|Photo credit: cybermagik|
They said it was clearly a response to the women's movement (aka feminism) and the message was for women to get back into their old places. They called it the "women's movement," a term that seems quaint because they were in 1980. Nineteen fucking eighty.
Have things improved? Of course not. The teenage girl getting killed in a slasher flick because she has the nerve to go out alone, have sex or otherwise act like an autonomous human being is such an ingrained movie trope that it's unthinkable to imagine film critics addressing it so directly. At least one the films that Siskel & Ebert specifically called out has been remade (the "The call is coming from inside the house" one).
I recently got an e-mail about a change.org petition requesting that networks add a sexual violence trigger warning before shows to help survivors of rape avoid watching something that could give them a flashback. I decided not to bother signing that particular petition because it's so futile. There's just too much rape and murder on TV these days that you're really safer not watching. Especially if you can't fast forward through commercials because the promos for upcoming shows will get you.
Don't believe me? Read this excellent analysis of rape and murder on current scripted dramas. The vast majority of shows include either rape or murder in their plot. The murder rate on TV is way higher than it is in real life.
(This increased sense of danger isn't helping anyone. Especially not Trayvon Martin, just to name one.)
On several occasions, HA and I have been trying to decide what to watch and when I request something relaxing, he suggests the latest episode of Elementary. Which is relaxing except for the part where someone dies almost every week.
Why do we never think of the victims in these shows? Years ago, I turned off an episode of Law & Order SVU and never watched the show again. I have a pretty high tolerance for violence--what kid raised on Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck getting Elmer Fudd to shoot them in head doesn't? But this was just too fucked up. The bad guys (which in a shocking twist may have included a woman-gasp) broke into a party of friends, forced them to have sex with each other at gunpoint in different combinations, then shot them all. The episode opened with a couple arriving late to the party and finding all the bodies. Once the Medical Examiner (or whoever) explained what had happened to the detectives, I was done.
Maybe it was because they used friends of the victims as our entry into the story, but it was impossible for me to put aside the torture and humiliation these (admittedly fictional) had undergone. You're at a party with all your couple friends and then someone forces your friend's husband to rape you. Then forces two of the (hetero) guys to have sex. And so on. And then they kill you anyway when the only reason you didn't rush them and make them shoot you in the first place was because you all thought you had a chance of coming out alive.
And now I'm supposed to forget about that and follow the good detectives as they catch the baddies, with the distinct possibilities that there will be more victims along the way. On a show that is supposed to be entertainment?
Jesus fucking Christ on a cracker. I am so over this shit. And that was something like ten years ago.
Experts are even advising fiction writers that putting your main character's life in danger isn't a good way to raise the stakes of your story because we're exposed to so much fictional death these days that we don't care.
Let's brainstorm some plots that we'd like to see that don't involve a body count. I'll start.
- How about a nice theft? Heirloom jewelry, priceless works of art, that sort of thing.
- How about addiction recovery? Redemption, risk of failure, lots of dramatic potential.
- Maybe something with corporate intrigue? Without CEOs offing each other.
OK, your turn.