This week I saw Horrible Bosses.
Being a comedy, which are notoriously hit-or-miss, I wasn't sure what to expect but.... it has a very fleshed out cast and is starring Jason Bateman, whom I absolutely adore. (COUNTING MUTANT) I figured the chances were pretty good that it would be more on the hit side than the miss side. And hey, we had four free movie tickets, four bored friends and one hot-as-hell summer evening.
Turns out it was thoroughly enjoyable, and I certainly got some good giggles out of it. (I could have done without being in a full theatre and having, effectively, a live laugh track. Other people's laughter is terribly annoying.)
But this post isn't about the movie.
This post is about sexual harassment.
As you can gather from the trailer, one of the bosses (Dr. Harris) was an attractive female who was heavily flirting with her employee, Dale.
Who the fuck am I kidding.
It was sexual harassment. You can tell that from the trailer; were a male employer to spray a female employee with water to turn their clothing transparent, no one would call that "flirting." Using blackmail and potential loss of a job to force an employee to perform sexual favours? That's cut and dry sexual harassment. Of course, in the real world, such unwanted advances from an attractive woman against a man isn't considered harassment. In that case, the male is just "lucky." Therefore, the harassment is soon supplemented with the threat of showing Dale's fiancee photos of Dr. Harris in, er, compromising positions with (an unconscious) Dale.
I had a bit of a sick revelation during a short clip where Dr. Harris sneaks up behind Dale and proceeds to lick and nibble on his ears before giving his nipples a tweak. In my head I momentarily swapped the genders involved. Can you imagine a comedy with a scene where a male boss does that to a female employee against her will?
It made me shudder.
And yes, the reactions of the two male friends who know of the harassment is predictable. They respond to the blackmail, of course, but the harassment is just "lucky." Dale is still earnestly concerned about it, but the threat of losing his job and his fiance is enough to keep him quiet.
This is a real problem. This exact situation really happens every day - though it's usually perpetrated against women. I suppose that's what makes this situation suitable for a comedy: the idea of an attractive woman (who is able to "get" other guys, if she wants) aggressively harassing a man is almost unheard of, and therefore is something we can laugh at.
So there we go, two nasty ideas for the price of one: women don't normally crave sex enough to be aggressive about it and it's not a big deal for a man to be sexually harassed by a woman. Of course, I wasn't expecting this to be a particularly feminist movie - even the trailers preceding a 14A movie tend to be rather tasteless - but sometimes it's nice to be able to enjoy mainstream media without that little feminist critic in my head screaming and pointing like an angry monkey. At the very least, I suppose, maybe this movie will open some discussion on sexual harassment against men. Though I doubt it.
There was one nice little tidbit though.
The two other main characters, at one point, turn to Dale to settle an argument over which of the two of them would be more "rapeable" if they were to go to prison. (Each thought they were more attractive and therefore more likely to be raped)
"Nick of course," Dale says after almost no thought.
"Why is that?"
"Rape is about vulnerability and weakness," says Dale.
"FUCKING A!" screamed the little critic in my head. "I LOVE YOU!"