Fight Scenes Among Cultures of Pop, Geek, and Rape

Judge Thomas Lipps, Steubenville

This judge handed down the guilty verdict. Clearly this is all his fault. LET’S GET HIM.

Concentrating on humor and hobbies is difficult when the specter of the phrase “rape culture” haunts every social circle and claws at us from the headlines. Our choices are plentiful today:

We can read about the verdict in the now-infamous Steubenville trial, in which two high school football players have been convicted of rape in a juvenile court, much to the consternation of local football fans, bookies, rape advocates, and anyone who treats sports as their church of choice. Sidebar: the victim probably remains traumatized, possibly even sad. Local newshounds have been unable to confirm if she’s allowed the incident to affect her views on this year’s draft or on March Madness.

We can read about the witnesses interviewed for the trial, including sixteen who refused to testify, even with offers of immunity. Per the accompanying video, if the community and the media have their way, the Steubenville Silent 16 will be brought up on charges as well.

We can read the negative reviews of the trial coverage, accessorized with relevant video that captures some of the most thoughtlessly worded soundbites of the year.

We can read about the online petition, signed so far by tens of thousands of outraged Internet users, demanding an apology for the aforementioned negatively reviewed trial coverage.

We can read about how Fox News released the victim’s name on Monday, because CNN’s misguided sympathy toward the Steubenville Two wasn’t nearly outrageous enough.

We can watch The Onion‘s scathing mockery of CNN’s trial coverage, dependable as always.

We can check in on Facebook and feel the wave of Photoshop memes wash over us and drown us in pithy fury. Don’t expect me to link to those, though.

On the more informative side, we can read an essay by the blogger and former Steubenville resident whose dedicated, horrified, commendable marathon meddling preserved bucketloads of local social-media note-passing about the situation, including alleged live thoughts from those who were allegedly there and alleged hints to the town’s allegedly less-than-cooperative responses. (For your personal reading pleasure, please feel free to replace that irritating word “alleged” with lively handclaps at your discretion.)

This single subject generated countless pages of reading material and hours of video responses within the last 48 hours. Will any lessons be learned? Is reeducation even possible? Will any male minds be changed? Will anyone be brought to repentance for their pro-rape ways? Do rapists and rapists-to-be even click on headlines that threaten to drain all the joy from their proclivities? Can we expect a withering essay from someone about how Internet misogyny is a gateway drug to full-blown rape endorsement? (Seriously, someone should write that.)

Much of the indignant Internet fusillade is doubtlessly, regrettably preaching to the choir and passing the collection plate to the deacons. Maybe it’s because I’m such a gold-star student, but I figured out long ago that rape is a heinous, hideous thing. I’ve already learned that lesson, no more convincing necessary. Anyone who needs someone like me to teach them Rape Is Bad 101 needs more help in a variety of departments than I can possibly give them within my lifetime.

Rape is so thoroughly not-my-thing as a concept that in my advanced years, I don’t care to see it show up in my viewing or reading choices anymore, either. I’ve already encountered enough cautionary tales on the subject. From a particular storyline on The Young and the Restless in my childhood, to the harrowing experience that was The Accused, to the unadulterated, stomach-churning repugnance of Brian DePalma’s Casualties of War, I’ve experienced that moral of the story to its fullest and beyond. If new works on the subject can truly change the hearts and minds of the lost souls in need of such practical advice, don’t let me stand in the way, by all means, as long as I’m not required to own a copy.

Same goes double for works of “entertainment” that seem less about the moral and more about the “drama” of it all. I have a lengthy mental list of movies I watched in my youth but plan never to revisit, half-watched in my young-adult years but plan never to finish, or left unwatched but know enough to avoid altogether in my cranky-geezer years: A Clockwork Orange; Strange Days; Kids; Pulp Fiction; Rob Roy; Dead Calm; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; and so on. Maybe such “art” can be used to make a statement or provide a glimpse into True Evil. Anyone who’d like to evaluate the works for themselves and determine their own threshold for witnessing innocents in unconscionable agony can turn Google SafeSearch “off” and find clips of those rape scenes archived on any number of porn sites, without having to wade through an entire superfluous movie to enjoy them.

And that’s just movies. Discussion of same in comics would involve overlong paragraphs about DC’s Identity Crisis and the media darling that is The Walking Dead, whose graphic novels I tried but quit for that exact reason.

Again: that’s just me. Without those items in my life, I haven’t felt poorer for skipping or ditching them. The less I feel like the Steubenville Silent 16, the more content I figure I’ll be.

2 responses

  1. A couple of things about this post stand out for me. I understand your meaning as it relates to movies. “I’ve experienced that moral of the story to its fullest and beyond. If new works on the subject can truly change the hearts and minds of the lost souls in need of such practical advice, don’t let me stand in the way,…”

    I can appreciate that your remarks, “I’ve already learned that lesson, no more convincing necessary. Anyone who needs someone like me to teach them Rape Is Bad 101 needs more help in a variety of departments than I can possibly give them within my lifetime.” And “Rape is so thoroughly not-my-thing.”

    The statement, “The less I feel like the Steubenville Silent 16, the more content I figure I’ll be.” I wonder if it doesn’t have two meanings.
    1) you don’t wish to witness sexual assault in any form
    2) you don’t wish to be silent on a subject that repulses you in every way

    Did I get that right? Do I get a gold star? I did not follow the testimony or courtroom drama, as I did not wish to nor did I need to be made aware of the details. The outcome and responses to it interest me. The coverage of the whole thing is not surprising as I too have “experienced the moral of the story” and I too, did not want to be silent on a subject that repulses me in every way.
    Well, said Randall.

    Like

    • Thanks for that — a gold star and a smiley face drawn with a red pen. #1 was my primary intent, and #2 is, ultimately, why I didn’t go with my wife’s suggestion of doing something “lighthearted” (i.e., anything else but this) for my daily post instead. Like you, I was only familiar with the story in passing until word of the post-verdict reactions was spread. That got my attention, to say the least.

      Like

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