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TheBest2011-1000x50

020411_Rape_Main

Last week, I got an e-mail with a real honker of a subject line: "Most Controversial Film — More Dangerous than Wikileaks?" It claimed that a new film, Victim, contains a rape scene so realistic that "gay-rights activists and anti-rape groups tried to get it banned." The e-mail quoted John Edgarson, a spokesperson for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Forum of America: "When the subject of transgender-ism is taken as a means of torture, it makes us less than human and serves to demonize a whole set of innocent people in the minds of the public."

The e-mail stressed that the rape scenes were simulated — not real rape footage! — and then closed with instructions on how to order the film from On Demand.

Was this some sort of guerilla-marketing campaign targeting rape fans through reverse psychology? As it turns out, it was worse.

I clicked the link to the trailer. The film appears to be about a man who rapes a woman and is then given torturous gender-reassignment surgery by a Human Centipede–style mad scientist.

Rather than outraged admonitions from activists, the commenters complained about getting spammed. "WHERE IS MY EXTREME RAPE SCENE? GODDAM SPAM LYING TO ME AGAIN," wrote one YouTuber.

The trailer has been viewed 1000 times.

The clip is hosted on the YouTube page of the Grandview Theater in Columbus, Ohio. "I'm not sure who wrote the e-mail some people have received, but it sure wasn't about the movie we showed," Grandview president David Nedrow wrote below the video, in response to comments. "There are two rape scenes, but they are — if one can say this — mild."

So, no promised extreme rape. How about an LGBT community up in arms?

Alas, that proved nonexistent.

The Grandview's YouTube page seems to be the only locus of Victim discussion online. A Google search didn't yield scores of gay activists denouncing it — it yielded nothing at all. I couldn't find any record of "John Edgarson" or his organization, either. Gunner Scott, the director of the real-life Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, has never heard of such a person or group, nor had his contact at GLAAD.

So who invented Edgarson, put words in his mouth, and sent the e-mail? It originated, Nedrow pointed out to me, in India ("Do people really not know how to look at e-mail headers?" he groused.) He didn't send it. The film is distributed by IFC, but 42 West, IFC's marketing arm, denies sending the e-mail, too.

Unlike Edgarson, Victim director Matt Eskandari does exist, but when I call him at home in Los Angeles, he denies any involvement. "I've heard about this," he says. "I don't know what that is." I ask him how it feels to have someone market his film by generating fake controversy that targets rape fans. "It is what it is," he replies.

"Transgender people face an enormous amount of violence," Scott says, citing that an average of one transgendered person is murdered every month in a hate crime. "It appears this film didn't get much attention when it came out in November, and to use a community that's already dealing with discrimination and violence is pathetic."

CORRECTION
The original version of this article mistakenly referred to Gunner Scott's organization as the Massachusetts Transgender Association, rather than the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition.

  Topics: This Just In , film, IFC, lesbian,  More more >
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6 Comments / Add Comment

Lofn Gilbreath

Why aren't gays up in arms?

Personally, I just heard of it this morning, and prefer to watch movies before protesting them (so I don't accidentally protest a movie I don't believe is that bad), or I find extensive reviews to make sure it really is going to be a horrifying film. I've only seen two websites talking about this so far, and I seem to be hearing that the problems are with the rape scene and the idea of SRS being punishment.

As for the rape scene, Boys Don't Cry had a very horrible and very graphic rape scene that made me cry and made me not want to let certain FTM friends of mine see it. But rape is a real thing that really happens, and I think some need to be aware that it it actually does happen to transgendered people as well as cisexuals, I know people who were surprised at the notion of trans people getting raped because "who would do THAT?" (which comes from a combination of misconception that rape is about attraction, and misconception that no one would be attracted to trans people). Disturbing images can give someone a desire to care for the victims (rather than blame them, which is all too common among people who haven't had any kind of experience with a sexual attack). So I didn't mind Boys Don't Cry, didn't protest it, and keep it around for in case I ever need to make someone understand the plight of transgender people (and I always follow it with Southern Comfort, which is an amazing documentary and everyone should see it, and the 20/20 special on transgender children).

As for the SRS as bad bit, I actually think there is a possibility of doing things like that in a way that isn't offensive or isn't so offensive to transgender people (SRS IS bad, for cisexuals and anyone who is unwilling, just like heart surgery is bad for people who don't need it). When I first saw my mother watching Silence of the Lambs, and I saw Buffalo Bill, I sat down to wonder what transphobic piece of s*** my mom had decided to call a masterpiece. Then I was put to ease when I heard Lector talking about how Bill ISN'T trans, and only thinks he is, and I heard them talking about how this isn't how transgender people are, well, I don't know. I thought that was a good way to make a potential disaster something that actually eased my families fears about LGBT people (my mom marked once that they "even said in the movie trans people are not like that")

When I was christian in high school, I protested and preached against lots of films I hadn't seen (Thank you for Smoking, Saved!), shows I'd never seen (will and grace, pokemon) and music I'd never listened to (Eminem, Marylin Manson). I don't want to be like that any more. I want to either see it, or hear a full review from someone who has seen it. The whole film, not the trailer.

Besides, I'm more concerned right now with airport scanners than I am movies right now. You want to help trans people, let's work on not outing them every time they need to go somewhere by plane (like for example, to get SRS) I know media representation is important, but shouldn't we wait till we know more about the film? And shouldn't we focus ourselves on things that are more important? Isn't a simple boycott ok for now, and we can protest later when we know more? If you want something to protest, protest trans people not being allowed to serve openly in the military (DADT repeal doesn't apply to them because it's classified as a medical issue or a behavior issue), or protest for gay marriage, because whether a trans person can get married to the person of their choice depends on what sex they are counted as by the state law, and the criteria ranges from presentation to chromosomes. Gay marriage would take away gender restrictions, and anyone could marry anyone, regardless of hormones, clothing, chromosomes, etc. Request gender neutral, or "family" bathrooms and dressing rooms in public places. Can't tell you how confusing it can be for a transgender person to figure out where they legally can use the restroom, especially mid-op. I know a lot of people who just don't use public restrooms if they can help it, makes life very difficult.

Protest for anti-discrimination in workplaces and housing. Protest for improved health care for trans people. Protest for more to be done in combating violent crime against trans people, but don't take to the streets protesting a film you've only seen the trailer of.
Posted: February 02 2011 at 7:19 PM

Lofn Gilbreath

Why aren't gays up in arms?

Personally, I just heard of it this morning, and prefer to watch movies before protesting them (so I don't accidentally protest a movie I don't believe is that bad), or I find extensive reviews to make sure it really is going to be a horrifying film. I've only seen two websites talking about this so far, and I seem to be hearing that the problems are with the rape scene and the idea of SRS being punishment.

As for the rape scene, Boys Don't Cry had a very horrible and very graphic rape scene that made me cry and made me not want to let certain FTM friends of mine see it. But rape is a real thing that really happens, and I think some need to be aware that it it actually does happen to transgendered people as well as cisexuals, I know people who were surprised at the notion of trans people getting raped because "who would do THAT?" (which comes from a combination of misconception that rape is about attraction, and misconception that no one would be attracted to trans people). Disturbing images can give someone a desire to care for the victims (rather than blame them, which is all too common among people who haven't had any kind of experience with a sexual attack). So I didn't mind Boys Don't Cry, didn't protest it, and keep it around for in case I ever need to make someone understand the plight of transgender people (and I always follow it with Southern Comfort, which is an amazing documentary and everyone should see it, and the 20/20 special on transgender children).

As for the SRS as bad bit, I actually think there is a possibility of doing things like that in a way that isn't offensive or isn't so offensive to transgender people (SRS IS bad, for cisexuals and anyone who is unwilling, just like heart surgery is bad for people who don't need it). When I first saw my mother watching Silence of the Lambs, and I saw Buffalo Bill, I sat down to wonder what transphobic piece of s*** my mom had decided to call a masterpiece. Then I was put to ease when I heard Lector talking about how Bill ISN'T trans, and only thinks he is, and I heard them talking about how this isn't how transgender people are, well, I don't know. I thought that was a good way to make a potential disaster something that actually eased my families fears about LGBT people (my mom marked once that they "even said in the movie trans people are not like that")

When I was christian in high school, I protested and preached against lots of films I hadn't seen (Thank you for Smoking, Saved!), shows I'd never seen (will and grace, pokemon) and music I'd never listened to (Eminem, Marylin Manson). I don't want to be like that any more. I want to either see it, or hear a full review from someone who has seen it. The whole film, not the trailer.

Besides, I'm more concerned right now with airport scanners than I am movies right now. You want to help trans people, let's work on not outing them every time they need to go somewhere by plane (like for example, to get SRS) I know media representation is important, but shouldn't we wait till we know more about the film? And shouldn't we focus ourselves on things that are more important? Isn't a simple boycott ok for now, and we can protest later when we know more? If you want something to protest, protest trans people not being allowed to serve openly in the military (DADT repeal doesn't apply to them because it's classified as a medical issue or a behavior issue), or protest for gay marriage, because whether a trans person can get married to the person of their choice depends on what sex they are counted as by the state law, and the criteria ranges from presentation to chromosomes. Gay marriage would take away gender restrictions, and anyone could marry anyone, regardless of hormones, clothing, chromosomes, etc. Request gender neutral, or "family" bathrooms and dressing rooms in public places. Can't tell you how confusing it can be for a transgender person to figure out where they legally can use the restroom, especially mid-op. I know a lot of people who just don't use public restrooms if they can help it, makes life very difficult.

Protest for anti-discrimination in workplaces and housing. Protest for improved health care for trans people. Protest for more to be done in combating violent crime against trans people, but don't take to the streets protesting a film you've only seen the trailer of.
Posted: February 02 2011 at 7:19 PM

Flutterby

Maybe they are not protesting because THERE IS NOTHING to protest about... did that little bit of logic ever occur to the author of this article?

Maybe if Ms. Willimason actually SAW this movie, she would have a better understanding -- the way this article is written, sounds like an naive reporter that did not really do much 'investigation' for her purported investigatory piece. Lame.
Posted: February 02 2011 at 7:22 PM

Flutterby

SPOILER: Furthermore, it should be noted that the person that is actually raped in the film VICTIM IS NOT TRANSGENDERED.... the reporter has the whole thing wrong... bad job!
Posted: February 02 2011 at 7:25 PM

Flutterby

Also -- very INACCURATE characterization in this article's title of VICTIM as an "IFC-distributed rape film" -- anyone who has seen this film will agree that is NOT TRUE. VICTIM IS NOT a "rape film" -- it is actually really unprofessional/borderline libelous for someone to characterize anything/anyone so inaccurately. The editors of The Phoenix are the ones that should be "up in arms" publishing such an unintelligent, naive and false article.

I have also seen The Human Centipede" and that comparison is really uncalled for -- obviously a MISCHARACTERIZATION by someone who has NOT seen the film. VICTIM is nothing like the Human Centipede! Note to Ms. Williamson: Just because the two films contain a basic character, i.e. "Doctors purportedly torturing someone" does not make a good comparison comment. It is diapointing how unprofessional some news media have become.

Personally, I have seen VICTIM twice, once at a screening in Los Angeles, and again on IFC Midnight because I liked it and wanted my friend to see it with me. I am a horror film genre fan and especially a fan of Directors such as Stanley Kubrick and Hitchcock. VICTIM reminded me of Hitchock's classic PYSCHO more than any other film.

People, please THINK FOR YOURSELVES and SEE IT FOR YOURSELF beore casting judgment and false characterizations as LOFN GILBREATH so eloquently put it.
Posted: February 02 2011 at 7:39 PM

dontmove

Gays ought be up in arms about "Levi Johnston: Don't Move! |OFFICIAL trailer #1 EU (2011)|! " Gay icon my butt. He is a opportunist that took advantage of a veteran and GLBT activist artist.

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rs0nYjxqfCY
Posted: February 03 2011 at 1:10 PM
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