"Pitch Perfect" returned this week with a new trailer for its sequel. Fans of the popular a cappella series rejoiced.
The first film was a big hit, considered a sleeper that did relatively well at the box office, and scored a popular soundtrack. So much so, that they released Anna Kendrick's "Cups" as a music video months after the film's debut.
Personally, I'm a fan of the movie's stars Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and Adam DeVine. But there's a problem.
The new trailer ends on a bad note. Adam DeVine's character approaches Rebel Wilson's character at a party, asks her if she'd like to have sex later, to which she replies "No," but with a wink.
"Okay, you said 'no,' but you winked," DeVine's character replies, "so that's a 'no' then?"
"A hundred percent no!" Wilson exclaims, again with a wink.
Suggesting "No" sometimes means "Yes" is not funny.
Currently, 88 higher education institutions are under federal investigation for concerns they mishandle sexual assault on campus. ("Pitch Perfect" is about college students, set on a campus, in case you weren't aware.) Lawmakers are proposing legislation to address the issue. The White House has clearly articulated if someone says "No," there isn't consent, and it's assault. Fraternities are frequently getting in trouble for putting up "No Means Yes" banners, or chanting it on campus.
Jokes like this one in the "Pitch Perfect 2" trailer go against all of that effort to address a serious issue. Research shows many rape survivors often doubt what happened to them was that bad, or don't think anyone will believe them if they report. As a result, few rapists ever spend a day in jail.
I wasn't the only one who felt a little disturbed by "Pitch Perfect 2's" rape joke:
I am frustrated with the she says no but really means yes wink wink in the new Pitch Perfect 2 trailer. It doesn't help the dialogue.
— TeenLibrarianToolbox (@TLT16) November 21, 2014
Not feeling the new Pitch Perfect trailer. It just looks like a paint-by-numbers sequel. And the "no means yes" joke at the end? Really?
— David Masad (@badnetworker) November 20, 2014
Maybe we could blow this off as one dumb line, if there wasn't another joke mocking campus rape in the first "Pitch Perfect" trailer, at the very beginning no less.
"Here's your official BU rape whistle," a chirpy student employee says as she hands it to Kendrick's character, adding, "Don't blow it unless it's actually happening."
These are the little things writer Jessica Valenti was referring to in a lecture this week at Brown University, that stopping people from making rape jokes can help establish a culture that takes sexual violence more seriously. A culture where people can say one of the most popular radio personalities in the country, Rush Limbaugh, is wrong when he declares, "No means yes if you know how to spot it."
The person making a rape joke usually doesn't condone rape, and I would be on thin ice trying to suggest the writers, producers or actors of "Pitch Perfect" thought sexual violence was fine, or that consent was only an option. So I'm not going to suggest that. What I will suggest is they failed to realize those jokes add to a culture that makes victims feel isolated or like they are to blame.