Rebecca Nelson | National Journal | November 6, 2015 | 0 Comments

A White House PSA Using Bears to Make a Point About Sexual Assault

College Humor via YouTube

You know the old say­ing, “bears will be bears”? Prob­ably not.

In a new PSA from the White House and com­edy web­site Col­lege­Hu­mor—“What If Bears Killed One in Five People?”—bear at­tacks stand in for sexu­al as­sault. The goal is to get people to take the prob­lem of sexu­al as­sault—of which 1 in 5 wo­men are a vic­tim while they’re in col­lege—more ser­i­ously.

Set in what looks like act­or Jake John­son’s man cave, the two-minute video, re­leased Thursday, fea­tures a men­acing bear trapped in an­oth­er room, ready to bust out and maul his friends (act­ors Rob Riggle, Lam­orne Mor­ris, Dav­id Walton, and Steven Berg). Most of the guys, ap­pro­pri­ately, freak out. But John­son re­mains calm: “It’s not gonna eat all of us,” he as­sures them. “It only eats, like, 1 in 5.”  

It’s part of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s “It’s On Us” ini­ti­at­ive, a cam­paign to spread aware­ness of the prob­lem of sexu­al as­sault and en­cour­age people to take ac­tion to pre­vent it, and it kicks off a “week of ac­tion” start­ing Sunday on col­lege cam­puses around the coun­try. (Vice Pres­id­ent Joe Biden will travel to three of the cam­puses next week.)

If it were bears, said Col­lege­Hu­mor’s Spen­cer Griffin on a White House press call Thursday, “it would seem like a group of guys would do something about that.” The threat of sexu­al as­sault is sim­il­arly “ter­ri­fy­ing.”

In the video, John­son and his friends sat­ir­ize men who ig­nore sexu­al as­sault.

“Why aren’t you do­ing something about this, man?,” a frightened Riggle asks John­son.

“Hey, what do you want me to do about it?” John­son re­torts. “You know the old say­ing, ‘bears will be bears.’”

Com­munit­ies—not just vic­tims—need to be re­spons­ible for pre­vent­ing sexu­al as­sault on cam­pus, John­son told re­port­ers on the call. And it’s time to get rid of the bro “code” that keeps guys from re­port­ing it.

“When I heard it was 1 in 5 col­lege stu­dents, that sickened me,” he said. “I knew sexu­al as­sault on col­lege cam­puses was a prob­lem, I hon­estly didn’t know it was this big of a prob­lem.”

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