BY ERIN CARBERRY ’19
It’s more than likely that not one person on the Mount Holyoke campus — save for myself — watched this recent Netflix release, helmed by the creative team and cast of “Workaholics,” a sitcom about college dropouts starring Adam DeVine (“Pitch Perfect”), Anders Holm (“The Mindy Project”) and Blake Anderson (“Dope”). Following in the footsteps of “Jackass” and “Harold & Kumar,” “Game Over, Man!” takes its niche genre — brainless, vulgar and hyper-masculine gross-out humor — to a startling new extreme. It’s all too easy to write off the offensive brand of comedy, but this film is indicative of the persistence and pervasiveness of bigotry, cruelty and detrimental stereotypes in film. It positions topics like homosexuality, sexual harassment and even sexual assault as humorous. Capping off the whole farce is a supporting cast of people you want to believe would not sink this low: Joel McHale (“Community”), Fred Armisen (“Portlandia”), Steve Howey (“Shameless”) and even Mark Cuban (“Entourage”).
While not many reviewers were left laughing (the film has a score of 32 on Metacritic and 10 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), audiences responded alarmingly well: 53 percent of general Rotten Tomatoes users liked it, while a whopping 81 percent of Google users gave it a thumbs up. The favorable audience reception is unsettling to say the least.
The film follows the self-named “Dew’d Crew,” a trio of dopey hotel housekeepers who get high on the job and make an unending string of misogynistic and homophobic jokes. When an Instagram celebrity known as “The Bey” checks into the hotel, the trio decides to pitch their big idea — the “Skintendo Joysuit,” designed to control what they proudly proclaim is “the first full-body controlled blaxploitation video game ever.” Their pitch is derailed when the hotel is taken over by a group of domestic terrorists, who begin killing hostages in increasingly brutal ways while the Crew fumbles around the hotel attempting to “be badass.” Their misadventures include murdering several “bad guys” and arguing over whose “kill” each victim becomes, as well as sexually harassing their one female coworker (who upon reporting their bad behavior to the hotel manager, was told that “boys will be boys” and reminded of her desire for a promotion before she is patted on the crotch and told to “sack up”). It would be impossible to enumerate every offensive moment in the film: a small dog is killed, the f-slur is used against a hitman three separate times, one of the only characters of color, Bey, is referred to as an invader, a woman is drugged and told by a man that they’re “going to have some fun,” drug addiction is treated as a funny hobby and when a character comes out, he immediately transforms into a stereotypical gay man, complete with a higher voice pitch and exaggerated gestures. Sitting through the nearly two-hour runtime will give you whiplash as the film goes between vicious scenes of violence and bigoted humor at nearly every minority’s expense.
It is hard to remember — and dangerous to forget — that while diverse films such as “Black Panther” and “Love, Simon” top box offices, films like “Game Over, Man!” still find an audience. Sean Fitz-Gerald, a staff writer for Thrillist Entertainment, a website dedicated to pop culture and food, called “Game Over, Man!” “irreverent, occasionally shocking but always fun.” DeVine described the filmmaking process to Fitz-Gerald and Thrillest: “It’s all about, ‘What do we wanna see in movies? What makes us laugh really hard?’ Once you start going like, ‘Oh, this doesn’t make me laugh, but it’s what people want’ — you lose touch with your comedic voice.” It is genuinely disturbing to imagine that gay panic humor and sexual assault is what makes anyone laugh, let alone someone with the money and resources to broadcast their revolting tastes to audiences worldwide. While it is an overall forgettable blip on an overcrowded radar, “Game Over, Man!” indicates a deeply troubling truth: narrow-minded ignorance constitutes an entire genre, complete with a devoted fanbase.