Posts Tagged ‘rape’
Last week, Melissa at Women & Hollywood was kind enough to cross post my post on the rape culture presented by the show 24. In conjunction, she also linked to a post from EW on the role women are playing in this season of 24. This post made me realize (one of) the reason(s) I am not liking this season as much as previous ones.
24 is now in it’s 8th season. I’ve known from the beginning that it really is the “Jack Bauer Show” and no one better get in the way of that. But despite that fact, there have been some representations of strong women in the past seasons. Nina was pretty kick ass…even if it was in an evil way. Audrey was also pretty cool. Chloe has pretty much been my favorite character since she came into the show. And even Renee was pretty strong when she was introduced last season. But this season, it really does suck to be a woman on 24.
Chloe has been a technical analyst on the show since 2003. She’s incredibly intelligent, is better than all the guys (until now) when it comes to computers (which is rare in media representation), and she always offers honest, witty, funny comments on the events of the show. I used to love when she was on screen. She usually made the scene. She’s one of the few people that Jack actually trusts, and for good reason…she’s pretty awesome. But this season, she has not been as awesome…
After leaving CTU, she’s back because he husband got fired and she needed a job to support the family. But apparently technology has changed since she left. In the first couple episodes, she is constantly being yelled at by the new director for being behind. I, personally, find it hard to believe that Chloe doesn’t know the most recently technology. And now, because she’s not as up-to-date, she has to depend on one of the other analysts, Arlo. Things are getting a little better as the season moves on for Chloe. She had a little more screen time this week. But Arlo has pretty much taken the place of Chloe in terms of technology and witty comments. He’s now the one that’s always in other people’s business. When it was Chloe, it was because she was concerned about the mission and cared about the people around her (even if she wouldn’t admit it), but Arlo only does it because he is in love with Dana.
And speaking of Dana… Dana is one of the new characters this season played by Katee Sackoff (of Battlestar Galactica). She is also an analyst at CTU. Now, I didn’t start watching Battlestar Galactica until after this season of 24 had started (please no spoilers, I’m only on season 2). But I had heard a lot about the expectations of Katee Sackoff, and I definitely understand now that I’ve started BSG. Sackoff’s character on that show was pretty kick ass in an all-around, general way. But Dana is a push-over. I didn’t like the character at the start of the season and I really don’t like her now that I have seen what Katee Sackoff is capable of.
Dana is haunted by her past indiscretions…quite literally. An ex-boyfriend, that she committed some kind of felony with, is out of jail and blames Dana for him being there. So he gets her to help him and a buddy steal a bunch of money. She just lets this guy walk all over her and even commits a crime again for him. She wants so desperately to keep her past hidden that she will do anything. And we are meant to believe (after this week’s episode) that she is going to shoot this ex-boyfriend and his buddy. Dana is just portrayed as a push-over and desperate. Not really a great combination.
And speaking of desperate, let’s get to Renee. Renee was introduced last season as a FBI agent working with Jack Bauer. She wasn’t my favorite character, but she was a pretty strong woman at most points. But, at the end of last season, she takes a page from Jack’s book and tortures a suspect (at least, that’s what we’re meant to believe) and leaves the FBI. Since then, she regrets what she’s done and doesn’t think that she has anything to live for anymore. We are informed that she had previously tried to commit suicide and asks someone to shoot her during the season (used as a tool to get this person to believe her, but we are meant to believe that she would have been perfectly happy if he had pulled the trigger).
Renee was the focus of my post on rape culture in 24, because she was raped this season while undercover, but the show will not present it in this way. After this rape and a beating, she stabs her attacker. Sounds like self-defense, right? But the show is treating it as some sort of mental snap that has no connection to the fact that this man raped and beat her. The show seems desperate to portray her as crazy. All the men on the show (except, possibly, for Jack) see her as crazy and kind of at fault for losing their lead (her attacker). Because of this treatment, Renee also blames herself for Jack’s subsequent capture and the loss of a lead. I won’t go into this story line anymore because I did have a whole post dedicated to it and it still really pisses me off. So…read it here if you are interested.
And then there’s President Allison Taylor (played by Cherry Jones). She is the last main female character of the show. She is the first female president (in the show, seeing as how the U.S. has never had a female president). She was introduced last season as well, and she was a pretty good president, especially under pressure. But this season, she just seems to be falling apart as her peace deal is. Her time on screen has been reduced to phone calls to powerful men who kind of push her around (the IR prime minister — I think it’s supposed to be Iran — and the director of CTU). I’ve been disappointed with her character this season as well.
As a commenter over at Women & Hollywood points out, the fact that 24 has zero women writers speaks loudly to their treatment of rape this season. But I think that also translates into the treatment of the female characters as a whole this season. I would be interested to know if 24 has ever had women writers working on previous seasons, or if they have never really had women writers. I mean, women have never really played a great role in 24, but there have been some few examples throughout the seasons. This season, all the women are weak or push-overs or crazy.
I think a good step in addressing 24‘s “woman problem” (as the EW post references it as) could easily be addressed if there were more women writers in the room. It can’t just be one or two women, because then there is a likelihood that their voice(s) wouldn’t really get heard in the room full of men. There needs to be a decent percentage of women on the writing team. Not all women are going to be well-versed in what constitutes rape or not, for example, but I think that creating more well-rounded female characters would happen if there were simply more women in the room with a voice.
Ok, it’s time for a big admittance on my part: I watch 24. But this is not a post about why I watch 24 (nor do I want to get into it in the comments), it’s just something that I do. Maybe I’ll try to address that for a post at a later date. Maybe. What this post is about is one of the story lines that started playing out this week that had me closer than ever to screaming at the television screen.
So last week, a former FBI agent, Renee, was undercover trying to regain the trust of a Russian arms dealer that she was undercover with 6 years ago. Last week, he threatened her into sleeping with him. This week, she pushed him a little bit on a deal they were trying to make and he started to beat her. So she grabbed a knife and stabbed him repeatedly.
Jack was telling the head of CTU what happened. And the head of CTU responds by saying something along the lines of: “What happened? Did she lose it? An hour ago she was sleeping with him and now she’s stabbing him…” No, she wasn’t sleeping with him. He raped her. And then he beat her. No wonder she stabbed him. Have we ever heard of self-defense? At least Jack called the stabbing self-defense and didn’t blame Renee for killing the Russian and then stabbing him (he was trying to pull her off of the Russian and she turned and stabbed him before she knew what she was doing).
But NO ONE on the show is calling what happened to Renee as rape. The Russian, Vladamir, threw a glass against the wall, threatened Renee’s personal safety, and threatened the deal that they were trying to make (that has to do with unsecured nuclear cores) if Renee didn’t have sex with him. That’s rape. No, he did not grab her out of an alley as she was walking around and hold her at gun point while he forced himself on her. But threatening someone into having sex is rape. It’s not even the so-called “gray area” of date rape. It’s rape.
And it seems like next week the head of CTU is going to continue to blame Renee for losing a lead even though he raped her and beat her and it was very clearly self-defense. Ugh. Seriously? It is bad enough that they refuse to call this rape. What makes it even worse, to the point that I am thinking about writing a letter to Fox, is that they want to blame the victim for defending herself and don’t even understand why she would stab Vladamir.
This is precisely the kind of thing that promotes the rape culture that we live in. If 24 is not going to call this rape and blame Renee for defending herself against her rapist, it just perpetuates the same thing happening to real women. Who is going to believe someone that is raped if the media and pop culture is not going to call things like this what it is: rape.