WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Film director Judd Apatow and actor Seth Rogen both blasted Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday’s op-ed in which she suggests that Elliot Rodger’s mass killing in Isla Vista, Calif., is tied to white men in Hollywood promoting “escapist fantasies” that “revolve around vigilantism and sexual wish-fulfillment.”
Hornaday argued throughout the Sunday op-ed that the California killer’s rampage and YouTube videos expressing his “loneliness” and “rejection” resemble movies made in a Hollywood culture that inflates misogynistic delusions – as channeled through “male studio executives.”
She also mentioned Rogen’s movie “Neighbors” and Apatow by name in the piece.
“As Rodger bemoaned his life of ‘loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desire’ and arrogantly announced that he would now prove his own status as ‘the true alpha male,’ he unwittingly expressed the toxic double helix of insecurity and entitlement that comprises Hollywood’s DNA,” writes Hornaday.
“For generations, mass entertainment has been overwhelmingly controlled 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),” continues Hornaday.
Hornaday then took shots directly at Apatow and Rogen:
“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 and Apatow ridiculed the op-ed on Monday via Twitter.
.@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
“@AnnHornaday how dare you imply that me getting girls in movies caused a lunatic to go on a rampage,” Rogen tweeted in response, receiving hundreds of re-tweets and favorites. Apatow responded, adding to Rogen’s comments on Twitter: “I find your article horribly insulting and misinformed.”
“She uses tragedy to promote herself with idiotic thoughts,” Apatow posted.
Apatow re-posted a continuing series of tweets on the topic: “why is it always everything but mental illness” asked one Twitter user. “Because that doesn’t sell papers,” writes Apatow.
He then went on to ridicule media models for perpetuating or misconstruing stories simply for profit: “With every view her paper makes money from discussing a story no one yet knows anything about. Now it is a media profit center,” he tweeted.
— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) May 27, 2014
“Remember everyone – ads next to articles generate money. They say something shocking and uninformed & get you to click on it to profit,” he writes.
Apatow then re-directed the conversation to the topic of mental health, a continuing point of debate following information that the shooter had been undergoing mental health evaluations since he was 8-years old.
“Most of earth can’t find a mate—someone to love. People who commit murder of numerous people have mental health issues of some type,” wrote Apatow.
In a video response on Tuesday, Hornaday said that she “by no means meant to cast blame on those movies or Judd Apatow’s work for this heinous action. Obviously not,” she said, adding however, that the “culture at large” should consider what the “costs are for having such a narrow range of stories that we go back to” in Hollywood narratives.
“I certainly understand why Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow would feel defensive,” said Hornaday, noting that the large social media response and her email inbox show that there are obviously many “useful” questions which still surround Hollywood films that are “primarily created by men.”
Hornaday said that the YouTube videos posted by Rodger himself held a “Hollywood-like production value,” and that the culture and sense of entitlement surrounding the 22-year-old surely had some impact on his actions.