Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hounddog Starring Dakota Fanning Set To Be Released Sept 19

The story NY Times: Like Its Heroine, a Movie Encounters Savage Treatment discusses some of the backlash against the movie Hounddog starring Dakota Fanning.

“I did not set out to make a controversial film or a social commentary,” Ms. Kampmeier said. “If Dakota Fanning is so shamed for telling that story, what message does that give victims? I did not set out to make a statement, but in the 12-year process of trying to get this film made I have been unable to avoid facing the politics of being a woman filmmaker and telling women stories” — a reference to the industry’s few female directors. [...]

“I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve had people actually sabotaging theatrical bookings,” Mr. [Eric] Parkinson [chief executive of the distribution arm of Empire Film Group] said, adding that three theater chains have not booked the film, presumably, he said, because of interest-group pressure. Wanda Whitson, a spokeswoman for the exhibitor National Amusements, said in an e-mail message that her company had heard from Empire but that “we have not yet previewed the film.” AMC and Cinemark, two other exhibitors, did not respond to requests for comment.

I would like to know which interest groups are opposing this film so I could research their track record on the reality of sexual violence.

The only problem I have with the story is this description related to the character played by Dakota Fanning:

[...] a 12-year-old motherless girl obsessed with Elvis Presley who seductively sings [...]

Having watched a review copy of the movie, this segment only describes the pervasive judgments of observers or the wishful thinking of those desperate to justify their sexual violence against a child.

The character played by Dakota Fanning is a 12-year-old girl mimicking Elvis's singing and movements and she is not doing anything seductive. The sexualization of this behavior exists only in the minds of observers.

This truth gets overlooked in many real life rapes against pre-teen children.

In my post from last year, Acceptable and unacceptable voices of the raped, I responded to James Lilley's statements about the rough cut of the film shown at the Sundance Film Festival. He wrote in part:

Rape is a vile, savage act of brutality committed against a woman and its sole purpose is to control, dominate and demean her in every way possible. The voice representing the silenced women is the voice that screams for justice. The woman who reports her attack and demands some measure of justice for what's happened to her. This is also the woman who isn't fighting just for herself, but for each and every victim of rape and sexual assault, reported and unreported. [...] She stands up to the fierce cross-examination and stares down her assailant when he tries to seduce her with a smile as she testifies. She's the woman with the courage to stand up in front of others, tells them in blunt, no holds barred terms what happened to her and tries to convince them to do the same. That's the voice speaking for the silent women—not your 12-year-old on the screen. (emphasis added.)

After watching the completed movie. I stand by these words I wrote in response to the above quote:

In other words the only worthy voice for rape victims is one who speaks like Joan of Arc. The worthy voice isn't one which reflects a significant reality of rape -- silence because of the pervasiveness of abuse, victim blaming, victim bashing and victim denial. The worthy voice doesn't care if her name is cleared in her lifetime. The worthy voice is willing to sacrifice her very life.

Men like Mr. Lilley don't want to hear the unworthy voices of most rape victims and survivors. [...]

Most rapists understand clearly this division between worthy and unworthy rape victims and use it to their advantage. Sometimes they get so deluded by their "successes" that they think they can get away with any type of rape.

Don't get me wrong, I admire the women who report their rapes and who won't give up on seeing their rapist or rapists held legally accountable. But to imply that these women are the only rape victims worthy of having a voice is to attempt to heap extra shame onto rape victims like me. [...]

If I had seen a film back then, or even heard of one, with a rape scene like that included in Hounddog, I would have realized it wasn't just me who was betrayed by someone close to me. I would have realized I wasn't alone or crazy.

If Mr. Lilley had his way, there would be no such film. [...]

The voice that best represents the silent victims isn't one type of voice. The voice of the silent victims is a symphony of voices. [...]

It's now over a year since I responded to Mr. Lilley and I find his dismissal of this movie as appalling today as it was when I first read his opinion.

This film deserves to be in every theater in every town and not just in a limited number of cities.

That some people have an easier time accepting movies where a central character is a serial killer than they do accepting a movie where the central character experiences sexual violence without being the target of a serial killer is telling.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 5:37 PM   0 comments links to this post


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