Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for “Best Female Video” award.
“As inexcusable as it gets” reported the NY Daily News. “Kanye West should be banned from future award shows.”
“MTV Awards Marred by Performer’s Comments,” read the New York Times.
President Obama calls West a “jackass” for his outburst at the VMAs during an interview with CNBC.
The buzz surrounding West’s outburst exploded following the show, but the most deplorable, offensive comments of the evening came and went with little to no attention from the media at all.
What could be more controversial than West’s outburst? How about a joke about rape?
No I’m not kidding. And no I’m not laughing.
The award’s host, comic Russell Brand, poked numerous inappropriate jabs throughout the show, but the joke directed at Megan Fox goes beyond the pale.
“She has admitted she is a little bit cuckoo upstairs and I have trained in psychiatry. So Megan, if you do have a little dizzy spell love, I could probably drop you a little pill. You can go and have a lie down in my dressing room. You might get some crazy dreams about being visited by a scarecrow, a perfumed weirdo leaning over you. But let me tell you, that’s a common side-effect. Megan, take your medicine.”
Reading between the lines of Brand’s joke you get the idea that the punch line is intended to poke fun at date rape. He tells Fox that he’d like to drop her a “little pill” that will impair her senses so she can lie down in his dressing room. It is clear that he is joking about drugging and taking advantage of her.
Isn’t joking about date rape more controversial than interrupting someone’s speech? Why wasn’t Brand kicked out of the show for his inexcusable comments? How is it possible that President Obama heard about West’s outburst but is in the dark regarding the date rape “joke”?
Perhaps, it is because I only found one article on MSN, “Russell Brand Makes Saucy Jokes About Leading Ladies at VMAs,” that covered Brand’s offensive “joke(s).” Had it not been for a good friend of mine who called me during the awards completely and utterly horrified I may still be in the dark too (Thanks Viki!).
Still though, I’m amazed that Brand’s date rape “joke” didn’t receive more criticism, especially considering this isn’t the first time he has made a “joke” at the expense of women.
Last summer during a gig in the UK, the comic used an audience member’s cell phone to prank call an emergency rape line set up by police as part of his stand-up routine, pretending he had information about a man suspected of sexual assaulting women in underpasses.
Interfering with an investigation for a suspected rapist is not funny – it’s a crime! Using rape as a vehicle to garner laughs whether it be on stage or in conversation is unbelievable – not to mention offensive, disrespectful, and downright disgusting.
Every two minutes someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. That means that during the duration of the VMA’s roughly another 60 women were sexually assaulted in this country.
Making light of this horrific crime is a slap in the face to survivors of rape and women everywhere. Brand should be ashamed for using rape as part of his comedy and embarrassed that he is not more creative in his attempts to make people laugh. We, as a country, should be ashamed that jokes such as these fly under the radar and embarrassed that people let them go so easily.
Rape is a crime – not a punch line. It’s about time people started acting that way.
Pyui Mok/PA; Photo originally published on the Guardian (UK) - http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/theatreblog/2008/jul/16/russellbrand