In Defense Of Seth Rogen

Illustration for article titled In Defense Of Seth Rogen

A reader recently wrote in to call Seth Rogen out for his remarks to Vanessa Grigoriadis in August's Elle — especially his allegation that the filming of Knocked Up was totally "open and communicative and input-driven" and that Katherine Heigl should've said something if she disapproved of the film. Marie Claire is cracking the Rogen backlash too, deriding "doughy Seth Rogen" in an article titled, "Huggable, Yes. But Hot? Not So Much." Our reader has a point — Rogen certainly wouldn't be the first man to mistake an environment where he's comfortable for one where everyone's comfortable, and it's quite possible that Heigl's input wouldn't have been as welcome as his. But Rogen comes off pretty well in the rest of the Elle interview, and I think he deserves a little defending. Here's why:


Asked about the attractiveness gap between men and women in Apatow movies, Rogen responds, "I love that. Like, there's so little chance that a girl would like me, it's sexist to assume that one would."

He takes it personally — and good for him. Is the idea that male attractiveness goes beyond traditional good looks really something we want to stamp out? In Marie Claire, Lucy Kaylin writes:

When funny women carry a comedy, it's expected that they'll be shaggable too — see Tina Fey's gleaming gams and cleavage in Baby Mama. Look, we know we've always said that a sense of humor is the most important thing. But a few crunches wouldn't hurt either.

But Kaylin's going the wrong way here. Rather than demanding that funny, weird-looking guys become more conventionally handsome, can't we acknowledge that attractiveness in both sexes can be a fungible thing? Men like weird-looking women sometimes too, and if we saw this play out more often on screen, maybe we'd be more accepting of our own quirks. I know I'm sick of ladymags telling me how to look better all the time, and rather than holding men up the same exacting standards, I'd like to quit worrying about camouflaging my flaws.

Now, if only Ms. Grigoriadis had addressed the responsibility gap between the sexes in Apatow movies. I'd like to see what Rogen would say to that one.




Personally, I enjoyed Superbad more than Knocked Up for a lot of the reasons listed above...because the two male leads actually balanced each other out, in the end, realized that the girls they were interested in were people, not just their sex objects.

The other thing is, I like dirty humor. I'm juvenile that way. But I also know the difference between using it and other things like, say, a characters expressing sexist something other than advocating those things. It all depends on the execution. I have a lot of male friends and gross humor is definitely part of the banter. But they don't treat me like an object, or inferior, or not human. And if they say something that IS sexist and not a joke, I set them straight.

I guess my point is that it really depends on whether a character is exhibiting something as a part of the character, or whether it's being condoned. For instance, in Superbad, Seth as a character says some pretty sexist (as in women as sex objects only) things...but Evan always questions it and even points out that he's being an ass. I think that's just as important. And I think 40 year old virgin did that as well. I think Knocked Up was less successful, but again, that group of guys was not exactly portrayed as successful or even happy people you'd want to emulate.

My problem is that we aren't seeing the other perspective enough, which is women who aren't all perfectly put together and pretty and professional and anal, who just need a good does of the humorous dick, apparently. It's one of the reasons I loved Juno so much. She was quirky and funny and cynical and made mistakes, and wasn't all put together and perfect. That kind of woman/girl is so rare in film, at least since the 90's...