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  • 11.09.15

The Male Cast Of “The New Girl” Explains Campus Rape (And Also Bears)

It’s a tough subject to be funny around, but all the jokes here land.

The Male Cast Of “The New Girl” Explains Campus Rape (And Also Bears)

Jokes and rape tend to go together like, er, a summer breeze and one of the most traumatic experiences a person can have (but which is also depressingly common). Which is to say: There can be funny commentary and good jokes even around something as serious as rape, but you have to make absolutely sure that your jokes are all aimed in the right place to pull that off.

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If you had to think about who would be equipped to do that, you might not settle on “most of the male cast of The New Girl,” but Jake Johnson, Lamorne Morris, Rob Riggle, and David Walton pull it off in a video for CollegeHumor (with the rape prevention organization It’s On Us) in which they explain the urgency with which campus rape needs to be addressed by comparing it to having a bear in your apartment. Which, apparently, Johnson’s character does.

That’s a weird metaphor, but it definitely explains the problem in terms that capture how pressing it really is–“I don’t think it’s going anywhere, but I don’t know what to do about it, so I just ignore it” and “what happens between you guys and the bear” is an effective way of calling out the attitudes that people who are less at risk of being victims of sexual assault have long been able to maintain, anyway. The sketch also manages to explain some of the important statistics that the It’s On Us campaign circulates–that one in five women will be sexually assaulted while in college–and hammers home its point as the guys remind Johnson that “it affects all of us” when it’s that common. The spot closes with a call to action: “You wouldn’t put up with that,” it says, “So don’t put up with this,” before urging viewers to take the pledge to stop campus rape at ItsOnUs.org. Rape jokes have a high degree of difficulty, but this one manages to land in the right spot.

About the author

Dan Solomon lives in Austin with his wife and his dog. He's written about music for MTV and Spin, sports for Sports Illustrated, and pop culture for Vulture and the AV Club.

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