Friday, August 16, 2013

I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE 2: NOTHING LIKE PROFITING OFF OF RAPE CULTURE

I have been avoiding this topic like an open container at a frat party, but seeing this poster has officially compelled me to finally give my two cents on the topic of I Spit On Your Grave 2.  I'll start this article like I start most of mine on the topic of ISOYG, with the reminder that this website gets its name from the original title of ISOYG, which was Day of the Woman.  The original 1978 film was a groundbreaking (and arguably misunderstood) look into the rape revenge subgenre of horror films.  Many people view the original film as exploitative, but the original I Spit On Your Grave was Meir Zarchi's attempt at working through his own personal anger towards the unnecessary violence he had witnessed firsthand towards women.  He has publicly stated numerous times that ISOYG was meant to serve as social commentary.  He forces audiences to witness the truth of how gritty and terrible rape is, and never gives the audience the luxury of looking away. To put it simply, he puts audiences in the same visual seat as a rape victim, and forces us to understand the cruelty and brutality behind this dastardly action. The original was also one of the first films to showcase rape victims as anything but a victim.  He showed an outlet for the rage that often sits within the hearts of survivors of rape and personified these feelings by letting his protagonist act upon those urges. I could write for days on this subject, but I've recently tackled this topic in a contributing article for a book that I will speak more about on a later date.

Fast forward to the remake. As much as I don't like the idea of remaking the original film (because this film was remade for the sake of being remade and NOT with the intent of sending a message) I understand why it was done.  The industry was at the peak of its remake craze and how else could you pack a punch more than remaking one of the most infamously brutal films of all time?  Look, I don't like the fact they remade the original, but I understand why it was done.  The remake is a step up cinematically with it's technical skills, but the script and heart of the original was completely lost and if I see one more comment praising the lead actress for looking "so hot" while she was nude, I will crack some skulls. She's being raped, you fucking perverts.

Remember this tagline? Oh yeah, that happened.
I digress. The remake was received with mixed reviews, but the majority seemed to find the film only successful because it was a better "made" film than the original.  Fair enough. I get it.  With the announcement of a sequel to that abomination, I am officially disgusted.  The first remake was made to make a profit off of the "hot ticket" crazes in the film industry. Okay, that's a smart business move, and that makes sense.  The sequel? Are you kidding me?  The first film didn't garner enough positivity to constitute a remake and the only thing "hip" about rape right now is the fact that the American government has skyrocketed their heads up their asses in terms of how to deal with women's reproductive rights and society's ever present idea that women who have sex are sluts and rape victims "deserve" it.  I'll even give the remake props in that it did somewhat capture the essence of the original, and sent a message about rape.
Hi. I like to make money off of a tragedy that affects 1/3 women instead of sending a message.
This film is doing nothing more than profiting off of rape culture.  They're using a crime that is still misunderstood and a silent epidemic as a "shock" tactic.  People thought the original was exploitative? Hell no. THIS is exploitative.  The original was made to be social commentary, this remake/sequel is being made to make money.  Good sequels are made to follow the storyline that couldn't be wrapped up in the original film, bad sequels are made to milk the cash cow left behind by the original.  This film is nothing more than trying to make a quick buck off of the very real tragedy that millions of people both men and women walk around with every day. This is a crime that leaves victims breathing, but unable to forget what they've endured...and instead of doing something strong willed with this knowledge and opportunity, they're trying to profit off of it.

13 comment(s):

Brennan said...

Hi, I've been following your blog for a while now - my friend Elana Katz told me about it - but this is my first time commenting.

I wholeheartedly agree with you and I just want to thank you for raising your voice about important issues like this. It's something a lot of the horror community has been missing, and I'm grateful to have you around.

BJ Colangelo said...

@Brennan- 1) YAY ELANA! She's the best.
2) I'm glad that you agree. It's very weird to see how the horror genre has been responding to the announcement of this film, and it's sort of shocking to see how many are in full favor of it.

Nigel Maskell said...

I think the problem was that people of my generation would bang on all the time about the good ol' days of exploitation cinema (the 70s were the golden age). But the pacing of horror has changed a lot and the world has moved from Eastmancolour to shakey cam and digital effects. A lot of the younger people I work with cannot connect with the older movies but still these notorious titles are out there. So first and foremost these films seem to be cashing in on titles. To call them remakes or re-imagining is giving them way too much credit but that is what the industry sells them as. They are exploitation in that they exploit themes *and titles. The same happened with The Woman in Black. The British TV version of that was a masterclass in suspense. But I suppose it would seem old fashioned now thus the "remake". The newer version I felt was completely shit incidentally.

Anyhow when it comes to The Day of the Woman you hit the nail on the head. The film forced viewers up-close to the situation. The camera stayed on the situation and the viewer was forced to look on or look away.

Now, when it comes to the so-called remake they have decided that rape is boring so the camera flies off all over the place as if being swung around the room on a rope. Which says it all.

Because even though younger colleagues do not connect with the films I watch I understand why. It is about conditioning. Through exposure to film as a youngster I formed ideas about what horror films were like. Sure these ideas have been challenged and I have changed to the new realities of film but increasingly I feel alienated from horror film. Modern audiences understand film in one way and me another. But that is about conditioning. My point: I don't think it has anything to do with the "attention span" as such. Kids are bright these days and if they have the patience to read a book or complete a video game then they can follow a film plot (probably! Though some may struggle with some of Lucio Fulci's early 80s work).

Anyhow the "remake" is a commercial exercise in milking the public for money by exploiting an old film. A release of the original would probably only fill small art-house cinemas these days anyhow.

Insofar as it exploiting a title it is not really exploiting rape as such. If they decide that Watership Down can sell then we will get shakey cam woodland footage and cgi rabbits. Its all the same- its all about the money.

Anyhow, hated the remake. Not going to bother at all with the so-called sequel. Can't be arsed with Evil Dead or any of the other remakes. If they must remake something then why not go something that didn't work first time out and improve on that. Zombie Lake maybe.


Ming Seiko said...

I agree with you. In a time when people made jokes about rape with no repercussions and thought it was okay for a man to rape his wife because after all, she was his property, the original film made a powerful statement. It was uncomfortable for me to watch, but it had a purpose.
I think there are some ignorant fools out there who equate rape with rough sex. Rape is not consensual rough sex, it is one of the worst violations a person can endure. I have read comments by some ignorant idiots along the lines of "these rape victims just need to get over it and stop whining."
I was raped by an ex boyfriend. More than fifteen years later, it would seem that I'm "over it." I'm not. I never will be. I don't think about it all the time, and I'm not afraid to go out. It no longer feels like I have the word "slut" written on my forehead in blood, the way it did after it first happened. This was a subconscious feeling. It is not the way I do or have ever perceived anyone else. It was limited to me.
However, I still have dreams about being chased by an attacker intent on raping me. This is strange, since I was drugged when I was raped.
I prefer sleeping in a single bed because it's smaller, and on a subconscious level, this makes me feel safer.
Rape is not "hot." It is not "sexy." It is a brutal crime, and anyone who thinks it is "hot" or "sexy" deserves to have a branding iron stuck where the sun don't shine.

jimmie t. murakami said...

Hollywood always sells its product with sex without ever showing any, there-fore Hollywood and all its ludicrous hypocrisy must be destroyed.

steve prefontaine said...

Long live the truth of the internet, death to the lies and hypocrisy of Hollywood.

Al Bruno III said...

Well said.

steve prefontaine said...

Cheers Al my old mate.

Vardulon said...

I wrote a whole thing about this remake when it came out, but the main point that aggravated me above all else in the remake is it missed the part of the first film where the main character is a person both before an after her attack. Whereas the remake seemed to posit that surviving a rape turns you into the Jigsaw killer. We're left with a movies whose message is 'when these rapists dehumanize a woman, she STAYS dehumanized'. To which I respond, screw you, filmmakers.

bloodypopcorn.com said...

I completely respect the original as a film and for what it actually stood. But I actually liked the remake better. Gasp! I know, I feel like I am committing a sin here. Truth is, in the remake, I found her revenge to be much more gratifying.

The news of a sequel on the other hand is just upsetting and pointless. It screams money and promotes more of this 'type' of movie when there should only be a few to send the right, anti-rape culture, anti-violence against women message.

Jenny Krueger said...

As a rape survivor myself. I will NEVER understand the thinking behind anyone who chooses to profit off of the rape culture.

They wouldn't be so quick to do that if this situation happened to them.

Ashley Shannon said...

Personally I didn't like the original spit on your grave because I felt the cheesey acting and poor production values somewhat trivialised the subject matter. I much preferred the remake as it was better made and had more creative violence as relates to the revenge kills.

I think you're always going to end up in potentially offensive waters when trying to address such a serious subject in an exploitation style. This is why I feel irreversible is still such a powerful and uncompromising film in it's approach to depicting rape.

Brian said...

Ah, I Spit on Your Grave. I really think the original is subpar, as is the case for me with the original Last House on the Left, but I feel the films suffer for their sloppy acting, lack of polish, and general failure to get the point across.

That makes those 2 films in a better place for remakes, and I feel that they benefit from the polish, better acting, and they get the point across better than their original films, and the Spit remake even had Meir Zarchi as creative input on the script and during filming. I think they turned out fairly well and are not easy films to watch because of the subject matter. Spit bares the message better than Last House, and only a fool would gather that there are sexpot starring roles in both films.

Having said that, Spit 2 fares better than its predecessor in getting the point across as it is a much more realistic piece overall, and I think Sarah Butler's Jennifer was alot more fantastical than Jemma Dallender's Katie. Katie was tortured more, but had a much more collected manner of exacting revenge on her attackers and seemed to maintain much more of her humanity in that regard. It's really a shame too, since far less people are likely to see the 2nd one versus the first because of the whole 'shitty rape culture lets make a profit' mentality that folks seem to think these types of movies are all about. Another thing Spit 2 has going for it is that Gemma Dallender's naked ass isn't front and center of the film poster, and the overall supposed "sexuality" isn't on display like it is in the remake.

Talk about profiting off of rape culture all you want, but the film you are speaking ill of is far less gratuitous than its predecessor is.

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