First, a confession of pop culture dereliction (if I ever did a full confession on that it would go on longer than one of Michael Nugent’s blog posts): I’ve never seen Revenge of the Nerds. Until a few minutes ago I didn’t even know anything about it other than the title. A comment I saw on Facebook caused me to inquire a little.
Wikipedia naturally has a detailed plot summary. So there’s this, at a point after the fraternity jocks have persecuted the nerds at a party thrown by the latter (the nerds are all male as of course are the frat jocks):
These are the good guys, the ones bullied by the jocks. Then there’s this:
Although the Tri-Lambs put their superior knowledge to use in the athetic event, they still come a close second to the Alpha Betas. They then use topless photos taken from their Pi Delta cameras to easily win the charity sales, where contestants wear costumes. Lewis changes his costume to Stan’s and tricks Betty into having sex with him. Betty is surprised, but then admits that Lewis was a better lover than Stan.
Lewis is one of the nerds, Stan is one of the jocks. So that’s a rape as one of the cool things a nerd does to triumph over a jock.
Now a post by Noah Brand a couple of years ago, How Revenge Of The Nerds Ruined My Life.
As a bullied kid, Noah Brand loved the movie. It spoke to him.
Let me be clear. Revenge Of The Nerds has so much rape culture, you could use it to make rape yogurt. The women in the film are entirely represented as objects, and their sexual consent or lack thereof is explicitly portrayed as irrelevant. The heroes and the villains are theoretically competing for Adams College’s version of Hogwarts’ House Cup, but in point of fact the prize they’re competing for is the blonde cheerleader, Betty. At the start of the movie, she is the property of Stan Gable, the villain, but in the end, the hero, Lewis Skolnick, triumphs by claiming her as his own via rape.
I’m not kidding, that’s actually what happens. The hero’s big triumphant payoff moment is when he rapes the villain’s girlfriend. And she falls in love with him as a result.
Incidentally, while he’s raping her, his fraternity is having another heroic triumph at the fundraising event, selling nude photographs of Betty that they obtained without her knowledge or consent by planting cameras in her house. (Huge 80s cameras, too. Very difficult to conceal.) Again, this is explicitly presented as a heroic, cool action. When the villain finds out what they’re doing, his reaction isn’t “Holy shit that’s like ten kinds of illegal” it’s “Hey! That’s my pie!”
So, that’s that pop culture classic.
You know what it reminds me of? Strongly? Robert Altman’s movie MASH, with a screenplay by Ring Lardner Jr. Specifically, it reminds me of the turning point scene where the oh so cool hipster guys finally get the better of bossy military by-the-book Hot Lips Houlihan. Remember it? (If that’s one of your pop culture lacunae, of course you don’t.) They gather everyone into a big audience to stare at the bathing hut where Houlihan is taking a shower, and then one of the cool guys yanks on a rope and the fabric curtain in front of the hut falls away to leave Houlihan exposed in the shower. Hilarity ensues. Ha ha ha fucking ha. That scene ruined the movie for me, and the fact that as far as I ever knew no one even objected to it ruined my mood. Mind you that was decades before Google, so I couldn’t confirm that no one objected – but I did see plenty of adulation of that movie and the screenplay, with no clauses about the shower scene.
So, yeah. It’s always been hip and cool to humiliate women.