I was both encouraged and angered, reading Kenneth Turan's commentary "Aggravating Assaults" (Oct. 8) regarding rape in film. By pointing out the indulgence of some filmmakers' use of a real and violent act, Turan emphasizes the fine line between censorship and gratuitous exploitation, both of which I fear.
While a film that contains a rape scene cannot immediately be categorized as insensitive and indulgent, one must wonder what the current is behind such images. Rape--like murder, gang violence, domestic violence, child abuse and other heinous acts--has the ability to destroy our views of self, sexuality, gender roles and the real use of power.
Art--specifically the movie industry, which educates as well as entertains the mainstream public--has the ability to aid other educational sources in the community by exposing the facts, de-eroticizing violent sex and rape and, in turn, making exploitation and abuse unacceptable. There is a place in art and in everyday life in which a real experience does not include the cry for "more blood, more screaming, more, more, more!" A sexual assault survivor of any age, sex or race can tell you that this idea of what rape "really is" is not only crude but painful for them to view, male and female alike.
With the FBI estimating that 1 of every 6 women will be raped in her lifetime, we know this to be an all-too-real experience for too many people. If Hollywood has any power, it is to make a topic accessible to the mainstream. A film that explores the complex topic of rape and other types of sexual assault in a powerful, emotional manner, without added unnecessary "artistic" elements, would be a welcome change, not only for educational purposes but for social ones as well.
This viewpoint has little to do with morality but everything to do with a zero tolerance level for the continued acceptance of violence and sexual assault.
JENNIFER DE LADURANTEY
Outreach Coordinator, Project Sister Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Services
I appreciated much of what Turan said about the graphic depiction of rape in movies these days. I do not favor censorship either, but I wish we had a more specific rating system. It seems ridiculous to give a movie the same rating for what used to be called salty language as for blood baths and/or explicit sex and rape.
In his apparent fear of condoning censorship, Turan missed one obvious conclusion and also made what I felt was a glaring omission. Turan's example from the past was "A Streetcar Named Desire," one of our real classics. He gave us details of the "rape scene" and what a milestone it was, but he never discussed the dramatic effect of having the rape suggested by a shattered mirror, a swinging light bulb and Marlon Brando grabbing Vivien Leigh. The modern graphic scenes may wrench our guts, but the old-fashioned suggestive scenes could really grab our imaginations and our hearts.
As for that glaring omission, Turan neglected to mention vicarious rape. Although it is probably not always the case, I'm sure there is a lot of wishful thinking involved in the making of these movies.