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October 14, 2010



Rich, have you seen the movie Blindness? I believe it was from 2008 with Julianne Moore & Mark Ruffalo. I don't have a weak stomach or offend easily, but that was definitely the type of movie that I would have demanded my money back had I seen it in the theater & that sort of thing NEVER usually crosses my mind. I've never walked out on a movie before in my life but this one was asking for it.

The premise is cool - people start going blind with no warning & suddenly pretty much everyone in the world is going blind & getting back to some primal shit in order to cope with it. The government starts rounding these people up & locking them away for some reason but nobody is really there to take care of the blind so it turns into a Lord of the Flies sort of situation. Moore's character never goes blind for some other unknown reason but she acts as such so she can stay with her husband & hopefully help the people around her.

Anyway, there's not one but SEVERAL very drawn-out, very graphic rape scenes that are so thinly veiled as some sort of lesson or study of humanity that I got upset as I sat there watching it. Upset that I was compelled to sit through that hoping there would be some point to it all, upset that an actress I really enjoy would agree to such a movie, upset that nothing really redeemed the film to the point where those scenes felt justified... it could have been a really poignant movie like Children of Men but those scenes sullied the whole movie to the point where the few people I knew who had seen it didn't even want to discuss it.

After seeing & discussing I Spit On Your Grave that might be an interesting flick to follow up with even though it's more thriller than horror. If anyone can handle it I'm sure it's you.


The reason using "rape gaze" as a phrase is not okay is that it was intended as a joke. Rape should never be a joke! It's a real thing, and making a joke, or normalizing it to the point where you aren't offended by the word flippantly used, contributes to a pop culture where rape is a normal thing! It's why Antoine Dodson's fame is so abhorrent. He probably got $40k for the entire world to mock a really fucked up thing that happened to his family. Hide yo kids, hide yo wife...haha? No.


Let's talk about the scariest rape films of all time. My choices: Irreversible and Dogville. These are not horror films but the way in which the scenes were painfully elongated had me burst into tears and I've never even been raped. Rape is scary as fuck.


@Chaely. It's worse in the book version of Blindness. TRUST ME.

Rich, this is really interesting. I still go back and forth on the portrayal of rape in the media. This adds a new perspective on it (and certainly from a movie that I will never in a million years see)


I didn't know that you identified as a "white" guy.

Perhaps it is terrible that I identified you as Puerto Rican or "mixed" after seeing your photos.

Why did you choose to identify yourself as a "white" guy before this dialog rolled after the jump?


since you're talking about Salem I thought I'd share this video:


I'm sure the album is way better but I haven't heard it yet. Still, this is one of the funniest things I've ever seen. Audience all standing in rapt attention. Mesmerizing.


This is a fascinating discussion. I'm almost the direct opposite of you: I go to a movie strictly for the in-the-moment experience, but it's really interesting to get a deeper look at these movies.

In following up on your "rape gaze" links, I found that they've taken that phrase out of the original article and added this:

Editor's Note: This review contains a list of the various names that have been used to describe the music of SALEM and/or other similar artists, among them "drag" and "witch house." It originally also listed "rape gaze", a term coined by Michigan band CREEP, as formerly listed on their MySpace and reported in the New York Press. The band today disowned the phrase and will no longer be using it, expressing to The Village Voice, they "would never want to advocate sexual violence against any human being. It was a play on words which we never expected to be used as an actual genre."


oooh gosh...i just saw the picture of the woman fade in and out and it spooked me! yikes!

Emily H.

The notion that rape should never be a joke because "it's a real thing" is incoherent. Torture can become a joke -- during the Abu Ghraib thing & scandals about the US allowing torture, we heard tons of them. From enraged liberals, not just the pro-torture camp. Death can be a joke -- anyone who lives in a bad neighborhood has joked about the possibility of getting shot or whatever. Violence and heinous acts do get joked about, not because people think they're trivial, but for the opposite reason -- because thinking about them makes us anxious & we want to defuse the tension. There are even rape victims out there who deal with their trauma through dark humor. Hating such jokes or just finding them unfunny is a totally valid response, but claiming that serious topics can't be joked about misses the point of what humor is about.

I don't have anything to say about this movie, just wanted to respond to that one commenter, because someone ALWAYS shows up to say "rape's not funny!"


Humor lends controversial topics to discussion and that's what's most important, I think.


thoughts on Salem-

@z i agree, i find these performances hilarious. they remind me of, say, a bad happy mondays performance, or going way back to when audiences would riot because they thought Suicide were a terrible punk band. it's not traditionally "good" but it's at least compellingly bad, and, for what it's worth, i love the album. for me, along with Sleigh Bells and even the latest M.I.A., these are the records that sound the most "now," reflecting all of the tension, anxiety, and overload of modern culture. meanwhile, most hipster musics are looking backward - lo-fi, chillwave, nu-disco, whatever (much of which i also enjoy), wrapping themsleves in the blankets of childhood and nostalgia to ESCAPE the tumultuous world we find ourselves in.

and i find fennessey's take on salem's appropriation of southern rap troubling. rappers "murder" but salem murder. huh? he's excusing violent lyrics and imagery in hip-hop because it's party music, i guess? i have never understood the modern critic's affection for southern rap (god do i hate gucci mane), which is much starker than darker, but get's a pass because it's fun to bounce to. if we're judging music on equal footing, he either has to take southern rap at it's word, or cut salem some slack. otherwise, he's clearly applying a double-standard.


Hey Emily H, you are a fucking dumbass. ONE IN THREE WOMEN are raped. I was raped. Tons of my friends have been raped. One in three people aren't murdered. One in three people aren't tortured prisoners. One in three people aren't shot in the street. But yes, one in three women are raped, and often by someone they know. It's like the least funny thing I've ever heard.


Lucy, you're wrong. Emily H is totally right in what she says.

As someone who's been raped, and whose husband died of an accidental overdose (God, when I look at it like that, I should be a lot more fucked up), I'd like to point out I make jokes about both. And people are entitled to laugh.

It's uncomfortable for some, others get it.

It doesn't mean I don't despair at the thought of both, but don't you dare deny me my right to cope with these things as I see fit.


I haven't watch this movie, but i hear lot of about this movie,


I thought her mocking [her to-be-rapist] Johnny's advance at the beginning weirdly set a precedent for her lack of innocence.

I don't understand how that matters. Why does she have to be a 100% perfect angel before the rape for us to sympathize with her when/after she's raped? Does it really muddle things to give her rapists a reason to be mad at her instead of the rape occurring just because the opportunity existed?

I haven't seen the movie, so obviously this is just a guess, but is it possible that by having those events in the remake they were just providing motive and not assigning blame?


I think the line between 'motive' and 'blame' is really thin, which is what I think Rich and Sean were getting at in this post. RP, I really like how you bring up the angel/whore divide, especially because it relates to the very real ways that women were/are negotiating prejudiced court systems.
Saying that, I don't know if that is how the movie is being read. I think that any instances of identification with the rapists (as in the apparently lovable sheriff character) and any culpability for the sexual assault resting in the assault survivor simply works to reinscribe sexist imaginings of rape as sexual or deserved.
And while that may not be the director's intention, I don't think you can ever view a movie outside of its cultural reception. I think the reason why the debate over whether the "rapegaze" can be funny becomes so personal is that hearing people joke about rape still feels like a violation today. And while people do use humour to cope and distance themselves from experience, hearing a rape joke from a privileged or dominant group can be very scary simply because, at this point, rape (in many forms) continues to happen and continues to be explained away using terms like 'she/they deserved it'.


Just some facts: The original film was sincerely intended. "I Spit On Your Grave" was a title applied after the film was bought away from the director. On the commentary track for the original film, Zarchi explains the horrifying real life event that occurred (in front of his children) which led him to make the film.
I guess if you still really want to debate whether it's exploitation or not you can, but that was never the director's intent.
It's still a great film, I have no interest in the remake. The original had it's place at a point in time in the context of changing feminist politics. The remake is context free, I don't see how even at its best it can be anything but a misguided creepily-adoring cash-in.

Vanessa M

I almost hate to jump into this heated discussion but for what it's worth Antoine Dodson's fame is not abhorrent to me. First, the guy rescued his sister so he's freaking awesome. I wasn't thinking, "Haha attempted rape sure is funny." But I was thinking his reaction to it and his mockery of the would-be assailant definitely was. Mockery is powerful. I had to laugh watching the original news story but despite all the hand-wringing in the media over it, I certainly wasn't laughing at him. And if his family gets economic benefit out of it (which I hope they have), so much the better. I've since heard him interviewed on NPR and he's very level-headed about the whole thing.


I'll never get over ANTM getting over me · On rape movies and gazes · "I'm here to make performance art" · Dis Lexie · Introducing: Hot Guys on Judge Judy · Crazy az uzual · Good girl gone home · If Angelina can leave, so can I http://fourfour.typepad.com.


've seen the movie and it was amazing!


I have to also jump in re Antonie Dodson and say I too, do not find his fame abhorrent. An abhorrent thing happened to his family.

He responded heroically, and I use that word deliberately even it is overused. He put himself in physical danger to protect and help another person.

Then, I am sure still completely buzzing on adrenaline and just the "oh my god what just happened here" he was put in a position to communicate with the public. In that moment, he communicated anger, fear, defiance, so many real and raw things and did it with - since we are talking about hip hop - flow, charisma, humor and energy that people responded to.

Sure, some people probably DID like it in a racist or minstrelry way, but *I* liked that he was speaking with humor and defiance in the face of abhorrence. I admired him, were I put on the spot like that, I would have sputtered and been incoherent, he spoke and came up with something that was easy to turn into a pretty catchy song.

I don't mean to get so serious about it, but fuck, we cannot control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond to it, and I just feel strongly that Antoine responded, both during and after an attack, in a way that was entirely about making the best out of a terrible situation and snatching back some kind of positive result from something awful that neither he, his sister nor anyone else in his family asked for.

*Clambers down from soap box.*


@Emily H.-- Agreed with what you said about humor bringing relief to thoughts and ideas that cause tension and stress. I happen to be one of those rape victims who finds relief from making light of it. I have truly moved on from what happened, refrained from blaming myself, et al. I feel like the fact that I can hear a rape joke without getting my panties in a twist is a good sign of healing. Bad things happen to good people every day- you move on.


The bit about the rape victim in the movie having evidence caught my attention. You know, in real life, when it comes to rape, evidence doesn't matter. Remember Greg Haidl? They had to try him *twice.* First trial was a hung jury. They actually questioned whether what they were seeing on the video evidence was a rape. FFS. People are so unwilling to admit that rape happens unless it's excessively violent and involves someone under the age of, say, six. If you give them hard evidence they will do anything to weasel out of accepting the evidence--anything but admit that a man can act like a monster in that particular way. They'll even go so far as to claim impugned honor and kill the *victim* rather than face what happened to her, never mind *she* has to live with it every single day.

Just saying. It's not like people are rational about rape even when it does not happen to them personally. In that, it's unique among personal crimes. Anything else happens to you, people feel sorry for you and try to help make it right. If it involves genitalia, forget it--you're lower than pond scum, suddenly, and you're on your own.

Adult Movies

Wow... I had forgotten about this movie. Will have to watch it again...


Never seen this movie before. Scared to watch it just by the topic.

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