I swear i'll be writing more in 2014

Monday, January 18, 2010

Once Upon a Time in America When Rape Was Less Taboo

I touched on this briefly when I discussed Streetcar Named Desire, and after watching Once Upon a Time in America, one of the most taboo subjects again needs to be talked about, and that's the R word because apparently, the word is evolving into something that’s like smoking in movies in the early 2000s, it's quite rare on the big screen. I'm sure I'm wrong about this because I've done absolutely no research, but I can't remember a big "rape" scene in any of the big movies I've seen in awhile. Maybe I'm forgetting some horrible villain that was so bad, it was just another horrible act that villain did, but seriously, I'm drawing a blank. I mention this because through cinema history, some big ass movies have some big ass rape scenes and for one reason or another, they don't seem like such a big deal, whereas if Leonardo DiCaprio raped some starlet today in a movie, it seems like it would be a hot topic for the TMZ generation to talk about.

The 1950s had that controversial scene at the end of Streetcar, the 60s had one in Dr. Zhivago, the 70s made women everywhere squeamish with Clockwork Orange, men feeling similar with Deliverance, and what happens in High Plains Drifter is unbelievable. If Matt Damon rapes a woman to establish small town clout in a movie today, well, I wouldn't know what to do. Once Upon a Time in America's awful scene is probably the worst of them all because DeNiro is forcing himself upon a woman he loves, which because the act is on an alleged loved one makes it the worst. Maybe you could argue that fatty taking it up the butt in Deliverance is worse because of the physical pain of the smaller hole, but I'm sure no one in their right mind wants me to break down either a Best or Worst Rapes in Cinema history list. In fact, these past few sentences already seem to be light-heartedly looking at one of the worst acts man can commit.

So here we have some of the biggest movies spanning 4 decades with this taboo committed, but once the 90s hit, shit, even after DeNiro's scene here, I can't recall it happening in any movies I like. Is it just my taste? You have Marlon Brando, Clint Eastwood and Robert DeNiro all signing contracts to perform this scene, the three biggest actors ever, none playing deranged lunatics in the roles they do it in, and now we have the Brad Pitt's and George Clooneys of the world … and nothing. This isn't a call to arms for the scenes to come back, in fact, it's quite the opposite. I don't need taboos for a movie to be riveting, which is why I'm not a fan of the horror genre. I'm just pointing out the trend here. There will be times a lead actor gets cool points for smoking on film. There will be times he will when he's an alcoholic. There will be times he won't. To me, it's also reminds me that after 9/11 everybody put miniature American flags on their cars, and now you don't see them anywhere. A tragedy basically turned into a fad for the people outside of NYC. Some things shouldn't be trends or fads, and rape and terrorist attacks have been treaded otherwise by American culture.

I'll stop being a preachy pete here and end up with a moral dilemma. This example comes from Season 1 of the Jack Bauer Power Hour, otherwise known as 24. There's a sequence where Jack's wife and daughter have been kidnapped and one of the bad guys wants to give the daughter the business. The wife offers herself up in order to protect her daughter. Is this consensual? I say ..


  1. dude, what about "The Accused" for which Jodie Foster got an Oscar for being raped on top of a pinball machine in a crowded bar. Or "Kids" by Harmony Korine and Larry Clark, where a very young chloe Sevigny is raped by casper after she gets drugged at a party. There was also one recently where jennifer aniston gets raped. I think clive owen was in that movie. Also, who can forget Uma thurman getting raped while she's in the coma in Kill Bill.

    See dude, hollywood isnt afraid to throw some rape out there for you.

  2. The problem with the infamous rapes in "Once Upon A Time In America" is that they were not in the book. The first scene is very rough sex which is disguised as rape. Some people have found it very erotic, whereas the second rape is truly hideous.

    Having met a few women who have been raped,why were the scenes put in the first place.

    "....America" is a good film, but sexual violence erotic or not should never be justified...

  3. Irreversible. 9 minutes.