Bryan Fuller of American Gods made an official edict when he was working on Hannibal that there would be no sexual violence. Plenty of other kinds of violence, but no explicit rape scenes:
“I personally think that it stains a story, in a way, in that it prevents you from being able to celebrate different aspects of sexuality,” Fuller says. “America as a country has a very fucked-up attitude regarding sex and sexuality, so there is something [troubling] about the punishing of characters for their sex and sexuality.”
Fuller adds that as a gay man, his awareness of assault as a reality people face every day makes it difficult for him to explore in an episode in television as a full experience. He says, “It’s hard for me to evaluate as entertainment.”
This conversation is happening around the same time as people are reassessing entertainment from the past that portrayed rape and violence towards women in ways that crossed the line between fiction and reality. Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris included a “surprise” rape scene that left 19-year-old Maria Schneider feeling violated after filming. Shelley Duvall, who is still being exploited in the media, was reportedly tormented and abused on the set of The Shining by Stanley Kubrick. Tippi Hedren recently spoke out about being sexually harassed by Alfred Hitchcock on the set of The Birds. While practices may have improved behind the scenes (sometimes), what we see on screen has still not caught up.
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