Recently I have been sent a load of really great comics to review for beardrock.com. It's just a bit of fun that I manage to fit in during my daily two and a half hour commute. I get to promote great comics and sharpen some writing skills I possibly once possessed. It also (to be honest) makes that horrible journey into London more bearable.
I have just been reading a book by a small press creator that was actually really good. It was a brave attempt to recreate a big UK heroes universe that we haven't really seen since the heady days of Deaths Head/Overkill/Knights of Pendragon and company in the 1990s. I will keep his name out of this article because (as you will find out) he is a thoughtful guy who chatted with me about my one problem with the book.
It's OK I am getting to the point.
This problem has been about for years. Seemingly at least a few in the comics and movie community think its a joke. But recently it seems to be used more and more. And that's using the rape of a male as the punch line to a joke.
'Never' you might say? Here are a couple of examples.
The book 'Ghosted' from Image Comics opens with a male rape. Front and centre page 1 through the bars of a prison cell. It's treated with a literal comedy face from the victim and a 'You're next' kind of joke is thrown about. Think about it. This writer and artist use the image of the rape of a male merely to show that the protagonist is in peril.
Another example jumped out at me just a couple of days ago whilst watching Spike Lee's Bank Robbery movie 'The Inside Man'. Not a bad movie. Probably one of the better thrillers of the last decade or so. But when the character Denzel Washington plays is interviewing a witness/suspect he throws shower rape jokes/threats into the mix. Why? If this was to a female wouldn't there be an outcry?
I'm not a fool. I know rape is used in fiction in the same way that it happens in the world around us. But use it responsibly. Don't just use it as a cheap line here or there or to mount tension, comedy or character. I have been involved in helping the victims of rape and that this sort of joke appears in a comic is nothing but 100% hurtful to their recovery.
Male Rape is equally as bad as the rape of a female. Sure every rape has different circumstances and degrees of violence, fear and injury but they are both horrible nonetheless. The victim comes first. Every single time. Not the plot point.
None of this is a joke. None of this is a throw away point in a comic, movie or novel.
The creator I had a dialogue with this morning was a gentleman. I pointed out that I couldn't review his book for fear that my recommendation (the book apart from the rape scene was actually pretty good) might urge someone who is also coincidentally a victim of this sort of crime to pick it up and read it. (I would be mortified if this happened and would feel responsible for any upset that might occur). This creator said that he had already considered changing that scene (he had actually written it a long time ago) and I hope that our chat might cause him to do so.
Rape is absolutely no joke. Try telling one of these rape jokes or plot points to a victim and see how their face will change. (We'd all rather you didn't.)
Once again, many thanks for reading it is always appreciated.
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All the best.