Monday, January 24, 2011

is there a place for rape in horror? The Hills Have Eyes (2006)



In 2006 Alexandre Aja remade Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes, and I hated it. It consistently shows up on "Best Horror Remakes" lists, and so it is pretty safe to say that the film has its fans, but I cannot understand why. It is torture porn, through and through. There are no genuine scares - instead there are cheap shocks. There's no tension - instead there are long scenes of intense onscreen violence and mutilation. That's nothing new. The same things could be said for the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which I simply disliked. It was the rape scene that made me hate The Hills Have Eyes.



Rape is a difficult topic for discussion, because there are people for whom it is never acceptable in a film. On horror message boards you often come across arguments about whether a rape scene was gratuitous or unnecessary. And one of the defences for inclusion is that, "murder is worse than rape, and murder is shown all the time." Which is a bit of a cop-out answer. While there may not be many people who have lived through an attack by nuclear waste mutated hill mutants, there are millions of survivors of rape.

There is an equally graphic rape scene in the original version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. When I saw it in theatres, two women got up and walked out, stopping at the exit to yell, "Enjoy your rape porn," at the audience. At the time my response was anger and indignation. This was my second time seeing the film, and I thought the scene was anything but gratuitous. It was graphic and painful to watch, but the focus was on the victim, and the effects the attack had on the character. It is a horrible depiction of a horrible act, but it was trying to say something and show something rather than just horrify and titillate. But while it is possible that the two women who yelled the accusation at the audience were being judgemental and harsh, it is just as possible that the rape scene took them by surprise and shocked and hurt them.

So when I say that the scene in Hills Have Eyes is gratuitous and over the line, I am not saying that there is no place in movies for uncomfortable depictions of rape. But in Hills Have Eyes, the rape is just as shallow as the murders. The murders are brutal and protracted because being brutal is easier than being imaginative - because showing torture is an easier way to put a knot in people's stomachs than building tension or suspense. The difference is that the murders are lazy and stupid and cruel to the characters while the rape is lazy and stupid and cruel to the characters and the huge chunk of the audience that has had sexual violence in their lives.

I think there is a place for all kinds of violence in good horror. It doesn't even have to be trying to make a broad societal point. And I don't think horror has an obligation to be more than a scary movie. But if rape is going to be involved, it should be for the real reasons that rape is horrifying - because the woman is a human being and she is not being treated like one.

36 comments:

  1. I definitely agree on the gratutious use of rape in the hills have eyes. I went to see The Hills Have Eyes in theaters, and was pretty numb to it until my friend who's mother had been raped walked out. I was young at the time, but it was a moment in which it really hit me.
    I feel like violence in most "horror" movies is overdone right now though, movies like Hostel or the like just feel like some weird genre trying to follow what they thought the next big thing would be. I can't watch these movies anymore because of what they depict, no matter how cheesy or lacking in detail.
    Horror seems lazy right now, i'm sick of seeing someone tortured for a cheap scare. "because the woman is a human being and she is not being treated like one."

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  2. i recently saw shutter, a thai film that has a pretty intense rape scene/plot. at first i was very upset by it; mostly because rape is something of a trope in horror films, and i'm really fucking over the way it's normalized. but after finishing it, i also realized how integral it was to the story being told, and the haunting of the main character that takes place.

    that said, i still had to look away and kind of remove myself from the film during that scene.

    i'm into yr blog.

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  3. It's true that rape is put into movies for the shock value, the same way murder and mutilation and torture are. But what do you suggest? Ban it from movies for being offensive? Do you think that door should be opened?

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  4. gumby: I have a whole post in my head about the laziness of the Texas Chainsaw remake, and its complete lack of understand of what made the original so effective. I don't understand why that shitty remake has been so influential. Well, no, I guess I do understand why. It made a ton of money.

    s: I haven't seen shutter! But it sounds like the scene is not gratuitous. To be honest I haven't seen nearly as much asian horror as I'd like, especially considering how influential it's been lately.

    poplopo: I explicitly state, twice, that I am not suggesting that rape has no place in film. I am not sure you read the post?

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  5. I was unsure of the rape scene in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I hadn't read the book before seeing the movie so I didn't expect it. But with the original Swedish title, "Men Who Hate Women," and the development of the character throughout the series it is important to the plot. That scene and plot point is not for anyone's enjoyment. The author of the books wrote the series in part because he had witnessed the rape of a girl when he was younger and wanted to write about sexual violence and its effect on women.

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  6. I have recently been thinking a lot about how rape fits into dirty jokes, not really about appropriateness but if it can be funny, so this is extra-interesting to me. I was surprised that I felt it wrong to make a special exclusion for rape, because I also recognize that it is too common a joke/crime and has a high risk of offending more than entertaining. My view, based on this thinking, would be that pushing the boundaries for the sake of pushing isn't effective to a savvy audience, but rape, violence, language, hate, whatever can be legitimate tools in a story. Any tool can be used well or used poorly, and the idea of Daniel Tosh blowing a slide whistle because the store ran out of rape-whistles is hilarious to me.

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  7. I liked the movie except that scene. I can enjoy a cheap, made for the gore and shock type horror movie. I just dont take them as seriously as I do my actual "HORROR" movies. And they normally dont phase me. But I feel that sometimes they try a little to hard for shock for attention, and instead of making me love the movie for it, it just turns people off.

    Another example, Irreversible. It had what started out as a great rape scene(for lack of a good way to say it). Yes, it was uncomfortable to watch, but it explained the anger of the main character at the beginning. The only problem was that it was too long. They really wanted to deliver the shock a little to much that it stopped becoming uncomfortable watching a woman getting raped, and more of just uncomfortable. Like the sex scene in the Matrix. Way to long.

    Also, as a huge fan of horror movies, and a fan of your comics, I say you should keep the blog going. :)

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  8. As a victim of sexual assault these scenes can be hard for me to watch, but I do agree that they can be done in a way that makes them part of the story, not just for shock value. Using something like rape purely to nauseate the audience is disgusting and belittles the trials of real life victims. If you're going to have rape in a movie make it horrible because, as you said, the woman is a human being and she isn't being treated like one.

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  9. Check out The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (aka Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation). I haven't seen it in about 10 years, but I remember enjoying it quite a bit, and I've never enjoyed the franchise before. Don't get me wrong; it's still a terrible movie, but terrible in all the right ways.

    It's a weird departure, more of a dark comedy than anything else. Plus, it stars Matthew McConaughey as a psychotic agent of the Illuminati with a robot leg. No, seriously.

    Also, this movie features ZERO chainsaw deaths, which is a pretty bold move on someone's part.

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  10. Joey: I did read it. I saw that you said that. But it seems like you're saying that it should only be allowed in the right context. Who gets to decide what that context is?

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  11. Reading your post made me think of this from Fearnet.com: "Is it Horror or just horrible?"

    http://www.fearnet.com/blogs/spider/b20553_Is_It_Horror_or_Just_Horrible_.html

    Which made me think of Irreversible. A movie whose two most infamous scenes--a face pummeling and an extended one-take rape scene--are the two weakest films in my opinion. The pummeling just screams fake (CG face is obviously CG face), and the rape scene is shot in such a way that it feels...I don't know...detached. The short kicking/beating that follows has about five times the impact. You could shoot the entire movie with the rape scene gone and with just the aftermath, and it would be as powerful. We are meant to react to it as a rape scene, by a character we do not know to a character we do not know...and will learn something about...on it's elements as a rape scene. Later, as we find out more, it does work better; but it still felt gimmicky to me when I rewatched the movie.

    However, the aforementioned (in another comment) rape scene from Shutter seems to add to the force of the ending in a way that Irreversible's does not. In the case of Shutter, it alters our perceptions of what is going on. Throws us as an audience off balance, and then closes out the movie.

    Going off the topic of horror movies to horror books, I know there are certain writers, like Richard Laymon, who got so used to rape-as-a-trope that would throw variations of it into just about everything he penned longer than a short story (and some short stories). It makes it hard to even care and eventually you wonder what's the point. In some books, he made sure to point out the strength of the victims in overcoming, but that feels like a pandering.

    I guess what I am saying is, as a plot device it has a chance to be powerful and emotional, but it can't be merely used for shock value in and of itself. Just like seeing someone murdered at the start of a horror movie before you have time to develop any sort of emotional connection is just there for a bit of a jump scare, later murders work best when you have something invested in the plot.

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  12. poplopo: Sorry, I didn't mean to be snippy. It's a valid question. And a question I don't think I have the answer for. I only can talk about what seems acceptable given my understanding of what is justified and necessary to the movie. I can only talk about the kind of scenes that make me angry, and try to figure out why those make me angry - what the difference is. There are people who think it is never acceptable in a movie and there are people who watch that same scene and the question doesn't occur to them at all. I don't have an answer, but I do think it is worth talking about even if there's no conclusion drawn?

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  13. Keith: "Also, this movie features ZERO chainsaw deaths, which is a pretty bold move on someone's part." this made me laugh out loud. haha.

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  14. i watched shutter tonight based on these comments. as a person whose has experienced sexual traumatic experiences, the rape didnt bother me in the context it was presented. it worked with the story
    and i truly felt for that girl.

    i didnt see the remake of the hills had eyes, maybe my spidy movie sense was tingling but i heard about the rape and the violence and i opted out. i dont mind violence honestly, but i didnt hear anyone talking about the story in positive tones, which is what makes me want to see a movie in the first place.

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  15. Well, the Hills Have Eyes was made in 2006 and it seems like rape has become used more and more often for the cheap sort of shock value you mentioned.
    Joey, I wonder if you have seen or heard of A Serbian Film? (Don't if you haven't, its the most disturbing thing ever). Its entire plot seems to be one horrific rape sequence after another. But apparently, the rapes are metaphors for Serbian history. I'm still trying to wrap my head around if that makes it more acceptable or not.

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  16. Aw, it ate my comment. I suspect my stupidity ate my comment, actually.

    Basically, this: I think there IS an answer to who gets to vote on what context makes uncomfortable subject matter allowable. We all do. People pay to see movies, and people need those people to pay to see movies in order to get to keep making movies. So it's a vote with your wallet thing to me, I guess.

    Also, not as a woman but as someone invested in discussions of gender roles and portrayals, I have to say that I think that rape is not only allowable but essential as a subject for film and film scenes, when done correctly. Being made to feel the horror of something like sexual assault viscerally and uncomfortably can be hugely beneficial to people's ability to understand situations and experiences beyond their own.

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  17. Keith: "Also, this movie features ZERO chainsaw deaths, which is a pretty bold move on someone's part."

    Fun fact about the TCM movies: in the first four, only three people are killed with a chainsaw, and nobody is killed with a chainsaw in the third or fourth.

    The remake and its sequel will triple that count (the remake sequel itself has 4 deaths by chainsaw).

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  18. I.
    This.
    You are one of my favorite writers/people on the internet/people I don't know for real, and you just wrote a post that is EXACTLY MY THOUGHTS.

    I've given a ridiculously similar argument so many times (complete with compare/contrast with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which I loved). It makes me so happy that you've written it in a much more pithy and eloquent way.

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  19. I totally agree with this. I am however, one of those people who really can't watch or read a rape scene in any form. I've turned off many shows and movies right in the middle and started bawling because I can't take it. While I have these feelings I fully understand that it's sometimes important to a character or a story, I wouldn't want people to limit their stories just because it makes me really upset.

    It's a common reaction to immediately call something worthless and wrong if it insults or upsets you. I've been thinking a lot lately of how I feel about rape jokes and I just can't sort it out. On one hand, it really offends and upsets me. On the other hand I don't think every rape joke is contributing to a societal ideal for abusing women (rape culture). Mostly what I think it comes down to is ...courtesy? Don't just throw rape around because you think it's equivalent to saying a curse word to get a laugh, instead, think of a joke that has a real use for it. It think that's basically what you just wrote, only applied to narratives.

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  20. As children, I was raped brutally and my brother was tortured. Occassionally during rough scenes I'll catch myself rubbing my scars but both of us love horror films.
    The only rape scene that has ever upset me was CCTV footage in a documentary about sexual abuse, because rape in commercial film is for show. The actors are probably nervous about being naked in front of all the guys in baseball caps, but they’ll eventually break for lunch. You know the actress isn't in pain and you know you're not. I have nightmares, and flashbacks, but watching it on screen is empowering. It's not me.
    I think rape in film is important if it sets up a character, which it almost always does. And the strong reaction is exactly what the filmmakers are going for.

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  21. poplopo, i think your question is really misguided. no one is suggesting censorship. just because we don't censor something doesn't mean we shouldn't discuss its merits and problems - in fact, it necessitates that we DO have that discussion. neo-nazis are allowed to publish propaganda and that's as it should be; we as citizens and members of society have a responsibility to take that propaganda to task and expose it for what it is. this is just a less extreme example.

    in other words, the point of the argument isn't to affect some official policy but rather to question filmmakers who use gratuitous rape scenes, and to question those who reinforce them by buying tickets. we engage in dialogue and present other perspectives.

    in other words, i agree with enemycombatant above.

    joey, i do disagree with you on one point. and that's that the reason rape is more objectionable than non-sexual physical violence isn't that more people have experienced the former, if that's even true. i think the issue is because rape as it's used in horror films is about gender. it's about subjugating WOMEN in particular. of course, in real life, it's more complex, as the many men who are victims of sexual violence (among others) can attest. but in the films you're talking about, it's a gender issue. some films, while using rape to horrify, also use it to titillate in that they approach the issue from a distinctly MALE point of view. if there were any women making horror films, i have no doubt rape would be portrayed very differently in their movies, but the number of female horror directors/screenwriters/producers is too short to provide more than anecdotal evidence.

    Granted, the use of gratuitous rape scenes in film may indicate a general ignorance of the sheer number of people, men and women, who have experienced this first hand, in my opinion, the fundamental issue is not that the films are triggering their audience members' personal traumas (these ARE horror films, after all) but that they are sending a very loud message that violence against WOMEN in particular is acceptable/entertaining/sexy.

    Lots of people have experienced being beat up and it's a plenty terrifying and traumatic experience. it's just one that doesn't have a fundamentally gendered dimension.

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  23. "joey, i do disagree with you on one point. and that's that the reason rape is more objectionable than non-sexual physical violence isn't that more people have experienced the former, if that's even true."

    Your gender argument aside, this particular point strikes me as ridiculous. Nowhere in this post does it say that rape is a more prolific crime than non-sexual physical assault. It made a witty inference that there are more survivors of rape than there are of nuclear waste mutant attacks, and certainly there are less survivors of murder. I'd consider that a rather prudent point, personally.

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  24. I think there should be a warning on movies with gratuitous rape scenes, allowing people to make the choice for themselves to watch or not. Granted, today, you can look up the plot and everything on imdb before you see it, but sometimes it's not mentioned. As someone that does not enjoy watching the portrayal of rape, I would appreciate being able to decide for myself, but actually having a choice instead of being surprised in a theatre.

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  25. @modigamous yeah, i thought that comment was funny, and obviously true, but it's not a sufficient argument about why RAPE in particular is a subject of contention. in horror movies, there is a lot of physical violence, torture, etc. and that stuff does happen to people, audience members or people they were close to.

    when contrasting the use of rape and the use of murder in film, the post states:

    "And one of the defences for inclusion is that, "murder is worse than rape, and murder is shown all the time." Which is a bit of a cop-out answer. While there may not be many people who have lived through an attack by nuclear waste mutated hill mutants, there are millions of survivors of rape."

    AND

    "The difference is that the murders are lazy and stupid and cruel to the characters while the rape is lazy and stupid and cruel to the characters and the huge chunk of the audience that has had sexual violence in their lives."

    Both of these statements indicate that rape is worse than murder because of audience members' personal experiences with rape. And I think that's a flawed argument and it's kind of missing the point.

    If you acknowledge that there's a difference between rape and murder in horror films that makes the former objectionable and the latter acceptable (as this entire discussion seems to), you have to determine what that difference is in order to refute the argument that "murder is worse than rape, and murder is shown all the time." The only argument given above regarding this difference is what I've quoted - both statements about quantity rather than quality. I think there's a qualitative difference between rape and murder, be it the gendered dimension or something else.

    Otherwise the logical conclusions of this argument don't make much sense to me: if some plot element of a movie triggers personal traumas of some percentage of the audience, it becomes objectionable. What's the cut-off percentage? Also, what about specifics: many people have been subject to sexual violence but how many have been raped by a zombie or tentacle monster? Being subject to physical violence by "an attack by nuclear waste mutated hill mutants" is not close enough to people's actual experiences with physical violence to be objectionable? Then I take it it's okay to show characters being raped by nuclear waste mutated hill mutants? That seems to contradict the whole point here.

    Everything in the post is true, raises good points and sounds great for a PSA, but it's not a logically coherent argument. I'm just trying to fill in the gaps.

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  26. at the end, can we say "victim" not "woman"? it's not just women that get raped.

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  27. Maybe there should be more male victim rape scenes in horror films.

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  28. Alright, how about we put it this way- the article argues against gratuitous rape scenes. Gratuitous rape scenes are going to affect victims of rape moreso than gratuitous murders will affect murder victims. The reason why should be obvious. There's no argument for better or worse crimes in this article. There's an argument that there's a larger audience who will personally identify with what is happening on screen.

    Also, let's face it. How many audience members watched the 2006 remake of The Hills Have Eyes and thought "Oh God, I can't watch this, it reminds me too much of when John died". Murder in horror is stylised. It's designed a specific way for a specific effect. Graphic rape scenes aren't stylised and they're done for shock value. It doesn't matter if the scene is realistic or not, it's done specifically because it's sickening. It's horror through scratching at that part of you which is disgusted by what you're watching and then amplifying it. They are specifically saying "We know this is wrong, and that's why we're doing it".

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  29. What do you think about the rape scene in "Irreversible"? Have you seen it? It is so horrible.

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  30. I think some sorts of horror can be use to reveal the real horror of sexual violence. Even the classic "Carrie" is really about the horrors of assault and sexual humiliation. What Carrie does never strikes us as worse than what her mother and classmates do to her.

    I just watched "Bad Reputation," which is about a young woman who is gang raped and taunted, who strikes back in gorey brilliance at her tormentors. The thing about these movies is that the audience is on the side of the classic "villain" who goes on a killing spree. The delight that we get from watching characters get slashed is re-routed against people who commit violence. There's still issues of objectifying women, but by using the old trope of "the hunter becoming the hunted" puts the audience on the women's side and reveals the other characters as total assholes who get what's coming to them.

    Plus, "Bad Reputation" makes great use of phallic imagery--despite being a pretty trashy movie--when the protagonist penetrates her assailants with a huge knife.

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  31. Em Lee, I think the abundant use of rape to explain Serbian history is mainly because of the Balkan/Yugoslavian conflict and the Serbian-Croatian genocide that occurred there in the 90's. I saw a documentary on genocide in my psychology class, and a survivor from the Serbian genocide was talking about how soldiers used rape as a sort of... war tactic? For lack of a better word.
    And I believe the overall oppression of all the countries in that area and the horrors they had to endure sort of justifies using rape as a symbol for their history.
    I hope that helps a little.

    As for this article, the only movie of these I've seen is the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and I am ridiculously sensitive to violence in movies so that was a very painful scene to watch. However, there was a valid point in including it in the story. I may not like dealing with things that I find horrific and disgusting, but the story would not be the same without it.

    I believe that rape is such a sensitive issue that is different from murder is that having to survive something like that seems to me to be more horrifying and painful than being murdered. I mean, maybe not in the act itself, but the fact that you have to live with it afterwards and the fact that it damages you not only physically but psychologically and emotionally makes it strike a chord with more people.

    So miss slick, that could be another reason why its different. I understand that gender does play a role in it (sometimes, especially in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), but there is one movie of which the name escapes me where there are a bunch of men in a jungle and they encounter some indigenous people to this tropical place. And one of the men ends up being raped. I wish I could remember what its called, but its a very iconic movie and the effect is the same, no matter which gender.

    Btw Joey, I love your books and I can't wait to buy the girl who couldn't come XD
    You're ridiculously creative and different and I love it.

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  32. I sympathize with the women who walked out, I would have been one of them. Not all people come to terms with their assault enough to feel the whole, "It's a plot point" thing. No matter how rape is handled I cannot watch it, it takes me back to something I don't want to go back to, and being forced to relive something that was real to me (and turning it into "entertainment" for other) makes me uncontrollably angry. It's directionless anger, but if there are people watching the movie with me who tell me to "calm down," or justify it, or heavens forfend chastise me for walking away, I will unload on them. I will never feel bad about it, either.

    I enjoyed your article, I'm glad that someone is addressing the topic and doing it thoughtfully.

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  33. Joey's right that rape is more aversive than murder in films because it's more common in the real world. More to the point, because rape is more common (especially when you include statuatory rape and sexual molestation), it's a much more loaded concept. It's loaded with implications of power and gender difference, in particular. In fact, this plays off your point, Miss Slick -- the fact that it's more common, and more culturally loaded, than murder, is because we live in a patriarchal society where ideas of male dominance (physical, emotional, and sexual) are normalized. Rape subconsciously reinforces that normalization, and calling attention to rape challenges that normalization, and gets a bigger shock out of us in the process.

    Murder is also something we're totally numbed to in movies. It's just so outrageously common. Immediately upon being murdered, the empathetic character becomes an object, a focal point of pity, or vengeful anger, or righteous justice, or whatever. After they're dead, there's no dealing with their humanity, which can be thoroughly uncomfortable.

    There are certain movies from the 80's that have pseudo-rape scenes that make me VERY uncomfortable, despite really loving the movies in general. Blade Runner is an example. The sex scene is almost a rape scene, and it scares me that it's treated as a legitimate part of a romantic subplot. I hope to God we've come a long way since that film was released, even if it was just 30 years ago.

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  34. as a survivor of regular sexual violence early in my life, my response to rape in film is usually my response to rape jokes on the internet or in real life. if it's clever and funny or significant for some artistic reason- i generally make an effort to smile or laugh at it- i appreciate that i am not the target audience of something that is (in the case of horror) emotionally gripping and significant for an audience. none of that changes that first reaction, the less-than-a-second where i freeze up and want to run and don't like being there. it doesn't matter whether it's as graphic as the tree scene from evil dead or as cheesy as a 'dropping the soap' joke- there's still that moment where i've gone from enjoying myself at a movie or social situation to being momentarily gripped by irrational panic. i DO try my best to evaluate these things as artistic material before expressing offense, and even in the case of useless and shocking rape in media, i rarely mention to anyone how uncomfortable it can be. who wants to be that guy at a party? rape victim guy.

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  35. Hullo, year old comment! I think the reason rape in horror is so often cheap and gratuitous is best explained by why it works in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."

    Rape in horror films is torture, which is what makes it 'worse' than murder: they didn't have the decency to JUST kill you. Unfortunately, horror films also often encourage the audience to view female characters as T&A or filler. When the character that has been objectified from the start is raped, it's a shock tactic for us spectators, rather than a character-defining moment, because neither we nor the movie were all that invested in the character. Generally, it's the film setting the bar and telling us that things will be getting worse soon.

    By contrast, Lisbeth is a hard character to like. She's visually off-putting, socially inept and hostile, but she's never eye candy or filler. She is a full and equal character throughout the movie, and at times she's the audience's foot in the door TO the movie. We become invested in her, and it removes a layer of that spectator feeling. Every act of violence done to her in the film makes us not a spectator, but a witness. Each act also defines the character and how she takes on the world. The rape in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is where we learn that Lisbeth is not a victim, and that when she draws the line, she's going to make everyone hurt.

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  36. This has been very interesting to read, because lately I've been having huge issues with this in media. I'm not a victim of sexual assault, but my mother is, and I've seen very closely how it affects people and families.
    In the media, I feel that as a plot device, it is far overplayed. I don't watch many horror films, as they largely make me uncomfortable, but I do feel rape in a horror film is far different than murder. If I were watching a horror movie, I would go into it expecting people do die in awful ways. It's what you watch those movies for. Nobody is going to watch a slasher movie expecting most characters to live. I wouldn't go into a horror flick expecting rape though.
    Media seems to throw rape in as a plot device far too frequently. An example of this, would be Resident Evil: Extinction. There isn't an actual rape scene, as the lead female quickly kills the guy, but it's just randomly thrown in. There's a messed up family hiding out in a building, luring people in to kill. They drag her over to this guy, and all crowd around, (even the mother of the would-be rapist) eager to watch this girl get raped. It seems like people are going: Oh, we need some tense drama! I know, lets have our attractive lead female nearly get raped!

    My main issue is this leads to desensitization of the issue. I've overheard girls in my school talk about a sketchy back road party where a young girl was tragically raped. They were saying things along the lines of "Well, what is she doing passing out drunk in a place like that?"
    I feel like the constant placement of it in media makes people think it's a normal thing that happens, and women should "know better" about avoiding it, like it's somehow their fault. I also feel it trains people to think only certain people will be sexually assaulted. I've heard many stories about woman being sexually harassed in a workplace, only to go to management to have it be insinuated to their face they are lying, because they aren't attractive enough to have somebody want to harass them.

    All this aside, my main issue stems from a former friend of mine, my boyfriend's ex-best friend. I knew this guy for a year, had him over to my house as a guest, and we got along all right. (Backstory, this guy is young, about 21, and a huge anime fan) One day, randomly while he's at my house, he starts going off about random anime porn he watches. His exact words?
    "Oh, I watched this one hentai, where they got these girls, and fucked them until they went insane, and then threw them down this hole where they turned into butterflies!"
    I don't think I read too much into that when I assumed he's watching a cartoon about men kidnapping girls, raping them until they lose mental function, and then disposing of them. It wasn't something making a statement or story. It was pure rape-porn.

    We tried talking to him about it, and he just didn't understand why it was wrong and gross. He said they weren't real so it didn't matter. He didn't feel bad about watching it, or enjoying it. Eventually, we seemed to talk him around to seeing reason. Then, I sadly heard from another mutual friend, that he was talking about how he was "just telling us what we wanted to hear" so we'd get off his back. So we don't talk to him anymore.

    So, basically, with my experience with victim family members, and this useless ex-friend who actively likes the subject, I find it very hard to appreciate it in films or other media. I'm sure it can be done well, and tell a story, but it is not something I can watch without it bringing down my mood for days.

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