Some television show creators are speaking out against how often rape scenes are portrayed on television, and some showrunners have decided to ban the scenes from their scripts altogether.
It sheds a negative light on female characters, and sometimes doesn’t serve any purpose to the narrative. This has been a big complaint — recently, the popular fantasy series Game of Thrones came under fire for it.
“One of my hard-and-fast rules when reading spec scripts was, the second that there was a rape that was used for shock value and that didn’t have any sort of narrative purpose, I threw the script aside. And I was shocked by the number that had that,” Jeremy Slater, executive producer of The Exorcist, said.
In some cases, rape is the first choice as a female character’s backstory, which is wrong on so many different levels.
“It’s become shorthand for backstory and drama. Everyone knows rape is awful and an horrific violation, so it’s easy for an audience to grasp,” one female writer, who chose to remain anonymous, said.
“The nexus of sex and violence is the cinematic equivalent of a cheap sugar rush,” Michelle Lovretta, Lost Girl executive producer and showrunner added. “In one scene, you could change the narrative arcs of a whole swath of your characters, and that kind of bomb can be pretty tempting for storytellers.”
One way to improve this situation is to have more female writers involved, and also to have a more diverse group behind the scenes — male writers aren’t irrelevant here either.
“More female voices are needed, obviously, but what’s also crucial is that men learn how to listen to women and let go of their perceptions,” another anonymous female writer said.