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30 Rock Sleep Rape Joke Not So Bad

September 27, 2010

Unless you’ve lived in under a rock for the last five years, I’m sure you’ve heard of the TV show 30 Rock. It’s hilarious. Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin are comedy gold (as well as the rest of the cast). The show has been getting a lot of flak since it’s fifth season debut in regards to a rape joke that apparently didn’t fly too well with some audience members.

Here’s a rundown of the joke for ya, curtesy of Bitch Magazine (cause I’m too lazy to do it myself):

The particular scene people are talking about is one in which Pete (Scott Adsit) is telling Liz about how relaxed he’s become since Jenna (Jane Krakowski) became a producer: “This morning I made love to my wife.  And she was still asleep, so I didn’t have to be gentle.”  We are provided with a visual.  Quoth Liz: “That is one of the most upsetting things I have ever imagined.”  Pete: “Oh yeah?”  And we get another visual.

Sooooo many people have been piping up about how this joke wasn’t funny and how it’s making light of the issue of rape, etc, etc and ad infinitum. You know what, I thought it was funny. I do. It was funny because it was disturbing. Liz (played by Tina Fey) even says that that was one of the most upsetting things she’s ever imagined. That was the joke.

I have a friend who frequently describes things of a sexual nature that she knows will disturb the hell out of me, because I can’t help but picture it in my mind. She finds this hilarious. And even if you don’t have a friend with such a kinky sense of humor, I’m sure you’ve been in a situation where you pictured something in your mind that was just plain disturbing. Like “Ew, I really didn’t need that mental picture.” And ain’t it just strange how often those  disturbing mental pictures involve something sexual. Maybe the act in itself is disturbing or it’s imagining a particular person in said act that’s disturbing.

Part of the 30 Rock joke is recognizing that feeling, and simultaneously being grossed out by the actual visual image of Pete doing his wife while she’s asleep. Plus she’s snoring, plus “he didn’t have to be gentle”, plus the look of distress on Liz’s face all equal hilarious.

I did not come away from watching that episode feeling like they were dismissing rape as no big thing. I certainly agree with the fact that sex with a person that is asleep (even if she’s your wife) is rape. The wrongness of it all is what made the joke funny. It wasn’t an endorsement of rape. It was simply a funny scene where the audience got to shudder along with Liz at how creepy Pete is. And he is, he’s hilariously creepy.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 2, 2010 8:15 am

    I have ‘rape jokes’ going through my head sometimes, partly because I know I am not supposed to. the more taboo it is the more I think of them in my mind…

    I agree the context was everything here. But even if it wasn’t so obvious that Fey wasnt condoning the joke, I think we need to chill out a bit about humour. In the UK a lot of feminists cry ‘misogyny!’ at the slightest thing and it is very tiresome.

    Incidentally I had a genuinely violent bf and once he said he’d fucked me in my sleep. I didn’t believe him I think he said it to scare me. That wasn’t funny. But I retain my right to joke about gender violence and anything that comes into my head. It is partly catharsis for me.

    Keep up your great blog lovely! You are fabulous…

  2. October 2, 2010 12:28 pm

    Sometimes I have inappropriate things going through my mind too, just because they are taboo. I wish I didn’t always go down like that. There are some things I just don’t want to think about.

    Yes, there’s a lot of people that are quick to point a finger and deem something wrong. It always reminds me of the Reverend’s wife in the Simpsons…the one that always says in a really high pitch screechy voice “Will someone please think of the children.”

    Not to throw around labels, but your ex bf sounds like a real jerk. I don’t know about you but I’m glad he’s past tense. It’s so easy to say, right, it’s an oversimplification as I’m sure it was a lot more complicated than “he’s was a jerk, I left and all was good in my life again”. If ONLY it could happen that way without all the messy emotional goings on. Bah, actually I don’t really mean that last part.

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