CSI: Raping and Mutilating Women for Entertainment

Let’s take a little look at the TV guide shall we?

UNIT ONE: An older woman is found murdered in her home and Unit One is called in.

INSPECTOR REX: A zoo worker finds a murdered woman in the grounds of the park surrounding the famous Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna.

WIRE IN THE BLOOD: Dr Tony Hill is faced with a series of puzzles when a killer rapes and strangles young female victims in Bradfield but chooses to re-dress them as young women he has previously killed in Europe.

There’s some uplifting viewing here, eh? Most of what’s screening involves women being raped, tied up, abused, slapped around, used as bait in drug deals, or murdered by their husbands/fathers/brothers/boyfriends/random derros. There seems to be a particular obsession with murdered prostitutes. Sometimes it’s abducted girls who need to be ‘saved’ by a crack crime-fighting team led by a man (or at a pinch, a gruff, lonely single woman with alcohol abuse problems).

I realise that it’s not just the whores and virgins of this world being bumped off for the slavering masses. You can read into the TV guide what you want. At Sea Patrol they’re murdering tourists for entertainment. In CSI: Miami it’s some woman’s son, Murder Squad a disabled bloke, Stargate the time/space continuum and over at America’s Next Top Model it’s the English language.

But the fact remains that the overwhelming amount of drama on teevee is propelled by the mistreatment of a woman.

This genre started with the wonderful 1998 flick Silence of the Lambs. (I love the tagline: “Clarice Starling, FBI. Brilliant. Vulnerable. Alone.”) It was an absolute standout when it premiered, and won about five Oscars. There was some horrifying stuff in this flick, much of it about murdered women. But that’s not the point of Silence of the Lambs, nor was it why people turned out to see it with such enthusiasm. With elaborate plotting it brought in elements of forensic science, psychology, biology and more. It introduced Clarice, one of the great female film heroes, and Hannibal, one of the most ghastly villains.

But Silence of the Lambs spawned about a million tepid imitations; crime shows that portray horror for horror’s sake. Women are murdered, the case pursued, solved and neatly tied up in 42 minutes. We don’t find out much about the killer or the victim, and much of the plot exists to further the character development of the cast of feeble stereotypes.

CGI is now mandatory (where there’s a sucking, rushing noise, the camera appears to burrow through someone’s eye, shoot up the optic nerve and settle upon some microbes on the brain, to ominous oozing sounds), and every season at least one of the women on the team is kidnapped or threatened by a psychopath. They will be saved by the male lead, who more often than not, has a head and neck like a railway girder rising out of a collar. (Although sometime they feck with that by putting a FEMALE LEAD in to save the day, what will they think of next) There’ll be a heartbeat over the soundtrack, at least one meticulous description of how a little girl was abducted and killed, and if you’re lucky there will be a shot of a naked, mutilated body in the morgue.

All visual, visceral stuff, designed to appeal quickly to the senses with sudden flashes, aural shocks and gory details. And at the expense of some hapless female. I don’t know what you call it, but it’s not what I fancy viewing when I need to unwind.

You’ll notice there’s no such preoccupation with violence within our one community station Channel 31. Every time I catch that madcap Words of Peace guy, he’s noticeably free of gore. Josie Perelli on Chartbusting 80s hasn’t yet been garrotted by her ex-husband. Stella’s wheelchair on No Limits doesn’t shoot flames (although I suspect she’d like it if it did). And the Planet Nerd guys keep themselves amused with Linux references, Joss Whedon and obscure quantum physics jokes in preference to decapitation, sexual abuse and torture.

Could there be a link between commercial entertainment and depictions of violence against women? Could people have become so inured to what entertainment has become, that we have forgotten that violence against women isn’t in fact entertaining?

Bek wondered recently why Hollywood hates women so much. And I’m wondering why the entertainment industry as a whole does.

13 thoughts on “CSI: Raping and Mutilating Women for Entertainment

  1. Good point – it’s not just Hollywood.I was utterly disgusted this morning by the story on the front of the Oz – “NINE males who pleaded guilty last month to gang-raping a 10-year-old girl at the Aurukun Aboriginal community on Cape York have escaped a prison term, with the sentencing judge saying the child victim “probably agreed” to have sex with them.”Agreed? She was 10 for heaven’s sake. Do the words “age of consent” mean nothing? I feel sick to my stomach.Violence against women is tolerated. Rape is re-defined as sex – even when it involves a 10-year-old. The entertainment industry is just holding up a mirror.

  2. sorry, a trite response to a serious subject. I agree totally with the violence against women on tv – and rebekka my stomach turned as well when I read that because as we all know, if 10 year olds choose they can have sex with whoever they want,whenever they want – it’s “empowering” as a woman to make up your own mind on these things blah blah blah and somehow that makes it alright.At least those dudes in Werribee got completely ostracised for their charming efforts – I only wish we had names…

  3. I can’t let this pass without mention of the most heinous of them all. It’s an Australian show, on late at night, and I can’t remember the name (something like Crime and Punishment although that’s not right), with that git Steve Lieberman as the anchor. They take a look at Australia’s most infamous and horrible murders….the Wanda beach murders, the Old lady murderer or something, Anita Cobby et al. I haven’t seen more than 2 episodes, because the loving re-creation of the murders +/- rapes of the almost exclusively female victims are pure violent pornography. There is no doubt that this show is made with future perpetrators in mind. After all, the tastes of rapists and paedophiles must be catered for by commercial TV, mustn’t they.When you remember that in fact, most homicide victims are statistically speaking male (think violent pub brawls and so on), it’s the really sensational stuff, the sickos with bad mothers who clearly relish tearing women apart, which gets the juices flowing in those Channel 7/9/10 executives.It’s disgusting and it’s getting worse. i think a letter campaign may be in order.

  4. Fortunately they are reconsidering that verdict as we speak! Good post Bek. They suggested in the paper this morning that racism also may have had a lot to do with it.When you look at the ‘us against them’ mentality of all the commercial networks eg the crap they serve up on Today Tonight etc it’s no wonder that it leads to such shows as that one you’re talking about Kateoi.The tone is kind of ‘look at these animals, they should be locked up’ ,whereas the visuals/sound effects really seem to linger over the more horrifying parts.Women should really be shut away for their own good eh?PS and yes, I cannot now read the words ‘Schonnbrun Palace’ without thinking of the lovely Andre. He has coloured it forever with his magical glow!

  5. We’re living in an age where crime and true crime are immensely popular. I hate all of the shows you mention, because they all reek of ham. They will date badly, as crap always does.

  6. I remember a scene in one of those shows when the contents of a dead girl’s stomach (alcohol, drugs, fast food, semen from a number of different males) was described sardonically by a cop in the autopsy room as “breakfast of champions”.It was a prime time show like Law and Order. Law and Order started well, but after a few series there was a real race to the bottom with those shows.

  7. I wrote this a couple days ago, but blogger, BAD BLOGGER!, just wouldn’t let me post it. I try yet again.Just today, Robert Pichton, the Canadian pig (farmer) was convicted of second degree murder for the killing – and then probably feeding to his pigs, six women. SECOND DEGREE SIX TIMES. The first maybe, but six times? But they were ‘prostitutes’ and mostly First Nations women. He was performing a public service cleaning up the streets of Vancouver, right? He’ll go on trial for killing another twenty sometime. In all, it is believed he murdered 49. He was disappointed he got caught before reaching 50. Misogyny has a long and glorified past and I’m afraid, a long and to-be-glorified future. The only answer is for us women to learn how to defend ourselves. I wrote a post about that a while back. I think I’ll repost it soon. Boo, being my dear friend won’t mind if I plug my own blog, will you, my dear? http://mai-sometimes.blogspot.com/2006/10/self-defense.htmlI know people almost never follow these links, but I have to try.Oh, and if women stopped being entertained by watching these shows, the ratings would plummet and they’d be off the air.Thanks to Boo, I will be more aware of this and turn the damned thing off if it should come on. Except, of course for House,if it should come on there! Sorry, I’m in love.

  8. Hey Boo, your more manly in-law here. I did a quick run through this weeks Green Guide (Jan 11 -18); six crime shows with “victim gender definition” (or VGD. It’ll be a series title soon enough). 6 victims; 3 male, 3 female – pretty much representative of the population.What’s interesting is that all 3 female victims are on the ABC and SBS, while all 3 males are on commercial TV. This is the same as your original sample group. Quality, intelligent broadcasting? At least suggests you should take the word “commercial” out of your summary re television violence against women. The next time I’m in a bookshop or Brunswick cafe (not that I’ve been in either for a while) and some tosser talks about how they “only ever watch the ABC or SBS” I’ll have to look if they’re wearing their own skin.PS. And that sentence, “Could people have become so inured to what entertainment has become, that we have forgotten that violence against women isn’t in fact entertaining”, suggests that violence against men is entertaining, and as such says more against your original point than anything you’ve said for it.

  9. And then there was last night’s – *Wedenesday, that is – Law and Order. You would be proud of me. I turned it off after the opening scene.But I got a graphic description today from someone who didn’t.No, not Lilly, don’t be silly.YECHCHCHCHCH!!!! But Bil, violence against men IS, in fact, quite entertaining. (You wouldn’t understand; it’s a woman thing.)

  10. And Katoi, may I just pull you back on a couple of your generalisations. You seem to be suggesting that the number of male victims of murder are boosted up by “violent pub brawls and so on”, but these would be classified as manslaughter, which make up only 11% of violent deaths in Australia over the past 15 years. Some two thirds of murder victims are male (I know, so 2/3 TV victims should be male), and many of these die violent, tortured deaths – not always drug/organised crime related. To suggest that women suffer worse deaths than men belittles the weight of any overall argument being presented. I know that’s all a bit garbled but to abbreviate, “Obvious agendas detract from any statements made”.Also, see above post to Boo re which TV channels seem to specialise in female victims, then read your own post, then think about that “agenda” thing I made up, then don’t be so obvious in your bias’.And in a general statement to save what would be a ridiculous third post a month after the original blog entry, over the last 15 years the Northern Territory has averaged approx 10 violent deaths per 100,000 people, while the other states and the ACT have averaged around 2 violent deaths per 100,000.For my own broad, sweeping statement – I think you’ll find very few televisions in the most violent Australian communities. And to really cap off my lack of professionalism, I’d wager that the percentage of female victims in these locations would be higher than elsewhere around the country. Make of that what you will.

  11. Mai, I’ll videotape my next family dinner with Boo and Katoi for you – I feel there may be some enjoyable (for you) violence against a male.

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