(Warning - Episode 2 from 1/12/2014 air date spoilers)
Some of you don't watch Downton Abbey--hang with me, this is not a fan post that requires previous review. :)
Anna Bates is the beloved--perhaps THE most beloved--character on Downton Abbey. She has grown into the position of ladies' maid, is married to a valet, Mr. Bates, and has an overwhelmingly sweet, giving, sacrificial personality.
Two weeks ago, the Internet erupted into outrage over Episode 2 of Season 4. I'd already seen the episode several months prior when it aired in Britain, so I braced myself for the onslaught that was coming. Episode 2 featured (without visual) the assault of Anna by a visiting valet to the Abbey. It left her raped and emotionally shattered. It shocked viewers and created a backlash against the show.
I was a part of some online discussions surrounding this episode. First, people are VERY emotionally connected with the show, and that in itself stunned me a tad. While I get swept into entertainment, I rarely connect so emotionally as to feel violated myself. Regardless, having already seen it and knowing what is to come, it was quite interesting to sit back and watch the reactions.
Here are a few of my observations--and for those of you who could care not one snippet for DA, hang in here, I have a question for you:
- It was interesting to hear viewers draw conclusions on the show's/writer's intentions before seeing the full season. The overwhelming majority concluded the writer had stooped to rape for shock value to drag in numbers, or to simply shock its viewers with misplaced entertainment. That rape should never be used as entertainment.
- I was also surprised by how many swore they would never watch another episode and that DA had finally "crossed the line".
- There was enough outrage to make me feel that if I'd been raped, these folks, though goodhearted, might not be able to emotionally handle my confession--As if these people just simply wouldn't be able to deal with the horror of my circumstances.
So my come back to all of this?
Oddly enough, the show brought into the light the horrors of rape and did a magnificent job, in episode 2, of doing anything remote to glorifying it as valued entertainment. My conclusion after the painful viewing of Episode 2 was how awful it was and I was truly curious to see how the writer would address the after-effects of a lip-zipped crime that women still feel embarrassed and wrong to admit. Now, I have the bonus in that, I watched the rest of Season 4, I know where the writers will take the rape of Anna Bates, and I applaud them for going somewhere no one seems to be willing to go. For all the women who have super glued their lips shut after the guilt of violation, I herald Downton Abbey.
But think about this... have you ever seen this type of moral outrage over the sexually promiscuous scenes of other "favorited" movies. For example: The Notebook. It's rife with an adulterous affair, graphic love making, and an alcoholic lover chosen over a faithful, sacrificial war hero. Yet, this is heralded as an instant classic, a fine love story, a beautiful depiction of romance. Warm fuzzies.
So we herald sinful, explicit lovemaking and adultery and scream in outrage when an assault occurs against a beloved character and sin is exposed in all of its ugliness?
Therein lies my question? When do we find ourselves outraged by entertainment? When tragedy strikes a favorite, or when a favorite finds themselves knee-deep in glorified and applauded sin? Have we by chance placed far more time and effort in skewering a writer you think used rape for entertainment when in fact, there was no glory in the depicting of it at all? And have we by chance, placed sin on our computer desktops as Ryan Gosling takes Rachel McAdams into his bed as she sneaks away from her faithful, betrothed war hero?
Thoughts? Do I have it all wrong?