Sunday, July 24, 2011

ATHF and Rape

If you've never heard of Aqua Teen Hunger Force (ATHF) it's a absurdist comedy shown on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim segment. The main characters are fast food products (a milkshake, fries, and a wad of meat) and the humor tends to be very random. So random in fact, that rape was the joke for an entire episode. The episode Handbanana (you can watch part 1 and part 2 on Youtube) centers around Carl (the neighbor) being raped by an engineered hand-dog hybrid. And that's pretty much it. I can only assume that the writers intended you to laugh at the situation of someone being raped.

Rape isn't funny and will never be funny.

What's worse of all is how Carl is treated when he informs his neighbors that he's been raped, which is basically being ignored and not taken seriously. By the end of the episode, the neighbors watch with apathy from their home as Carl is raped in his own backward.
What were they thinking? I know this is an old episode, but it has never sat well with me, and not too long after watching it, I ceased watching ATHF all together. It's quite clear that the writers feel pretty secure about the fact that they will never be raped, and thus to them, a guy being raped is funny. Forget the fact that the one doing the raping is this ridiculous creature, because it's nothing more than a prop. Oh, and if Carl had been a Carla do you think this episode would have flied? But I guess because it's a guy being raped it makes it okay? 'Cause it's not like men are ever victims of rape. *sarcasm*

And it's this sort of attitude that harms the victims of sexual assault, that rape is looked upon as a joke rather than a serious issue for both men and women. This is done with very poor taste, much like someone telling a racist joke. It's not funny no matter how you look at it. No, of course the show isn't tasteful and much of the humor is crude, but that doesn't excuse it from making fun of the issue. And yes, I think the writers/creators should be held accountable, whether they know what they did was wrong or not, they need to be corrected. Because attitudes don't change unless you correct them. Although, some time has passed since the episode originally aired, I still feel it's relevant, especially considering that there are people who actually enjoy this episode. Which says A LOT about them when you think about it.

And if I ever get a chance to go to ComicCon in San Diego (next year, I hope), I will most certainly confront them about it if I can - oh, and I will try.


  1. I'm with you. Disturbing sense of "humor", considering.

  2. I completely disagree.

    For one, rape is not the joke here. The joke is that genetically-engineered (and impossible) dogs are raping Carl. You can't just say "Oh, just ignore that" when it's crucial to the joke. Without it, there IS no joke.

    And yes, it's funny. Maybe not to you, but just because you don't find something funny doesn't mean that others don't, or shouldn't. Murder isn't funny either, but Family Guy became famous because of Stewie's many failed attempts to kill his own mother. Do you draw the line there as well, or is it only when the joke is sexual in nature that you cringe? Why?

    And no, Aqua Teen Hunger Force making an episode where a fantasy creature rapes a lowlife in sweatpants, nor all the "Don't drop the soap" prison rape jokes we've all heard (and told) in our lives, are not the problem. If Aqua Teen Hunger Force made an episode about just some guy raping Carl, and the neighbors ignoring him (or, as was the case in this episode, getting off to it) then you'd have a point, but you can't throw away the part that makes it a joke simply because you are sensitive to the topic of sexual assault. You may have a perfectly valid reason for being that way, but you're assuming you have the moral highground here, and that's where you make the mistake.

    Well, your FIRST mistake, anyway. You follow it up by making vague threats of "correcting behavior" and insinuate that the people who enjoyed the episode are somehow apathetic to victims of sexual assault, which is a conclusion so absurd it might actually work as a gag in the show.

    Hey, it's your blog, you can post what you like...but you really stepped in it here.

  3. It's fine to disagree, Joe Romel, but seriously? You find this so-called joke amusing?

    What kinda sick a-hole dedicates 11 whole minutes to this "gag"? And you know what? There are people out there who think rape is funny, who blame the victim and try to down play it like it's nothing. This episode aims for you (the viewer) to laugh at an individual being raped repeatedly. Sorry, but the dog *is* a prop. It could have been Meatwad raping Carl or any other loony character. That doesn't change the fact that the whole episode's humor hinges upon a character being repeatedly raped. Doesn't matter if Carl is a lowlife, no one deserves to be raped for the lulz. It's dehumanizing bullshit is what that is.

    And we're not discussing Family Guy or any other show where characters are killed. We're talking about ATHF and only ATHF. You want to talk about Family Guy on your blog, go right ahead.

    If you like this episode, that's fine, Joe. But then you really have to ask yourself: Why am I laughing at this? "Oh, it's just a genetically engineered dog raping Carl." Gee, doesn't that very response sound apathetic? What does that say about you? And if someone said a rape prison joke, I wouldn't find it funny (but apparently you do), because rape in prison is VERY real and I wouldn't laugh at that.

    And yeah, I would confront the creators and ask them what the hell were they thinking. You might not think it's messed up (once again, ask yourself), but it certainly is.

  4. I too think you're misunderstanding the meaning of the joke, but not in the way the previous commenter explained. I think the joke intended to parody rape culture by showing the viewer that rape allegations, even ones as absurd as being between a hairy lowlife and a genetically engineered dog, ought to be taken seriously. Yes, it's still funny because its such an absurd scenario, but most viewers feel bad for finding it funny, and that's what makes it genius. A guilty chuckle can be a powerful force of good. I also think you're viewing the episodes as you'd like to see them. At the end Frylock is clearly concerned and disturbed by what he was seeing, and Shake is simply as perverted as Handbanana is, it's his character to be as much of an ass as the writers can make him, of course he gets off on rape. They don't glorify it, in fact Shake often suffers the worst for being a complete asshole, it just so happens in this episode he doesn't.

  5. What happened when you confronted them?