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30 September 2011 @ 05:59 pm
Telepathy And Sexual Assault -- Dreamscape  
This movie, from 1984, pulls out the tired old trope of "it's not really 'rape rape' because she gets over it and decides he's her One True Love, After All." This movie's presentation of telepathy as rape is a cross between Rape is OK If it's Sci Fi, Mind Rape and It's Not Rape If You Enjoyed It. Plus, of course, the guy who does the raping turning out to be her One True Love After All, in the end.

Recall that the underlying premise of "Rape Is OK If It's Sci Fi" is that "the way the rape happens can only happen in a science fiction or fantasy setting." According to TVTropes.com, "If someone is raped in a way that can only happen in a science fiction or fantasy setting — mind control, shapeshifter impersonators, etc. — it is often treated much less seriously than a rape that could happen in real life. In some cases the fact that it is rape is completely ignored by the storyline, and only the fanbase notices."

The assumption here is not merely that rape via telepathy is impossible, and therefore the rape should be overlooked, but that telepathy itself is impossible, and therefore the rape should be overlooked.

And overlooked it is.

There are several different issues I'm having with this film. For the sake of keeping this blog organized, I will only discuss the rape issue in this post, and will return to this film in later posts to discuss the other issues. You can eventually find those other posts by utilizing the tags feature.

A summary of the film's plot can be found on Wikipedia here.

The rape is in a subplot. From Wikipedia, "A subplot involving Alex and Jane’s growing infatuation culminates with him sneaking into Jane's dream without the use of the machines which are a part of the process, a point Jane does not realize at first because she is too angry that Alex was able to have sex with her in her dream." The caption to the image on the Wikipedia page reads, "Alex is caught invading Jane's dream."

This movie is heavily plays on the "psi as wish fulfillment" set of tropes -- Alex, the nineteen-year-old psychic [sic] protagonist, has been using his talents "for personal gain," namely gambling and womanizing. Apparently this also includes rape. In this movie, our "hero" saves the President of the United States (including murdering a "bad guy" in order to save the President from retribution), saves the US from an unfavorable nuclear disarmament treaty, and then gets the girl he raped. All before he is out of his teens!

So not only is the psi itself in this movie presented extremely unrealistically, the life of the psi character is just as unrealistic. We are, quite obviously, in Marty Stu territory. Action! Action! He is a man of action, which is what makes him a "perfect" Marty Stu! The normal rules of morality and ethics do not apply to him! Not only can he get away with rape, she will even decide afterward that she liked it, and that she still likes him, and she will decide the end that he really is her One True Love.

To wit, "The film ends with Jane and Alex boarding a train to Louisville, Kentucky (home of Churchill Downs), intent on making their previous dream encounter a reality."

See? In the middle of the film she doesn't even realize she was raped because she is too angry to acknowledge that he was able to "invade" her dream and have non-consensual sex with her, but by the end of the movie she decides that she actually likes him and wants to have consensual sex with him physically.

Why? I dunno, maybe because he saved the President of the United States, kicked a lot of ass, murdered a government bad guy, and protected the world from nuclear disarmament (wait, what? Whatever, this is 1984). Unlike real survivors of acquaintance rape/date rape, Jane tosses aside her anger and denial and sense of violation, and runs off with him so they can have more sex. Er, so he can "get the girl" by the end of the movie.

She never calls it rape -- after all, they did knew one another, and she did have a crush on him at the time, right? And maybe she was secretly lusting after him, so she really wanted him to do it to her, right?

And this was the 1980s. Cultural attitudes beginning to shift toward acknowledging date rape as rape, but this movie clearly didn't get the memo.

Of course, lusting after someone does not mean that all sex with that person is consensual, or that non-consensual sex with that person is therefore "not really rape." Nor, of course, does the movie's premise that this encounter was "psychic sex in her dream" make it not rape. It just means this movie is a male wish-fulfillment fantasy in which a man (who is above the law in several ways) can rape a woman without leaving any evidence, and in which the woman will then fall in love with her rapist because she really wanted him all along.

As much as the "psi man as sexual predator" trope is awful, this twist is no better. Here, he's not presented a predator -- he was entitled to her all along! He's not "brought to justice" -- he's the hero!

This, my readers, is not an improvement.
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