“Male rape in comedy: representation in the family film”
by Isaac Gustafsson-Wood.
Analysing a particular scene in the movie Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps, Isaac Gustafsson Wood tries to make sense out of “male raping” used in comedies, specifically American/Hollywood comedies.
Nutty Professor 2 is a 2000 American movie starring Eddie Murphy, the versatile and often “vulgar” Afro-American comedian; the movie’s central focus is the conflict between the good, calm and rationale Sherman Klump and the subversive, sexually active and uncontrollable Buddy Love.
This narrative clash between two personality aspects of the same person (Buddy Love is actually Sherman Klump after he has taken a miraculous medicine similar to the one Doctor Jekyll takes in Stevenson’s book) this narrative, I was saying, is a symbolic clash between the abiding citizen and the instinct driven “savage” residing in all of us, a conflict which, for the preservation of society, must end with the annihilation of the latter one.
Gustafsson argues that representing this extreme and instinctual sexuality through the framework of comedy has the “advantage” of defusing it: having a laugh out of something possibly dangerous for a community of individuals reinforces interpersonal bonds and allows the expression of dangerous instinctual drives within the confinements of a particular time and space, in this case the duration of a movie and the four walls of the cinema hall.
The absurdity of the scene analysed here, a man raped by a gigantic mutated sex maniac male hamster, makes it even easier to be accepted by a large mainstream audience whom won’t feel threatened by concepts such as homosexuality and sexual violence if depicted in a funny and absurd way, even if they are actually central to the narrative.
Related to this concept of “comedy as transgression from normality”, Umberto Eco’s piece “The frames of comic freedom” is a good read to better understand how a society resists to its own destruction releasing instinct in small doses, for example during Carnival, a Christian festival when the people are allowed to deeply indulge in food, sex and other “bestial wishes” for a particular period of time. Releasing these animal instincts in such small controlled doses makes a society stronger: the steam of anger, dissatisfaction and revolt is let escape through a “safe valve” and the dangerous waves of this ocean of people called society will be broken and controlled.
What makes Nutty Professor 2 an excellent example of how society rules are actually reinforced through the use of controlled transgression is the incredible amount of sexual innuendo and blatant vulgarity present throughout the movie, something that a censorship board would (and probably should) take into consideration when appointing a censor rating to a certain movie; Nutty Professor 2 got a PG-13, a considerably sympathetic rating for a vulgar movie like this; as a comparison Brokeback Mountain, a struggling love story between two homosexual men, got an R.
This example makes it clear, if it was ever needed, that censorship is too often used as a tool to control society rather than protecting children from sex and profanities.To conclude, Gustafsson Wood has taken an interesting and unconventional approach when it comes to analyse behavioural restrictions in our society, one that may surprise and shock his readers, in the same way a man might be terribly surprised when he is approached by a gigantic mutated sex maniac male hamster.