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After being bashed by Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow for an essay in which she seemed to suggest that films like their current box-office hit Neighbors may have inspired Santa Barbara shooting suspect Elliot Rodger, Washington Post critic Ann Hornaday recorded a video defending the motivations for her column.
“In singling out Neighbors and Judd Apatow, I by no means meant to cast blame on those movies or Judd Apatow’s work for this heinous action — obviously not,” Hornaday said, adding that she can understand why Rogen and Apatow “might feel defensive.”
Instead, she said she was inspired to write her column based on the YouTube video Rodger created prior to carrying out his massacre and its “Hollywood-like production values and context” she said.
“The whole reason that I weighed in on this issue was that [Rodger] had created this video on YouTube that seemed to be such a product of the entertainment industry that he did grow up in, literally and also just as a member of the culture,” Hornaday explained. “And it seemed that his self-pitying complaints, a lot of them had a lot to do with the sense of entitlement that he had to a life that he had seen reflected around him, and I wanted to sort of tease out how the movies we watch that are primarily created by men and primarily pivot around fantasies of male wish-fulfillment and vigilante justice, how that might inform not just someone suffering under a terrible mental illness but the culture at large in terms of conditioning our own expectations of what we think life is and what we feel like we deserve from it.”
The veteran critic also responded to Apatow’s tweet that she’s using the tragedy to promote herself, writing in an accompanying blog post, “I was not using the grievous episode in Isla Vista to make myself more famous; nor was I casting blame on the movies for Rodger’s actions. Rather, in my capacity as a movie critic, I was looking at the video as a lens through which to examine questions about sexism, insecurity and entitlement, how they’ve threaded their way through an entertainment culture historically dominated by men and how they’ve shaped our own expectations as individuals and a culture.”
Hornaday closes by noting that she was posing some questions she hoped people would consider, which it seems like they did.
“As a film critic, what I wanted to do was think about was what echoes we heard from the larger culture and maybe pose some questions that might be useful,” She says. “At least judging from my inbox today, a lot of people do think that those are questions worth asking.”
Watch Hornaday’s full video below.
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