My friend who studies narrative, insisted that I should watch Deliverance, because, he says, it’s an amazing film with so many underlying and interwoven themes.
You mean, the movie with the creepy banjo music where the men get raped by mountaineers? Okie dokie, if you say so.
However, as I refer to myself as a “student of life,” curiosity got the better of me and I watched the movie this week. And, yes, this will make a second post in recent weeks about film. Somewhat unlike me.
Anyhow, for those of you who haven’t seen the movie, it’s pretty common knowledge that the dueling banjos are associated with a canoe trip down a river through rural Georgia turns sour when one of their own is sexually assaulted by two mountaineers, simply because they happened upon them after docking their canoes for a spell. I won’t get into the graphic details of the scene, but it *is* quite disturbing. It is not, however, visually graphic.
I can see where one who did not know this scene was coming would, in fact, be extremely disturbed by it. I found, while watching it, I was more curious – I knew that it was going to happen, I simply didn’t know how it was going to play out, or which member of the party it happened to. I also found, that while it was the turning point of the movie, and quite a critical scene, it wasn’t the entire movie, as many are led to believe.
However, my point is not to deconstruct the thematics of the movie, but to talk about another social issue plaguing us – desensitization. Was I not as disturbed by the scene as, say, my mother was when she watched it, because I knew the scene was coming? Or was I not as disturbed by it because I am that desensitized from all of the horrible things I see every day – on TV, in the news, etc.?
When I watched Fast Food Nation a few weeks ago, I was extremely disturbed by two particular scenes – one of which was one of the last in the movie, both of which were in the meat packing factory. The scenes were bloody and visually graphic, and I covered my eyes, but they didn’t stay with me for very long. I think back on those scenes and think, “gross,” but don’t think much else. The theme of the movie stayed, somewhat, but for other reasons.
In this movie, though I was expecting it, but I did not cover my eyes or cringe at the scene, as I did with Fast Food Nation, I found that initially I was not disturbed. However, now, a couple days later, I find myself replaying the scene in my head. I don’t know if “disturbed” is quite the word, but perhaps “moved.” I replay how that particular character changed from boisterous and outgoing to subdued. He acted very similarly to how a woman would react after being sexually assaulted – which tells me, perhaps, it is not a woman’s reaction, but a human reaction.
Actually, it is quite representative of sexual assault and what it entails. The mountaineers weren’t homosexuals – but they wanted to force these men to perform homosexual acts as a sense of power over them, as a “punishment,” a humiliation, for trespassing on their land. One of the biggest myths is, in fact, that sexual assault is about sex.
So, perhaps, in sum, I was not as disturbed by the scene because as a woman I have to be alert and aware of what sexual assault is, and what it entails – but a man watching that would, possibly, be incredibly more disturbed by it.
Or, perhaps, the rumors are true – my generation is simply *that* desensitized by modern culture.