Friday, July 21, 2006
The Rape Scene
I recently learned that child actress, Dakota Fanning, has signed on to a role in the movie Hounddog. According to reports, the film takes place in the south and has Fanning’s character raped in one scene and appearing nude in others.
Any cinematographic rape scene is disturbing. But, a 12-year-old girl? Reports indicate that Fanning’s mother and agent are supportive of her casting, believing that this role could have Oscar potential. But, at what cost? Should Fanning have taken the role? True, women (even girls) are raped at alarming rates, and to deny this fact just because we’re at the movies might not seem that honest. And, true, any woman (or person, for that matter) can choose (especially with this knowledge) whether or not she’d like to see the film. But what about the people who choose to see the film because of this, who are excited and aroused witnessing the sexualized Fanning’s attack? And what about Fanning, who’s not just baring her body (a la a young Brooke Shields), but who’s vicariously victimized, who consciously knows that “we’re just playing,” but who may somehow still internalize the violence and disempowerment of the scene?
When we value a woman for her body (or, on the other hand, condemn her for it), we’re setting the stage for objectification. There’s a fine line between exposing a female body (as a commodity) and aggressing upon it, and the consequences are even more disturbing when the body is that of a little girl.