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