Monday, May 10, 2010

A couple pop-culture-related trigger warnings of note

I want to get these out there in case you, like me, were unaware or not fully aware. This post will contain spoilers in the form of trigger warnings for the following: the video game "Heavy Rain," the movie "I Spit on Your Grave," and the book/movie "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." If you don't want to know about these, avert your eyes now.

First up: The game "Heavy Rain." I have no idea how many people who read this blog play video games, and this one is rather hard to describe. The way you play it is different from other games. You have to "help" the characters do all kinds of things -- from getting through a fist fight to cooking eggs to changing a diaper to shooting someone. (This review explains it pretty well.) It's extremely interactive and story driven, and there's no right way to play. Your decisions in the game can change the game. Two people can play through and have two very different experiences. So with that said,  this just applies to my game and what I came across.

First of all, the game is rated M, and if you read the game box, it lists "nudity" on it. Within about the first five minutes of play, a male character's butt can be seen while you're helping him shower. I did not know there was nudity in the game at first, but once I realized it I kind of figured that was it -- his butt. I was wrong. Hours later, you meet a woman character that you play as (you play as four characters, ultimately), and you can have her take a shower. When you do, she will be naked, and you will see her boobs and butt. For a decent amount of time. (This annoys me to no end; it's completely unnecessary to her story, IMO, and therefore just gratuitous boobs.) I will say this: I'm not 100 percent sure she has to take a shower. In my game, it seemed she did. There was nothing else to do but shower, so I felt that's what I had to do to advance the game. This could be different for others, I'm not sure.

Okay, so there's a man's ass and a woman's boobs and ass. None of which are necessary, but not the end of the world, right? BUT. Later in the game, this same woman, who has already been through a non-sexual assault sequence (in a dream, while wearing just a tank top and underwear) ends up alone in a room with a skeezy club owner. She's trying to get information from him, but the guy wants her to put on a show for him (and presumably, do him). She tries to back out because she doesn't want to do this, but he pulls a gun on her and tells her to take off her clothes. And you, playing as the character, pretty much have to comply. You have to make your woman character take off her clothes at gunpoint. She can, ultimately, end up in just her underwear. At gunpoint.

Now, this upsets me. I kind of lucked out in this regard: When I first realized there was a naked woman in this game, I went to the Internet looking for information on it, because I'm kind of surprised I hadn't heard about it. That is when I learned about this "strip" scene, so at least I had the advantage of knowing it was coming. But had I not done that Internet search, I would have had no idea. I thought about not continuing the game, but decided I wanted to know how that scene played out. I needed to see for myself how bad it was. That's why I'm writing up this trigger warning. I want others to know this happens in this game, and I also want to share something about this scene: I did not have to strip her down to her underwear. Every site I saw that discussed this scene all had photos of the woman character in just her underwear, completely topless. In my game (and I'm guessing in others this is possible), I was able to get out of the scene having only taken off the woman's skirt. She still had her shirt and bra and underwear on. If you play this game and care about these things, just know this is possible.

As a sort-of aside, I think this (potential) nude scene, and the scene in general, is unnecessary. You know, it's up to the game developers to decide things like "let's force this one woman character to strip at gunpoint." And that's what they decided. They did not decide to create a scene that would reach the same end-result in a different way, like, say she's just at gunpoint period without the forced stripping. We already know the club owner is skeezy and treats women like crap, before the forced stripping. And he is a very minor character, so it's not like this is some big character reveal that's important to his story. So, there's that. (And do yourself a favor and do NOT look up the articles about this game's nudity, and if you do, do NOT read the comments, because I cannot understand for the life of me why guys are OMGZ SOoo EXCITEDS about boobs in a video game, even if those boobs are revealed when the woman character is forced to show them at gunpoint. They aren't real boobs, plus she's being assaulted, and you are on a computer, where you are always one click away from all kinds of boobs that are willingly being shown. Also? People were complaining that this character -- the one in the box art -- isn't feminine-looking enough. Whatever that means.)

One more note about this game: there is also a scene where a woman prostitute is being beaten, but you don't see much of it. And after that, they have treated the prostitute fairly well. (She has not had any nude scenes.) Oh, and I haven't finished the game yet, so who knows what else will come up later. If it's anything big, I'll post it.

Next up: "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." This book and its movie adaptation have already received a lot of press, and I have both read the book and seen the movie. I highly recommend them, but I will say, there are rape scenes that are extremely graphic, violent and highly uncomfortable. As you might imagine, the book is a little more descriptive of what happens, but the scenes in the movie made much more of an impact. Both a woman (twice) and a man are raped (he is her rapist; she gets revenge). There's no avoiding rape in either the book or movie because the main plot is about an investigation into a person or people who is/are serial rapists and murderers. Those rapes are not shown, but they are discussed to some extent. If you see this movie and have not read the book, just know the big rape scene is hard to watch, violent, and in my opinion, fairly realistic. It is (again, in my opinion) extremely relevant to the characters and to the plot, so at least there's that?

Finally: "I Spit on Your Grave." Okay, so I've never seen this movie, which came out in 1978. It's usually classified as an exploitation film. The plot (as I understand it): A city woman moves to the country and a group of men decide to gang rape her. For FORTY-FIVE minutes of the 90 minute film. Then she gets revenge on all of them. The extended rape scene is, by all accounts, awful and brutal and every other descriptor you might come up with for a 45 minute rape scene. From Wikipedia: "Movie critic Roger Ebert wrote that this was the worst movie that he had ever seen, referring to it as 'a vile bag of garbage ... without a shred of artistic distinction,' adding that 'Attending it was one of the most depressing experiences of my life.'"

So you might wonder why I'm talking about this movie from 30 years ago, and it is because the movie is being remade. I have no idea if it will feature such an extended rape scene, or if it will get a lot of press or a wide release or anything like that, but there is already a movie poster out there (with the tagline "It's Date Night," as if that's clever), there is a trailer, and according to IMDB, the movie is supposed to come out in September of this year.

Any other trigger warnings you want to share? Let us know, or e-mail me about it at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.

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