In recent “WTF” news, Richard Belzer of Law & Order: SVU had a very peculiar interview last Wednesday on “Good Day New York.” While doing a segment regarding his new book, “Dead Wrong: Straight Facts on the Country’s Most Controversial Cover-Ups,” he made a couple of verbal and gestural statements that have people a bit upset.
During his interview, he was asked by co-host Rosanna Scott if her colleague Dave Price might be able to play the brother of Detective Munch, Belzer’s SVU character. He responded with, “A thought, a thought… if he gets molested and banged in the ass, maybe.” Despite the hosts’ awkward attempts to move on, he went on to clarify his statement, claiming that he meant for Price to be banged into a piece of furniture (uh, what?). On his way out, he motioned a Nazi salute while shouting, “Sieg Heil to all your colleagues at the other division.”
On the one hand, I kind of giggled at the idea of a well-known Jewish celebrity insinuating that Fox News is full of Nazis and fascism. On the other hand, I also found it inappropriate, which is sort of my opinion on most things making gigglicious light of the Holocaust (yes, I know: blah blah I need to lighten up blah humorless douche blah blah). Of course, it was satirical and, according to his rep, intended at poking fun of Fox News’ ideology and methods; Belzer’s Jewish and I obviously know the guy isn’t a Nazi sympathizer.
However. The rape joke. Yes, Richard Belzer, I know you are also not a rape sympathizer, but somehow, this whole “maybe if he gets molested and banged in the ass” joke does not sit well with me. Law & Order: SVU isn’t a show I always agree with, but it supposedly is intended on humanizing rape survivors — joking about another human being being sexually assaulted does not.
As we all know, rape jokes aren’t funny unless they’re at the expense of rapists. But they usually aren’t, so… yeah, let’s just say rape jokes aren’t funny. Why? Because they make light of something that is still a pretty fucking real problem, one that inflicts immense pain on peoples’ lives every day. Normalizing that, using it as some kind of a zinger (“Get raped, buddy.” “Touche!”), does nothing but progresses rape culture by making sexual assault a punchline. Not a problem, not an issue deserving of attention: just a punchline.
Plus, male rape is one of the most under-reported crimes in the United States. Men are often afraid of being ridiculed or worse if they report being sexually assaulted, so making a joke about a man getting sexually assaulted — even if it’s just because HEY-O THAT’S THE ONLY WAY WE’LL LET HIM ON THE SHOW! — is just as unfunny as if he had said to the female co-host, “You can be my sister on the show if you get molested and banged in the vagina.” It’s not just poor taste; it’s flat-out not okay.
To be honest, I’m actually a huge fan of Belzer (albeit I’m no longer a fan of Law & Order: SVU, but that’s a whole other issue). I usually think he’s funny and I likable, but this was definitely a “oh, bummer” moment for my opinion of him.
Pic via Getty Images.