“Sobering” thoughts on The Hangover*

*I apologise for the bad pun. It was just too tempting.

In my review of The Hangover Part II I had a very, very restrained rant on how offensive I found a number of jokes in the film:

“I could spend a massive chunk of this review having a rant about how the writers seem determined to be as offensive as possible, but I’ll tone it down. You can look forward to animal cruelty, far too many gratuitous shots of male genitalia (because there’s nothing funnier than a small penis, apparently) and blindingly obvious xenophobia and homophobia. If that’s your cup of tea, fine – it’s not mine.”

The Hangover Part II

Theatrical poster for 'The Hangover Part II'

But I feel like I just can’t let it go. Here’s why.

The scene that bothered me more than anything else was the scene with “Kimmy” at a sleazy Bangkok strip club. It being Thailand – and, like, everybody totally knows that there are, like, millions of transvestites (“ladyboys”) in Thailand and they just want to have sex with the poor, unsuspecting tourists – Kimmy has a penis, as well as a massive pair of breasts. When the guys trace their way back to this strip club it emerges that Stu had consensual sex with Kimmy – which turned out to be receptive anal on his part. And, to Stu, having sex with another man is apparently the worst thing that has ever happened to him in his entire life. He freaks out completely, carrying on about how he made love to a man with “boobies” and *gasp* enjoyed it. This is supposed to be one of the squirm-inducing moments in a film where you laugh at the guy out of pity, glad it’s not you.

I didn’t laugh. I didn’t find it remotely funny. I found it hateful and outdated – and it just goes a long way to proving how extremely okay Hollywood is with homophobia.

Moving right along – although staying in the same scene. It’s an issue I have with so, so many movies. With all the casual sex going on – Stu picked up a hooker, for Christ’s sake – could we not, for the love of God, have a mention of a condom. Come now, condoms can be funny. Kimmy could flippantly say, “Oh it’s okay, we used a condom.” The only thing I could think of – and yes, maybe it is some of my own prejudice coming through (Kimmy seemingly has sex with everybody who comes into the club, we’re led to believe – is about the potential for STDs. “Go get some freaking antiretrovirals, you moron!” I was silently screaming. In a world where Aids is a pandemic, Hollywood needs to find a way to include condoms somewhere. The only film I’ve seen recently that incorporated condoms into the storyline was casual-sex flick No Strings Attached. And I cheered. It’s irresponsible not to include mentions of condoms and things in film – and including them in popular movies (and not making the condom scenario awkward/fumbly/embarrassing) will go a long way to breaking the taboo around protected sex.

And, lastly, that poor freaking monkey. In one scene, Alan puts a water bottle under the monk’s robes in a strategic position, then after we’re forced to watch this poor, humiliating scene for a few minutes he says, “When a monkey nibbles on a penis, it’s funny in any language.” Only it’s not. Also not funny is the fact that the monkey chain-smokes and is addicted to cigarettes. Sure, the filmmakers say that the monkey never actually smoked and it was all added digitally – but it’s the principle behind it. It’s the fact that some moron somewhere is going to watch this film and try to recreate it with his own, possibly already abused, pet monkey.

And I’m not even going to get started on the xenophobia and racism. (Hint: Calling somebody a camel jockey? Not appropriate).

A large part of this film – which will no doubt keep legions of idiot jocks entertained and laughing their heads off – smacks of cruelty and prejudice. And that probably goes a long way to explaining why I hated it as much as I did.

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