Why The Rape Scene In Sausage Party Wasn’t Funny

Yes, it’s a cartoon. Yet that scene made me sick to my stomach.

I don’t consider myself a particularly uptight person. I can joke around about many things and am not easily offended. I’m the girl who always smiles and laughs, and never really causes a fuss about much of anything. I attribute this to my bartender past, where you are expected to paste a smile on your face for your 9-hour shift and make the customer feel warm and fuzzy even when they’re completely out of line. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that this mentality and expectation has no place in my everyday life. And although I’m working to speak out more often about things that bother me (old habits die hard), I see that some things I would typically dismiss for fear of rocking the boat or looking difficult are now impossible to ignore. Take, for example, the movie I saw last night: Sausage Party.

Sausage Party was co-written by Seth Rogen, so I knew it was going to be crass. My boyfriend had actually seen the movie on opening night and told me it was horribly disgusting, but hilarious. Potty and sex humor is my kind of humor. I knew there would be some off-color jokes in this film, but what I wasn’t expecting was the rape scene. The bad guy, “Douche,” finds a helpless grape juice box lying on the floor, injured and unable to move, asking for help. It is oozing liquid out of a hole in its [vagina? asshole? box bottom?] and instead of helping, the bad guy puts his face into the hole, sucks out all the liquid, and says menacingly, “If you say anything, no one will believe you.” (Note: I’ve received 2 notes from concerned male readers about the accuracy of this quote, which I apologize for...the actual quote is “If you tell anyone about this, I’m gonna deny it bro.” In my opinion, this doesn’t change the nature of the act or the menacing context.)

Yes, it’s a cartoon. And for me to say that a cartoon can be a trigger could be construed as ridiculous. Yet that scene made me sick to my stomach. Maybe it was because I had read an article yesterday morning about a man who told his friend he was going to take care of a drunk, helpless woman, and once his friend left the room, he raped her. Maybe it’s because sexual violence happens all-too-often in our real world, and adding it to a cartoon movie doesn’t call for a chuckle. Maybe it brings up memories of my own sexual assault, one that I was too scared to ever report for fear of the slut-shaming that would be sure to follow.

I am open to other opinions. Perhaps Seth Rogen wasn’t trying to trivialize sexual assault, he was using the scene… in a cartoon… to make people aware of a serious problem. Maybe it wasn’t a statement at all, besides the fact that the entire movie seemed to be a statement about religion and politics. The more we as a society act as though sexual assault is normal, the more we add it to movies for comedic effect, the more we lose. Sexual assault is a violent crime, and it was depicted as such in this cartoon. That doesn’t make it less disgusting, or less offensive. When is the script going to change, and when will we start holding ourselves accountable for what we continue to accept?