Quantum of Solace: A Little Rape-Heavy

Just saw Quantum of Solace last night. Not as good as Casino Royale, but most of my friends like it. I didn’t. For many reasons. But the reason I want to talk about here is all the rape.

If you add up all the descriptions of rape, attempted rape, completed rape, and throw in the instances where a woman was sold as a sexual slave, you have more rape-based scenes than chase scenes in this movie. WHAT THE FUCK?

Almost every woman who enters the screen during the film has a brush with rape, except the grandmotherly character of ‘M’.

The character Strawberry Fields, played by Gemma Arterton, has consensual sex with Bond before shortly thereafter being found dead, naked on a bed and covered with black oil. The audience is left to assume what her fate may have involved. I wonder if it could have been anything like the majority of women who are found naked and dead on beds?

During a scene with Big Evil Rebel Leader General Medrano (Joaquín Cosio) in a hotel, he has a waitress who suits his fancy tied up and locked in his room so he can rape her at his leisure later. He does so, but is interrupted by Camille (Olga Kurylenko).

I have left Camille for last, because she endures the greatest amount of sexual coercion in the film. First up, we find out that the Evil Medrano raped and killed her mom and sister in the past. Camille’s male acquaintance Dominic Greene (Mathieu Almaric) attempts to sell her as a sexual plaything, not once, but twice to Medrano. The first time, Bond saves her. (We later learn she got herself sold to Medrano on purpose in order to get the chance to avenge her family.) The second time, I forget how it ends up because I have a poor memory.

(possible spoiler ahead)
In the end, Camille finds Medrano as he is raping the waitress and is ready to fight him to the death. Medrano temporarily gains the upper hand and what does he try to do? Rape her of course, while making revolting remarks about what he did to her mom and sister. She escapes and remains unraped, at least until the next Bond installment.

I realize that none of the “good” characters attempt rape, and that it is used to underline the despicableness of of the bad guys. I realize that it is not glorified as a “good” thing to do.

But come on. Not a single male character is put in a sexually coercive or humiliating situation. All the female characters under the age of 50 are. What the hell was director Marc Forester thinking? The sexual fetishization of rape (of women) is disgusting, and giving it such prominent screen time in a big production like this one? It made me nauseous to watch it. I don’t think I’d like it any better if there was equal time given to male and female sexual humiliation. What I am trying to get at is that the rape scenes were gender-specific.

When we have such a rapetastic culture (17.6% of US women are raped, almost 1 in 5), why would a director do this? [I realize this is a British film, but I’m in America right now, so I’ll talk about what I know.] Is there any other kind of identity-group-specific violence that would gain so much screen time in a film not about that group?

My personal reaction to rape in film is to feel deeply insecure in my society. I do not want to see rape as entertainment. I realize that there are many other forms of violence that occur in films, and that occurred in this film. But I feel targeted by films that focus on rape. The rape is woman-specific – any woman in this film was susceptible. It is incredibly disturbing to see crimes focused on YOU in film – especially when you indeed know many women who have been victims of these crimes. As I said, it makes me even more insecure in our rape-ridden culture. And this is a new addition to that culture.

What do I do about it? Well, normally when I hear that a film is full of rape [as entertainment], I don’t go to that movie. But I had no warning about this one. Now you are forewarned, and you can decide for yourself if you want to see Quantum of Solace.

Rape as entertainment: discuss!

(c) idyllicmollusk 11/19/08

7 thoughts on “Quantum of Solace: A Little Rape-Heavy

  1. haven’t seen the film yet, can’t afford movie house tickets. however, I do see the trend in film. at the drop of a hat I can name half a dozen rape scenes where females are the victims. generally these films are violent in nature, such as Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto, where a villages are burnt to the ground by warriors in search of sacrifices to the sun god. Houses burnt, women sold/raped, and men taken away to have their hearts and heads removed. Only 3 films come to mind where men are the victims, and 2 of them take place in prison. The remaining film is the one that I take issue with. Deliverance…i assume that everyone has seen the movie, and if they haven’t seen it they have encountered it through pop-culture. The rapists in the film a a couple of banjo twangin’, moonshine drinkin’ hillbillies. I’ve never been quite sure how to feel about the movie, because I don’t know how I feel about any of the characters. They build upon the incest stereotype of Appalachia and upland Southerners. I think the only character I could relate to is the kid sitting on the porch playing “dueling banjos.” He doesn’t want trouble from anyone.

    One film where rape is a central part of the plot is Cape Fear. Robert Michum plays Max Cady, a rapist who just got out of prison. Gregory Peck put him there a few years ago, and now Michum wants his revenge. In my opinion it is the scariest of the films so far discussed, because it is the most realistic. Scum like Cady do exist. The film was pretty good at showing what rapists deserve…to be put in a sleeper hold and drowned by Gregory Peck…i think it would’ve been better if he were still in character as Abraham Lincoln from Blue and Grey.

  2. Wow, Dale, way to tackle a really tough subject. Impressive.

    Your comments made me reflect that rape is usually about power (though many directors portray it in a ‘sexy’ way). In Quantum, it was about [male] power gone awry. In prison, it’s about power. In domestic abuse, it’s about power. Same with Deliverance, or the scene in Kite Runner with male-on-male rape. Whatever gender the victim, it’s about power and control. But Mr. Forester (director of Quantum) played up the rape for sexiness. Icky.

    On another topic: Deliverance and country folk vs. city folk. I haven’t seen Deliverance because I’m afraid to, but everything I’ve heard about it makes me think that it is full of stereotypes confirming what ign’ant city folks think of country folks. I think there are a lot of stereotypes of country folks in our culture. I should, like, post about that sometime.

  3. Dude, it’s Olga Kurylenko you’re talking about. In each of her roles her character has either been a call-girl at risk of being killed, a woman who men desire, a woman at risk of being raped, or a woman who is willingly tied up in bondage scenes (refer to the film The Serpent). It’s not like she was forced at gunpoint to do these scenes or these movies, however she is a very attractive woman (which she’s aware of), and no doubt the director in QOS was using her beauty to add to her character credibility of being a woman that men desire. She’s a Bond girl. She’s ‘meant’ to be gorgeous and desirable!

  4. And this makes it ok how…?

    So as long as the woman is attractive, it is understandable that men want to rape her? Now where have I heard that excuse used before… Oh, right – from sexual predators.

  5. Just saw Quantum of Solace last night and I agree with everything you wrote. I am disturbed that the makers of this film but so much rape in an action movie. I am disgusted with the amount of rape that is shown on TV and in the movies, to the point where it is common, expected and nonchalant.

  6. I agree with the original post. I do not like to see rape, inferred rape in movies or tv shows at all. I also believe ALL men should be making an equal effort that women do to prevent it, protest against it. I was disgusted to see only women protesting in the streets of India not so long ago. Men…step up, cowboy up and protect our sisters in this world. From a male.

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