Shawna, I know it’s been quite some time since your letter concerning I Spit on Your Grave was published in Rue Morgue #105. I am also aware that Joe from Kokomo, IN, already addressed your complaints in RM #107. It’s just that your letter pissed me off, and here I am, watching a rape/revenge film, and your letter is still haunting me.
Have you ever seen Extremities? I found myself thinking, “This is a movie Shawna LaCasse could get behind.” Farrah Fawcett, who also starred in the Broadway play, is Marjorie, who escapes a masked would-be rapist after only a few minutes of phallic knife play. When she files a police report, it becomes clear to her that the lack of physical evidence means the law can’t provide her any justice. Joe the rapist happened to steal her wallet and watches the home she shares with two friends. He comes to Marjorie unmasked to finish the job. It takes twenty-two minutes of violence, mind games, and subjugation before Marjorie takes on the mantle of revenger.
The problem is Joe never got past second base in those twenty-two minutes. From his cage, he taunts her that it’s “my word against yours,” and once the dust settles and he’s free, she and her friends will die. Enter said friends, begin falling action. Great movie, I loved it (even though no one died), and you will too. No penetration, and all the subtext inherent to a rape/revenge film brought literally to the text. Plenty of things to cling to as you justify your attack on ISoYG and me. But I’ve got your number.
Look, I didn’t like it the first time I saw the original. I think the first time most people see a rape/revenge film, they kinda want to puke. But it resonated with me. At first, I felt guilty for dwelling on that lavish display of cruelty – the reaction you want me to have. But here’s the rub, Shawna, what I eventually came to when I thought about it long enough. We – including you – like movies about women who are raped and tortured. Dexter Season 5, Teeth, DeadGirl, The Hills Have Eyes and a slew of police procedural tv series prove that. We want violated girls brought to us in droves. We want terror in their eyes, we want them put through Hell and left irreparable. The difference is that you demand a cut to the body dump, and I want the in-between.
When I watched 2009 The Last House on the Left, I expected Mari to die during the rape scene as in the original. I thought it was an in-between (spoiler alert: it’s not) and I viewed it solemnly, thinking that this happens to people. Some lives end this way. That’s horrorful. People like us, we explore horror because we want to consider the dark things that are pushed to the edges of our first-world commoditized life. We confront our fears in horror, and I am very afraid of being raped. I’m sure you are, too, and I think that you aren’t comfortable with that level of confrontation.
In short, you’re taking it too personally.
Further, I don’t understand your conclusion that female empowerment is valid only if it isn’t predicated by abjection in the first half of the action. You also posit that no film has merit that displays the female in a state of degradation as a focal point of its movie, then you perversely claim to love Irreversible. This is an incredibly nasty, hateful film whose only female character of significance remains passive and conquered throughout. What are you, some kind of dumbass poser? I pose that perhaps Irreversible is acceptable to you because it muddies the water with all manner of distractions (gay bashing, backwards storytelling, etc) and ISoYG is unacceptable because of its purity. Myself, I like them both, and I think ISoYG is more feminist.
And maybe I’m taking it too personally. Just because I can stomach actors simulating devastating violence doesn’t make me much better than you. I know very well that the sober and serious thoughts they provoke are really nothing but warm fuzzies that bring me a mere few inches closer to understanding true horror – and myself.
Ms. LaCasse, I don’t like that you used flawed logic to support the statement that, as a fan of ISoYG, I’m somehow deranged. I’m pissed that you name drop “our sisters in Darfur” and bitch about exploiting women in the same breath. I don’t like that you can’t look the lost girls in the face and that you castigate me for doing so. But ultimately, it’s the fact that you came to a point of opportunity in your horrorful life, and you missed it. ISoYG should have made you think like you’ve never thought before, but you stuck your head in the sand and justified yourself with recycled sound bites. Now you’re at a place where you make claims like no film has merit that puts a female in a place of degradation. Thank you for opening my eyes to the evils of The Color Purple, be sure to check out Extremities.