Thursday, 13 August 2009

'Dead Girl': rape as entertainment

Warning: triggering material

I couldn't bring myself to watch the trailer for the movie Dead Girl. And I don't particularly feel I need to see a preview of a horror film about rape, torture, violence and murder of women to conclude that it's a vile piece of shit. Contexts, a sociological website, links to reviews of the film and gives a plot synopsis. The plot alone was enough to make me feel ill.

Favourable reviews of Dead Girl have included words like 'audacious'. Language like this dignifies the utter misogyny of this sort of shit - and the fact that those who enjoy it are the same kind of people who like the idea of snuff films. Cheap thrills for the lowest common denominator, contemptibly dressed up with words like 'edgy' to insult the intelligence of women, and give a veneer of respectability to the men who watch and enjoy.

The timeless irony applies. You complain about crap like this, and you give it publicity. But is that worse than allowing brutalisation of women to persist as a form of entertainment?

16 comments:

Brett Dale said...

How can people watch this BS? Perhaps i should ask, how can people make BS like this?

Anonymous said...

Here's another perspective

http://community.feministing.com/2009/08/deadgirl-or-the-most-feminist.html

Still doesn't really sound like my kind of film!

Anonymous said...

The feministing website does offer a different perspective.
You have taken exactly what you wanted out of the plot synopsis. And that is up to you. And it is up to you to post your opinion on your blog.
And it is up to you to come up with your own ideas without having watched the film.
To write such damning, emotive words about something you have not actually bothered to analyse yourself, well that's up to you too.
Enjoy your baseless opinion.
Keep self-perpetuating.

stargazer said...

and that's not an emotive little rant, anon at 12.45? read the comments at the context site, and att he feministing link, and you'll see that there are some very disturbing elements to the film, as told by those who've watched it.

in particular, do we really need more films that show violence against women, treat women as inanimate objects, treat all the male characters as basically bad people?

Anna said...

What's your take on the movie, Anon at 12.45?

Tidge said...

i have a copy of this, but haven't watched it yet. the reason i got a copy was becasue of the feministing discussion. i don't see it as being all that different to 'teeth', which was definitively feminist.

"in particular, do we really need more films that show violence against women, treat women as inanimate objects, treat all the male characters as basically bad people?"
- no, we don't, but we do need more films which make people reflect uncomfortably on their consumption of such texts, which i have a feeling is what 'teeth' and 'dead girl' are up to.

Anna said...

I'll be keen to hear your take on it, Tidge. I'd also be interested to know who'll watch this movie - I have it suspicion it won't be feminists primarily.

I don't have a problem with portrayals of rape or other violence when they serve a purpose. I had this conversation with someone else recently, and the only example I could think of was 'A Clockwork Orange'. My sister-and-law found the sexual violence in it so offensive that she (and others) walked out of the theatre. I didn't have a problem with it because it was making a point. (Admittedly, the violence is stylised and kind of silly - I don't think a viewer today would be too put off by it.)

I don't at all like violence for the sake of it, or violence that pretends to have a social commentary purpose but is actually just trying to appeal to munters. I'm thinking of the people who went to Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ' because the Christianity gave them a happy veneer for anti-Semetic bloodlust...

Of course, you can't stop sadistic munters from being titillated even by portrayals of violence which have a serious purpose.

Hugh said...

Stargazer, I think in a world where violence against women is so often invisible and not discussed, I think, yes there is a very real need for more films that depict violence against women, particularly when they show it in a negative light.

I don't have a specific position on this film, but the idea that violence against women should be removed from our screens is not an idea that I can get behind.

katy said...

Anna, the rape scene in Once Were Warriors?

Anna said...

Hmmm ... it's hard for me to separate that from my general dislike of Alan Duff. On one hand, Once Were Warriors was trying to make a serious point, which is fine. The violence wasn't included for voyeuristic pleasure. On the other, Alan Duff has spent much of the last 20 years having a go at Maori - OWW had a pretty strong element of racialised beneficiary bashing in it.

I'm trying to think of a film where violence makes a point, and sadly (and rather randomly!) the best I can come up with is Platoon. There's some pretty nasty moments in the movie, including the attempted rape of a young Vietnamese girl, but the message about violence debasing people is very clear throughout - the violence isn't depicted in such a way that anyone could get their jollies from it.

bryce said...

Philistines, you are all philistines this is not a movie it is art!

bryce said...

Philistines, you are all philistines this is not a movie it is art!

Boganette said...

When you're showing rape and violence against women in a movie it's about your intention.

I got dragged along to see The Hills Have Eyes. I was expecting a bit of gore. But not rape. It's a horror movie. There's no reason to have rape in a horror movie. I can't think of one horror movie with rape in it where it needs to be there.

The Hills Have Eyes has the most awful rape scene in it and it's purely rape as entertainment. I looked around me and all I could see was people stuffing their mouths with popcorn while they grinned away at a rape scene.

Samuel said...

Was a little confused when I first read this - there was another film titled "The Dead Girl" which came out in 2006, which still contained shocking material but actually had some humanity to it.

"Deadgirl" though, which is the film under discussion ... I read the Feministing page Anon #1, but wonder whether it takes people as well-informed and thick-skinned as the Feministing folks to get that perspective from such a film - it might not be possible for the average viewer to read it in that way, especially given what an unremitting ordeal it must be to watch.

Personally I can't help but think this is just another step down the torture porn toilet for modern horror film. Horror movies? Yup, anytime. "Hostel"/"Saw" style extreme cruelty and torture? For me, no way. Not that stuff as entertainment for its own sake, not in a world where the real thing is so horribly omnipresent. Don't need it, don't want it.

I doubt I'll be seeing this film regardless of the reaction on the web but as always there is a lot to read and think about here - thanks to all.

Tidge said...

Samuel, I definitely take your point about different readings of texts. I am certainly aware that many people will likely view "dead Girl' and others in a similar vein to "Saw' and 'Hostel' - what I am hoping (this sounds odd, but hopefully you know what I mean - is that it will be so disturbing that it won't allow the general punted to view it with that same sense of complacency. But at the same time, this is the exact same reason that I haven't watched it yet - because I'm not into sadistic violence in horror films, but I am interested in how well this movie walks the line I hope it is trying to make. Perhaps I will get up the gumption to actually watch it soon.

One film (that I mentioned before) which I would be interested in hearing people's opinions on is 'Teeth'. I thought it was kinda cool, and succeeded as a feminist text, but would be interested in others' opinions, a feminists in general seem to be a bit divided on it on the interwebz.

Tidge said...

sorry, so many typos, am typing with wet nail polish, lol