The background:

Sin City was released locally about three weeks or so ago. Before the movie starts, instead of the heady mix of mindless advertising and movie trailers that cinema-goers are usually obliged to sit through, it was decided that a locally made, five-minute long film would be screened instead. Certain cinemas advertised this fairly clearly, others not at all, which meant that a large group of unsuspecting viewers would no doubt have an opinion on this.
Now, the tricky part of this is the subject matter of this short film. Rape, or more specifically, baby rape. Something which occurs with a frequency that should leave your bones cold. Something which is reported on in both television news and printed media, and if you live in South Africa and are not fully aware of the horror of this reality, then somewhere there is a rock with a man-shaped hole underneath.

I saw Sin City last Friday night, and was unaware that this film was going to be shown beforehand. I was both highly impressed with the style of the film as well as the way the subject matter was handled. It used symbolism in an original and quite brilliant way, and the abstract style conveyed a powerful impact without resorting to overtly graphic images. (for example, the baby of the story is sometimes portrayed by a pile of bandaids or breadcrumbs)

Fast forward to this afternoon, driving to a client and listening to the local (only) talk-radio station. This film and the way it was presented has clearly ruffled more than a few feathers, and so they have as a guest one of the creators as well as inviting people to phone in.
Letters had been written and phonecalls made, complaining about being ‘sideswiped’ or ‘tricked’ into seeing something they were not in the mood for, some even going as far as to demand their money back. Fortunately, these opinions seem to be in the minority.
Now, I agree that it was perhaps not the most ideal way to screen this movie, and that people should be able to choose what they see, but is anyone else struck by the same sledgehammer of irony that I am?

This is freakin’ Sin City people! Probably the most violent movie of the year, a movie in which young girls are raped and brutally mutilated by one of the main villains! Yet your sensibilities are offended by a five-minute movie where the only violence is implied?
Sanity seems to prevail for the first ten minutes or so of the interview, until some moron phones in and poses these two questions to the creator. Where do most of these crimes take place? And where was this film shown? The implication was this. Most child rapes occur in poverty-stricken areas, and this film would have been shown in mostly upmarket centres. So why is it shown here when clearly the problem is elsewhere?
Can you believe this guy!?!?!?! There was about a 30 second silence as both the guest and host were trying to figure out if this guy really did ask what they thought he asked. Well….er….I dunno…..maybe because if we live in a society where baby rapes occur on a regular basis ITS EVERYFUCKINGBODIES PROBLEM! That the key to solving poverty lies in the hands of those very people sitting on their lazy asses on the nicely cushioned cinema seats.

So let me get this straight, it is acceptable to bitch about having to sit through a short but very relevant film about life in this country, but if I rant and rave about why I should sit through 15 adverts telling me to drive a Land Rover and use Revlon and Gillette and drink J&B and how pathetic my life is if I don’t have a cellphone with both camera and mp3 player, then I get stared at like I should be in a straightjacket. I can take a few minutes to write a letter of complaint about how my movie-going experience was ruined, but I can’t write a letter to the local government telling them that ONE baby rape is unacceptable, let alone FOUR in the space of two weeks.

But I’m misunderstanding, I hear a voice from the back pipe up. It’s not about the subject matter of the movie, its about choice. The choice to switch off the news if I don’t want to see what’s happening, to turn to the sports page instead of the frontpage.

My apologies. Clearly I must be wrong. I mean, look at the wonderful Utopia that attitude has provided us with so far…………

~ by tenmiles on November 4, 2005.

8 Responses to “113110643100097937”

  1. Where to start? This is another blog actually. First thing that leapt out at me was:

    “‘tricked’ into seeing something they were not in the mood for”

    So I wonder when they will ever be “in the mood” to face up to reality?

    It was a sneaky move (to show the film) but one I agree with. There should be way more social comment in our cinemas – along the lines of short movies, comedy sketches and such (you know how I feel about this topic) – we also need to “lighten up a bit” from time to time.

    Also because this film was shown alongside Sin City is no indicator of the audience who will go to see it. Movie audiences in this country, for the most part, are illiterate.

    The violence in Sin City is acceptable because it’s “fantasy” (cough) … but the implied (or otherwise) violence inherent in a doccie about baby rape is very REAL and in your face and current. We are powerless in a movie house to react to it, either. We just have to sit there and watch and not have any forum for debate or discussion about the merits (or otherwise) of the thing. So I can understand how a person could feel in some way traumatised, frustrated and largely made to feel impotent.

    The arguments put forward by the caller (on Cape Talk yes?) are atypical of the mindset in this country. Everything gets brought down to the lowest common denominator – namely politics and “struggle” rationalisation.

    Anycase, that’s my tuppence worth.
    For now.

  2. I can kindof see the reason behind complaining that there was no warning that this doc. was being shown, especially if it was hard-hitting.

    But then again, people will only see what they want to see unless occasionally someone forces them into reality.
    And who wants to see babies being raped? No one, so the general public would prefer to ignore and sidestep the issue rather than face up to this horror.

    Here in Ireland we’ve just had a huge report into the abuse inflicted on so many children by catholic priests. And one of the big things I noticed, was how often people turned a blind eye to these children’s complaints. Ignore them, or persuade yourself the child is making up these stories and you don’t have to deal with the horrificness of the truth.

    Slightly different that what you are talking about, but I think the same principles apply.

    Do you have film ratings over there? If so, I presume Sin City was an 18’s, or restricted or similar, so while adults may not want to watch it, they really have no reason to complain about it. Apart from the fact that rapes occur.

  3. Luke – I mentioned it earlier, but I’ll say it again. I agree with you completely about the feelings of impotence, which is a pitiful fraction of what a rape victim must feel. And even if we have to be ‘tricked’, if only for a few minutes, into experiencing that……..good.

    Fence – But that’s what I don’t understand, it wasn’t even hard-hitting! It could have been so much more ‘in your face’, so much more graphic and sensational. But it wasn’t. It was sensitively handled and fragile.

    I think the same principles apply as well, perhaps even more so then either of us understand.

  4. I have come down on the side of believing people should have been forewarned and given the choice of what they were to see, even before a movie of the violent content that Sin City has…regardless of its content it is indeed “entertainment” as are the assinine commercials one has to watch before a film.

    I guess you have to ask yourself what your attitude would have been had you been “forced” to sit through a 5 minute film espousing a certain religious or political belief that you don’t agree with, etc. I’m sure the outcry would’ve been even bigger.

    The problem with things like this is they often have the potential of making a negative impact…turning off those who would otherwise care about the situation because someone else chose to throw it in their face.

    I don’t think showing films like this before movies are a bad idea but I do think the paying public should have a right to know what they will be getting beforehand…that way they can choose what they want to see.

  5. how awful do i feel that i didn’t even know there was a baby rape problem.

    i feel slightly sick.

    not least of which because a part of me wonders, is that even physically possible? shudder.
    it’s beyond my imagining.

  6. Hmmm, Carl made me think. yes, entertainment very different that reality. Does entertainment violence have any bearing on the reality of baby rape? And I’d have to say no. But at the same time, do people have the right to shut themselves away from reality and say “I was only interested in watching a film, didn’t want to get on a downer by seeing horrible part of life”

    And you know what, I don’t think that ignorance is a right. So while I do think a warning should have been given I also think that anything that make people face what is really going on is a good thing.

    But there is also the question of whether or not showing such a short film before an entertainment-fest is right for the short itself. Surely it must lose some of its impact when Sin City starts up?

  7. When I saw the film in question, I thought it was exceptionally well made in that it conveyed a powerful message without resorting to overt shock tactics. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help wondering what good it would do, being shown in a movie theatres to your average middle-class citizen. If it was used as a vehicle to solicit funds for an anti-crime foundation or some such, it might actually make more of a difference.

  8. Where can I download it to see it, I was blown away by it and would like to send it to all my mates who didn’t get to see it.–>

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