This Is Not Being Part of the Solution

[Content Note: Sexual assault.]

Last week, Chris Pratt appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers to promote his latest film, Guardians of the Galaxy. During the segment, the link to which was forwarded to me by Shaker J, Pratt told an anecdote about getting in trouble with the network after he flashed Amy Poehler (and others) on the set of their TV show, Parks and Recreation:

Chris Pratt, a thin white 35-year old man wearing a brown suit with a blue button-down shirt sits in the guest chair beside host Seth Meyers, a thin white 40-year-old man wearing a grey suit, white button-down shirt, and blue tie.

Meyers: Ah, I'm so happy for you guys and I'm also a little heartbroken that you're going into the last—you're filming the last season of Parks right now. You're about to start.

Pratt: Yeah. Yes.

Meyers: Um, you got—I did not realize this until today—you got in a little trouble from NBC; they filled me in that you got in a little bit of trouble—

Pratt: [chuckling] Yes.

Meyers: —for, uh, well, why don't you fill us in on what you did— [Pratt laughs] You actually got admonished by the brass.

Pratt: Yes. I'm pretty sure I know what admonished means... [audience laughter] Just in case, does that mean they yelled at me?

Meyers: [laughing] Yeah, they did, they yelled at you.

Pratt: Yeah, they did. [audience laughter; Meyers laughs] Yeah, they did. I, um— You know, it's kind of funny now, because they're not gonna fire me, I don't think

Meyers: Yeah.

Pratt: —because we're done, we're gonna be done this year.

Meyers: Sure.

Pratt: Wait, they could fire— They gave me, they sent me a letter saying I'm not supposed to make a joke about this, so, just so you know, this is really serious. [grins; audience laughs]

Meyers: Okay, yeah. [points at audience, grinning] So no matter how funny this is, don't laugh. [audience laughs]

Pratt: Yeah, 'cuz it's gonna seem really funny, like I think it's hilarious—

Meyers: Right.

Pratt: —but it was actually, at the time, but the whole time I've been like... [cringes]

Meyers: It's very serious. And when they talked to you about it, you felt, you realized, you were wrong.

Pratt: Yeah, well, like, when I framed the letter next to the frame of me naked [Meyers laughs] I was like, "This is as a reminder." [looks mockingly serious]

Meyers: Yeah. So, tell us what you did.

Pratt: Basically, um, there's this scene early on—I think it's the second season—when Andy [his character] was still dating Ann [Rashida Jones]—or, had been dating Ann and then was still in love with Ann, and she wanted him to come to the house and he got the signals crossed somehow and thought that she wanted him to come to the house naked and hook up.

Meyers: Right.

Pratt: And so I show up naked at the house. And, um, and Leslie [Amy Poehler] is there, Amy Poehler is there, to receive a naked Andy. And so, they give me like these underwear that are nude colored, like this skin-colored—that's what they do in the movies, if they're gonna pixelate out the junk area—

Meyers: Right.

Pratt: —they don't make ya show your junk; they just like make it a skin-colored brief—

Meyers: Yeah, mm-hmm.

Pratt: —that I was wearing. So I show up in these skin-colored briefs, and it's at the end of the day, and I'm not quite eliciting the response that I was hoping to from Amy—

Meyers: Right, 'cuz Amy's supposed to open the door and be surprised.

Pratt: She's supposed to say, "Oh my god your penis!" and then I go, "Oh no!" [audience laughter] Well, so, I—I was like three or four takes in, and Mitch, our boom operator—I was like, "Mitch, I'm gonna go snake out on this one." [Meyers laughs; audience laughter] "I'm gonna go naked!"

Meyers: Yeah!

Pratt: And he's like, he's like, "Oh gosh, I dunno." I's like, "TOO LATE!" [audience laughter and groans]

Meyers: And, by the way, if you work on a set, if the boom operator is cool with it, that clears it.

Pratt: That's pretty much—yeah. [they both laugh] General rule of thumb. And, uh, so I went trou down, and the reaction was awesome!

Meyers: And it's the one they used!

Pratt: It's the one they used! [audience laughter]

Meyers: So, we actually have a clip.

Pratt: Do you have a clip? Oh!

Meyers: Here's the episode of Parks and Rec—and this is just method acting at its best. Let's see this reaction shot from Amy.

[clip of moment when Andy arrives at Ann's front door, which Leslie opens and then looks properly horrified; the audience laughs; cut back to Pratt and Meyers, who are laughing; Meyers claps his hands; then the two of them get faux-serious and waggle their fingers at the audience]

Meyers: Very serious. [Pratt slaps himself on the wrist] Very serious. And you learned your lesson!

Pratt: Yeah. I did.

Meyers: You learned your lesson.

Pratt: And they said in— In the letter, they did say, like, you know, hey listen, you can't do this and also [chuckling] probably don't go joke around about it; it's not a joking matter. [Meyers laughs] And it's not, like, you really, you can't do that, because there are like, because— [shrugs] I dunno. [Meyers and Pratt belly laugh; the audience laughs] 'Cuz you're not supposed to.

Meyers: Chris Pratt, everybody!
Phew. Okay.

So, the first thing I want to say about this is that I don't want to presume what Amy Poehler's reaction to this incident was. She is not only Chris Pratt's boss and coworker, but they are also friends, and friends often have different boundaries with one another than they have with other people.

(That said, I will also note that Amy Poehler was not the only person unexpectedly exposed to Chris Pratt's penis.)

But, irrespective of Poehler's personal reaction, even if she didn't think it was a big deal, there are two men—Chris Pratt, who is her colleague and employee and friend, and Seth Meyers, who is her former colleague (on SNL) and one of her best friends—talking about this for a vast audience, none of whom have any idea what Poehler's reaction was, many of whom know nothing about their relationships with her, and most of whom probably haven't given much consideration to the fact that exposing oneself to another person without their consent isn't okay irrespective of that person's reaction after the fact.

Also: Despite Meyers saying the network (NBC, for whom they all work) told him about the incident, the entire thing is played as if Pratt is being an impudent rogue, telling the story as a hilarious anecdote and mocking the idea of concern for sexual assault in the workplace.

Which doesn't say a whole lot for how concerned NBC really is about harassment and assault in the workplace, since they evidently gave their approval for this incident to be discussed on one of their shows.

I'm guessing, given years of experience of seeing this sort of scenario play out over and over and over, that this entire thing would be defended and justified, in part, by the participants by using some variation on: "Amy was cool with it." (And maybe she is. But also? Maybe she's just playing at being "cool with it" because there is enormous pressure on women to treat sexual harassment and sexual assault by their male friends as "jokes," to judge harassment and assault by the intentions of the person doing it, rather than by our own real reactions to it.) But even granting the possibility that she's "cool with it," the point is that this isn't a story being told in a vacuum.

This is a story, being told as a funny anecdote, sending up "hypersensitivity" about sexual assault, within a rape culture, where women who are sexually harassed and assaulted at work are often accused of being "oversensitive," and where normalizing sexual harassment and assault against women communicates to predators that it's okay; everyone does it.

This would be a horror show no matter who was involved in it, but Seth Meyers has been featured in an anti-rape campaign produced by the White House:

Actor Benecio del Toro: We have a big problem, and we need your help.

Actor Dulé Hill: It's happening on college campuses, at bars, at parties, even in high schools.

Actor Steve Carell: It's happening to our sisters, and our daughters—

Actor Daniel Craig: —our wives, and our friends.

Actor Seth Meyers: It's called sexual assault, and it has to stop.

Hill: We have to stop it. So listen up.

del Toro: If she doesn't consent, or if she can't consent, it's rape; it's assault—

Carell: It's a crime. It's wrong.

Vice President Joe Biden: If I saw it happening, I was taught you have to do something about it.

del Toro: If I saw it happening, I'd speak up.

Craig: If I saw it happening, I'd never blame her. I'd help her.

Hill: Because I don't want to be part of the problem.

Meyers: I want to be a part of the solution.

Biden: We need all of you to be part of the solution. This is about respect; it's about responsibility.

President Barack Obama: It's up to all of us to put an end to sexual assault. And that starts with you.

Craig: Because one is too many.
Emphasis mine.

Seth Meyers, this is not being part of the solution. This is being part of the problem. This is the problem.

Meyers told me to expect more, and here I am expecting more. I don't expect someone who lends their celebrity to an anti-rape campaign, saying that sexual assault "has to stop" and that he wants "to be part of the solution," to use his network TV show to make a fucking joke out of a sexual assault.

I expect him to have a zero tolerance policy on humor that diminishes the gravity of and normalizes sexual assault.

This is about as far from walking the walk as it gets.

And, as an aside, Seth Meyers: As a survivor of sexual violence, I want to tell you that my male friends do not use my experience as a justification for upholding the rape culture by joking about it with other men in public view. My male friends, if they use my experience at all, use it as a justification for challenging and dismantling the rape culture.

Maybe you should consider exactly what kind of friend you really want to be. The kind who expects us to understand that Amy must be cool with it, or the kind who isn't cool with it himself.

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