As expected, Jody Hill's unconstrained black comedy "Observe
and Report" has
in particular concerning a scene in which Seth Rogen's unstable mall cop
character has sex with a woman played by Anna Faris who is semi-conscious and
wasted. The scene, say the outraged critics, condones and encourages date rape,
exploiting it for cheap laughs.
Perhaps so, but my reading of the scene, confirmed in the
discussion I had with Hill below, is different. True, the scene does elicit
laughter, in fact it is designed to do so. But most of those who laugh will
catch themselves when they realize what they are laughing at, and reflect on
how the conventions of this kind of movie can manipulate viewers into laughing
at not only this invidious stereotype but also the other stereotypes, ethnic
and otherwise, depicted in the film. Since Rogen's character is ostensibly the
hero, his point of view validates these stereotypes, until it's clear that his
point of view is not very reliable.
Too subtle and ironic a dynamic, I suppose, for those looking
for something to be angry at -- or to laugh at, for that matter.
One of the stereotypes that no one seems to be getting up in arms
about is that of the mall cop himself, a stereotype that depicts
people from a certain social and economic class (ie: poor people) as being
stupid, vicious and/or mentally ill.
Well, not quite no one, as it turns out. Tom Walton, Vice
President with AlliedBarton Security Services, "America's leading physical security
company with over 50,000 employees nationwide," begs to differ in a 500 word
opinion piece titled "Retail Security Officers Deserve Respect Not Guffaws." In
part he writes:
"While audiences loved ‘Mall Cop' and will likely line up to see
the upcoming ‘Observe and Report' ... real world contract security
companies who serve malls, see more fiction than fact in these comic portrayals.
"How does the reality of life as a retail security officer
compare with what is depicted in these comedies? These movies provide some light
hearted fun and entertainment, but in no way personify the real world of mall
security officers on the job. These hard-working, highly trained men and women
are our country's first responders who have a wide range of skills - from the
sensitivity to deal with lost children to the ability to respond to and
effectively address law enforcement incidents. Security officers are often put
in high-risk situations as they confront and detain criminals engaged theft,
trespassing, gang activity, and every other manner of unlawful behavior that
occurs where thousands of consumers congregate on a daily basis."
As a former security guard, I can only agree. But also as a former
security guard, I remember that for the most part people in this profession were paid
minimum wages. So I suggest that Mr. Allen put his money where his mouth is and
give these guys a raise.