Funny man Seth Rogan apparently pushed the boundaries of comedy too far in Sausage Party, a computer-animated comedy starring himself, Salma Hayek, Kristen Wiig, and a dozen other Hollywood funny people.
The film features a taco (Hayek) who develops feelings for a hotdog bun (Wiig). Get it? The movie is causing a bit of a stir. At issue is not the film’s gay-friendly message, but its insensitive stereotypes.
Autostraddle, a website geared toward gay and bisexual women, felt compelled to pull a favorable review of the film from its website. (It can still be found here on AfterEllen.)
“WE MESSED UP,” the editors confessed in the headline. Why was the review unacceptable? Heather Hogan explained:
After we published the review, we heard from Latinx readers who believe the portrayal of Salma Hayek’s taco was racist and that it reinforced harmful stereotypes. We heard from readers who were upset that we labeled the taco a lesbian when it seems more likely that she was bisexual. We heard from readers who questioned the consent of the sexual encounter between the taco and the hot dog bun. We heard from readers who found the taco to be a damaging portrayal of a predatory queer woman.
The review also apparently violated the site’s unconventional editorial policy:
First and most damning: we allowed a non-Latina writer to cover a story about a caricature of a Latina, and while the review didn’t specifically mention the film’s stereotyping, by praising the film as a positive portrayal of a queer Latina, we allowed a white writer to, in effect, condone that stereotyping. Second, when I was looking for reviews, I trusted the opinion of mainstream newspapers and websites and didn’t specifically seek out reviews written by women of color, generally; or Latina women, specifically.
(WARNING: Explicit language is used in the clip below.)
I must confess that I hadn’t even heard of Sausage Party before this week, so I've not yet seen the film and cannot speak as to whether or not the sex between the hotdog bun and the taco was consensual. But a quick scouring of the internet reveals that the movie received high marks on IMDB (7.2 stars) and Rotten Tomatoes (82 percent), and mostly positive critic reviews. (MTV called it “ballsy and brilliant”; the Chicago-Sun Times said it was “pretty smart” and “funny as hell.”)
Regardless of the movie's content, Autostraddle’s editorial policies are striking. The editors pulled the review because of either reader complaints or because the writer was the “wrong” ethnicity. Regarding the latter, assigning articles based on skin color seems a dubious editorial policy, one that could become rather confusing. (Who would have received the assignment if Wiig’s character had been portrayed by Jada Pinkett Smith?)
Questionable editorial policies aside, what I find most interesting is how many people said they were offended by an animated comedy. Now, my hunch is that people were not actually offended by Hayek’s portrayal of a lesbian (or bi-curious) taco. Instead, they believed they were supposed to be offended by it. Being offended has become chic, a sort of pseudo intelligence that passes for culture in some circles.
In his Treatise on Tolerance, Voltaire called tolerance “the consequence of humanity.”
“We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly — that is the first law of nature.”
Got that? Good. I’m going to watch Sausage Party now.
Jon Miltimore is the Senior Editor of Intellectual Takeout. Follow him on Facebook.
[Image Credit: Sony Pictures]
Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of FEE.org. His writing/reporting has appeared in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, Fox News, and the Washington Times.