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Controversy: Is the Seth Rogen Sex Scene in "Observe and Report" Date Rape or Harmless Fun?

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The ink-dark comedy Observe and Report is a movie designed to push buttons. But one scene in particular seems to be pushing too hard. The scene involves Seth Rogen's character, delusional mall cop Ronnie Barnhardt, in bed with the women on his dirty dreams, Brandi (Anna Faris), the blondie at the makeup counter on whom Ronnie has focused his freaky lust. At dinner, Ronni had plied his date with Valium washed down with tequila shots to the point where she pukes and passes out. But there's Ronnie on top of Brandi in bed, grunting away over her dead-to-the-world body.

(Watch Peter Travers' video review of Observe and Report)

Ew? You bet. Definite date rape. But wait. Brandi wakes up to slur the line, "Did I tell you to stop, motherfucker?"

Does that make the sex consensual and therefore OK? In interviews, Rogen has indicated that he thinks so. Others disagree."It's a date rape scene, no ifs, ands and buts," Jennifer Storm, a rape survivor and educator in Harrisburg, Pa., told ABCNews.com. "If you mumble an acknowledgment while blacked out, that is not informed consent."

I'm with Storm on that one. The thing that must be pointed out is that the bipolar Ronnie is acting totally in character. Consent or no consent wouldn't faze Ronnie, who has completely lost touch with his moral center, if he ever had one. Rogen and the film's writer-director Jody Hill are telling the story of a guy who's not far from Robert De Niro's American psycho in Taxi Driver. That's why the comedy" in Observe and Report is R rated. The movie isn't condoning Ronnie's actions. Rogen and Hill know what kind of laughs they're dishing out — the kind that stick in your throat.

What's your take on the situation? In your opinion, is the scene depicting date rape or not? Are Rogen and Hill exercising artistic license in playing the scene for laughs or should their license be revoked?

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Peter Travers

Rolling Stone senior writer Peter Travers has reviewed movies for the magazine for more than 20 years. Send your comments and questions to him here.

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