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Explicit rape scenes in movies - Page 2

post #21 of 36



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by journeymom View Post


Also, the author created the scene in his head, chose to graphically describe cruel, depraved actions. Yes, of course there is a huge difference between thinking up sick behavior and actually humiliating, torturing and assaulting a person.  But whose mind goes that way?  What does that say about Stieg Larsson?

 

Again, I reject the notion of external censorship.  No, I don't want people to be prevented from writing books and making films about this stuff.  But it simply makes me sad, disappointed and angry that humans think it's a good thing to literally portray their horrible, cruel thoughts for Society's entertainment.  That's all there is to it.  I wish people weren't that way. 

 

Edited to add, I am not a religious person, not even very spiritual.  I don't believe in souls. I don't believe in some sort of mystical cloud-sourced human consciousness.  But I do think we degrade Society as a whole when we degrade ourselves by portraying and amplifying the worst of human kind's impulses.  People make choices, and I simply wish people would choose not to. 


I understand what you're trying to say, but as an artist myself, I've come across a lot of people who have tried to evaluate what was going on in my head...and from an artists' perspective, that can be frustrating.  Maybe Stieg Larsson is a depraved individual, maybe he's not, but I have used certain disturbing images in the past in order to convey my own thoughts on human depravity and injustice and it was less about how I felt and more of critique of human nature and injustice itself.  One of the reasons that I don't make a living as an artist is that I refuse to make/paint art that is pretty or acceptable.  Why?  Because there are a lot of unacceptable things in the world that I personally feel need to be addressed.  Part of the way that I deal with the madness around me is to comment on it, whether in art or writing or whatever medium via images (rather real or proverbial).  I don't do these things to get a rise out of it. I don't do these things because the images or stories give me personal pleasure.  I do it because I think the story needs to be told and it helps me disassociate with the ugliness.  I think that many an artist (whether it be painter, filmmaker, poet) feels the same way I do. 

 

That being said, I agree with Smokering that we have a lot of options at our disposal which allows us to weed through the things that we want to view or personally censor. 

 

I don't mean for this post to deflect from the OP's personal pain in being exposed to these images.  I totally empathize with her position.  I just worry when the discussion starts being dissected into artists' perceived depraved minds and the what-is-this-world-coming-to spin offs.  We all have things which trigger certain negative emotions.  I can think of certain films and documentaries which have been made in the last few years concerning very recent events that had a profound impact on me.  My solution is to not watch the films, but I totally respect those who need/want to tell the story, whether from their perspective or from the perspective of others. They need to tell the story and I can't really judge their motivations. Fiction, I feel, should enjoy the same wide breadth of expression.
 

 

post #22 of 36

CatsCradle, awesome post.  Thanks for pointing out a different, more nuanced perspective, and I agree with some of it. 

 

 

Quote:
I just worry when the discussion starts being dissected into artists' perceived depraved minds and the what-is-this-world-coming-to spin offs. This is where I think you and I might have different examples of art in mind. Also, there's that "I'll know it when I see it" aspect.  We all have things which trigger certain negative emotions.  I can think of certain films and documentaries which have been made in the last few years concerning very recent events that had a profound impact on me.  My solution is to not watch the films, but I totally respect those who need/want to tell the story, whether from their perspective or from the perspective of others. Yes, but I can't respect all of them.  Stieg Larsson's story is vile. They need to tell the story Not this one and I can't really judge their motivations. Can't we? Isn't that part of the whole experience for the audience?   Fiction, I feel, should enjoy the same wide breadth of expression.

 

Generally, yes.  But in turn, equally important, the audience reserves the right to express right back at the artist dismay and disgust.  And to wonder, out loud even, about the artist's motivation and state of mind. 

 

Having a kick-ass, cool woman be the rape victim who goes on to exact profound revenge doesn't balance out the graphic description of the rape. 

 

Again, I don't think people should be officially censored.  I just wish people would censor themselves. 


Edited by journeymom - 4/18/12 at 12:09pm
post #23 of 36

 

 

Quote:
 But it simply makes me sad, disappointed and angry that humans think it's a good thing to literally portray their horrible, cruel thoughts for Society's entertainment.  That's all there is to it.  I wish people weren't that way. 

As per my earlier post, not all books and movies are conceived as "entertainment". The Grapes of Wrath (book, not movie) is graphic and horrible, but it made a powerful, visceral statement about the nature of humanity and the depths and heights of human nature. The movie, which sanitised it beyond belief and didn't show the dead baby, the woman's fingers being shot off, the woman breastfeeding an old man, etc, was not NEARLY as powerful. Its message was trite. It was entertainment; the book wasn't. It entertains in the sense that it's interesting and engaging, but it's not the same thing as flopping glassy-eyed in front of a Mills and Boon, or Celebrity Treasure Island. It's an expose and a political statement.

 

Of course, The Grapes of Wrath (and Schindler's List, which I mentioned earlier) are based on history, so you could argue that that's different. But I think there's also value in fictional, but psychologically true, examinations of human nature - Lord of the Flies, for instance, or 1984. Calling books like that "entertainment" is facile; they're meant to provoke thought about society, philosophy and so on. That's valuable.

 

And if it's true of books, why not of films? There are certainly plenty of dumb, lowest-common-denominator blockbusters out there that appeal to our most "bread and circus"y instincts; but not all films are like that. Visit an arthouse cinema or a film festival some time. Not every filmmaker is motivated by money, any more than every author is. Some are trying to speak for oppressed people who don't have the power to tell their own stories; some are trying to convince their viewers of a political or philosophical point; some are exploring what it means to be human (or a woman, or a Muslim, or gay, or a parent, or a rape victim, or an Australian, or whatever). 

 

 

Quote:
And you, the viewer, are meant to watch and appreciate the good camera angles and great acting. Blech

Not in most cases. A few directors have an overtly stylistic approach to filmmaking - Tarantino again comes to mind - but there are plenty of violent scenes that take place naturalistically, in which - if the cast and crew do their job right - the camera angles and acting should be invisible. If it works, the viewer will take away the message the director is trying to convey, without noticing the mechanics of the scene. If that message is "rape is brutal and awful and has a horrible effect on the victim", that can be a strong anti-rape message. It can force the viewer to confront any vague, fuzzy-wuzzy, idealised "I guess rape is bad, but I'd never thought about it" thoughts, and realise just how horrible it is (within the limitations of cinema, of course, but better than nothing). 

 

I haven't watched that many movies with graphic rape scenes (possibly none, in fact; none spring to mind); and I certainly agree that rape as entertainment is a vile concept. I just don't believe that "the portrayal of rape in movies" is the same thing as "rape as entertainment". I've studied film, and I've seen too many films by too many artists to equate movies to mindless Hollywood entertainment; it's just not fair to the medium. 

 

For one close-to-home example, watch (if you can) Once Were Warriors and Boy. They're both Kiwi films about violent families. Once Were Warriors is gritty and graphic (and now I think about it, I believe it does have a graphic rape scene - child molestation, no less). It's a horrific watch. It's also a pretty damned accurate portrayal of the lives of many families in NZ, and as such it's a story that needs to be told. The realism hits home; it's necessary.

 

In Boy, told from the perspective of a child, the violence is implied with vaguely balletic sequences, with no diagetic sound, just music, and a general distance and unreality pervading the scenes. It makes the film an easier watch, but personally I found it a bit too close to "beautiful violence" for my taste, and it disturbed me in a different way. It would have been a very different film if you'd seen the father hitting the girl, rather than just seeing her later with a black eye (cut lip? Can't remember). 

 

Films are art. Artists have reasons for making the choices they make. Judge the reasons, judge the effect the results have on you as a viewer, but don't just dismiss films as big dumb explosions-and-breasts blockbusters that only exist to make money; and don't assume that showing evil in a movie is the same thing as approving it or being aroused by it. 

post #24 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post

 


 

Films are art. Artists have reasons for making the choices they make. Judge the reasons, judge the effect the results have on you as a viewer, but don't just dismiss films as big dumb explosions-and-breasts blockbusters that only exist to make money; and don't assume that showing evil in a movie is the same thing as approving it or being aroused by it. 

 

 

 

I think they can be dismissed as such.  Movies are meant to draw in a crowd.  Messages are shown in bright pictures.  Entertainment.  Using the top actors or the Hottest actors of the time to draw them in.  And they need to make money.  They have to make money.  If they don't prey on what is currently exciting or of interest to people RIGHT now, they won't make money.  I grew up in a family of artists.  I can appreciate beautiful, ugly, heart wrenching, makes me think art.  I can't appreciate a rape scene and vindication.  I've only read Grapes of Wrath haven't watched the movie and I read all of Steinbecks books while living on the Presidio near Light House in California.  And I have to say.  I hate Steinbecks books.  I don't know why but I do.  It's not a discomfort or a lack of an ability to appreciate a writers works.  It's simply that I think it's shyte.

post #25 of 36

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by journeymom View Post

CatsCradle, awesome post.  Thanks for pointing out a different, more nuanced perspective, and I agree with some of it. 

 

 

 

Generally, yes.  But in turn, equally important, the audience reserves the right to express right back at the artist dismay and disgust.  And to wonder, out loud even, about the artist's motivation and state of mind. 

 

Having a kick-ass, cool woman be the rape victim who goes on to exact profound revenge doesn't balance out the graphic description of the rape. 

 

Again, I don't think people should be officially censored.  I just wish people would censor themselves. 

I understand where you're coming from, I do.  And, I wasn't trying to suggest that people should refrain from showing disgust and dismay at what they view - they are certainly entitled to it.  The reason that I (personally) am less likely to judge the creator's motivation is that I come from the same place that they do.  Funny story, but I had some relatives when I was in art school who saw some of my work and they suggested to my parents to place me with a psychiatrist.  It was funny to me because the stuff that I was doing at the time was totally metaphoric (not based on any kind of real situation).  They couldn't see beyond their own gut (and surface) interpretations of what I was trying to do.  I suppose I wasn't doing a lot on my end to educate people people about the true meaning, however.  I think that happens a lot, and I don't fault anyone for it, I probably do the same thing myself in other areas. 

 

I'll add that I think this is a very layered subject because there is a distinction in my mind of stuff that is made for purely commercial purposes and stuff that is born out of expression.  Film, more than any other medium, has reached commercial heights simply because it is more accessible to a greater audience.  Smokering cited some good examples and I tend to be more of a fan of art house film so that may be the bias that I have.  There's some incredibly tasteless and bad film out there.  There are also incredibly good films.  A lot of this, though, comes down to personal taste.  The same could be said for any form of art or entertainment.  The last thing I want to do is see Alice Cooper, yet I think there are a lot of heavy metal genre bands that I think are good.  I can't really dismiss Alice Cooper - I know he has had a huge following and is seen as a bit of pioneer in that genre of music.  I just don't like his music and I don't want to spend my money on it.  And that's okay.  (Please don't hate on me Alice Cooper fans!).  There are also visual artists out there that produce work based solely on shock value, but in my opinion, this stuff is very one-note.  I don't think they should censor themselves, though, for others' benefit who may be offended.  If that was the case, we'd live in a pretty boring world, in my opinion.  The power lies in ourselves to choose or not choose to view/participate/etc. 

 

post #26 of 36

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by journeymom View Post

Again, I don't think people should be officially censored.  I just wish people would censor themselves. 

isnt that what is going on here? the director shows the movie and we censor ourselves by not going to see it. 

 

all i know is that if that scene was taken out - it would really impact the book (i am not talking about the movie here). 

 

i have a lot of respect for the author. he was a journalist and political activist (perhaps not in the way the US might see it) and possibly 'killed' due to his 'work'. he wasnt able to get married because he couldnt live at one address and so was unable to put his address on his certificate. now they say he died - but for a man like him, i personally have my suspicions. btw, this is just an fyi on the author. he sorta kinda lived the life he wrote about and all these novels were found in his apt after his death and were published posthumously. 

 

btw i also found it interesting about the timing. right now there is a real rape scene of a girl from south africa i think gone viral everywhere. this is the news report on it.

http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Gang+rape+video+goes+viral+shocking+South+Africa/6478655/story.html

 

also on this topic the video world tried to market a game called rapeplay which was banned by the world market. however its flourishing underground. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJ-bm46ofU4

post #27 of 36

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post
...and don't assume that showing evil in a movie is the same thing as approving it or being aroused by it. ...

 

I love films as entertainment, and don't tend to really enjoy the more arty kind of cinema. But, I completely and totally agree with this. Sometimes, being graphic (in books or on film - it just comes across differently on the page...as I know very well, as I can handle a lot of kinds of gore and violence in print that I can't even come close to handling on film) is to provoke and challenge, not to titillate. That doesn't mean some members of the audience won't be titillated, but the writer/director isn't responsible for the reactions of people who think rape is a turn-on. I have no interest in watching an explicit rape scene (and, honestly, Girl with a Dragon Tattoo is barely on my radar - I know it's out there, but know nothing about it), but I don't think they're necessarily exploitive, and I don't think they say anything about the writer or director, except that said writer or director thinks that rape is violent (duh!).

post #28 of 36

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Edited by AbbyGrant - 6/23/12 at 11:10am
post #29 of 36

meemee, I think your info on Steig Larsson is not quite correct. If I recall correctly, the book jacket explains that he personally delivered all three books at once to the publishing house or agent, but then died of a heart attack before they were published. His life partner has a new(ish) book about her life with him called (in the US), "There Are Things I Want You to Know" About Stieg Larsson and Me that looks interesting. http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/43476102/ns/today-books/t/stieg-larssons-partner-reflects-their-life-together/#.T5Ha8-1gI20

 

I read all three of the books and would like to see the movies. There's a Swedish version as well as an American version. I think Rooney Mara looks more like my idea of the main character than the Swedish actress, though.

 

As for the rape scenes I can certainly see how they would be disturbing to someone. They're disturbing in the book, too, but integral to the story. I do think they are very well written books and I would recommend them, but would tell folks they are violent.

 

I actually think a case can be made for the point of view that truly, gritty, realistic graphic violence does a better service to the audience than glamorized violence. Isn't it better to be shocked, disturbed, sickened and haunted by a rape scene or the brutality of a war movie than any of the alternatives? Movies that inspire the audience to be excited or swept up in the action can do more to desensitize the audience to violence than a scene that shows the true horror of it. 

post #30 of 36

Interesting that people jump to conclusions about Stieg based on his art.  According to his biography he was a staunch opponent of racism and extreme right wing thinking.  It gained him a lot of enemies in Sweden.  Beanma is correct that he died of a heart attack, though.  It is interesting if you look at the politics in the context of Sweden (and the general sentiment - the Swedes in general were not adverse to the Nazi movement) and how Stieg is being skewered as some demented person, when in reality he was very vocally against right wing extremism, its associated violence and all the trappings.  Yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance Day.  My firm had a survivor speak about his experiences during the war (he was from Latvia - a Baltic state which is close to Sweden) and it is amazing the horror that people of that time saw.  People survived incredible horrors and the man that spoke yesterday should be bitter and shrunken...but he was not.  His revenge against his victimizers is that he is here to tell his tale.  His victimizers fell hard.  His victimizers were so-called normal people living normal lives in northern, picturesque environs.  I think Stieg was speaking somewhat from that history and that experience.  I don't understand it, because that sort of violence is not my history.  To him, perhaps, violence was a part of the human experience for a very long time.  To describe it in a story was not so far from his cultural experience.  Different cultural experiences, IMO.  We can analyze Stieg all we want, but unless we are in tune with his culture and history, I don't think we can adequately comment on it.  The more I read of him, the more I realize that he was attune with the horrors of the human condition than most of us who like to moralize about his art (myself included).  My personal opinion only...not meant to diminish anyone's experiences here.  I don't think that describing horror the happens to a human being defines one as misogynist or a feminist particularly.  It just describes an experience.  It describes a human experience.  We can analyze all we want, but the true intent cannot be known.  I err on the side of Stieg being in tune with the basic human condition and the horrors that accompany it. If this is how he needs to describe it, than so be it.  There's no mandate that you agree with him or view/read his work.  He was born in a totally different context than myself.  

 

Edited to add:  I know people are going to say rape is rape, violence is violence, and no matter what cultural context you are coming from, it is wrong.  Of course it is wrong, but perhaps we have different methods for describing the wrongness.  Perhaps some of us would rather not describe it, some would want to describe it in order to come to terms with it.  Just my thoughts.


Edited by CatsCradle - 4/20/12 at 5:34pm
post #31 of 36

aaah i stand corrected then.

 

yes he did die of a heart attack. after climbing 8 flights of stairs he suddenly dropped dead from a heart attack. his partner also said she suspects no foul play... but i am not convinced. 

 

yes catscradle you are right about the culture of violence. i connected with a fellow student last summer. she had been homeless and while homeless her 'boyfriend' locked her up in his garage for a week and gang raped her for a whole month - with no one catching on, and later the police ignoring her coz she was homeless. there are many things she cant do. amongst them one is going to the table full of food at a class potluck and getting a plate with all the other students there. to her - her culture of violence is so different from mine. 

post #32 of 36
Thread Starter 

I so appreciate the dialogue that's been happening on this thread. I am feeling better now, less traumatized from that scene. I think distance has helped. And I do think that, even though I tend to not be as visual of a person, images in movies have the power to really get stuck in my brain and disturb me for a very long time, though I can never know before hand which ones will. Kill Bill didn't bother me at all. It all felt very fake and I saw it all as art and entertainment and I actually liked the Kill Bill movies. There are some I wish I could erase from my brain though.

 

I am coming from the perspective of a writer who has written rape scenes. And they were not for entertainment at all. I am always much more critical when it's coming from a man's perspective, whether in writing or film, because of our sexist culture and how deeply it's engrained (which can of course come through in a woman's work too). I am still taking in everyone's perspective's on this and yes, I do think you get into some seriously grey area when you start combining artist with art. Not that they can be separated, but I think too many people make the mistake of combining fiction with authors' own experiences and opinions and voice.

 

I guess I do have concerns about adding to twisted individuals' porn collections, meaning this is porn for some sick individuals. I know they can find it elsewhere, but I'm also mindful when I'm writing that I never create anything that could be enjoyed as porn for pedophiles and rapists. Am I making any sense?

 

This is a really important thread, I think.

post #33 of 36

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Edited by AbbyGrant - 6/23/12 at 11:11am
post #34 of 36
I am very impressed by the thoughtfulness of the discussion here. I come at this issue as someone who advocates for a women and children's shelter (Hagar International) that deals with people who have suffered the worst forms of abuse and violence. Some survivor stories are more disturbing than anything I have yet seen in mainstream media. As such, I tend to feel that explicit rape scenes have only one legitimate use and that is to educate and inspire people to keep that sort of horror from happening to others. For instance, I recently read a novel called Captive Daughters written by a counter-trafficking friend from the UN. He built the sex trafficking story around the experiences of nearly 300 women. 

When I read the "Initiation" chapter where one of the girls is gang raped until her will to fight her slavery is destroyed, I had to ask him, "Did the women you interview go into this kind of detail? Did they really want you to tell us this?" His response: they insisted. More than one survivor kept saying that if everyone only knew what the traffickers did to them then people wouldn't let it happen again. 

The story was truly traumatic to read. Several times I asked myself, "Is it really necessary to read this?" Even after having read it, I still sometimes ask myself that question, but that is only because it hurt so much to go through. The fact is, I think the survivors were right. If everyone did subject themselves to what is only a glimpse of that hell, then we would we all be far more inclined to do something about it. Those of us with consciences anyway. 

Reactions? I am very interested to know what you think as I am working on my own novel in a similar vein.
post #35 of 36

The curb-biting scene in American History X is SO hard to watch, but, like you said it wouldn't be the same without it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post
ure, rape can be implied, but it's not the same thing in terms of storytelling. Imagine Tess of the D'Urbervilles with an explicit rape scene, or the curb-biting scene in American History X if that had been delicately implied offscreen. They would have been totally different stories. 

 

post #36 of 36

To the OP:

 

I often wonder about the actresses who play such scenes. It is my understanding that Stanley Kubrick had problems getting a woman to play in the attempted gang bang scene in A Clockwork Orange that took place in the abandoned theatre early in the film. She was naked and being grabbed by all of the gang.  Very disturbing scene; it deserved the X rating it got when it first came out.

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