Considering the First Law of Holes, one might think The Washington Post‘s Ann Hornaday would keep quiet on Elliot Rodger and his shooting spree. Hornaday’s first column on the matter drew sharp criticism after it appeared to blame, of all things, Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow movies for Rodger’s rage. You’d think Hornaday would stop digging, but you’d be wrong.
Hornaday responded on Tuesday to the critics of her criticism, dusting off that old chestnut that she’d been “misunderstood.” The Post film critic said that it was “un-fun… to be slammed by famous people,” but added that she could understand why Apatow and Rogen took offense at her insinuation that their work – films in which the “shlubby [sic]” Apatow (Hornaday’s phrasing, not ours) “always gets the girl” – could have contributed to the dejection, misogynist entitlement, and rage that Rodger eventually turned on those he felt had wronged him.
Hornaday’s recent biting social commentaries include a glowing review of “Million Dollar Arm” and positive words about “Foxcatcher.” She’s since been doing double duty trying to flesh out the nuance intended in her original article.
In a PostTV interview, Hornaday expanded on her somewhat incendiary opining:
“I wanted to tease out how the movies we watch are primarily created by men,” Hornaday said, “and primarily pivot around male fantasies of wish fulfillment and vigilante justice…”
See: Hornaday wasn’t blaming Apatow movies for creating Rodger’s mindset; she was just… blaming Apatow movies for creating Rodger’s mindset.
Okay, that may be taking it a bit far. Hornaday never outright blames Rogen-Apatow movies and their ilk for creating Rodger’s mindset. She just… oh, wait… our bad: She totally does! Ha!
“Rodger’s rampage,” Hornaday wrote on Sunday, “may be a function of his own profound distress, but it also shows how a sexist movie monoculture can be toxic for women and men alike.”
Hornaday then went on to make her infamous connection to “Neighbors” and other Apatow fare before insinuating that producing more films that pass the Bechdel Test could… um… prevent more shootings? We’re not sure, really; Hornaday’s article just stops after the Bechdel mention and some stats on women in film.
Whether Hornaday’s assertion that Neighbors and other sophomoric comedies contributed to Rodger’s killing spree is up for discussion, but she’s not exactly blazing a new path here. Following any of America’s scores of gun-related tragedies, social critics of all stripes point the blame at Hollywood, violent video games, popular music, and just about anything else. Hornaday’s assertion, then, is about as predictable as this nation’s regular hand wringing about gun rights in the wake of any mass shooting.
And, like clockwork, voices on the Internets come out to big up or shout down whoever is blaming the recent tragedy on whatever. In Hornaday’s case, her mention of film as a cause brought derision:
“”[O]ne of the most cowardly, drive-by pieces of journalism ever written,” one reader wrote to Hornaday.
And the fact that Hornaday is a woman mentioning misogyny brought… more misogyny. Of course:
“Another [reader],” Hornaday wrote, “simply sent an epithet commonly described with the euphemism see-you-next-Tuesday.”
For the uninitiated, Hornaday was called a name that… err… rhymes with “runt.” Because, of course, Hornaday’s call to examine sexism and misogyny in American cinema should be answered with blatant misogyny.
In the end, Hornaday concludes that her article has, at least, sparked a conversation. Whether the conversation sparked by Hornaday’s missive will yield anything enlightening, though, remains to be seen.