TV & Movies

Why the Period Scene in Superbad Is Still Hella Problematic 10 Years Later

Can we just stop making fun of women and their periods????

Actor and writer Seth Rogen posing with a confused look on his face wearing glasses

(Photo: Getty)

It turns out that the infamous period scene in Superbad isn’t just a tone-deaf plot line: it’s a tone-deaf plot line inspired by true events.

On Thursday, writer and actor Seth Rogen “gifted” the internet with some Superbad trivia to celebrate the movie’s 10-year anniversary. Apart from learning quasi-interesting things, like how the name of the film was conceived (spoiler: while high), Rogen also revealed that the scene where horned-up high schooler Seth, played by Jonah Hill, “gets perioded on” is something that happened to a friend IRL.

To jog your memory of the scene, Seth is at a party with BFF Evan (Michael Cera) when an older, hot drunk girl starts to grind up on him. After they stop dancing, Seth notices he has blood on the leg of his pants, and starts legit gagging when he realizes that it’s a period stain, saying “I’m going to f-cking throw up.” Talk about a dramatic response! 

If Rogen didn’t call attention to the period-shaming scene again on Thursday, I could have filed the problematic sitch under “bad things that happened in the 2000s.” But instead, the responses to Rogen’s tweet show that period disgust is sadly still a thing, and that Rogen doesn’t see a problem with making fun of menstruation. 

“Thanks my appetite is just about over with for the night,” one user wrote. “That scene made my wife vomit 1st time we saw it. A cherished memory,” wrote another. “Disgusting,” “gross” and “embarrassing” replied many.

I don’t know what’s worse: the fact that Rogen thinks women’s periods are gag-worthy things to be used in movies; that he took something that really happened to a woman and made fun of it; or everyone’s grossed-out responses. Ugh times 10.

The movie poster for the film SuperbadWhen Superbad came out in 2007, the period scene was widely accepted as hilariously gross humour: Complex even listed the scene as one of the most “disgusting uses of bodily fluids in movies.” But that was a decade years ago! Haven’t we, as a society, grown-up a little since then? Isn’t it time that we call out the offensive scene for what it is?

There’s other parts of the film that haven’t aged well either—like all the homophobic remarks. While Rogen has since sort-of acknowledged that Superbad’s gay jokes were “to some degree glamourizing that type of language,” it would be nice for him to admit that his period jokes aren’t cool, either.

Women are already shamed in society for their periods—especially in parts of the world where menstruation is even more taboo than it is in Canada and the U.S. So many women are trying to end stigma and have open discussions about menstruation, and attitudes like Rogen’s just further promote the idea that periods are dirty, undesirable and something that can be used as comedic storylines.

While bits of Superbad are still humourous, like McLovin and his fake ID, some things Are. Just. Not. Hopefully for the film’s 20-year anniversary, we won’t be laughing at women’s bods and will be cringing at our ignorance instead.

Related:
#CelebratingPeriods: 5 Key Points from Meghan Markle’s Time Essay
Why Women Should Get Paid Period Days at Work
Scotland Becomes One of the First Countries to Provide Free Sanitary Products