With an intent to study consent in media, I watched Get Him to the Greek (GHTTG) expecting to see a copious amount of sex scenes where consent was not present. The 2010 film stars Jonah Hill and Russell Brand as the nerdy fanboy of a washed up, has-been rock star, respectively. In a desperate attempt to get Brand’s character (Aldous Snow) to his comeback concert, Hill’s character (Aaron) must jump through hoops to ensure he makes it there in time. It functions somewhat as a screwball comedy with an emphasis on slapstick humor. Comedy is known for its anti-authoritarianism and ability to make fun of masculinity (Karlyn 2008). In this film however, the mockery of “manliness” was taken one step too far. One of the most disturbing scenes falls about two-thirds of the way into the movie, involving Jonah Hill’s character Aaron and a woman his boss has suggested he have sex with, Destiny.
Although according to the film’s Wikipedia page Destiny “takes him to a hotel room and rapes him,” the movie does not take it seriously or treat it as a rape should be. Aside from the societal stigma surrounding male victims of female assailants, part of the reason I think this scene slipped under the radar was the language that Aaron was using prior to the rape itself taking place. I would argue that he was utilizing attributes of his speech in that scene that typically mirror those of “women’s speech” (Lakoff 1975); namely hedging, unnecessary politeness, and tag questions. This would seem to imply that women’s speech is something used by those subordinate people in scenarios whom feel they need to navigate the power dynamic carefully. Unfortunately, given the yet patriarchal society that remains strong in American culture, women remain the sex who are primarily filling that position of subordination, therefore drawing an understandable but incorrect generalized conclusion about who should be associated with hese specific characteristics of speech.
Because the main purpose of this paper is to analyze the dialogue in a scene where a man is raped by a woman, I feel it’s important to include some information on the reality and validity of these situations. According a study conducted called “Social Cognitions about Adult Male Victims of Female Sexual Assault” the stereotypes that society holds regarding men and their sexual prowess are so concrete, it’s hard for people to imagine a sexual situation that a man did not instigate and subsequently enjoy (Smith, Pine, & Hawley 1988). This is not inconsistent with the treatment of the rape scene in GHTTG.
It begins with Aaron’s boss Sergio very directly ordering Aaron to go have sex with this woman he has just come upon, Destiny.
S: “You [to Destiny] are going to go have sex with Aaron right now.”
“Aaron—go with your Destiny.”
After Aaron makes a comment about that command being disrespectful, the scene cuts to him in bed with Destiny. Things escalate after Destiny shares that she is attracted to Aaron.
Destiny climbs on top of Aaron.
A: “Okay, uh, what-what are you doing?”
Destiny pulls off Aaron’s tie.
A: “What—don’t do that”
D: “I feel like I want to show you something.”
A: “I feel like I don’t want to see it though”
Destiny lifts up skirt and points to her genitals. Aaron turns his head away.
A: “All right! Hey! So that’s uh, your vagina. Right on!”
D: “No, but look at it! Look at it. Look at the pubic hair! Hello?
Destiny begins to tap her genitals.
D: “Testing, one, two three! Is this thing on? Hello?”
A: “Hey, so, put that away right?”
D: “Do you want to sing ‘hair-aoke?’”
A: “I’m ok, I’m all right.” Destiny pushes Aaron down. “Oh, my god.”
D: “I think you’re really sexy—because you look like Dennis Quaid.”
A: “What? Really? uh…Randy Quaid maybe…”
Destiny unbuckles and pulls down Aaron’s pants.
D: “PANTS OFF! Off with the pants! Pants off party!”
A: “Honestly you’re acting crazy. Stop! No.”
Destiny stops for a second.
A: “All right. Fun and games are over. Let’s relax for a second. Let’s just—let’s just stop.”
Destiny pulls a large dildo out of her purse.
A: “UGH! Wha—what you carry that around with you?”
Destiny rubs the dildo all over Aaron’s face.
A: “Ugh—STOP! When’s the last time you Purelled that thing?”
D: “Kiss it.”
Destiny sticks the dildo into Aaron’s mouth. Aaron gags, gurgles, and struggles.
A: “I want to go home!”
D: “This is going inside of you!”
A: “Get off of me! What are you doing?”
It is implied that Destiny penetrates Aaron anally with the dildo. He screams out in pain.
A: “OH MY GOD! Why does this keep happening to me??”
D: “Just relax…”
D: “Take your medicine.”
The scene then cuts to Aaron back with Aldous Snow and his father where he is offered drugs as his only consolation.
A: “I think I’ve just been raped.”
AS: “What’s that? Raped? Here you go mate, that’ll take the edge off.”
In the event men recognize the trauma they’ve experienced and don’t feel too ashamed to seek help, they are often met with disbelief and dismissal, an article titled Where are the Male Victims and Female Perpetrators? by Loree Cook-Daniels explains. The implication that participating in drug use is the only way necessary step to be taken in dealing with the event Aaron has just gone through from Aldous works perfectly as a reflection of this ideology. 86% of the victims of female sexual predators overall are not believed (Cook-Daniels 2009). This staggering statistic makes it clear that the film framed the majority’s views on these types of encounters and did not act as an unusual anomaly. Aligned in an unsurprising parallel with this is a quote from “Social Cognitions About Male Victims of Female Sexual Assault,” “the response of the male subjects in this study suggest that they viewed the episode in sexual terms and failed to grasp the assaultive nature of the rape” (Smith et al. 1988).
Clearly in the bedroom with Destiny, Aaron is not in control of the situation and is functioning as the subordinate. This is true for his dynamic with Aldous during the entire beginning of the movie as well, as he follows Sergio’s advice regarding how to treat the celebrity. Every time he has to encourage Aldous to depart a particular setting, he seems to use speech that darts and weaves around the point, and lacks the directness he needs to truly make an impact on Aldous. We see here his use of hedges and tag questions. All the examples below demonstrate this.
“We should probably get going if we are going to catch that…”
“Anyways, we really should…”
“Um, I think maybe we should run to the airport right now ‘cause we’re getting’, we’re
“Hey, look, the car service is here with all the bags…”
“So, we’re going on the next one?”
“I hate to be a downer but it’s getting really late. We have a flight early in the morning. Do you mind if, uh…”
There are however, points in the movie in which Aaron takes control of the situation and his power is increased; specifically, after Aldous, Aaron, and Daphne attempt to have a threesome. He is fed up with Aldous’ reckless behavior and is no longer afraid to speak his mind even it offends him.
A: “Nothing you say makes any sense, ok. I understand that now. You’re just a fucking junkie—and you’re smart so you make your insanity sound good. But, it’s bullshit.
AS: “This is it, Aaron. This is rock and roll. Did you enjoy the party?
A: “You’re sick in the fucking head! You messed up your own life and now you have to mess up mind too?! Get out of my apartment.”
AS: “Thanks for the hospitality.”
In those scenes, his language is much more direct and aggressive; he is less worried about offending Aldous because he is no longer taking on the role of the weaker person in the conversation. I would argue that the shift in his language and his shift in power dynamic were not coincidental.
In situations where there is clearly a dominant individual and an unequal distribution of power, the subordinate must navigate the situation more carefully. According to Nina Eliasoph in Politeness, Power, and Women’s Language, women seem to better understand the immediate consequences of what they say and modify their speech accordingly (Eliasoph 1987). However, as I said at the start of this paper the association between “subordinate” and “woman” as far as linguistic characteristics exists purely as a result of current American society and culture. There are points in the plot of GHTTG where a female exists as a woman and she is definitely not using women’s language. One specific, illustrative example of this is when Jackie Q (Aldous’ ex-wife) is conversing with Aldous on the telephone. He has called her up early one morning after nostalgically watching an old home-video of them when they were still a couple.
JQ: “What are you doing? Where are you?
AS: “Just in our old flat actually—in New York.
JQ: “You with anybody?”
AS: [in reference to Aaron] “Some affable nitwit. Where are you now, Jackie?”
JQ: “Los Angeles…sleeping next to Lars Ulrich.”
AS: “Lars Ulrich…from Metallica?”
AS: “What’s Lars packin’ in the…drumstick region?”
JQ: “I can’t tell you that right now. He’s sleeping right next to me. What are you
so interested in Lars for, Aldous? Are you jealous?”
AS: “No, I don’t get jealous.”
As you can see, she is direct in her language and is not afraid to question or challenge Aldous. Clearly she is operating as the dominant partner in this exchange. However, she is a woman so shouldn’t she be passive in her language? Not necessarily. In other words, the role one is playing in a given situation—much more than the sex of a person—determines how they’re going to speak and act” (Eliasoph 1987).
All of this being said, GHTTG is just one film and Aaron is only one very feminized character in it. The rape scene could also be read as yet another illustration of “the crazy, out of control, drunk girl.” But I would argue that if the scene was truly intended to make a statement about Destiny and not Aaron, there still would have been room in the plot to acknowledge the rape and take care of the victim. By taking this film into the real world, we can zero in on its significance. If I have successfully proven through this paper that first, men can be and are raped, and second, that they are not always the dominant ones in a sexual context, I would further ask why women do not ask men for consent? And if they did, what would it sound like? Would it be overly polite, full of hedges and modifiers? We must forget what we think we know regarding the relationship between language and gender to truly answer these questions.
Cook-Daniels, L. (2009). Where Are the Male Victims and Female Perpetrators?
Victimization Of The Elderly And Disabled, 11(5), (pp. 65-77).
Eliasoph, N.. (1987). Politeness, Power, and Women’s Language: Rethinking Study in
Language and Gender. Berkeley Journal of Sociology, 32, (pp. 79–103). Retrieved from
Get Him to the Greek. (n.d.). Retrieved April 27, 2016, from
Karlyn, K. R. (2008). Comedy, Melodrama, and Genre. In Screening Genders (pp. 155-167).
Rutgers University Press.
Lakoff, R. T. (1975). Language and woman’s place. New York: Harper & Row.
Smith, R. E., Pine, C. J., & Hawley, M. E.. (1988). Social Cognitions about Adult Male
Victims of Female Sexual Assault. The Journal of Sex Research, 24, 101–112. Retrieved