Why Raunchy Comedies Barely Exist These Days

Times have changed in the comedy landscape. The genre of raunchy comedies ranges from gross-out R-rated goodness to wild sex stories that you can’t forget. Whether it was 1978’s Animal House – which really helped popularize the genre – or American Pie to Wedding Crashers, 40-Year-Old Virgin, or Bridesmaids, there’s really no shortage of great films that occupy the genre. While the genre isn’t exactly dead, it’s noticeable that these types of movies don’t make much of an appearance on the mainstream front. Following the conclusion of The Hangover franchise, the genre was mainly relegated to lame direct-to-DVD affairs with some popping up here and there. Now, raunchy comedies were never as successful as superhero movies or westerns. The top-grossing R-rated comedy remains The Hangover Part II. The film amassed a strong $586,464,305 worldwide, with The Hangover ($467 million) and Sex in the City ($415,247,258) the next two with the best box office numbers. The difference is that R-rated comedies aren’t made on the same monetary scale as Marvel and DC films thus making these types of movies are less of a huge risk for studios because they’re not blowing the bank.

However, there are several reasons why audiences haven’t been treated to a slew of R-rated goodness recently. One of the biggest reasons is that we’re living in times of cancel culture and wokeism. Remember that rape joke of Todd wanting to play Tummy Sticks with Jeremy? Nope, that joke wouldn’t work in 2022. Sixteen Candles has Judd Nelsons’ character sexualize Molly Ringwald’s character for comedic effect. Hell, Ted violates a heavily intoxicated girl. Homophobic jokes, sex jokes, or racist jokes – people blasted Robert Downey for playing black face in the satire Tropic Thunder. Times have changed and Hollywood is weary about releasing these types of movies under the current culture. Seth Rogen – one of the kings of raunchy humor – pretty much revealed the mindset of what a vocal audience thinks, “There are certain jokes that for sure have no aged well, but I think that’s the nature of comedy. I think conceptually those movies are sound, and I think there’s a reason they’ve as far as people still watching and enjoying them today. Jokes are not things that necessarily are built to last.” Is this a fair assessment? Are there jokes told in 1990 that just doesn’t work in today’s society? Yes, I would consider jokes aimed at popular culture of a certain period of time under that category. A popular culture reference from the 1980s isn’t going to resonate with someone who’s watching the movie for the first time in 2022. However, comedy is subjective.

There are plenty of people who are not bothered by the black face character in Tropic Thunder or the rape joke in Wedding Crashers. Not everyone has the same brand of humor. If you find those type of jokes disgusting, then that’s your opinion. In truth, comedy is a layer of honesty that’s demonstrated in comedic form. The best jokes are the ones that we can resonate with in some type of way. However, everyone has a different perspective on the way they see the world. Lately, there’s been a very vocal minority who have been outraged over these brands of humor. Hollywood is a business first and foremost. If executives don’t think a movie will make money, then they won’t even waste their time. If The Batman, Morbius, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and every superhero flick in 2022 flopped hard then Hollywood would assume that the superhero genre is dead and stop funding these expensive comic book hero features. It’s not impossible for a raunchy comedy to do well in modern times, but the genre doesn’t have the particular appeal that superheroes do to get executives to take a huge risk. There’s a reason why Hollywood was so hesitant in making R-rated superhero features before Deadpool made a huge splash. The rating hinders the audience’s appeal and makes the movie attractive to a select group of people. The Hangover captured lighting in a bottle. Even then, there’s not many R-rated comedies that have come close to the success of The Hangover. There will be another raunchy comedy that gains strong box office success but considering all of the factors going against these types of films, we won’t be seeing an abundance of them for a lengthy period of time. Cancel Culture is here to stay at the moment, which doesn’t bold well for filmmakers looking to get their R-rated comedy greenlit. It’s a shame that a vocal part of society is trying to correct what comedy should be, instead of appreciating the different voices that plague the genre.

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