Why Hollywood needs to stop treating prison rape as a punchline

The Will Ferrell-Kevin Hart comedy Get Hard is the latest in a string of movies and TV shows to wring laughs by trivializing the victimization of prisoners

Stop being so lazy, Hollywood.
(Image credit: (Patti Perret/2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Ratpac-Dune Entertainment LLC))

Get Hard — a new comedy starring Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart, two of the biggest box-office draws in Hollywood comedy — is practically destined for success. The movie, which stars Ferrell as a convicted corporate fraudster who hires a man (Hart) to teach him how to survive in prison, is projected for a $100 million-plus gross on the backs of its two big-name stars. With Ferrell and Hart headlining the movie, it doesn't really matter that writer/director Etan Cohen's only non-Get Hard directorial credit is a short called "My Wife Is Retarded," or that America already rejected Big Stan, a 2007 Rob Schneider vehicle with a premise that is basically identical.

Unfortunately, Get Hard has one other thing in common with Big Stan: a horrifically glib exchange designed to wring sneering laughs out of the very real threat of prison rape. "There's a 100 percent chance that you're going to be somebody's bitch. Ten years of this," says Hart in the latest trailer for Get Hard, clapping his hands together and grunting to mimic the sound of a violent gang rape. "You? 'No! I don't want any more! Stop! That's enough!' Too late. He done tagged the next guy in."

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Scott Meslow

Scott Meslow is the entertainment editor for TheWeek.com. He has written about film and television at publications including The Atlantic, POLITICO Magazine, and Vulture.