You’ve probably heard of Tucker Max, blogger and author of the memoir I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell, who regaled the bestseller list with stories of sex with many, many women and excessive drinking. (The charming cover illustration is of a man holding a beer bottle and pointing to a blonde chick, whose face is cut out with the words “Your Face Here” written instead. Because we’re all inter-changeable, you see.) Max is that particularly awful brand of d-bag who is proud of critics who call him morally depraved and immature; in fact, his book is blurbed with hateful things people have said about him.
So, of course, Hollywood gave this fellow a movie deal! The film version of “I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell,” which focuses on strip club/bachelor party shenanigans, debuts on September 25 and North Carolina State University planned an advanced screening today, followed by a Q&A session with Max.
But then the campus Women’s Center caught wind of the flick, which it said is sexist and encourages behavior leading to sexual assault. Surely you’re wondering, what’s so bad with this film? In the trailer, the Tucker Max character asks a young women looking at a terrarium of turtles, “Are they telling you to kill that fat girl behind us?” When she walks away, he yells after her, “What? How can you be mad about that? Fat girls aren’t real people!”
Advocates from the on-campus Women’s Center called for the film screening to be canceled after a student emailed the center’s rape prevention education coordinator to say she was concerned about the messages in the film that are disrespectful to women. (According to the Fox News article, none of the adults involved had seen the movie, although one had read Max’s book. Full disclosure: I haven’t seen the flick or sat down and read the book all the way through, but I have picked it up and read chunks of it on various trips to the bookstore.) The director of the Women’s Center then watched the trailer, which she said contained sexist and racist phrases (I watched it, she’s right). Still, the university is going ahead with showing the film, although it agreed to refund the money of students who leave the theater because they are offended. [Fox News]
I’m on board with the concept that a university which shows a sexist, racist, fat-hating film is condoning his message, in a way. Max’s film and his Q&A session afterward are being offered by the school as entertainment for the young adults the school is supposed to be crafting into responsible adults. But it’s not a black-and-white issue—consider the time Columbia University hosted the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for an intellectual conversation, which turned out to be a great opportunity for activists to protest against the Iranian regime.
Should “I Hope They Serve Been In Hell” have been banned from the North Carolina State University campus? No, it should not. No one is forcing the students to attend the movie; they are paying for their own tickets and can “vote with their money” by simply not going. Furthermore, banning movies (or songs or books or whatever else) is wrong no matter who does it, regardless of their intention. I think feminists, like the ones who oppose Max and his movie, should instead counter speech we don’t like with speech we do like. Now would be a perfect time to arrange an upcoming movie screening and/or speaker with a positive message about women and allow them to “vote with their money” another way.
Instead, tonight, the Women’s Center and other campus groups are staging a silent protest during the film and, afterward, they are holding a vigil for rape and sexual assault victims. Those are certainly mature and visually rich (for media purposes) actions to take, but I think a better point to make here would be to send the message that sexist humor is not the way the campus wants to be entertained.
In any case, keep your eyes peeled for Tucker Max’s next literary opus, A**holes Finish First, set to appear in 2010…