Monday, August 27, 2012

The Business of Rape

You've all heard me say it before. Graphic rape scenes are not necessary in American cinema. It was unnecessary in Rob Zombie's Halloween, the remake and sequel to The Hills Have Eyes, and it was unnecessary in The Last House on the Left. I continue to stand by the belief that the use of gratuitous, graphic rape scenes cause a desensitization our nation cannot afford to have. I was watching American Dad last week and counted, yes counted, 14 different rape jokes. I didn't bother to count the rape jokes in Family Guy. With Quagmire, I would have probably lost count. Don't get me wrong, i'm not blaming anyone but the rapist for the rape. My complaint here is that society doesn't take rape as seriously as it should because of the trivialization of the issue in the entertainment industry. To this day, I refuse to watch a movie that depicts graphic rape.

This line of thinking led me to some pivotal moments. I suddenly realized that it must have been torturous for other rape victims to watch a movie and see an unexpected, graphic rape scene. When a movie receives an R rating we are told that there is strong sexual content. Perhaps the more appropriate term is "violent rape". I also began to wonder, why would an actress submit to such a horrifying portrayal in a movie that really has no need for a rape scene as it does not even pertain to the story? That led me to Girl 27.

Girl 27 is a documentary about Patricia Douglas. She was a movie extra with MGM Studios. One of the studio executives David Ross poured scotch down her throat before violently raping her on the studio lot. "I want to destroy you." he said before robbing her of her innocence. The studio published her name address and photograph but would not release the name of her assailant or the studio. This documentary is available on Netflix Instant Watch. There are no depictions of rape. There is only the gripping account of descendants of those that covered up her story and the painful snowball effect the rape had on Patricia Douglas, her children and her grandchildren. I recommend everyone watch this documentary. If possible, you should also read the April 2003 Vanity Fair Article by David Stenn, "It Happened One Night." Perhaps the person that should also read this article and watch this movie is Todd Akin. Hearing Patricia Douglas's account of how the rape and the cover-up effected her entire life would probably make him more sensitive to survivors of sexual assault.

Here is where I may surprise you. I don't think that Todd Akin should drop out of the race. He is not beyond redemption. The fact that his comments were so entirely ignorant illustrates just how little people understand what sexual assault victims are subjected to. He should make a better, more heartfelt apology. He should acknowledge that he is completely ignorant about the subject of rape. He should then make it his mission to right that wrong by creating or supporting an informational program, existing or otherwise, that helps dispel the myths and misconceptions of rape and victims of rape. Perhaps he should start a petition to take rape out of Hollywood movies. Whatever he does, he needs to educate himself on the subject or never speak on the subject again.