Does anyone else remember that in the 1970s and 1980s, there were multiple movies which featured the “comic” situation of a man somehow getting stuck in a gorilla suit, and then being stuck in a cage with a randy male gorilla? The not-very-subtle implication was that the man was raped by the gorilla, which in the 70s and 80s was apparently considered hilarious.
IIRC, 70s comedies did this gag frequently enough to be a bit of a cliche — but this was decades ago, when I was a kid, and I can’t remember which specific movies featured this gag. Sometimes I’ve wondered if I didn’t just imagine the whole thing. But a few days ago I was watching a 1983 Eddie Murphy / Dan Aykroyd comedy, Trading Places, and there it was — the wacky man-in-costume-raped-by-a-gorilla gag. (In Trading Places, it’s the wacky fate suffered by a corrupt government official who the good guys need to dispose of).
There’s also an episode of the Simpsons which included this gag — Homer gets stuck in a panda bear costume, then is raped by a panda bear — but the scene in the Simpsons is so over-the-top brutal, the writer must have intended it as a parody of the gorrilla-suit-rape gag trend I recall.
And in the movie Top Secret, the male villain dresses in a cow suit and then is raped by a bull.
The wacky violent rape raped-by-an-animal scene — which, as I recall, almost always happened to male villains — has pretty much disappeared from TV and movies.1 I suspect that gag wasn’t done to female characters as often because having a female character suffer involuntary violent rape would have seemed too disturbingly real to be funny (not unlike the way fat jokes are considered funnier and more acceptable when they’re directed at thin actors wearing fat suits).
(I can think of examples of women being raped in 80s movie comedies, but the rapes are by deception rather than violence. In Revenge Of The Nerds, the protagonist disguises himself as a stuck-up sorority girl’s boyfriend in order to trick her into having sex with him. There’s some similar rape comedy in Sixteen Candles — except in that case, it’s that the stuck-up girl is too drunk to know the difference between her boyfriend and Anthony Michael Hall. In both these movies, the rape is justified post-hoc because the victim enjoyed the sex.)
Anyone else recall any movies in which a character in an animal costume is raped by an animal? And what the hell were moviemakers smoking back then?
- It’s still pretty common for characters to joke about prison rape, however; like the animal rape gags, prison rape gags are usually about male characters. [↩]
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I remember this trend, too, although I don’t have any specific memories. I never found these gags funny, probably because I knew from an early age that men could be raped. (Thanks, All in the Family!)
In the UK, a spoof documentary called Time Trumpet, shown last year, had the same premise, but set slightly in the future, in a gameshow called ‘Rape An Ape’. The idea was revered, slightly. It’s on YouTube, here
Ah, that happy period right as the MPAA film code died, where filmmakers were like “Hey, we can get away with all sorts of shit.” Apparently that included gorilla-on-man rape. All I can think of is Where’s Poppy which included a guy being pushed into raping a cop disguised as a woman while he was wearing a gorilla suit. But the main idea of Where’s Poppy was that it was over-the-top disturbing.
Prison rape gags, I realized now that you made me think about it, never involve the actual act of rape. The gag centers around a fear of prison rape, like Norm McDonald’s statements on Saturday Night Live or the episode of The Boondocks where Mr. Dubois is wrongfully arrested, or the commonplace nature of prison rape, as in the season 2 premiere of The Venture Brothers. But in no case is there an actual point where a character is raped.
I have never heard of it. Asked R who says that one of these scenes was with John Belushi in the gorilla suit in Spies Like Us. R has an amazing memory for films.
Given that Dan Akroyd was involved with the same in Trading Places is this traceable to Sat Night Live. Hmmm. Will ask my friend Dennis Perrin.
heh. nevermind. R just realized it was Trading Places. Shoulda done my homework. Sorry Amp.
I don’t really consider myself a feminist but I always thought this type of “Humor” was a tad stooopid– yeah gettin raped in prison is so frickin hi-lar-e-us. The 2006 movie Little Man shows this kind of joke hasn’t died.
While I have no specific memories I would stake money on this having appeared in at least one ‘Carry On’ film
I remember that scene well although I can’t remember if I thought it was truly funny or just plan stupid. I just don’t think a man in a cheap costume would fool a gorilla! I mean, aren’t there female gorilla pheromones involved? Anyway, maybe if I’d been 13 when I originally say it I would have found it hysterical but I think I was in my late teens when I finally say the whole thing. By then all the good bits (nudity, expletives, etc) had been edited out…except for that scene. Interesting huh?
I’ve seen female versions of this play out too but I can’t remember the movie/TV series titles. Usually it’s the same “guy in a gorilla suit” but the real gorilla is female. We know she’s a female ‘cause she has really long eyelashes, which she flashes often or because of the bow she has tied at the top of her head. She rapes the man in costume and he resists at first but then begins to show signs of enjoying it. Later there might be a scene of his male compatriots asking him where he’s been and the man saying nothing but giving a little sheepish grin. Doesn’t this just perpetuate the stereotype that men will do anything with anyone as long as there is a vagina involved? I’m just saying…
I remember that gorilla scene quite well. Even though I never saw it as all that funny. I think the reason why it would have been considered so hilarious back then was because it was seen as a satirical take on the patriarchal world.
The 70’s and even the 80’s were very much dominated by men.
Men are stronger then women, men dominate women, men rape women and women are trapped in a male dominated world.
Now the tables are tuned. The big strong dominant man is trapped in the cage, with a gorilla. The gorilla is stronger then the man, the gorilla dominates the man and rapes the man.
But then again I could be reading way to0 much into this.
Just a reminder that today is National Gorilla Suit Day!
Impute whatever subtext you’d like.
The 1975 film Young Frankenstein had a “comedic” violent rape of a woman.
Now I’m puzzled. This post showed up on the main page as though it had just been posted. I didn’t at that time notice the date. It’s not showing on the front page now.
I’m glad you dug this post up, Daran, since I remembered it as a post on a feminist blog that deserves a “cheer.”
The trend of men getting raped by gorillas continues at least into the 90’s, such as in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. One of the bad guys gets what he deserves and is pulled into a bush by a gorilla.
I’m not sure how I “dug it up”. I thought it was the latest post showing on the front page. Clearly I was mistaken, but I’m not sure what I could have clicked to turn it up.
Still, it was a serendipidous find given the recent discussion on FCB, and certainly deserving of a “cheer”.
I linked to it from the post that I wrote about atheism, on which you recently commented. I assumed you clicked my link.
Also, good point about Young Frankenstein.
Thanks. Glad I’m not going completely mad.
It’s a common theme: when men get raped they’ve done something to deserve it and it’s darn funny. I think the animal-rape variations reached an all-time low with The Nutty Professor II. The dean is a jerk, so it’s supposed to be hilarious that he’s violated by 12-foot hamster. All this reminds me of something I read a while back online in which a guy reported some bad experiences calling rape hotlines after being assaulted by two men. He was accused of making a joke in bad taste since “men don’t get raped.” It’s a slice of life that’s dismissed as a joke. I see it as the ultimate expression of the past attitude toward war: “if a woman is harmed, it’s a tragedy; if a man is harmed, it’s life.” One is a horrow movie, and one is an action movie. (Is Pulp Fiction a horror movie?)
I think the movie ‘Office Space’ is interesting. There seems to be an ongoing theme of male rape as a metaphor for the powerlessness these men feel in the office world. When they try to take matters into their own hands and exact revenge on their company, the lyrics to “Still” by Geto Boys is telling. But what could be funnier than a bunch of thieves getting punished by going to a “federal pound-me-in-the-a** prison”?