Sometimes I really do worry about myself. Last week, I managed to traumatise myself by watching a film which included a scene of sexual violence. It’s not something I do regularly, watch films about rape, which is probably why I was so affected by it. Actually, there were a couple of factors involved.
One of the most obvious was because I was feeling good about myself and the gay community before I sat down to watch Beauty, the 2011 South African film in question. I’m currently on holidays from Uni and have been occupying the time by catching up on all those things I’ve been wanting to watch for a while. So I’ve watched the first season of Breaking Bad, American Horror Story, Grey’s Anatomy, Broadchurch and the second season of Teen Wolf. However, the main discovery is that of Lush, a youtube channel where an undeniably adorable gay couple who vlog about their various ups and downs three times a week. It’s been one of the best things I’ve ever seen. I feel gayer after watching them and more open to talk about stuff like sex and who I’m attracted to and that I may find some kind of partner in the future. It’s been a real eye-opening experience and one of those things that I really feel has changed me (it’s like when I first discovered DanIsNotOnFire). It’s made me realise that being gay is brilliant and I have nothing to be ashamed of (I sort of already knew this, but every now and again I’m sort of shocked that I’m not as open as I thought I was). So, I was in a good place in terms of my thoughts about my sexuality.
Then there’s the way I discovered the movie. Every now and again, I feel frustrated that there is a lack of queer representation in the movies that I watch which are great, but it just can leave me feeling a bit… excluded. So, what I do is I go to the library and look up the word gay and see what DVDs come up. I end up placing about 50 holds on these things so I have to spend a whole week of watching nothing but gay movies. My life, people. One day, I was doing this and I saw this film listed. I thought it looked interesting, a story about obsession, and it was from South Africa, a country whose films I had never before seen (I like to watch foreign films. They show you a different view of life and make one feel slightly worldlier despite the fact the furthest I’ve been is South Australia). I was also excited by the fact that it won the Queer Palme D’Or at Cannes, just like Laurence Anyways (Xavier Dolan’s film about a trans woman which was excellent).
So, here I am, watching this South African film and its past midnight (I generally watch films late at night, adds to the atmosphere) and it starts off really interestingly. There’s a scene where these male friends are having sex and I was amazed because these were real people, actually what people looked like, not some pretty model. And then the film just got darker and darker. The main character started stalking this handsome young guy and you just know that this can’t end well. I was hoping that the young guy would realise and tell him to shove off, but no, it didn’t happen that way. The older guy raped him in the most brutal and uncompromising scene in any movie I’ve ever seen. And as soon as it happened, I just cried and couldn’t stop and this happened before the end of the film, so I sat there until the end just sobbing and hoping it would be over soon. I wanted the older guy caught or some revenge or something and it didn’t happen. There was no reason. And the film ends, so I close my laptop. And I can’t stop crying or thinking about it. I’m in shock. My legs are crushing my chest while my arms hold my legs tight. I actually couldn’t stop or get to sleep, so I had to soothe myself, telling myself that it wasn’t going to happen to me. And eventually I was calm enough to get to sleep.
The next morning was Australia Day and I thought the pain would’ve gone away. But it didn’t. I still felt like crap. It took watching several of the Lush videos and a couple of Mamrie Hart’s to get me back to feeling okay again.
The thing that’s most odd about this story is that it was entirely avoidable. The film was rated R18+ and I’ve seen R films before. Pulp Fiction and Another Gay Movie were both R and I was fine after those (although, I feel I am slightly less innocent after watching the latter). I checked the reason for the rating, but the library sticker obscured it. All I could see were the words ‘high’, ‘violence’, ‘high level’ and ‘sex’. So naturally I assumed high level violence and high level sex scenes and I was all fine. The next morning, my brother held the DVD up to the light and read that the listing actually read ‘High impact sexual violence, high level sex scenes.’ So, yeah, avoidable.
My mum said that if I was finding it so traumatising why didn’t I just turn it off? Well, because I thought there was some hope, but no it was a film filled with despair and I felt horrible after watching it. I still don’t think I’m quite over it. It showed me a darker side to humanity that I was only previously only vaguely aware of and it’s horrifying. It’s like whenever I watch a doco about the AIDS crisis and I realise that life is not all easy and that my problems are miniscule, compared to all of the suffering. Sorry, I’m being depressing.
There was actually some redemption a few days later. I had it in the car wanting to return it to the library when mum cleared the car out. She put Beauty and another CD on the roof. She forgot it was there and drove away, sending Beauty careening into the pushes. I tell you I have never felt stronger that karma exists. Unfortunately, the other CD was Cher’s new one. Damn it.
Anyway, I hope you liked or can relate to this story. Have you ever seen a film or read a book that literally traumatised you or am I just oversensitive? Probably that. Or I could be an idiot. Don’t dismiss that theory. Today, I had my head down to the sink when I sneezed whacking my forehead into it. It hurt. A lot. Yeah, I’m so intelligent.
I plan on posting more often, about once a week and I’ll just talk about anything that’s been interesting me or affecting me throughout the week. I don’t really know how this is going to work yet, but we’ll see. Oh, and because I’m a big fan of obscure music and movies, these posts will be followed by the songs and movies that I loved this week. Anyway, see you all soon.
The Playlist Of 24 Jan – 28 Jan
Do You Want To Build A Snowman (Frozen)
For The First Time In Forever (Frozen)
Compass (Lady Antebellum)
So Close (Olafur Arnlds, Arnor Dan)
Lucky (Lucky Twice)
Goodness Gracious (Ellie Goulding)
I Walk Alone (Cher)
Favourite Scars (Cher)
Pink Elephants On Parade Remix (Dumbo)
Life Of Brian
Once Upon A Time In Anatolia
Long Weekend (1978)