Category Archives: rape culture

A conversation about… ‘The Wedding Date’ (2005 film)

The other night after dinner I went to my room to accomplish errands I was supposed to have completed 2 days before when I heard my roommates laughing while watching television. Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to give myself a five-minute water break. However a five-minute break turned into the length of the film as my willpower crumbled when faced with temptation in the form of Dermot Mulroney and Debra Messing. The romantic comedy ‘The Wedding Date’ was playing on television. I suppose like any romantic comedy, once it begins one must always ride it out till the end.

Just like many others I too have personally seen this film more times than I care to admit. Thus it comes with no surprise I have formed my own opinions in regards to the content of the film. However watching the film this time however was definitely a new experience for me as my roommate and I got involved in a conversation regarding the climax scene of the film. Thus, though I was watching the film for the umpteenth time; it felt fresh and exciting for me as my views on the film was challenged and definitely broaden.

For those who have not seen the film here’s a little background information about it. It came out in 2005 and was an instantaneous success. It was so popular Bollywood did their own version of this film and not surprisingly, was also successful. This film revolves around Kat (Messing) and the hooker, Nick (Mulroney) she hires to play as her boyfriend to accompany her to her sister’s wedding. During their short but sweet time together they bond over frivolous matters and soon realise they have found their soul mates in each other. Other plots include bonding between two sisters whom before this could never see eye to eye, the bride cheating on her fiancée with his best friend and Kat’s ex fiancée being the best friend whom the sister cheated on with.

Whenever I watch this film I always have the same reaction during the climax point. I always begin with a snarky comment on how cliché their romance is and as the scene progresses my biting (or as I like to think sassy) comments turn into full-blown insults that I hurl at the television in hope that these characters are able to magically hear me. For those who haven’t seen the film the climax involves the two lead characters having sex. Messing’s character’s true feelings are shown because she is highly intoxicated and Mulroney’s character falls hopelessly in love with Messing’s character as he realises he enjoys being around her not because of her money (spoiler alert he’s a hooker) but because of her. (#Prettywomanthrowback) I suppose in the eyes of the cheesy beholders this scene is very romantic as Kat sexily seduces Nick to sleep with her on her father’s yacht (but honestly comes off as humorous as her sexy equals adorable). However, as romantic as this scene is I have so many issues with it the romance part is non-existing for me.

There are several reasons why this scene bugs me. One of them is Nick still choosing to sleep with Kat despite observing how drunk she is. Was it not obvious she was in no position to be making lucid decisions? Could he not smell the pungent alcohol aroma Kat was reeking of? Why was Mulroney’s character unable to say NO to her advances on the sole purpose he did not feel comfortable being with her while she was in such a state? In my personal opinion this scene adds to dangerous cycles that society cannot seem to break away from, rape culture. This scene only serves to emphasize the perceived idea of taking advantage of someone while the other person is intoxicated (and unable to think clearly) is not only acceptable, it can even be romantic! This really irks me because the next morning when Kat awakens she looks dazed and confused how she ended up on her father’s yacht naked and alone. She even has to ask Nick if anything happened last night and to my great annoyance he lies and says no because he is insulted she does not remember the previous night.

Adding to my discomfort is the justification of Nick’s character sleeping with Kat. In order to move the romance along and to explicitly show viewers their growing attraction and passion; the writes felt they clearly had no other choice but to make them have sex. My issue with this is; why does sex have to be the only way characters can be seen falling in love? Yes there is clear desire and physical attraction but those two characteristics does not have equate as signs to both viewers and characters they have fallen in love. Why can’t showing restraint in moments of great temptation be the height of their affections for one another? By not giving Nick’s character strength in this scene, Hollywood has only reinforced this fallacy that men don’t have the ability and shouldn’t have the ability to say no (despite the woman’s condition) because she was the one who initiated it. Thus, removing all responsibility from the men’s shoulders because the woman was saying yes.

However, interestingly enough my roommate had a completely different perspective on this scene. She felt that in many ways this scene emphasized women’s strength and rationality as films usually try to avoid. She felt that by showing Kat making the decision to say yes to Nick while she was in that state highlights women’s ability to make decisions in everyday lives. Therefore emphasizing this notion that when a woman is intoxicated and when she says No to sex with someone, she really means it. The evidence she provided was the precious scene in which it shows Kat going to an ATM to withdraw cash to pay Nick to sleep with him. She felt that Kat may not have necessarily been all there but she was still able to make lucid decisions and she chose to be intimate with Nick. Kat was also the dominant role in this scene. She initiated the intimacy with Nick dismissing the thought that first move made by women means they’re cheap and sluts. In her opinion, this is something romantic comedies should do more. Finally her views on Kat not remembering the sequence of events the previous night is questioned when she is still able to explain the money she withdrew the previous night to pay Nick for the night they spent together.

Listening to my roommate’s views on the matter provided me a different perspective on the scene. One in which I had never really considered before. Looking at that scene now I understand the perspective in which she is looking at it. However, the underlining factor to me though is still responsibility. The final reason (and possibly the biggest) why this particular scene irks me so is the lack of responsibility shown by Nick. In my opinion, the film showing Nick not acting more responsibly than Kat only serves to sadly add to this feeling that women have to always be more responsible than men. They have to take care of themselves and men simultaneously because men will never be able to say NO to sex. Apparently men are animals (they just have a different name).

I suppose if there was one thing I hope everyone takes away from this film (and piece) is both men and women have a responsibility to one another. Women should never have to feel the burden of that entirely fall on them and men should not have to be consistently described as animals with only one factor in their minds. We are all human beings with more complexity than most films give us credit for.