*Slight Spoiler Warnings, Trigger Warnings*
So I finally went to a movie recently, and at my friend’s choice we saw Clash of the Titans. For the most part, it was okay. I mean, Edward Cullens would be jealous, and the cast was once again white with a few exception extras, and of course the person who agrees with the Gods is the one who gets thrown under the bus (big surprise there), and they actually had a King Kong reference, which is one too many for me, but overall, it was basically a superhero revenge fantasy with CGI effects. In other words, it would have been familiar even if it wasn’t a remake and, oh yeah, based (however loosely) on a Greek myth.
For the most part, I spent the movie trying to figure out if it was one actor or two playing Zeus and Hades, and questioning how I felt about the role of Prokopion, and rolling my eyes at some of the more annoying moments in the movie (anything with the family in the first twenty minutes of the film, for example), and wondering when it would be possible to play hologram-Risk that looked like Zeus’s floor. (One word to describe that: Awesome.) Also, I would like my Pegasus now, thank you very much, my wait has gone on too long.
But there was one scene that has me sitting down to write the following criticism and almost-review above. Not even a scene, but one line.
“Let’s get this bitch.”*
The bitch in question is Medusa, who according to the movie asked for sanctuary in a temple, was raped on the floor, was then punished for being raped by turning into the creature she becomes, and is called a monster for turning men trying to kill her into stone.
So depending what route you took to get to this blog, some of you are already nodding, and some of you are going, “um, what is your point?”
My point is this: movies reflect us in the United States. Media, I should say, reflects us. They are written by people in our culture, and they are written about our culture. Let me be clear, this does not mean the media gives us an open view of all things; media is very directed by and for certain groups of people, making all others invisible, or in the role of extra. Media is racist, misogynistic, queerphobic, ableist, cisgendered and, for the most part, in my opinion, pretty damn bad. Media is a huge influence on how we think, and is easily used to uphold the status-quo. You cannot study culture in the U.S. without also studying media, because media – especially as technology advances – is so entrenched in our lives. Media matters, as does the criticism of it.
So, moving on, to recap this part of Medusa’s life: she was raped, was asked for comfort after being raped, was turned into a “monster”, and then turned men trying to kill her into stone. I forgot, why is she the bitch in this situation? And I’m sure someone reading this is going, wait a second, she was laughing when she tried to turn Perseus and his colleagues into stone. Frankly, if I was her, I’d probably be laughing too. Did you see the number of stone men in her cave? There’s the phrase I’m laughing so I don’t weep that comes to mind. Also, so she laughed? Let’s weigh the sides: one has a person laughing and defending herself, and the other has a large group of murderers. I think she wins that moral argument.
Among the many narratives of rape culture comes arguments like “that bitch deserved it,”it’s not a big deal,” and “she should have just taken it.” All three applied to Medusa. She deserves to die, its not a big deal, so why is she fighting? Dude, next time let them cut your head off without all the drama, mkay? It’s for a good reason. You know, not like they’d tell you, or ask for help, cause hello, much better to kill ya. But just assume the next time someone wants to chop your head off, they’re doing it for a good reason. I don’t know why someone whose been living with such a peaches and cream lifestyle wouldn’t, just, like, assume the best. Dude, trust issues much?
Do you know why this line bothered me? Because the same thought happens in real life to real rape victims. We blame them for being raped. We put them in the wrong, because they wore a skirt or tight pants or had something to drink or were flirting or were asking for it, with their yes eyes and no means yes and all girls want to be fucked and why are they making this such a big deal and it is all their fault. Like Medusa, they should just stand there and take it. And when they fight back, when they gather such enormous courage to fight back, they are a bitch, out to ruin their rapist’s life.**
*Interesting enough, this line isn’t in the script (though I’m not sure if the May 28th, 2008 script is the final copy, so it could have been added by the screenwriter as opposed to the actor/director, but either way, it was added.) Also, this may not be word for word, but I can’t find the quote yet online, and I’m not spending twelve bucks and a few hours of my life to sit through the whole movie again to find it.
** This is NEVER to say a rape victim is at fault when she doesn’t fight back, or that they aren’t courageous enough. IT IS NOT A RAPE VICTIMS FAULT S/HE IS RAPED. EVER.