An ad from the MTV Movie Awards in 2010, which Aziz Ansari hosted, became a trending video Thursday on Reddit. Here, the comedian puts the moves on Kristen Bell during a date, bad sex puns and all. It’s a gag that hasn’t aged well—especially given recent developments.
Ansari, this week, is at the heart of a conversation about consent, our culture’s insistence that sex is to be “won,” and the supposed male allies who leverage their power and enlightenment into scenarios that let them be selfish and forceful with women. As a disturbing account between Ansari and an anonymous 22-year-old New York City photographer remains a public conversation, the old bit indirectly recreates the scene at the heart of the Babe report.
In the anonymous woman’s account to Babe, Ansari repeatedly tried to initiate sex, coerced her into oral sex, and when she expressed reluctance and discomfort, Ansari put on an episode of Seinfeld before trying to have sex with her again:
While the TV played in the background, he kissed her again, stuck his fingers down her throat again, and moved to undo her pants. She turned away.
What makes the MTV clip disturbing is its self-aware nature: Ansari and Bell are roasting the notion that it’s OK to abruptly work in explicit foreplay into a comfortably casual conversation, no matter the power dynamics. At the very least, it’s a display of not knowing how to read or listen to the person you’re with.
“You know, um, I have an improvised explosive device—in my pants,” Ansari says, while they watch war movie The Hurt Locker. “Maybe you can come to the bedroom and help me disarm it?”
Bell isn’t charmed: “You’re disgusting. I hope your dick explodes, Aziz.”
Since the initial report, Ansari issued a statement saying that “everything did seem okay to me, so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned. I took her words to heart and responded privately.” His response has drawn criticism for feigning ignorance about the situation he created—one that is much like the punchline in the MTV skit.