Student TV Comedy Sketch ‘Rape is Funny’ Triggers Major Criticism, Protests at UCONN

A rape parody sketch that aired earlier this week on an independent student-run television station at the University of Connecticut is spurring massive campus controversy and growing media attention.  The production– which I’ve seen referenced by the titles “Rape is Funny” and “Evil Blue Light”– ran during a comedy program on UCTV called “Shenanigans.”  It was also featured on UCTV’s website like all other programming.

As a Huffington Post College report notes, “The sketch depicts a young woman fleeing through campus at night, apparently from a rapist. To her relief, the woman comes across one of the university’s many ‘Code Blue Phone Kiosks,’ GPS-equipped emergency phone systems that allow students to call UConn’s 911 services directly and wait for campus police as the machines flash warning lights.  But when the woman tries to use the emergency system to summon help, it misunderstands her words and a robotic voice calls her a ‘cock gobbler’ and ‘howler monkey bitch’ who is ‘crying rape,’ which gives the attacker enough time to catch up and strangle her in the parking lot.”

The video has spurred an enormous amount of complaints, an organized Facebook protest campaign, a campus rally, and a larger “debate over rape culture and free speech.”  In a letter to The Hartford Courant, a UCONN student argued, “[T]he video mocks sexual assault survivors and contributes to a rape culture that is unacceptable on campus and beyond. The commentary in the video perpetuates myths about the legitimacy of rape claims, denigrating those who have been subjected to sexual violence. There is nothing humorous or redeeming about the video.”

Amid the protests, UCTV has pulled the video from its website and issued a statement.  As one portion reads, “We apologize for any frustration or harm this content has caused. We are working towards a more careful screening process, as well as a review of our broadcast policies, that will prevent this situation from occurring again.”

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