I’d like to explore rape and sexual assault in films. I was pretty surprised to learn that over 1 in 8 films has a “rape scene” in it. I want to look into what the purpose of the scene is in the film; is it usually there as an integral part of the plot? is it there to raise awareness? Is it there to “define” a character? or is it there to make the film more “edgy”? I’m sure there are a lot more options than this, but hopefully I’ll find out what those are along the way.
I also want to look into the technical construction of rape scenes (the camera angles, the cuts, the lighting, the length, etc) while also looking into the way the rapists and rape victims are constructed and presented. I’m using rape in a broad sense here to talk about all sexual violence, including that which does not technically qualify as rape. I know I haven’t seen every movie ever made or anything, but it seems that movies I’ve seen generally play into rape myths. The rapist is usually a scary guy who is creepy the entire film. He generally “looks like a rapist”, uses a weapon, and is either a stranger or at least is not an intimate partner. The victim is generally deviant in some way whether that be that she is a slut or that she is queer. It seems to me that in films I’ve seen, a disproportionate from true life amount of victims are queer. I’ve also noticed that films make rape and it’s aftermath seem easy breezy; it is made clear that rape sucks, but the film generally soon forgets about the victim other than that she’s getting some sort of crazy revenge. Conveniently enough, the rapist in films usually “gets whats coming to him”. The aftermath is hardly ever truly explored from an emotional standpoint. I’d like to see if these general trends I’ve noticed are actually trends (and if they’re not real I’d like to find out what the trends are) and I’d also like to compare them to reality.
Obviously, just about everything I’ve noticed in the movies contradicts reality, and I’d like to talk about why that is. When discussing The Girl Who played with Fire, we started getting into the structural function and creation of sexual violence. I’d like to talk about that a lot more the structure of it all and the public vs. private divide with sexual violence and why this divide exists. Ideally, the public and private aspects of sexual violence would work in some sort of harmony that is determined by and benefited them victim, but that’s just not the way it works in actuality or in the movies.
We talked yesterday about what a “good” lesbian sex scene would be, and I’m interested in figuring out what a “good” rape scene or film would be (good meaning representative of the actual population). I’m not sure if this is something that can be easily tackled though. Rape scenes are never ever good, but they certainly could be a lot better and less myth based.
As far as sources are concerned, I really haven’t got many. Rape on the Public Agenda is a book that I think would work well but other than that I haven’t got much. Movies I’m drawing from include Monster, Boys Don’t Cry, But I’m a Cheerleader (implied sexual violence), The Millennium Series, Dear Mr. Gacy (implied), Precious, Teeth, Gothika and there’s probably more that I can’t think of right now. Over the next month I need to locate a lot more movies and written sources and really get into them. I plan on doing a project focused on a longer written section.