Documentary Shangri-la

an evolving and blissful hideaway for seeking and exploring documentary media culture(s)

Bro Rape: A UTUBE Phenomenon? April 3, 2007

Filed under: problematic,vlogging,youtube — smartypants @ 2:43 am

I am shocked…a little. A little stupefied…but more importantly I don’t even know how to respond to this:

*The following video may be offensive and it is certainly problematic but worthy of a moment to think about what is going on here. Now, the clip is 8 minutes and you don’t have to watch the whole thing to get the idea.

A cry from the depths of the in-the-closet gay experience or blatant homophobia? Or both? Regardless the video has been viewed close to two million times and it has a fan base of over 8,000 viewers while producing a variety of lively responses. Such reviews include:

HandjobfromGod says: “Funnier than anything I’ve seen on SNL in years. It nails the stereotype with exquisite accuracy.”
nikanj says: “One of my mates tries to get his straight mates drunk and do sexual things with them. It’s the funniest thing to watch.”
macunaima says: “brilliant! You guys should get a TV show. I hope HBO is scouting YouTube.”
BentSlightly says: “Preppy Frat Boys make a spoof upon their repressed sexuality. Charming!”
spefi says: “HOLY SHIT, THIS IS GREAT FILM, fucking incredible”
bman32x says: “It was like an all you could rape buffet…”
wearingaredjacket says:”If they didn’t want to be raped they wouldn’t walk around the way they do with their popped collared shirts and their Live Strong braclets their Ambercrombie Water Polo t-shirts…”

The utube phenomenon and video blogging has brought us a great many new experiences and ways of interacting with “a public” and with one another. From mainstream politics to grassroots celebrity, vlogging is functioning as a new form of public cultural negotiation. The contemporary means of video production are fairly accessible and the audience plentiful. Several months ago a series of utube videos began cropping up under the search terms of “bro rape.” Some of these video were dramatic re-enactments, bogus investigative news reports, impromptu drunken shenanigans, and real life exploits, all addressing the same issue: a certain kind of guy, also know as a bro, who under the guise of hanging out, attempts physical (maybe sexual?) contact as playful male behavior.

But, before you pass this off these videos as drunken, frat boy homophobia, you should see this version:

This video has been viewed substantially less (about 14,000 times) and has received qualitatively different responses from roughly the same audience (both videos are catalogued under the same search terms). The comments on the second video included things like:

“wow thats easily the gayest thing Ive ever seen. You guys dont compare to the real bro rape. not funny at all. just gross. You all seemed to like it too much.”

“omg actual bro rape… wait i think it was consentional…. then its not rape…. its just bro sex… since they dont wanna be called gay…”

“Gayest video ever.. and just because your on a bed together but how you talk, and everything..”

From the creators: “Sorry to disappoint but we’re straight boys. and single, ladies..rawr”

From the creators:”yeah that would be me. the gay thing would be news to my gf though..who happens to be hott. BOOYA”

“Of course your “girlfriend” is hot, hot girls ALWAYS go for gay men.”

This specific vlogging phenomenon is problematic for more than a few reasons. First and foremost, the videos draw a connection between what is going on here and the experience of rape, most likely to focus attention to the role of consent in these situations. Generating over 1500 responses, the first video actually generated a tread about this problematic rape analogy:

iwannabeanonymous (2 days ago): I don’t think rape can ever be made funny. Especially by a bunch of men who’ll never know what it’s like.

GlennMate (2 days ago):Rape is a serious thing, yes. But don’t be all uptight about it; it’s just an attempt at comedy done quite well.

iwannabeanonymous (1 day ago): …But that’s my point. There are some things that can’t and shouldn’t be made into a comedy.

dore12 (5 months ago): Part 1-I watched this thinking that it was a serious report. While I realize that this video was meant to be a comedy, its premise is horrifying. Just because rape victims are usually women, it is not “funny” to create a video about male rape victims. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “15% of men who lived with a man as a couple reported being raped/assaulted or stalked by a male cohabitant.” So “bro rape,” if understood as a man raping another man, does happen.

dore12 (5 months ago): Part 2-There are so many horrifying statistics about rape. According to the UCSC Rape Prevention Education website, “[a]n estimated 91% of victims of rape are female, 9% are male.” How do you think male victims would react to this video? In fact, how would rape victims in general react to this video? I agree that the acting is pretty good and that the dialogue is well thought out in and of itself, but I just cannot ignore the idea behind this video.

YouShouldSeeMyDayJob (5 months ago): dude, you’re just another example of an American trying to make our country more politically correct. speak for yourself not other people. let them speak for themselves. are you honestly offended? why? you weren’t raped were you? if not then why do you feel you have to be offended at this? calm down, it’s just a video

steelplug (4 months ago): I know that the film might make bro-rape seem funny…but bro-rape is not a laughing matter. I know, because I was a victim. Beware of Bro-Rapists.

katxc6 (4 months ago): How can you make FUN of rape? That’s horrible.

Joker9805 (4 months ago): cause rape is funny

dresdentraeger (4 months ago): because rape is HILARIOUS, that’s how.

With a growing number of bro rape submissions on utube (up to 88 and counting), one can’t help but thinking…what are we working out here?


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