WARNING: Major Spoilers for Wolf Creek are present in this post towards the bottom.
My husband works with kids who have behavioural difficulties. This ranges from kids who have a basic attitude problem because they’re finding growing up hard, right through to kids who have been abused and/or neglected and kids with special educational needs such as Asperger Syndrome. I don’t think he’s paid even half what he’s worth, especially since he loves working with these kids. And who else wants to? Not very many people. But that’s a soapbox moment for another time.
One thing that my husband is required to do by law with these kids is have them work out, for themselves, what their rights and responsibilities are. Teens are notoriously self-obsessed, so they can pinpoint their rights with relative ease: I have a right to be listened to, to be an individual and so on and soforth. Yet what are their responsibilities? What is a responsibility, who should it be a responsibility to, why should it be one?
I was thinking last night about this very same subject with regards to what our rights and responsibilities are as writers and filmmakers then. On the blogs, bulletins, message boards etc we *seem* to have pinpointed our rights with that same ease as those recalcitrant teens (online people have demanded the right to write whatever we want, a right to courtesy from those producers et al who still don’t reply to us, a right to training that is value for money, etc etc), yet in my view the notion of responsibility seems to have been somewhat disregarded. What ARE our responsibilities as writers and filmmakers? Why should we have them – or not? What constitutes a responsibility anyway and to whom??
FrightFest has just come and gone in London and it seems quite a furore has erupted over one particular film, Teeth. Sarah of The Dead has been most vocal in blogland over her disgust at this film, not only writing about it on her own blog but Jason’s as well.
Now I haven’t watched Teeth but I can tell you one thing: I am sick, sick, sick of reading scripts with rape in or any scenario where a woman is punished for enjoying and/or experimenting with sex. I’ve been quite vocal myself in the course of this blog about rape scenes and not just those on women either, but men too: what are they for? Are they horrifying? Yes. Are they needed in your storyline? 9/10 – no. In my view, if you really *must* include a rape scene (really? Are you SURE??), a suggestion of this horrifying act is far, far more effective than seeing every last gory detail. And please, please don’t think you’re “out there” whilst writing them and that it’ll get you attention for being controversial either. Over the course of my script reading (roughly 5/6 years now, on and off), I have read loads of rape scenes, especially in the horror and thriller genres. They. Are. Not. Original!!!
In short though, I think rape scenes in scripts and the punishment of women in particular for enjoying sex is irresponsible. There are enough sickos in the world who will believe this sort of shit anyway: do they really need a new platform to indulge their fantasies? I don’t believe those filmmakers or even writers are those sickos, it’s just, by chasing sensationalism in this regard, are they adding to an already sick society and keeping a vicious circle going? Giving people what they might want is not always what they actually need, after all and whilst censorship is a pain in the bum to all artistes, are there not some subjects or elements where we might think, “Hhhhhmmmm…better not”?
I sat down to watch Wolf Creek last night. To say I was bored is an understatement – its lack of pace and meandering structure did my head in royally – but at the same time, I was disturbed by its insistence that it was based on actual events and that these were real people that this had happened to. Not because the film was actually any good I might add, but because at the end it flashed up in the credits that the two girls had never been found and their killer never brought to justice. Immediately I thought: their poor families had to put up with not only a badly-written film being made about their missing daughters, there was this hideous speculation as to what had actually happened to them – ie. they had been murdered in guresome fashion by this mysterious Crocodile Dundee character – which of course we couldn’t possibly know, since the only “survivor” was completely omitted from the whole of Act 2 and not present when either of those two girls were killed!
But of course that survivor was not real, a Google search this morning reveals – and neither were those two girls. We’re just supposed to think it was real so as to add to its visceral, cinema-verite angle. In short, it was cheating. Yet every single review you’ll see is “based on actual events”. What events were these, then? I’m thinking Peter Falconio’s murder seems the most obvious, yet other than the fact he was murdered in The Outback (his girlfriend got away), there bears little other resemblance.
In any case, in order to utilise that “based on actual events” tag, surely there has to be a little responsibility employed here: if you’re going to make a movie about real people, facing real hardhsip and/or suffering, you need your movie to have some kind of point? Wolf Creek had some nice scenery and some gory bits including the torture of one girl and the paralysis of another, culminating with the male character waking to find himself nailed to a cross. None of the characters worked together or learned anything about themselves, let alone vanquished the beast. What was this film trying to say? That nasty, terrible things can happen? We know this already from watching and reading the news – though Peter Falconio’s family have it etched on their hearts forever, as do any other family who has suffered a loss as shocking as that. So why was Wolf Creek a movie? I have no idea, but I daresay there will be some fans out there in www.land: re-educate me!