Rape Fantasies Played for Laughs on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher

Offenders: Comedian Marc Maron and columnist Dan Savage on Real Time with Bill Maher

Media Outlet: HBO

The Offense: Guest panelists on Real Time with Bill Maher took their satirical humor too far on the July 15 show. Comedian Marc Maron expressed his hope of Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann getting f*cked “angrily” by her husband. Not to be outshined, columnist Dan Savage replied with the same violent depiction targeting candidate Rick Santorum.

NOW’s Analysis: Bill Maher and his show are known for crass humor, including sexist slurs, but this time it was the guests who overstepped acceptable satirical boundaries, veering into hateful and violent territory.

While discussing Marcus Bachmann’s controversial anti-gay Christian therapy clinic, the topic skewed toward his sexuality and marriage with Michele. After quickly determining Marcus to be a closeted gay man, Marc Maron states that he hopes Marcus “takes all that rage that comes from repression and denial and brings it into the bedroom with her . . . I hope he f*cks her angrily, because that’s how I would, and I’ve thought about it.”

To avoid “charges of sexism,” and demonstrate that “it’s not just women we’re talking about f*cking,” Dan Savage admits, “I sometimes think about f*cking the sh*t out of Rick Santorum.” As Savage and Maron try to top each other, panelist and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban laughs as if it is the funniest thing he’s heard all week. The lone woman panelist, Chrystia Freeland, looks vaguely uncomfortable while maintaining a polite smile.

Even though there are countless sexist and demeaning comments throughout the show, let’s focus on the term that has the potential to become the new euphemism for rape: f*cking angrily. Is this the trendy, politically correct term to use when you want to describe violently raping someone you don’t like? Women are usually the target of such comments, but don’t worry, Savage made sure to mention angrily f*cking a man, and Maron applauded that sentiment, so at least they aren’t sexist, right? They just enjoy the thought of degrading other people sexually — a concept, by the way, that women and LGBT people might understandably take issue with.

Political topics and satirical humor have always gone hand-in-hand, but joking about the sexual assault of anyone is in no way amusing. Savage and Maron made it very clear that they have different political views from Bachmann and Santorum, but that gives them no right to fantasize about these candidates being the targets of aggressive, unwanted sex. It is deeply frightening that this needs to be said, but rape is not a joke, nor should it be used as a punch line for a political dig. These adults need to grow up and understand the weight of their words. And Maher, who long ago set the tone for his show, might consider trying to bring it back from the hateful path onto which it has strayed.

Take Action: Express your opinions by contacting HBO.

Marisella Rodriguez, Communications Intern

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