Sunday, April 26, 2015

Football Town Nights

Don't like rape jokes? Me, neither. But as TPM points out, this is the right way to joke about rape.

Of course, the joke isn't about rape, but about attitudes towards rape, about the lame excuses for rape, and about the football culture in small towns.

It's from Inside Amy Schumer, which I haven't seen, and it parodies a movie I haven't seen. So some of the humor went right past me, I'm sure.

Here's what Amanda Marcotte, one of my favorite columnists at TPM, says:
The sketch, “Football Town Nights,” is a loving parody of Friday Night Lights that also works as a pitch-perfect satire of the various ways rape culture perpetuates itself.

Josh Charles plays “Coach Thompson,” a direct homage to Kyle Chandler’s Coach Eric Taylor on the beloved football drama. (Amy Schumer plays his wife, gently sending up Connie Britton’s wine-loving, free spirited performance on the show.) Coach Thompson wants his team to be inspired, to work hard, to win games and oh yeah, to not rape.

The team’s locker room reaction to his instructions not to rape is immediately familiar to anyone who has dared to peek at the comments under any article denouncing rape: a bunch of dudes making increasingly convoluted arguments about why there should be exceptions or caveats to this broad no-raping philosophy. “What if it’s Halloween and she’s dressed as a sexy cat?” “What if she thinks it’s rape but I don’t?” “What if she’s drunk and has a slight reputation….” It’s only a mild exaggeration of the kinds of arguments feminists get with this relentless prodding strategy.

Or in some cases, not exaggerated at all. “What if the girl said yes but then she changes her mind out of nowhere, like a crazy person?” adds one, which is one we’ve heard a lot.

But while the persistent whining of trolls is the funniest part of this sketch, the satire of rape culture goes much deeper. The community frames Coach Thompson as an unreasonable fun-killer, and his wife even tries to argue that maybe he should let this one go—all reactions that feminists are intimately familiar with when they speak out against rape. Tellingly, the sketch doesn’t include any girls at all, making it clear that rape is a product of male entitlement and isn’t about the girls or what they do and wear.

The best part may be the end, when Coach Thompson, frustrated that his players are losing focus because they’re so obsessively angry about this extremely reasonable “no raping” rule, screams at them in a classic rallying-the-team locker room scene. “How do I get through to you boys that football isn’t about rape?” he yells. “It’s about violently dominating anyone that stands between you and what you want!”

Rape isn't funny. I understand that. But humor can work wonders. Racism isn't funny, either, but All in the Family made racists laugh at themselves - and, perhaps, think.