In my last journal I apparently touched a few people off by saying that I didn’t like rape jokes in Family Guy, and that I was upset that a digital mutant lizard was killed in the trailer for Mad Max. There were a number of people who didn’t find those things to be offensive and couldn’t seem to understand why I personally would get so upset. “Family Guy has ALWAYS had rape jokes” or “It’s not even a real animal” being the typical response. So let’s try to address this stuff...Family Guy and Rape Culture
Before we begin we need to set some definitions so that we’re all on the same page. Rape culture is a phrase used to describe a culture in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender, sex, and sexuality. Examples of behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification, trivializing rape, denial of widespread rape, or refusing to acknowledge the harm of certain forms of sexual violence that do not conform to certain stereotypes of stranger or violent rape.
Unlike the idea that violent video games make people violent, there are actually a lot of scientific studies that show making jokes about rape DOES, in fact, result in society at large trivializing rape and can result in victim blaming and dismissing how harmful rape actually is.
A couple links to some scientific studies for you to peruse if you want:www.uiowa.edu/~grpproc/crisp/c…rajsivaraman.wordpress.com/201…
If you don’t think rape culture exists, think about how often rape is brought up as a casual synonym for “defeat” in video game competitions. For Example: When 10 year old kids are shouting “I raped you/your team” over X-Box Live, that’s normalizing/trivializing rape. Studies have shown that people who make light of rape, are more likely to dismiss rape claims and are also less likely to enforce harsh punishments on convicted rapists.
Family Guy relies a lot on shock/satirical humor. But if there’s one thing I think Family Guy often gets wrong, it’s how to pull off satire well. I personally do not think that Family Guy is a funny show. Often the jokes fall flat, or are just so extreme and shocking that they’re more of a turn-off for me. And rape humor, sadly, is an integral part of the show since one of the main characters has been known to (or implied to) force sex on women on numerous occasions.
Now I am not trying to make you feel bad, or “prove” to you that Family Guy is awful. If you find the show funny, by all means continue to watch it. However, the issue was that people didn’t understand why I
personally had a problem with rape jokes, and this is my explanation. I’ve grown up knowing a lot of people who have been raped. It’s a terrible disgusting act that leaves long-standing psychological trauma to the victim. I do not personally feel that rape jokes should be made at all. I’m not saying they can’t
be made, because of course all humor is subjective and open for anyone to tackle. But I am saying that if given the choice I don’t think they should
be made. In my opinion they’re not funny, and in the long run they breed social acceptance of rape culture. And there are so many other jokes you could make, falling back on rape humor is just really low, unoriginal, and shows a severe lack of imagination.SIDE NOTE ON CENSORSHIP AND VIOLENCE
I know a lot of people out there seem to think that rape jokes are like violence in video games. IE: violence in video games don't cause people to become more violent, therefor rape jokes don't make people actually rape. And in a certain sense they're right. However, rape jokes DO trivialize rape, and that can have longstanding damages on our culture. I don't think rape jokes cause people to rape more often, but I do think it causes people to look at rape as less of an issue. Likewise, pointing this out is NOT like the violence censorship problems video games have gone through. No one is trying to "censor" rape jokes through legal recourse. No one is advocating for LAWS to be written to regulate comedy or video games or movies involving rape jokes. There is a HUGE difference between trying to outright CENSOR something legally because you find it offensive, and actively asking that people be EMPATHETIC to those around them and not purposefully do things that might trigger or harm those around us out of consideration. Please bear that in mind while reading this.Digital Animal Abuse
Now this one I can understand a lot of people not getting. I will admit that I am more sensitive than others when it comes to animal abuse in movies. OBVIOUSLY the animals aren’t really getting hurt. We have ethical programs and animal groups put in place to ensure that they aren’t harmed during the filming of a movie. And films are all abut make-believe.
But that’s just it... movies are DESIGNED to make you feel something towards characters and situations. Their whole purpose is to manipulate you through visuals and sound to feel happy or sad or angry at whatever is going on the screen. Growing up around animals all my life, I’ve become very empathetic towards them and it pains me when I see animals in movies getting hurt, abused, or killed off simply for “the sake of the plot.”
Remember Independence Day? There was a scene where a family was running away from the alien’s fire wall and left their dog in the car. In the original cut, the dog died. Test audiences were so upset about this that the filmmakers went back and added a heroic scene of the dog jumping over cars and escaping.
The thing is... animals don’t have our intelligence. Animals aren’t born vicious and malicious, they become that way due to external forces. Pit Bulls and Rottweilers are not vicious by nature, they’re vicious because we (humans) make them vicious. Dogs and other animals don’t have the higher level critical thinking to understand WHY something is happening to them. They operate pretty much on a purely emotional level. And that’s why it bothers me when animals are abused or hurt in movies. I’m empathetic enough that I can put myself in their situation. They’re innocent. They don’t know WHY they’re being hurt. All they know is that they ARE being hurt. And often times, there’s no real good reason TO hurt an animal in a movie.
And I know that I am not alone in this. There’s even a website out there called “Does the Dog Die?” doesthedogdie.com/
and the whole point of the site is to say YES or NO, without spoiling the movie, if an animal in the film is portrayed as being hurt or killed. I cannot stand when filmmakers resort to hurting an animal in films. It’s a cheap emotional crutch.
Am I personally more sensitive than other people? ABSOLUTELY. I know that I am. I’ve seen enough movies and witnessed enough actual animal death that I do not want to see any more of it, even if it’s fake. It doesn’t matter if it’s the digital dog from Vin Diesel’s 3rd Riddick film, or the 2 headed lizard from the Mad Max trailer. I don’t care if it shows that the T-1000 is cold-hearted, there’s no need to kill the dog in Terminator 2. Heck, even the troll from The Fellowship of the Ring is given that one suddenly humanizing moment when Legolas shoots an arrow through his throat and he realizes he’s going to die... there’s that low painful wail that is gut wrenching to listen to.
I understand that not everyone shares my views on these things. Some people can take stuff better than others. I freely acknowledge that I am more sensitive about animals in films than other people. But I hope at least this explains WHY I’m more sensitive.