Like most people, my DVD library has a pretty obvious beginning and end to its collection. Just from a cursory glance, you can tell that the golden age of my DVDs was around 2002 to 2005, with a few purchases before and after that period. This doesn’t mean that all of my movies are a decade old, some of them are even older, but they were just re-released as on DVD during the aforementioned golden age.
As a whole, my selection seems to hold up pretty well today. For every mainstay like Animal House, there is a somewhat obscure misstep in choice like Collateral. The simple reason for why I bought so many movies during this time is that I was in college and Netflix didn’t exist. Often, I’d watch them while getting drunk with Bryan Schools. (We once had a passionate debate about the space-time continuum while while watching Back to the Future.)
I’ve realized in the years hence that I missed some things during these drunken debates. Turns out, some of my favorite movies have some downright creepy plot points.
I won’t take you on a tour of my entire collection. You don’t want to read 25,000-word essay, and I don’t really want to write it, anyway. So here are a few examples of the creepiness in some of my (and likely your) favorite movies:
Bill Murray is a rapist (Ghostbusters, 1984)
As a kid, I absolutely loved the Ghostbusters movies, I also watched cartoon The Real Ghostbusters every Saturday morning, even Slimer’s spin-off series. Bill Murray in those movies was one of the cornerstones on which I built my sense of humor. So it really put me in a moral quandary in recent years when I realized that my favorite character was likely a sexual predator.
For much of the original movie, Peter Venkman (Murray) is chasing after client Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) while the rest of the crew is more concerned with solving her “Zuul” problem. He shows up at her place of work and even visits her apartment under the pretext of conducting an inspection, hitting on her all the while. Stalking is bad, but it’s not rape, right? At one point, Venkman shows up at Barrett’s place, not knowing that she’s been possessed and has become the Gatekeeper. Eventually he figures something’s wrong with her. He tells Egon on the phone that he “just wacked her up with about 300 cc’s of Thorazine. She’s gonna take a little nap now.”
For some reason, Venkman is carrying around and administering lethal doses of a brand name antipsychotic drug. Most importantly, he has it on him when he goes out on a date. That’s so much worse than convincing college girls they have ESP just so he can hook up with them.
Tom Green and friends want to see their roommate naked (Road Trip, 2000)
This is still one of my favorite movies, and when it came out the year before I graduated high school it actually got me excited about college. It also made me a follower of Todd Phillips movies, something the Hangover sequels have greatly endangered.
The premise of the movie is that Josh Parker (Brecklin Meyer) videotapes himself having sex with a girl and mistakenly sends it to his long-distance girlfriend. In the scene where this mistake is discovered, Parker’s friends and roommates E.L. (Seann William Scott), Rubin Carver (Paulo Costanzo) and Tom Green (Tom Green) snatch what they think is the sex tape and convince Parker to let them watch it. Then they all hunker down and get ready to watch their friend bang some rando.
It’s bad enough that these guys want to see their friend engage in sexual congress with someone (which would keep me from ever looking someone in the eye again), but they want to do it while he’s in the room. One can assume this means they then take turns going off to the bathroom for a few minutes.
Luke Wilson bags an underage girl, gets away with it (Old School, 2003)
Todd Phillips wasn’t through creeping me out. This time, the creepiness is an intentional gag, but the depth of creepiness is missed by a few shades.
Mitch Martin (Luke Wilson) is getting over a breakup with his girlfriend, so his married friends convince him to start his own fraternity and take another crack at the college life. To kick it all off, they organize a party at Mitch’s college-adjacent new house, complete with a live performance by Snoop Dogg (Snoop Lion). The next morning, Mitch wakes up next to a rando (Elisha Cuthbert), and apparently doesn’t remember a thing about it (slightly NSFW). After assuring Mitch it was just casual, Cuthbert exits.
We’re left assuming that she’s in college, but in a later scene, it turns out she is the daughter of Mitch’s boss, and is planning to graduate high school. There’s no mention of the time of year, but we know Harrison University is in upstate New York. We also know that there are leaves on all the trees in town, and no one seems to be wearing jackets. We also know that frats are accepting pledges, so it’s the beginning of the semester. With this, it’s clear it’s the fall semester. That means that Cuthbert is just going into her senior year of high school, and unless she was held back a year, she’s 17, possibly even still 16. This matters, because the age of consent in New York is 17, and thinking the victim was older at the time is not a defense.
But even if she was 17, a rape still occurred that night. Mitch does not remember the act, nor does he remember how he got to bed, and likely even who she is. This means that he was probably not able to give consent. It’s very possible that Mitch had grounds to send his boss’ daughter to jail.
I need to scrub the dirt off of my DVDs one of these days.