The Wheel and Axle

What’s Funny About Rape?

by on Dec.03, 2013, under Film & TV, Queer

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I recently watched Slumber Party, the Cinema One Originals / Origin8media / One Night Entertainment / Outpost film. Despite very minimal publicity, I was eagerly anticipating this comedy based on a viral trailer I saw on the internet. I also had high expectations because two of the studios have produced a lot of quality films in the past, including one of my favorite aswang movies (Yanggaw, Cinema One Originals) and one of the most hilarious movies in the history of ever (Zombadings: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington, Origin8media).

Slumber Party

Slumber Party

Now, while Slumber Party over-all was not so bad, one thing left a very sour note: that male rape was essentially played for laughs. After the fratboy-wannabe intruder was captured by the three protagonists during a sleepover, one of them (Archie Alemania) secretly went and forced a blow job upon the hogtied, struggling eighteen-year old (to his credit, actor Sef Cadayona effectively conveyed his helplessness, anger, and terror at being molested).

Moreover, towards the end, it almost happened again, with Markki Stroem being the near-perpetrator until he was caught by RK Bagatsing, resulting in a rather melodramatic sequence about the secret resentments of all three. You know, because never mind the boy who was almost raped for the second time within 24 hours. Priorities.

I tried my best to see what the filmmakers would do with this. I waited patiently if there would be some kind of payoff in the end – such as the perpetrators getting their just desserts, or at least a stronger acknowledgement of the implications of the incidents. While rape can be depicted in art, literature, and media, there needs to be meaning to it, a purpose. Rape is so sensitive a topic that it needs to be handled with care if it is to be used at all.

However: Nope. Not even a sorry from the perpetrators. In the context of the entire film, there was no purpose to it as it was glossed over and ignored.

Does this happen in real life? Of course it does. Men, women, gays, lesbians, trans – there have been rapes committed by members of these communities. It is not that we disallow the portrayal of a social reality, but what we do with such a portrayal is the question.

There is nothing funny about rape. Even worse, this film perpetuates the myth that male rape is “okay,” that because the victim is male then nothing is lost, that the victim may have even secretly enjoyed it. It doesn’t help in this case as the guy develops a mild case of Stockholm Syndrome with one of his captors, albeit the only one who doesn’t attempt to rape him.

And no, even if he is the intruder in the first place (which is of course still wrong, albeit a frat prank), it still doesn’t make it right. Rape as punishment is not right.

This is the kind of depiction of male rape that makes it even more difficult for male victims of abuse to come forward. That somehow, it’s nothing, that it’s just a funny thing, a rite of initiation, that it’s just a “macho thing,” that being raped is a sign of virility because all the women and the gays and the trans desire him, that he is an alpha god.

Let me ask you: if that scene had involved an eighteen-year old girl hogtied to a chair, and a straight man comes in to pull down her panties and molest her, and all this in the context of being played for laughs, how do you think people would react?

And yet, because it is a boy tied to that chair, probably a horny one for he is a teenager after all right, people actually thought it was hilarious.

It is a sexist double-standard that is unfair to both men and women.

Worse, this further demonizes the bakla as nothing more than a molester. Even if it is to the film’s credit that the third bakla is decidedly not so, when two-thirds of your primary beki protagonists are molesters, then you are not doing the community a favor. Instead, you are reinforcing the myth that all bekis are predatory.

The rest of the movie actually had its good parts. Sef Cadayona, Markki Stroem, and Nino Muhlach cameoing as a “gay auntie” were comparatively effective in their roles, whether on the comedy side or on the dramatic side. There were of course some internal logic and plot hole issues, such as – exactly what were the three bekis planning to do with their captive, keep him there forever? Medyo hindi napag-isipan ng tatlong sisteraka ang plano nila. Also, as a friend put it, the movie fell quickly into the stereotype of the “effeminate, transgender freak as the primary comic relief” (not to mention the most vile of them, having been the rapist).

Slumber Party could have been a great effort. The trailers and premise showed a lot of promise. There were a lot of nice scenes and heartwarming sequences. It could have been used as a vehicle to promote good LGBT cinema.

It is unfortunate that it had to be marred by an unwarranted rape scene played for comedy.

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