It’s only very recently that I’ve started giving up on books before the end. In the past, no matter how much trouble I was having or how bored I was, I’d still try to plow through. It’s still tough for me to abandon hope, but it’s a strangely liberating feeling to give myself permission to not finish something. And now, thanks to the wonders of the DVD player, I can do that with movies, too.
I’m less likely to stop watching a movie, though, both because I have a different set of standards–I’ll watch just about anything–and because something about the more passive nature of sitting and watching a movie makes me somehow less bothered to be watching a sub-par one. I also multitask when I’m watching things on a screen, so sometimes the screen action is really just background noise.
I’ve discovered that the two things most likely to make me stop watching a movie are domestic abuse and rape. [Spoilers after the jump.]
My most recent partially unwatched movie: Blindness. (I say partially because my impulse was just to turn it off completely during the group rape scene, but Sig Fig wanted to see how things ended, so we compromised and just skipped to the next scene.) I just didn’t think the rape furthered the plot or had any artistic merit or anything else that sometimes makes me feel able to watch graphic violence or other disturbing content. (The movie, which looked so intriguing to me in previews, turned out to be pretty horrible. “When bad things happen, people do bad things” is a pretty good summary.)
This has really gotten me thinking. I’m guessing for any of us out there with triggers, we avoid watching or reading about depictions of things that will trigger us. But even if you’re not triggered by rape scenes, what’s the value in watching them? Should we subject ourselves to them? I particularly wonder about the merits in a Hollywood movie (as opposed to a documentary), where the inclusion of a rape scene probably wasn’t a choice designed to make the audience more aware, but rather an effort to fascinate (or, disgustingly, titillate).
What do we stand to gain from graphic depictions of rape in film? What do we stand to lose?