Screens365: Rape Scene

Video Appropriation for the course ARTS 288: Video

This video is inspired by the academic essay “No Lies: Direct Cinema of Rape” by Vivian C. Sobchack. This video is NOT about rape nor does it intend to make light of the subject. Rather, this video raises ambivalent questions on how we as audiences emotionally and psychologically process rape scenes.

“Indeed, voyeurism is, and always has been, one of the great pleasures of film viewing. However, when rape is the object we view with such traditional passivity, the pleasure of our safety must be, to some degree, diminished by our scruples. Although we may, at selected moments, “identify” with the victim (and I would argue that such identification is available to both male and female viewers), the very shape of traditional narrative cinema forces us to become helpless passersby, thankful on the one hand that it’s not we who are being assaulted, and ashamed on the other that we are so thankful and so curious and so permitted to indulge our curiousity about the act itself. As well, the films allow for an indulgence in fantasy, the very privacy of the darkness and the passivity of the viewing experience condusive to the dream state in which Siegfried Kracauer says we watch feature films. Thus, art and pleasure aside, the traditional narrative film about rape has enforced a rather amoral, if unintentional, passivity upon the audience which may be in direct contradiction to the messages communicated by the film’s literary structure. We end up watching even the most socially motivated movies about rape from the distance of a third person, at worst titillated by the peculiar beauties of the violence we’re protected from and at best sympathetic to and moved by the shadows on the screen.” – Vivian C. Sobchack

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