40 Days and 40 Nights (and Rape).

Posted on 30 August 2010 by Quaid

I have no idea why I never saw 40 Days and 40 Nights.  2002 was the year I graduated high school, and I was all about the leftover 90′s teen comedies at the time.  The girls dragged me to the crappy Freddy Prinze Jr. movies, but I was, myself, a Josh Hartnett fan.  Not because I thought he was dreamy or a good actor (please), but because there was some subconscious part of my 17-year-old self that wanted to be him, complete with the stylish haircut, aloof demeanor and waifish super skinny bod.  Hartnett was the man I wanted to be, because I wanted to be able to bed Michelle Williams (preferably without a masked Michael Myers chasing us down afterward).

So yes, I, too, am surprised that I had never seen 40 Days and 40 Nights, a sex-centric movie that should have been right up my libido-crazed alley.  But it slipped under the radar.

The past weekend, though, in a fit of self-righteous nostalgia, I scanned through the available Netflix “watch instantly” movies and lo-and-behold…a sexually frustrated Hartnett was only a click away.  I grabbed some Chinese food and prepped for a stroll down memory lane.

Believe it or not, the movie is good and charming.  Even the wildly dated “everything is on the Internet!” jokes made me chuckle.  How naive we all were.

And I was shocked to find an interesting little character study and meditation on the nature of sex in relationships…mixed in with lots of boob and erection jokes.  The movie, with a few exceptions, was really working.

Then came the ending–the most “what-the-fuck” ending since the power-rangers-esque sumo fight at the end of Big Man Japan. If you’re trying to avoid spoilers regarding this eight-year-old movie, stop reading now.  I’m going to give away a doozy.

Josh Hartnett gets raped.

I tried to think of a less shocking and harsh way to put that, but there really is no other way.  Rape is rape, and Hartnett is, for the thinnest of reasons, made to have sex against his will while in a delirious state.  Wow.

For those of you unaware of the movie’s premise, I’ll give you the short version.  Hartnett is a recently dumped dude who finds himself banging every loose cooze in the state.  And we’re supposed to feel bad for him, because each one-night stand ends with him freaking out and having a panic attack.  He’s heartbroken and determined to get past his sex-crazed obsession and neurosis. So he decides to give up sex and all sexual activity (including fondling, kissing, and masturbating) for Lent.

So the movie has a ridiculous premise.  Because 1) most people who use sex to get over a relationship feel great during the act, but like ass afterward.  Josh freaks out during the act, so we wonder why a “vow” is necessary.  He basically vows to stop doing something that is giving him panic attacks, and tacks on the “no masturbation” segment to give the movie a better premise.  And 2) believe it or not, a man can go forty days without orgasming.  And he’ll be okay.  A little frustrated, but okay.  And he’ll not come close to becoming the pathetic wad of flesh that Hartnett manages.

Anyway, let’s get back to the point, shall we?  As you guessed, Hartnett falls in love with the super-cute Erica (played by the sassy Shannyn Sossamon), but his vow gets in the way.  And when word gets out about his vow, his ex decides to do everything possible to win her boyfriend back and make him break his commitment.  What a bitch.

No, she’s more than that, actually.  Because (and here is where the movie loses it completely) on the last day of his self-flaggellation, Hartnett becomes so convinced he won’t make it that he has his roommate handcuff him to the bed.  See, he doesn’t want to “accidentally” masturbate because Erica is coming over at midnight to do the romantic nasty, marking the end of his journey and the beginning of his new relationship.  Awwwww…

But the ex comes in at the last moment and takes it all away.  Hartnett is asleep and delirious (because sexual frustration obviously makes you schizophrenic in this movie), and his evil ex takes this as a sign that she should climb on top of the sleeping lad, take out his constantly erect thingy, and do the wild thing without his consent while he’s chained to the bed.

In other words….SHE RAPES HIM!

And when Hartnett comes to, he’s hurt, scared, freaked out and angry.  And the evil ex just smiles and leaves.  AFTER RAPING HIM!

When Erica gets there a few minutes later, what does she do?  Does she find her emotionally distrught man chained up and choose to comfort him…unlock him and call the police so the RAPIST can be arrested?  Nope, she gets jealous and storms out, leaving Josh chained to the headboard.


Imagine the roles reversed for a minute with a cute girl asleep in the bed.  She awakes to find an evil guy having his way with her.  Then her boyfriend walks in and yells at her.  Wow, we’ve turned this little gem into a lifetime movie, haven’t we?

But here, the filmmakers play up the “will Erica and Josh get together” angle.  Not only do we know the answer to this question, but, um, dude just got raped.  Maybe that kind of act should be treated with the respect that it deserves.  Maybe Erica should take him to get some help, and he should tell the authorities what happened.  Nope, instead he goes to Erica and APOLOGIZES FOR HIS INFIDELITY!

At which point I’m angry.  I mean seriously…here is a guy who chained himself to a bed just so he could save himself for the love of his life, and he ends up raped and apologizing for it?  Dude can’t win.

The final straw comes when the movie decides not to wrap up the whole ex-girlfriend-raped-me storyline.  When she walks out of the room after doing the deed, she disappears from the movie forever.  Oh that crazy girl…what’ll she do next??

Probably go on raping guys if someone doesn’t do something.

Seriously…this has all the trappings of a lighthearted movie.  And I don’t care what you do, you can’t make rape forgivable or funny in a movie that wants to keep any semblance of a realistic plot, which this one definitely does.

Finally, I am shocked that I never heard anyone talking about this.  From what I can see, the plot point was criticized for its unreality, but everyone basically accepted the movie as unoffensive.

What’s wrong with you people!?!  We have to stand up for the honor of Josh “Pretty Boy” Hartnett.  And remember one simple fact: no means no.

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Categorized | Commentary

6 Comments For This Post

  1. Rachel Says:

    I had big issues with this one too. Nor because of the rape. I was too pissed off that his friends and coworkers had the bet calendar going on. What better a way to be a shitty friend than do everything possible to fuck with your friend who is trying to get his priorities (sort of) straightened out. I know that’s exactly what my BFF would do!

  2. marissa Says:

    absolutely right, i’m so glad someone somewhere has taken note of this. just caught this movie on the CW. Can’t believe a family channel could get away with (or would even want to) air something like this. which also brings up the question of- what were the actors thinking?? Not that I know her personally, but I believe Maggie gyllenhaal plays the main girl’s roommate. She seems like a generally socially responsible celebrity. Why would anyone agree to be in a move with this sort of plot line?! Absolutely blown away and horrified.

  3. Goatmon Says:

    I saw this on Comedy Central a while back, and I can definitely say that it ruined the entire film.

    And it was a fun film up to that point!

    The whole conflict of a man resisting his own natural urges is something anyone can identify with. And then there’s the shame of his struggle becoming a complete joke when his own best friend starts up a website where people make bets on when he’ll lose. I honestly felt really bad for him!

    But then the stupid bitch ex girlfriend comes along, and straight-up RAPES him. And we’re not expected to reaect to it like “HOLY SHIT SHE JUST RAPED A GUY” we’re supposed to go “Oh man, she’s such a BITCH when will she go away?”

    I can understand the joy of seeing a guy demasculated or humiliated, but that’s not what this was. This was a guy being straght-up violated. AND HE’S TREATED LIKE A JERK AFTERWARDS.

    What the holy shit were these people thinking? Seriously, that one part single-handedly ruined that movie for me.

  4. talantus Says:

    previous comments said it all. tha scene always left a bitter taste in my mouth even before i became aware of the concept of female to male rape.

  5. Drew Matthews Says:

    But don’t you think it is accurate. He is Raped. He is blamed. He feels guilty. His partner does not support him and can’t even look at him. The Ex-GF does it as a matter of power not of sex. It is about having control of Josh, not having sex with him.

  6. Dandi Says:

    I hate that part of the movie. I hate that he is blamed and has to apologize for being raped. And I hate how realistic it is that he would be treated that way. That happens to many men who survive sexual assault.

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