Pop Culture Fix: Kate McKinnon Commits “Hilarious” Murder In Her New Gal Pal Comedy

LOL Murder

Here is a new movie called Rough Night that feels sort of like Bridesmaids meets Weekend at Bernie’s. It stars Scarlett Johansson, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer, Zoë Kravitz, and your girlfriend Kate McKinnon, and was written by Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs, the team behind Broad City. The plot of this movie is hilarious murder. (Spoiler alert: There’s a little bit of vomit in the trailer, if that makes you gag like it makes me gag. Is it SO HARD to have a comedy without gross body stuff? IS IT?!)

What accent is Kate McKinnon even doing? At first it sounds like rural Georgia (don’t @ me; that’s my accent) and then it sounds vaguely eastern European and then it sounds like her regular voice. Either way: Call Emily Fields, girl!


Happy Birthday, Buffy!

Tomorrow is Buffy’s 20th birthday. Obviously we have a roundtable in the works on this momentous occasion, but also there’s some really great writing out in the wide internet that you might like to see. For example:

The Enduring Legacy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 20 Years Later

A slayer’s legacy: 10 pop cultural follow-ups to Buffy

‘Buffy’ at 20: 13 Key Players on How It Changed TV and Why There Shouldn’t be a Revival

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Turns 20: Joss Whedon Looks Back

Everything ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ has given me in the past 20 years

And of course my scientific Twitter poll.


Teevee

+ The cast of Transparent, including Trace Lysette and Alexandra Billings, teamed up to film a PSA supporting the ACLU and Gavin Grimm.

+ Speaking of Jill Soloway, she’s creating a new show for Amazon about an all-women’s rodeo in Texas. It’s set during World War II when all the cowboys go off to war and the cowgirls are left behind to build the bombs and entertain the masses. So like A League of Their Own but with horses, and probably more overt lesbianism.

+ I definitely did not realize E!’s Cruel Intentions reboot aired on Saturday night, probably because I didn’t get any press releases, probably because THEY CUT THE LESBIAN KISS!

+ Laverne Cox’s new show, Doubt, was unceremoniously cancelled by CBS after only two episodes, but she’s already got another gig lined up. She’s starring in Elizabeth Banks’ new ABC pilot, The Trustee.

+ The Fosters‘ fifth season, which is rumored to be a return to season one form, will land on Freeform on July 11.


Movies

+ Vulture will have you know that Kristen Stewart has always been a great actress. (Okay, she didn’t just blossom while filming Totino.)

+ That Canadian lesbian movie Below Her Mouth is coming to the U.S. on April 28th via select theaters and VOD. (Fun fact: This movie was made with an all-woman cast and crew!)


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Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.

Heather has written 481 articles for us.

111 Comments

  1. 10

    Buffy’s twenty? I’m old.

    There’s a fourth option to that poll that I think is the most important: Buffy and Willow, besties forever. Bestie love is real!

    That being said, I think it makes perfect sense that Buffy would head towards her late twenties and realize that dudes are bullshit. There’s only so much fighting the patriarchy you can do before you just give up the ghost and go queer, right?*

    *Half-kidding. I know that’s not how it works for most peeps.

  2. 20

    Yup, the Hangover was garbage when it was all dudes. This changes really nothing. But hey when transphobic Kate McKinnon does it, it’s pure comedy gold.

    And yeah, gotta love the HILARIOUS death of yet another sex worker, never seen that before. This week. Wait, this afternoon? Hmm, seem pretty fucking common comedy bullshit.

      • 0

        I’m not the best queer pop culture source. I watch queer stuff that appeals to me but something or someone being queer isn’t a big enough pull on it’s own for me to watch something/someone so I may be missing something. From what I know in an interview after coming out she said something to the effect that she is a lesbian and has never so much as seen a penis which upset some trans lesbians and allies. Also she once participated in a comedy sketch that mocked trans people like five or six years ago. That’s all I know. I could be missing an interview or twitter post where she said something else but as far as I know that’s all of her alleged transphobia.

  3. 36

    Wow people really sat around and thought about how funny it would be to murder a sex worker- with a fat joke- and then cart around his body for hijinks. Do any of the characters think “wow, this is a human person who died”, or is he just The Stripper? There’s a cultural weight to brutality against sex workers bodies and rendering sex workers bodies as dehumanised objects. Ugh.

  4. 36

    Based on the trailer, “Rough Night” seems to be a movie in which a fat woman (accidentally) kills a sex worker with her fat body while trying to be sexual. Why is it so hard to have a comedy that’s not invested in treating certain people like their bodies and/or lives are destructive, disgusting and/or meaningless?

    • 23

      I guess, first of all, is the fat woman trying to be sexual? The trailer makes it seem like she — and everyone else? — is hopped up on coke and acting like a maniac. It doesn’t seem to me like the movie is punishing a fat woman for being sexual.

      And as far as the sex worker thing, when researchers look at the way pop culture depictions of minorities work themselves out in real life, it is always when tropes that are used to oppress and dehumanize minorities IRL get play on screen. I feel like there’s really no chance in the world that this or ten thousand movies are going to dehumanize white men. They are the center of all our art, all our politics, all our religion. They are literally the only ones who always have implicit humanity and complicated motivations and cultural value. Women sex workers are harmed because of misogyny (and because they work at the intersection of many other oppressions).

      Movies depict Muslims as terrorists, Fox News calls them terrorists, Trump calls them terrorists, Americans believe it. A white male sex worker who gets crushed to death in an absurd comedy isn’t going to affect the way we, as a culture, see white men. Or the way we see sex workers. We don’t watch white guys die in other ways and just assume suddenly that they’re disposable, right? We don’t watch Dexter serial kill and assume all men are serial killers, or watch Mad Men and assume all white men are alcoholic serial cheaters, or watch Breaking Bad and assume all white men are meth dealers? We don’t watch those things and question the humanity or value of any of those characters, or white men at large, because even male antiheroes are created to humanize white men EVEN MORE.

      I just gotta ask where these voices are when we post about murdered trans women sex workers, when we post explainers on community care and sex work, when we post interviews with sex workers, when we post biographic comics about sex work. Where are the comments, where are the shares on social media, where is the outrage on behalf of the women — and it’s almost always women — who face real persecution because their sex work exists at the intersection of so many cultural oppressions that are perpetuated repeatedly in pop culture?

      The world is horrifying right now, I get it, I really do. Everything feels like a threat, but man, I just don’t see how this really dumb-looking comedy hurts sex workers.

      • 21

        I agree that more needs to be done, including by me personally, but I don’t agree that this is a zero-sum game.

        As for the fatness, I think she’s being punished and made ridiculous for being fat, or at least not conforming to the same norms as the other women in the trailer. The trailer strongly suggests that her “fat” body (and yes, that is absolutely a relative term) is the thing that causes the death, with the drugs merely acting as catalyst. Basically, if they’re all doing coke and “acting like maniacs,” why is it her and not one of the other women who “crushes” him? In my view, this repeats and reinforces associations that fat bodies are unruly, dangerous and destructive. This trope also hurts people IRL.

        • 10

          (For the record, I totally think there are ways you can mobilize that unruliness and dangerousness of fat bodies to be productively disruptive, awesome and empowering. This trailer did not, in my opinion, seem to be doing that.)

      • 18

        I get the instinct to defend the movie, but the criticism is valid and i think it’s important to listen to it. This criticism wouldn’t be here if the writers hadn’t made the choice to have the fat character kill him and if he had just been a dude instead of a sex worker dude. I’m guessing those details tested well because audiences love to laugh at fat women and they feel less conflicted laughing about murder victims when they are sex workers.

      • 5

        Yay for me not reading THIS comment before posting below. I stand by the assertation this is nothing more than the “Dead Hooker Joke” and serves no purpose as an inditement of white male power. But you did engage with it, so disregard my (Unfortunately) unable to be deleted one below. I didnt catch this response. Gah.

      • 13

        Yay for me not reading THIS comment before posting below. But you did engage with it, so disregard my (Unfortunately) unable to be deleted one farther down the thread. I didnt catch this response. Gah

        I stand by the assertion this is nothing more than the “Dead Hooker Joke” and serves no purpose as an indictment of white male power. If anything it’s a reinforcement of it, in that now we have “woman power” being packaged as the worst tropes of misogynistic male films.

        And I absolutely agree that this movie will change nothing in how our culture sees Sex workers. You’re right. Our culture sees sex workers as worthless people, as bodies splattered across alleys, as shameful and eventually disposable. Or as bodies to fling about and treat hilariously.

        No this movie won’t change any of that. I mean it’s a joke, a comedy.
        And we all know that a joke that reinforces horrific or misogynistic ideas doesn’t change anything.

        It just reinforces them. THAT is how this “Dumb looking comedy” hurts sex workers. This is the “harmless”sexist or rape joke that gets a laugh from everyone. Only this one stars a bunch of women. So that somehow changes things.

        Either this movie has no cultural impact because it’s just a joke, or it’s somehow a fiendishly clever and satirical indictment of white male power that avoids reinforcing the dead hooker trope. You can’t have it both ways.

        *Oh, and don’t try to guilt people with how they aren’t reacting enough to dead trans women sex workers in this discussion. I am one, and we are not your currency to spend to make some belabored point. That was classless.

      • 13

        Telling people, *including current sex workers*, who have complained that a film AS is cheering pulls the “lol dead sex worker” trope, that they’re complaining on behalf of whiteness and maleness is a really lovely move there.

        Honestly, I think moderating ppl’s comments because they should be totally civil in this context, and “sit down and shut up” shows inadequate respect to someone who’s honestly saying the same to fat people and sex workers upset and rendered less safe by this, is an equally shit move.

      • 17

        But the critique here isn’t about dehumanizing white men, it’s about dehumanizing sex workers.
        Like whatfreshhellisthis wrote further up: “There’s a cultural weight to brutality against sex workers bodies and rendering sex workers bodies as dehumanised objects.”

      • 0

        I can’t believe someone that works at Autostraddle would post this disgusting blurb promoting anti sex work violence to begin with, but to see the author double down on it with “I don’t see how this hurts sex workers” is the kind of garbage I expect from HuffPo.

        AS needs to post a front page apology for this, now.

  5. 10

    I’ve only watched the trailer on mute since I’m at work, but can I point out that the character who accidentally kills the man doesn’t even look fat to me? Maybe fat compared to Scarlet Johanssen, sure…

    I mean I identify as fat and I think it’s a fine way to identify, I’m just a little perplexed so far about that part of the characterization.

  6. 17

    As a fat woman, I’m almost in tears that a film with such a great female cast has depicted the death of someone as a result of a ‘fat’ woman’s body. Whatever drugs the woman have taken, it’s still the woman coded as ‘fat’ whose body kills the man. Thus was so distressing to see! Thanks to so many of you for pointing this out too, I love this community.

    I know I’m upset because I can’t even bring myself (yet) to celebrate Buffy’s anniversary!

      • 9

        I don’t think it necessarily matters whether it was the blow to the head or the weight of the woman really. She jumped on him. He wouldn’t have hit his head(if that’s what happened) if she hadn’t have done that. And she even says “I killed him”. Either way, it still looks bad and like a tired fat woman trope just based on the trailer.

      • 7

        Thanks for this M, I watched it a few times and still didn’t notice that, if that’s the case why isn’t it a different character that wasn’t coded as ‘fat’ whose body (implied: weight of said body) propelled a man to his death.

        Also thanks to all those who’ve pointed out the murder of a sex worker, an angle I’d not considered.

  7. 15

    I’ve been reflecting on why this upsets me so much. It comes down to what you’re always speaks about Heather, that representation matters. Hollywood and the media portray one body type as the acceptable body for a woman to have. When there are fat women on screen, they’re usually comedic caricatures, and this film goes one step further to make the storyline revolved around this fat woman’s body propelling another character to his death.

    We need fully formed and interesting female characters, particularly women of colour, disabled women, and queer women, as well as non-binary folks, trans* people, disabled people in general, people and particularly women of all sizes.

  8. 27

    To add to my reply above I’d also like to say:

    1) I think gender-flipping a trope steeped in misogyny and asking people if they’ll laugh when it happens to a white man is subversive as hell. And I think it’s valid and neccessary to extend that line of criticism so say: What makes it acceptable? Is it only funny because the joke, according to this trailer, is a woman who isn’t as thin as every other Hollywood body type in this movie being the one who causes the accident?

    2) We are all bringing our own life experiences and activist aims to bear on every conversation, even this one. I’m a lesbian pop culture critic who’s been writing about IRL implications of minority representation for a decade; my partner works in this heavily white male-domiated film industry. Some people are coming to this conversation as sex work activists or body image activists. Activism is pushing for the utopia; criticism is evaluating what’s there and engaging what’s good and pointing out what needs work. This thing that’s happening right now where every piece of art that’s problematic is derided and any website or writer who dares to mention it is attacked is not productive. If we refuse to write about everything that isn’t in line with the aims of pure activism there will literally be no pop culture criticism left on this website.

    Shouldn’t we be able to talk about a female-fronted film and praise what’s good and criticize what’s bad without destroying each other and hurling out -phobes? How else are we going to learn? How are we going to change the culture if our activism is so unyielding it refuses to even engage the culture?

    Isn’t there a space between “this thing you wrote about is perfect” and “you’re a monster for writing about this thing?”

    Everything is scary right now and lashing out at one thing with all your might to people who will listen gives us a sense of control. I understand! But we gotta dial back this thing where we beat the hell out of each other because our blows to the big bad don’t feel like they’re landing!

    P.S. I too am a chubby girl!

    • 16

      I personally do think this has been a pretty productive, informative and mostly (except for that one comment) civil discussion. I’ve appreciated the points brought up in both your perspective and those of people who disagree. I’m a big fan of Kate, and of yours, but this trailer misses the mark for me and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to hear from people about some issues that I didn’t think about the first time I watched it.

      • 18

        Right, and you’re well within your rights to think this is a shitty movie that plays into shitty tropes and explain why you think that. I welcome the perspective and the debate! Where I lose my patience is the idea that I — or Autostraddle — am somehow wrong or evil for engaging the film to measure its strengths and weaknesses. I am just not going to become part of a culture that writes off and lashes out at every piece of art that exhibits problematic elements. I have my lines and my breaking points; you have yours. That they don’t align doesn’t make either of us wrong, I don’t think.

        • 10

          I agree that people have different points of sensitivity and ideas of what is acceptable. But what I am not seeing is any engagement with the core trope of this trailer, that dehumanizing sex workers is not only ok, but a laugh riot. This is just the “Dead Hooker” joke covered in a female cast.

    • 19

      I don’t see anybody saying “Fuck you for covering this movie!”(except maybe one person) People are just pointing out the problems they see in the trailer. Not everything is worthy of praise. I see a number of things I don’t like about it even if I do like some of the people in it. Most, if not, all pop culture has problematic elements. That doesn’t mean they aren’t worth critiquing in the hopes that maybe these industries will attempt to do better in future. Again, I don’t see a whole lot of yelling in the comments. Just people pointing out two very specific problems they have with the trailer. I guess I just don’t get the defensiveness about that.

      • 17

        You’re right, Turkish. A couple of hours ago, I modded a few comments saying things like “Sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up” and am also seeing a lot of that same rage on Twitter, but here in the comments, the conversation has been mostly constructive.

    • 5

      Is this “We are all bringing our own life experiences and activist aims to bear on every conversation” line – deployed as a faux-radical version of “well, we all have our opinions [and yours are meaningless]” a staff line that’s been discussed or something? Laneia pulled out almost exactly the same line verbatim in the KStew post where criticisms were raised and it was used in the exact same dismissive way there.

      • 25

        Angelica, neither Laneia nor I believe the opinions of our readers are meaningless. You will not find a website on the entire internet where editors care more about what their readers think/feel, and do more to keep their readers safe and happy. When we say we’re bringing our own experiences to bear on whatever conversation, that experience includes this phenomenon where one week we’ll post something that makes us lesbophobic, and the next week we’ll post something that makes us biphobic, and the next week we’ll post something that makes us transphobic … and the next week we’ll post something that means we hate … whatever other group. Fat women, nonbinary people, Germans, Canadians, anyone who lives below the equator. Because once a week we get an influx of commenters whose main point of activism/internet engagement is related to a post we made about this or that problematic thing, this or that problematic way we talked about a totally innocuous thing, etc.

        People will yell at us here, on Twitter, they’ll tell us they’re ashamed of us, boycotting our site, how dare we, they expected better, and on and on. I cannot even begin to tell you the many ways I’ve been a whatever-phobe over the last nine years, though the most memorable is the week-long period this winter when I was a Nazi apologist. So, the outrage will commence and then a few days will pass and the conversation will move on to outrage about a different thing as another post goes up and a different group of people come in and focus on their specific activism, or the things that specifically affect their life.

        It takes real pragmatism to keep a website like Autostraddle surviving in a world where — real stat alert — a tiny concentration of billion dollar media companies have access to 99% of the coveted advertising demographics. It takes real pragmatism to engage in the culture as it is and push the culture toward ideal representation for all minorities. Pragmatism and activism are not enemies, but there’s always going to be a dissonance between ideological purity and real life execution.

        People are always going to be furious at us about something. Last week it was reverse racism because of celebrating Moonlight taking the Academy Award right out of La La Land’s hands. Yesterday it was this movie; the day before that it was Kristen Stewart. We’re posting about Buffy’s birthday today which will mean — to some people — we’re glorifying rape culture. Monday, a Good Fight recap will mean we’re celebrating capitalism. Tuesday, a Supergirl recap will mean we’re encouraging queerbaiting. Wednesday, another Pop Culture Fix and another Kate McKinnon story and we’re transphobic and cheering on the death of sex workers (every time we mention Kate McKinnon for all eternity).

        Meanwhile, we’ll be here pulling our feminism and activism out of the ether and applying it to this very hard, very complicated, very (at the moment) bleak political reality on every topic under the sun, every minute of the day, trying our hardest to make the world better. That’s our experience. That’s what we’re bringing to the table. The process of trying to be everything to everyone in the queer community, executing our vision imperfectly, learning, growing, doing it better the next time; finding the very real space between good and evil.

        • 8

          Heather, I’m really glad you touched on this, “People are always going to be furious at us about something. … We’re posting about Buffy’s birthday today which will mean — to some people — we’re glorifying rape culture. … Wednesday, another Pop Culture Fix and another Kate McKinnon story and we’re transphobic and cheering on the death of sex workers (every time we mention Kate McKinnon for all eternity).”

          I wanted to bring this up in context of the conversation going on in this article, because some of the same people who promote Buffy as life-changing and pivotal have ignored the fact that it wasn’t great in all aspects either. If we’re going to discuss representation, folks can’t just ignore the the stuff they like in favor of criticising those things they don’t. I say that as a trans woman who isn’t a big fan of Kate McKinnon’s actions. This is not a movie I’d want to see. However, I don’t expect that every article or pop culture piece is going to accurately represent my interests and nor do I think we should shoot the messenger who’s presenting it to you.

          I’m not saying the premise of the movie is great, but I think it’s at least worth at least waiting for the movie to come out before you make up your minds. Even though I don’t like Kate McKinnon, I still saw Ghostbusters and came away happy. Also, I think it’s worth identifying who’s telling the stories in advance before listening to them. For example, look at the writers behind One Day At A Time and how that turned out. You can’t depend on the Joss Whedon’s and Mark Ruffalo’s of the world aren’t ever going to tell your story properly when they’ve never experienced what you have for themselves.

    • 12

      Heather, I think both of your replies were remarkably intelligent and insightful. However, at the end of the day doesn’t the AS comment policy protect the sex workers here? If they feel oppressed, no matter how eloquent and insightful your reply is… it’s still questioning their right to be offended and angry.

      Specifically I’m referencing the following rule:

      “A member of the oppressor group is not qualified to tell a member of the oppressed group that they’re not entitled to feel oppressed, offended, discriminated against, bothered or threatened by something or someone. (Or empowered by something or someone, for that matter.) A cis person cannot tell a trans person that the trans person’s assessment of transphobia is wrong, a white person cannot tell a person of color that their assessment of racism is wrong. Listen.”

      I respect your opinions and I *love* to read everything you write, but do you feel your replies have met the spirit of this policy? I’m certainly not angry nor am I trying to attack you, but I’d be genuinely interested in your thoughts on my question after you’ve had time to reflect on it.

      You said, “The world is horrifying right now, I get it, I really do. Everything feels like a threat, but man, I just don’t see how this really dumb-looking comedy hurts sex workers.”

      Now, I don’t mean to go all “SJW” on you, but “dumb” isn’t exactly constructive language. It’s ableist. Given the context of what preceded the quote, I can understand your thought process and logic. That being said, I don’t always comment on articles that depressingly delve into statistics of women like me getting murdered, but I do comment on more “vapid” content, because that vapid content is how the rest of the world sees us. You’re right… one movie won’t change perceptions on white men, but one movie DOES condemn the rest of us. Even though it’s a white male character in question, I can understand how a sex worker could feel it only adds to their dehumanization. In fact, considering that white men are the pinnacle of our society it almost seems worse… doesn’t it? That if a white male sex worker is just a prop to get murdered and carted around, what does that say for the rest of sex workers? For women and people of color and trans and queer? If the white man is less than human, what are they? Less than dirt?

      As I said, I appreciate why you may feel frustrated as well as the eloquence and thought with which you replied, but I do question if perhaps there’s a failure to listen?

      • 14

        i can only speak for myself here, but as a writer for this website i can tell you that from time to time we talk about things that are societally relevant here that we are not necessarily endorsing, they’re just happening and because of that we need to talk about them. nobody here has endorsed this movie. it’s just a movie that’s coming out starring a person who’s gay that we talk about a lot. it’s a movie starring women flipping a trope that happens in a lot of dumb male comedies (i spent a lot of time thinking about male comedies that have used this exact storyline and was horrified to realize that addams family values is probably the most sensitive depiction of this particular trope we’ve ever had).

        personally i think the concept is damaging and unnecessary but i know that not everyone who works here thinks of it the same way, and that’s kind of the beauty of this space, that a lot of us can work here and have different opinions but we can highlight these things happening in the world and have some kind of meaningful discourse about them. i’m grateful that we can do that here. i’m not going to see this movie, but maybe you will.

        • 8

          And Stef: Would you be saying the same if you were writing about a racist movie, or a transphobic one? “We’re not endorsing it. It’s just a movie that’s coming out starring a person who’s gay that we talk about a lot”.

          Also, it’s described as “hilarious murder”. There are no quotation marks to indicate it’s supposed to be funny but might not be. It’s treated as if it is funny. So yeah, you are kind of endorsing the premise, or at least making it seem acceptable/normal.

          • 3

            TMECE: v much here for pointing out the absurdity of Stef’s claim that nothing’s being endorsed here, but I’d be quite wary of the comparisons to racism and transphobia; elsewhere, criticisms of these things are very much defended in similar ways.

          • 0

            Angelica: I’m sorry I don’t quite understand the latter part of your comment. But you don’t think I should compare the movie’s treatment of sex workers to movies with racist or transphobic content, right? Could you explain why? (Not defending it, I just can’t change something I do unless I understand what I’m doing wrong.)

          • 0

            TMECE: I don’t know whether or not it’s what was in yr mind, but my concern there is that mostly when ppl ask, “would you do this in relation to [x oppression]?”, the implication is usually an assumption that they wouldn’t, and that [x oppression] is taken more seriously. There are parallels in how oppressions are treated, but any implication that “you wouldn’t say this if you were talking about [x]” generally minimises how poorly the comparison oppression is often treated (e.g. elsewhere, very similar issues are being addressed around race and transness)

      • 30

        Hello hi. I am am a former sex worker! This website only even exists because I was a sex worker for 3.5 years. I was still working when we launched, but quit a few months in rather than have to come out to our then-COO as a sex worker and risk losing her support. I’m saying this now because I feel like I’m hanging Heather out to dry here by not letting y’all know that what might come off as a flip attitude towards sex workers is probably actually the confidence that comes from knowing your Editor-in-Chief is part of the demographic in question and isn’t offended that the trailer was in a post on this website.

        During my time as a sex worker I confronted, regularly, men who saw my body as disposable, who repeatedly crossed explicitly established boundaries with violence and total disregard for my existence or my need to breathe out of my mouth and nose or sit up straight without a searing pain in my back. I then had the extreme pleasure of seeing them again, because there’s little recourse for bad actions in an illegal industry and you don’t want to piss the wrong man off and get everybody busted! I felt then and I feel now that these actions were a reflection of deeply embedded misogyny and rape culture, specifically the subtle kind that permeates every aspect of our lives. It’s the misogyny that makes the men most likely to practice it the same men who’d never even watch a movie like this, because it’s about women. Everything is wrapped up in how men view women, and for sex workers of color, how they view people of color — and that the view in both of these cases is “disposable.” As a white woman of certain privileges, I’d hesitate to speak from my experiences because I was not vulnerable to the same degree that woc or trans sex workers are and that is our primary concern here, but since it is a white man we are concerned about here, I am going ahead and speaking from my experiences.

        I honestly have zero opinion about this trailer. I can see both sides of this argument and could easily be swayed one way or the other. It actually is a pretty interesting debate about trope-flipping and when that fails or succeeds.

        To me, based on my experiences in sex work — and the girls I worked with, many of whom were also strippers or also did full-service escorting — it is entirely relevant that we are talking about a cis white male sex worker and not a woman. I don’t think we can disregard that or see it as incidental? Male and female sex workers often inhabit very different worlds with radically disparate client groups. He’s also a stripper, which is a legal form of sex work, which (sometimes) has more protections than the forms of sex work that are often practiced by the women who do end up assaulted or murdered by men. When I think about what made those men so disinterested in my personhood I think about donald trump grabbing pussies and becoming president. Of any movie where a woman is killed or disregarded. There’s no such thing as reverse misogyny, right?

        And angelica the ‘company line’ you pointed out I think could be because we’ve recently decided to change our approach to conflict? To take a step back and not all get heart attacks like we’re all going to lose our jobs every time a disagreement crops up — whereas we used to get really mad and rude and yell at people and let it derail our entire day, or else delete posts because we found out after publication that public opinion went against the writer’s, now we’re trying to just let the conversations happen. We are trying to treat these conflicts as learning experiences rather than the end of the world or the end of the website, but chances to listen to each other and learn and grow.

        I don’t know that anybody is correct or incorrect here, I think there are different opinions on the same thing, all of which feel valid.

    • 9

      YMMV, but I would argue that a truly subversive flip of that trope would be if the death of a cis white businessman were used as a plot device in a movie centred around sex worker women protagonists. Then again, associating violence with sex work transactions as a comedic device may be a bridge too far for many people.

      I can see how it must also be really difficult to navigate criticism and respond to it when you receive so much outrage and vitriol. It disgusts me to see the constant barrage of hateful messages you get, and to think that so many queer people are capable of behaving in ways that cannot be excused. At the same time, I am also very aware, when I disagree with you, that as an editor here with a fan base, you have significant power over me in any exchange. I think it was a mistake to imply that the commenters voicing criticism don’t pay as much attention to other sex work coverage on the site. I don’t think Riese’s history changes that. I don’t think it makes you the devil either, but it came off as unproductive and defensive, for reasons that others have explained here.

  9. 6

    I didn’t see the woman’s weight as a factor in the death, and certainly not as a source of any of the humour, in this trailer, so that registered a zero for me personally. I see the fact that another sex worker was brought into a film only for the sake of dying as a terrible choice, but not so much that I wouldn’t be willing to watch the movie because of it. At least it was a male sex worker, and the death was treated about as seriously as a death in a dark comedy can be treated (which is to say, not very, but at least they tried to save him).

    One hundred percent of dark comedies are offensive, one way or another. If it wasn’t a comedy, though, ‘fat’ tropes or the death of a sex worker wouldn’t register nearly as much. This is the cost and the advantage of dark comedy; if you treat serious subjects without the gravity they’re normally afforded, then suddenly the treatment of everything touching them can’t be taken for granted, and needs to be re-evaluated too.

  10. 12

    sex workers on this thread have very clearly stated that the murder of a sex worker being murdered by their client whilst at work is upsetting damaging and perpetuate the dominant social idea that our lives are worthless.

    Heather is not a sex worker

    non sex workers do not have the right to talk over us regarding this issue any more than able bodied people have the right to talk over people with disabilities or trans workers do to talk over trans people.

    considering that the majority of workers are woc, trans, disabled, migrant, queer, single parents, suffer mental illness or live in the margin of multiple or all of these identities Autostraddle – whose staff claims to be intersectional feminists – should not be running a site that velebrates the murder of sex workers.

  11. 2

    You wouldn’t have a clue that Kate McKinnon was gay at all from that trailer. She is starting to conform so heavily (which I accept many queer actors have to do) and keeps doing these fake accents and wacky personalities all the time. I’m starting to wonder if it’s a front or of that’s all there is.

    • 3

      I’m guessing you haven’t followed Kate McKinnon because she has always done fake accents and wacky personalities; that’s kinda her schtick. Fair enough if it doesn’t float your boat, but it’s not her “conforming” to anything. And a gay actor playing a straight person also isn’t conforming to anything, it’s just them doing their acting job.

  12. 19

    (Disclaimer: I’m not a sex worker, I have a similar build to the actress involved in the chair-tipping gag, and I’m not cis but I don’t experience transmisogyny.)

    I’m not opposed to Autostraddle covering “problematic” content if that content is important for whatever reason to the audience of queer women and nonbinary people. I would like to see some transparency about the content, however, rather than pretending that everything is fine. Heather complained about the vomit during the writeup of this movie – how hard would it be to also complain about the treatment of fat people and sex workers? While we’re at it, how hard would it be to treat Kate McKinnon as someone who many people love due to her being an outspoken lesbian and many people don’t trust due to her history of transmisogynistic humor, rather than as someone who everyone loves.

    It’s perfectly fine to have a policy of not throwing out the baby with the bathwater. In practice on this site, that generally comes out to pretending that problems don’t exist.

    • 3

      Thank you, I wholly agree with you and with the other people who commented on the lack of criticism of the dead sex workers trope and fat representation in the main piece (seriously, the author took the time to comment on the vomit gag and completely ignored much more problematic stuff, and this is in itself problematic).
      Also completely agree that “trying to guilt people with how they aren’t reacting enough to dead trans women sex workers in this discussion” was completely unnecessary and a low blow when dealing with criticism.
      It’s not pleasant to be criticised, but there are better ways of reacting than trying to absolve oneself when people are being hurt.
      “If you are called out, please listen carefully to what people are saying. You may not be able to take away what has happened, but reacting well when called out is often a massive step towards healing and remedying what you have done to hurt someone. Even if you think they may be wrong in this instance, understanding why someone is hurt is more important than absolving yourself of having been oppressive”

  13. 11

    While I hear everyone’s concerns and share many of them I don’t think this should be the hill to die on for fat and sex worker representation. I’m not suggesting you have to like the movie, support it, or even see it. Fighting this movie and the creators and actors will change nothing in the big picture even if we win. The rules for guys and particularly the rules for white guys are different than the rules for women and minorities. Even in liberal Hollywood. We could stomp this movie and everyone involved with it to the ground and there will still be movie after movie made geared toward men that will continue to defame and degrade sex workers and fat women/men. They don’t have to follow our rules and all killing this movie will do is make it a rule that female characters in movies geared to women can treat fat people and sex workers poorly. Male film makers and actors will carry on with business as usual.

    You get rid of weeds by pulling out the roots. The roots in this case are white male film makers and white male actors who routinely make these kinds of movies. If they can’t produce scenes like this then no one else can either. It sucks but lets not pretend we don’t live under a patriarchy rife with double standards. I just feel like we should save the lynch mobs and pitchforks for the next Hangover style movie made by men for men. Again that doesn’t mean you have to scream girl power and storm your local theater and watch this movie. It doesn’t even mean you have to be silent about your dislike for it. You also don’t get rid of weeds by ignoring them or making them look more presentable. Let’s just not turn this into a big spectacle that in the end will do nothing but direct a shitload of harassment toward the actresses and create even more double standards for women in entertainment.

  14. 23

    just so this isn’t buried in a response chain — we do hear y’all and regardless of where you or any of us land on the ethics of posting this trailer yesterday, we won’t be giving this film anything that could be interpreted as promotion going forward.

  15. 2

    autostraddle, please consider for the future: when you write about films/shows/etc about sex workers, hire sex workers to write about it. nothing about us without us.

    i also want to direct your attention to a resource that i think the AS team will find useful, a media toolkit for writing about sex workers. you can see that here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1fbaL-EDsWEdEdMZjlabEg0R3c/view

    thanks for being responsive to the feedback you receive.

    • 6

      As Riese, the CEO and editor-in-chief of Autostraddle, mentioned upthread: she was a sex worker for three and a half years. She didn’t preview this post because it’s just a Pop Culture Fix but all the real writing we do around sex work goes through her. Thank you for this document; we’ll all read it.

      • 5

        yup, definitely read riese’s comment and appreciate her perspective! i still think it is worth considering having sex workers write about the kind of media presented above. this is a thought echoed through a few comments, and i’ll join in the chorus: i agree with you when you say that AS should cover movies like Rough Night. i just also would love for that coverage to be engaged, critical, and including SW perspectives!

        thanks for having a conversation about it

  16. 13

    I won’t see it because I’ve never thought the dead stripper trope (it’s so depressing that it has been used often enough to become a trope) was funny when men did it, and I still don’t when women do it.

    But I’m learning from these comments, and I appreciate the back and forth. And not to abuse the point here, but the editorial participation in these discussions really is second to none. I’ve written for and commented on sites where even getting confirmation that the editorial staff is reading your comments felt like a victory, and even then there was no guarantee that they’d care enough to respond or change how they plan on covering said topic.

  17. 11

    Just throwing this out there, but one need only look at Magic Mike and that movie’s impact vs Showgirls or similar to notice the difference between who exactly society thinks about when the term “sex worker” is used and a straight white male stripper. Murdered sex workers are not straight white male strippers–they’re just not. If the stripper was black, obviously you could make the argument that black men are over-sexualized and fetishized and objectified by white women but that’s not what you have here.
    Obviously I get that sex workers are dehumanized by society and face tons of oppression but again, society just really doesn’t think about straight white men when they’re thinking about sex workers. There’s never been a serial killer targeting straight white male strippers, straight white men hold the power in mainstream porn, etc etc etc etc. Imagine if a mainstream actress on Channing Tatum’s level acknowledged that she had been a stripper or other form of sex worker, or if, say, Neil Patrick Harris said he had that history. The reactions would be way different than how the world reacted to Tatum’s very open admission. Hell, he’s rich off of his.
    Idk. Intersectionality is a thing. The character in this movie has all the same privilege that Channing Tatum does, and I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that Tatum was or ever has been particularly marginalized.

  18. 6

    Honestly, I don’t think the fact that the sex worker in question is a white guy makes it any better, any more than we’d excuse a movie whose premise revolved around the murder of a white gay man. I don’t think the queer community would call it hilarious, even though white gay men have more privilege in our community. It isn’t subversive to laugh at sex worker death any more than queer death. It just isn’t. For all the criticism this site does about the dead lesbian tropes in media, to give dead sex worker jokes a pass (not just a pass, but to offer the opinion that it’s “hilarious”) feels hypocritical. It reeks of White Feminism.

    It’s not the end of the world when articles like this fail to directly criticize harmful portrayals of sex work. But going by the comments, as well as my own feelings, I think a lot of us have lost some trust in Autostraddle as a safe space for sex workers. It’s not entirely gone, but where I used to come to AS with the feeling of “Here’s a place on the internet where I don’t have to worry about this,” I now have the same feeling I get after one of my male feminist friends says “Yeah, rape is bad, but I mean, come on, look how she was dressed.” It’s a betrayal. And I get that you were a sex worker yourself, Riese, but there’s always a girl excusing those sexist guys, too. “Aw, he didn’t mean it. In context it’s not so bad.” To hear Heather object to vomit more than SW death hurts. It just hurts. So you’ve lost some trust with sex workers here. It’s up to you to decide how to take that.

    • 19

      This is confusing to me. If you genuinely care about sex workers — a claim you’re making anonymously, on a website you’ve never commented on before — why are you categorically declaring my opinion that of an apologist? Is the rule, “don’t talk over sex workers… unless you disagree with them”? Declaring this an “unsafe space for sex workers” feels over-the-top, especially compared to like… every other space ever. Including (at least in my experience) sex work itself.

      I’ve never publicly and explicitly stated on this website that I was a former sex worker before, or that this site exists because I gave a lot of hand jobs. I was also involved in advocacy back then, I wrote anonymously for feminist sex work related magazines and blogs. I talked openly about this today ’cause I was unnerved by some of what was being said about Heather — who was unaware of the backlash on twitter because she has had an incredibly difficult week personally — and I wanted to make it clear that yes there is someone behind the scenes who does advocate for sex workers, as reflected in 20 other posts on the topic we’ve done that you did not comment on. I wanted y’all to know that there is somebody here speaking up for you. Now I know that you don’t want me to be that person, and that’s fine!, we’ll find writers who are more in line with what seems to be the consensus here to speak on these issues, but that’s what I was saying. And I don’t know what would’ve happened if I’d seen this post before it went up, but at this point I feel like that’s not even the point anymore. We’ve listened and if we ever talk about this movie again, it will not be in positive terms. Your insistence that despite that, this remains an unsafe space, feels like a romanticization of the act of being offended. We’re here, we’re engaging, and I think that’s what a community does, right? Do you want this website to be a safer space, or do you want it to stop existing? I’m honestly not sure!

      This is something I care deeply about, and all of my co-workers and friends know this.

      I understand that twitter/tumblr has come to a consensus on this issue, and that’s fine. But I maintain that there is no correct or incorrect way to feel here. If I can respect and understand that your opinion is valid, that I am considering it and not even saying that I necessarily disagree with it, you could do me the same favor. You absolutely don’t have to agree with me. But negating my opinion is uncalled for. I feel shitty enough today, I promise you.

      I worked with girls who had thoughts and ideas that covered a vast spectrum of political affiliations. Many didn’t even consider themselves feminists. Many did not think of burlesque performers or male strippers as being part of the same group of “sex workers” who had needs or experiences similar to those who were doing illegal sex work. The idea that The Only Way to advocate for sex workers is to ascribe to a specific brand of academically-informed far-left jargon-heavy ideology is the only thing here, to me, that “reeks of white feminism.” Just because you’re not hearing those other opinions here isn’t because they don’t exist, it’s b/c most of those other people would never feel comfortable in a conversation like this one, if they even had access to it at all.

      • 1

        I’m not saying you’re an apologist, but we have blind spots when it comes to our friends. Heather is your friend, I get that you want to defend her. But your comments seem to make it clear that you’re more concerned with making sure Heather feels defended than ever offering an apology to the MANY MANY people who commented here saying her comments that this is “hilarious murder” made them angry, for reasons that I think are justified. I’m so far from the only one here who commented that this made them upset. Did I miss the part where you said sorry? If I did, let me know, I genuinely want to read that you’re sorry, I want to read Heather retracting that opinion. I’ve just read a bunch of comments of you vouching for why this non-sex worker has the green light from you to write this and how those of us who are upset just need to understand that she didn’t mean to be mean.

        I keep coming across this brand of feminism that puts up this shield of “you can’t criticize us or else we’ll stop existing!” and it’s not constructive. You know that’s not why feminists criticize each other. This is love. This isn’t coming from a place of hate. I love this site. I have been following some of the writers here for over ten years. I want y’all to be the best you can be, and that means open ears and humble hearts. Listening and apologies.

        I’ve been reading AS for years but I’m not out as SWer, hence the new username thankssomuch. It’s a very uncomfortable conversation to have, on that I agree.

  19. 14

    Jesus Christ. Heather, Riese, I’m so sorry that some of these commenters are getting off on the act of being righteously offended so hard they can’t bother to read your apologies, explanations, and promises to learn.

    It must be really hard to get piled on like that. The pile-on can be louder, but the Tumblr hive mind is not your only readership. Thanks for making this space and everything you do.

    I just made a donation to say thanks, to put my money where my mouth is, and hopefully make you feel appreciated with both words and actions even in a rough moment.

  20. 11

    W o w. These comments are the woooooorst. Did it ever occur to you that Riese and Heather are human beings who don’t have the ability to isolate every single little complaint that comes their way and treat you like you’re a princess and your thing is the only and most important thing anyone has ever said on Autostraddle? Christ, they’re not robots. Every day it’s some new group of people yelling at them about being some perceived offense that’s going to ruin the world …… and who can forget the Great Nazi Lesbophia Campaign of 2017! Remember one full day before this post went up when people wanted to set Laneia on fire for pointing out Kristen Stewart got a HAIRCUT? I don’t know what’s going on with Heather but Riese specifically said she had a horrible week so that should be enough to get you to back off and if you’ve read Autostraddle at all in the last four months (instead of just teleporting here from Twitter to join the outrage brigade of the moment) you’d know Riese is going through something traumatic too. I didn’t see one person in these comments say ‘Hey Heather you probably didn’t think about it because obviously you’ve proven you never want to hurt anyone but this guy is a sex worker and I’m worried that seeing sex workers get murdered in movies is going to make my life as a sex worker harder.’ No ya’ll went straight to WELL AUTOSTRADDLE HATES SEX WORKERS I GUESS. HEATHER HOGAN MURDERS SEX WORKERS. RIESE COVERS FOR HEATHER HOGAN’S EVIL PLAN TO MURDER SEX WORKERS. Just like every other Social Justice 101 crusader does about every other thing every other day. And you don’t want them to get defensive? That’s your complaint now? You come in guns blazing and pile on top of these actual people with actual lives that seem pretty fucking difficult right now and over a stupid movie trailer for a stupid stupid stupid movie that no one is going to take seriously and expect to be treated like heroes. Grow up and join us in the real world. Or whatever. Keeping going to sleep on the pillow of your own self-righteousness. Keep acting out this same thing the same way and clapping each other on the backs. You’re really doing it. You’re really making a difference in the real world where DONALD TRUMP is president.

  21. 3

    I read this whole thread yesterday and was pretty upset by Heather’s not mentioning sex workers at all in the original post. Yes, sex workers who are murdered don’t tend to be cis white men (although the character could be gay?!) but that doesn’t mean it should be completely overlooked in a post?! Often the general populace i.e. people who may see this movie aren’t that across intersectionality – to them a dead stripper punchline might just be a dead stripper punchline – and that could still have a ripple effect that DOES affect the most vulnerable among sex workers IRL. I was even more upset by Heather effectively telling other sex workers what responses they are and aren’t allowed to have to different sex worker related content. Sex workers might not comment on real-life-event news for a host of reasons – that doesn’t mean they’re not engaging and/or don’t care!!!! Noted – Heather has not explicitly said that she isn’t/ has never been a sex worker. I think it’s important not to jump to conclusions about her experiences. If she hasn’t been/ isn’t though, then I really think some of her comments are not ok (non sex-workers don’t get to police sex workers. End of). Also, sidenote, Kate McKinnon’s trans politics are dubious at best and I would personally be pretty happy if I never saw her in another post ever again. Riese, I really want to acknowledge you outing yourself as a former SWer and the energy that you’ve expended in the comments here. Thanks so much for weighing in and sharing that with us! Much love. And in case anyone’s wondering, I’ve been working in the film industry for 10 years, am a media PhD student looking at representation and its impacts, am a non-binary queer femme and also a former stripper.

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