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Old 06-30-2006, 01:43 PM   #121
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This sounds like more like you are describing a bad decision to have consensual sex. A decision that may have been pressured, cajoled and emotionally manipulated by the man but so what? Still her decision.

Unless he physically forced her or used physical threats, it wasn't rape.
Maybe this is what Irvine's getting at?
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Old 06-30-2006, 01:43 PM   #122
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The sense we got is that she was doing a lot of things with him that she really didn't want to do, but she felt like she "had" to, otherwise he "wouldn't love her" or would "get mad."
Again, bad decision to have consensual sex, not rape.

Wow, the pendulum really has swung if your friend describes that as rape.
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Old 06-30-2006, 02:02 PM   #123
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^Again we're not sure what really happened. She just said she was raped. I don't think she would have had sex with him at first, so our guess is that she may have been raped initially--maybe making out and what not, and then he decides hell, with this, we're going all the way, and forces her. That was her "first time" sadly, and I think maybe after that she was so traumatized by that (and thought, "I guess it doesn't matter anymore") that she just went along with whatever sex went on after that.

Certainly the emotional devastation and hurt she was in was very real.

I really think this is what Irvine was getting at. I don't know where he is right now, but I'm curious to know if he thinks so.

Anyway, back to the Rescue Me episode. I think we're getting into what the "gray area" is all about. Is coercion leading to sex only rape if it's physcial coercion? It would seem so. Just because there was violence leading up to and even at the beginning of the sex, does that mean that rape occured? Could we say perhaps not?
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Old 06-30-2006, 02:30 PM   #124
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Maybe this is what Irvine's getting at?


yes, pretty close.

i think i'm wondering about consent -- what is it, what does it look like, can it be retracted after the fact, can it be given after the fact?
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Old 07-01-2006, 08:20 AM   #125
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My sister even went on to add that if the woman has an orgasm you can't argue the sex is unwanted!!

Thoughts on that?
My thought on that, no offense to your sister, is that is total bs. It's not appropriate to get onto detail, but this little blurb I found through Google distills it..

"Orgasm is a physiological reaction and is no indication of consent. Many survivors feel as though their bodies have betrayed them when this happens; however, it is simply our body's natural reaction."

You can't control your body's natural reaction. Consider what men can't control.
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Old 07-02-2006, 02:18 PM   #126
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i spoke to two people last night who saw the episode -- a married couple, btw -- and both agreed that the situation depicted was "not rape" and both were able to put it within the larger context of their extremely dysfunctional relationship.

for whatever that's worth.

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Old 07-03-2006, 12:37 AM   #127
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Well I guess as we all initially said, hard to interpret the scene without seeing it firsthand. I'm still concerned about the impression it leaves with some...regardless of what people in my own social circles may think about it.

In any case, the general rape discussion has been quite the Gay Mars, Mars and Venuses...kinky hehe

Call me old fashioned but I think rape as a criminal physical assault should be limited to physical violence or immediate threat of physical violence (or drugged unconsciousness etc) when defining force or absence of consent.

If a woman is submitting to sex for any other reason, we can call it dysfunctional (or criminal when it's quid pro quo sexual harassment) but women have all kinds of sex they really don't want but feel obligated for other reasons of self-interest...how is forced penetration defined...at what point ISN'T undesired sex rape?
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Old 07-03-2006, 09:52 AM   #128
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For me the point isn't someone watching Rescue Me for a guide for how to live their lives (even though I have made comments on the influence it could have) and that is besides the point and more than a little condescending. They still have a certain responsibility and I think they f'ed it up, bigtime. The characters can still be screwed up without Tommy raping his estranged wife- and from what I have seen of the scene I would define it as rape, their prior disfunctional relationship aside. I would highly doubt that that is the way in which they always or even usually had sex. One could speculate that they are using the disfunction as an excuse and as what they are hanging their hats on for this whole controversy. We shall see how they handle it in future episodes, it appears they are already affected by criticism and the controversy because of the new female character they want to create.

I watched it when Diane Farr was on and I believe her character was sexually harassed.




Chicago Tribune June 29th interview with Peter Tolan, I am posting the whole thing in case the link dies

by Maureen Ryan

Peter Tolan, co-creator and executive producer of “Rescue Me,” says he has no plans to change anything in the remainder of Season 3 of the FX drama, which he and fellow show creator and star Denis Leary mapped out some time ago. But in the wake the criticism and controversy that erupted in recent weeks, due to a rape scene between Leary’s character and his estranged wife in the June 20 episode of the show, he is considering changes for future seasons.

Tolan, in a Wednesday phone interview, said he wants to add “a female character of some strength that the guys can interact with and respect. And I’d like [it if she didn’t develop] a sexual relationship with anybody, so that it doesn’t get muddied like that.”

But was what happened between Janet and Tommy Gavin in that controversial episode rape (which remains my view, which I expressed here and here)? Tolan addressed that in the interview

I actually did have someone leave a comment on my Web site, something along the lines of “Sometimes no doesn’t mean no, right?” I would hate for someone not to know where the line is …

“I would hope that nobody watches ‘Rescue Me’ and says, ‘Here’s a man’s guide to how to live your life.’ I think most sane people would look at that and say, ‘Boy, are these people, all of them, male and female, screwed up. I’m going to enjoy watching this, because compared to them, my life’s a picnic.’ If somebody’s that disturbed that they think they can pick up that cue from a television show, then they’ve probably done far worse or are contemplating doing just that and God knows why they’d need the extra impulse of a TV show to complete the act.”

But I think there are some guys out there who don’t understand that no means no.

“I’m sure there are.”

I read everything you guys said about those two having a complicated and messed-up relationship. And I can see them fighting, even physically, but when I see a woman, a weaker, smaller person, being held down by a man, and the man forcing himself inside her, I have a really hard time with that. And I’d have a hard time not calling that rape.

“I can understand that, as a woman, that you would have that reaction. A lot of people … I’m sure some men probably had that reaction as well. I understand it has much more resonance for a woman. I’ve just got to say, you have to take into consideration who the people are and it’s a complicated scene. It’s very ambiguous in a lot of ways. I’m sure 10 different people will tell you [different interpretations of] when the line of consent is crossed in that scene.”

But should consent be clear before a man puts his penis inside a woman?

“In a perfect world - not on a dramatic television series -- yeah. But this is not a guide to proper public behavior. If it was, it would get pretty boring pretty fast. Not, again, that scene is not there to be provocative, it’s there because Denis and I thought it was a natural extension of the problems in that relationship. That relationship has very quickly moved beyond having verbal fights or physical fights to …. When you take the story into consideration…. I’m never going to say that I condone rape. Nobody would ever say that. But these are fictional characters… and there’s a parental warning on this show and hopefully there’s no one of an impressionable age watching this show and thinking, ‘Hey, a man and a woman, it’s okay to interact that way.’”

One thing that struck me, and it struck others as well, was that she has this physical encounter in which Tommy rips her shirt, forcibly initiates sex, and then Johnny walks in and she acts like nothing has happened. And I had a really big problem - and I’ve seen all the explanations for why Tommy walked out with a smile on his face - to me that crossed the line, it really rankled me. It seemed to indicate what happened was something he was fine with.

“It’s open to interpretation and if you say, well, here’s my interpretation, he’s punished his wife, sure, I’d have a problem with that too. My interpretation’s different. A lot of people say, ‘Oh, he’s just getting back at Johnny.’ That would be a rough interpretation too. I’m sure there’s part of that there. But you’re talking about a guy, for whatever reason, in this sick little world, loves that woman. Can’t express it, doesn’t have a clue how to express it, but she is his and he is in love with her, and he is reclaiming her by that act.

“And in doing so sees, not repulsion from her, but a certain form of acceptance. It’s almost as though he walks out of the house going, ‘I’ve got her back! I can start over again with her. We are still together.’ That’s what I think is in his mind, in his sick little mind. It’s, ‘She still loves me.’ God knows the last time those two characters exchanged those words. His interpretation of those events are, ‘I’ve got a shot with her. She hasn’t turned her back on me completely.’ That’s how I interpret that. And I’m one of the executive producers of the show [laughs], so I think I have a more intimate relationship with the material. Nevertheless, I don’t blame anyone for seeing that and going that, ‘That [expletive] pig!’”

If you could do it differently, if you could change how it went down on the screen for viewers, would you change anything?

“I don’t think so. It was very carefully written. People may not think so, but we took a great deal of time with it. I know that Andrea took a great deal of time with the scene, in terms of preparing the scene and what she did. I mean she is very happy with how she portrayed that character in that scene. So I can’t say that I would change anything.”

Well, the thing is, I can see them having a violent argument, I can see them physically scuffling, I can see that turning into sex. That I buy, with these characters. It’s the issue of him physically restraining her. I had a problem with that. And her smiling or getting into it at the end. A lot of women get raped in the world. For whatever you guys meant, that has other implications in the world.

“I know it does, and I certainly understand the concept of male rape fantasy, where a man rapes a woman and she enjoys it. And I would never want to do anything that kept that alive. But these are specific characters, it has to be looked at in context. Not just what’s happened before, but what’s happening in coming weeks. It’s all part of a story that involves characters who have many, many problems.

“At a certain point… it’s like when I was working at the [broadcast] networks, [and saying] ‘I think I want to write a character who’s a homophobe, he’s not hateful, but he’s fearful of homosexuals, and his ignorance is fueled by his fear.’ And they said, ‘You can’t put that on the air.’ I said to this network person, ‘Are you saying that no character on a television show can express unpopular or politically incorrect viewpoints?’ and they said, ‘Yes.’”

Regarding the June 20 episode, did any of you see this reaction coming?

“I’ll tell you the honest truth, none of us [saw this coming]. Nobody, not in post-production, and my wife is one of the producers on the show, she oversees the editing, none of us. And who knows if we’re just insensitive louts. None of us saw it as causing any kind of uproar. We just saw it as our story. We just saw it as a natural progression of events given these characters, and given a man, and we are seeing this in other story lines, who feels impotent. And having been cuckolded. He’s going to express himself in a dominant sexual manner.”

Well, not to beat a dead horse, as it were, but rape is power - ‘I’m going to own you, I’m going to mark you.’

“And that’s got to be part of it, right?”

For me, what he did -- that made him a different guy.

“And I think for a lot of people it did. It is a very difficult [subject] … nobody condones rape, it’s a horrible crime. Some people are going to see that subject matter, and say, well, I don’t really care if it’s fictional. And it may even [harm the viewer’s] relationship with Tommy, who is an anti-hero, but one made very likable by Denis’ performance, one who is at least somewhat relatable. So they feel betrayed by this person, who they knew was [messed] up, but they didn’t think he was that [messed] up. Whereas other people will look at that and say, business as usual. Or not as usual, but a new low for a guy who has God knows how many lows in him.”

I think this is part of the problem with Tommy, for me - that his behavior gets repetitive over time. I don’t want to see Tommy Gavin become Mr. Touchy Feely Guy, which of course he never would, but at the same time, I’ve stayed with the show for now three seasons - I like the firehouse camaraderie, I love the humor, the performances, but I want to know that there’s somewhere to go with this guy, otherwise it’s Tommy Gavin screwing up for the umpteenth time, Tommy Gavin yet again messing up a relationship with a woman.

“It’s almost a full three seasons, as we write ahead, and that’s a very destructive merry-go-round that those two people [Janet and Tommy] are on. And there’s only so long before an audience will say, ‘Hey, come on. Either make it work, or more likely get away from each other, because if you can’t see how toxic this is, if you can’t see it, you’re out of your mind.’ So at a certain point we are going to have to make a choice there. Because we’re probably getting to that point, where it’s, how many times can we go around in this vicious cycle?”

And with Tommy, it’s not as though he should become super-sensitive, coffeehouse-singer guy, but can there be a little self-knowledge coming to the fore with him?

“Well, there better be a learning curve. We’re not using the model of ‘The Shield.’ We’re not killing a good cop in the first episode. We’re not taking that model. We’re saying here’s a guy, he’s struggling to keep things together, to keep his family together, and he failed in Season 1. And we definitely have [ideas] about what we think the overriding story is for each season.

“We’re in the season of failure at this point .. and, given what the show is, at that point where sees the light and he finds some peace and some happiness and some forward movement, in terms of his evolution as a man and a father and all those things, I think we’ll be right around done. But there are many, many other things to do with him, and certainly things that aren’t as hateful as some of the things he’s done recently.

“Obviously we have room to come back from [that, but] a lot of people, I’m sure, said, that’s crossed a line for me and I don’t care any more.”

What about the women on the show - I know that it’s not a show about women, but shows such as “The Sopranos,” there are other sides shown with the women on that show. There are layers to them, so that you don’t feel like they’re just having sex with the main character, or shrieking at him and wanting more sex, or nagging him. And I know that this is not the “men and women relate well” show, but …

“Well, you know, people say the women are all screaming and harpies and are only there for sexual relationships, and to some degree that may be true. We try to show some other sides to them, but it’s really about the guys. That’s where a lot of our energy goes, in terms of what we want to show on camera. The only functional relationship is between the crew, and even there, they rarely expose true feelings. It’s the functional disfunctional relationship.

“I want to add a female voice to the show and somebody in the firehouse that the guys can respect, who can maybe if not educate them - because I think some of them are a little far down the line [for that] - at least be there as the voice of a woman that they’re forced to deal with. They respect her [in part] based on her ability.”

I hope if you do bring on a woman who can be both competent and attractive - with Diane Farr’s character, did they ever trust her as a firefighter?

“No. They didn’t. There was a question as to whether she had the strength to do the job. And that will get you killed. But that was a good character.”

Regarding the show going forward, my guess is that Janet ends up pregnant, but they don’t know which Gavin is the father.

“Anything’s possible. I’m not going to confirm or deny anything. I don’t want to give away story points because fans will kill me.”

In the interview with Alan Sepinwall, Denis said something along the lines of “we knew some people would react to this the wrong way.” I’ve read and heard a million reactions to that scene, so I know opinions are all over the map, but that comment just struck me, frankly, the wrong way. The idea that if someone saw it is rape, that’s seeing it “the wrong way” -- is that a feeling you share?

“I don’t want to get into commenting on comments. I don’t remember Denis saying that, but maybe he did.”

Well, here’s the thing, I think we may end up agreeing to disagree on this, but I think this took Tommy’s character to a different place. I just think, for me, with a slightly different nuance or flavor to that scene, I would have bought it.

“I can certainly respect your reaction to it.”

When I watched that scene, there was just a button that got pushed in my head, and once that happened, it’s hard to sort of even be rational about explanations and so forth.

“And I know this, from the conversations I’ve had with people who had the same reaction as you, that it’s hard to really accept any sort of explanation or what our intent was.”

Well, as I said to someone at your network, when you work on a channel that has edgy fare - the edge is in different places for different people.

“And I’m just amazed at the different reactions that people had. A lot of people see it the way Denis and I see it, as a disturbing but natural progression in the relationship.”

The last episodes of the season, the ones you’re writing now, would you change anything?

“I think just in a reading the useful input from fans and different people, it’ll be more about future stories and that idea of a female character of some strength that the guys can interact with and respect. And I’d like that not to be a sexual relationship with anybody, so that it doesn’t get muddied like that. But we know where we’re going with this season and we’re sticking with it.”
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Old 07-03-2006, 10:26 AM   #129
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For me the point isn't someone watching Rescue Me for a guide for how to live their lives (even though I have made comments on the influence it could have) and that is besides the point and more than a little condescending. They still have a certain responsibility and I think they f'ed it up, bigtime. T”
But what responsibility is that?

Daytime soaps have been using similar story lines for years. Granted, they are not as graphic as this one and that doesn't make it "right" but I'm not sure what a responsibility a television show has.
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Old 07-03-2006, 12:05 PM   #130
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But what responsibility is that?

Daytime soaps have been using similar story lines for years. Granted, they are not as graphic as this one and that doesn't make it "right" but I'm not sure what a responsibility a television show has.
This was the question I asked earlier and I'm not sure we've really ever answered.
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Old 07-03-2006, 01:28 PM   #131
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In my viewing experience soap operas handle the issue of rape much more responsibly than it has been handled here-of course the Luke and Laura scenario was not responsible, but for the most part they do. But I haven't watched them on a regular basis for years so I can't say that for sure. I guess I'm just naive enough to wish that, in 2006, men would want to portray rape in a responsible manner and call it what it is (not just say well that's the "technical term") and not in the way they did here-as some sort of character extension, plot development in a disfunctional relationship, or pushing the envelope attention grabber. I want to find out how many women work on that show, other than the exec producer's wife. Just curious about that. It's cable and it's supposed to be "edgy", but that doesn't mean you don't think about how you are depicting rape.

I find it fascinating that Dennis Leary doesn't think it was rape but that Peter Tolan seems to think it was. And that Tolan won't comment on Leary's comment that seeing it as rape is seeing it the wrong way. That's another arrogant comment from Leary, at the very least it's insensitive-especially to rape victims. I think a comment like that is also very irresponsible. Maybe he doesn't take criticism very well, or maybe he actually believes what he is saying.

Apparently the only way to see his show is the way he wants you to see it and the way in which he sees it, or else you're not the type of person who should be watching his show (that was in the cnn video interview with him).
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Old 07-03-2006, 03:00 PM   #132
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But what responsibility is that?

Daytime soaps have been using similar story lines for years. Granted, they are not as graphic as this one and that doesn't make it "right" but I'm not sure what a responsibility a television show has.
That's what I've been wondering. The question of rape/not rape aside, does every television show owe us a lesson in morality? Does it need to show us that there are consequences to the behaviour of its characters? Sometimes in real life, people do not experience consequences, so why should every television show falsely depict that they do?

I would really like to think that viewers are able to discern the difference between right and wrong/functional and disfunctional. If they aren't, it makes a strong case for removing every act of violence from television, lest some misguided person misinterpret violent scenes as a set of guidelines for living their lives.

(Btw, thanks for the earlier vote of confidence, Yolland. I've been busy and haven't had time to read the entire thread. However, I'm not sure that I could explain male or female rape fantasies in academic terms, to a greater extent that what you or others have already expressed. I do have some opinions, though, and will try to get through the thread later.)
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Old 07-03-2006, 03:36 PM   #133
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That's what I've been wondering. The question of rape/not rape aside, does every television show owe us a lesson in morality? Does it need to show us that there are consequences to the behaviour of its characters? Sometimes in real life, people do not experience consequences, so why should every television show falsely depict that they do?

I would really like to think that viewers are able to discern the difference between right and wrong/functional and disfunctional.

I agree. Where do we draw the line and who gets to draw it?

This has been an interesting thread for me. Ironically, I've never even heard of the TV show in question.
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Old 07-03-2006, 03:45 PM   #134
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there is SO much to say on this topic, but if i had to boil it down to a soundbyte, it's this: the artists has no obligations, however a better/more successful work of art will grasp the complexity of any situation and avoid simple, easy answers that spoon-feed a viewer what s/he wants; parents, though, have an obligation to protect their children from what they might deem offensive, and the mechanisms for distribution (record companies, film companies, etc.) have an obligation to provide parents with as much information as possible to help the consumer to make the most informed choice possible.

i have no problem with Eminem. he is free to talk about "faggots" or killing his wife all he wants, and he is also devastatingly talented and skillfully uses three highly unreliable narrators to create a single complex character. i do have a problem with a parent who buys his music for their 11 year old son or daughter.

ultimately, someone who sees that "rescue me" episode and thinks it's okay to rape someone, or someone who listens to Eminem and decides to gay bash has already been failed by society at so many levels that it seems like a massive cop-out to blame a single song or a single scene in a TV show for violent behavior.
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Old 07-03-2006, 04:51 PM   #135
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But it's not about someone seeing the episode and saying it's OK to rape someone. It's about perpetuating what many people think are outdated and false notions about rape (spousal rape, "rape fantasies", women will fight but they really want it, men will use forced sex/ rape because they feel "impotent" in their relationship with a woman-and that's ultimately OK too)-and then refusing to own up to it. I'm not asking that this show or any other show spoon feed me or anyone else anything.

They would like to sweep all of that issue under the rug by saying "you have to look at it in the context of their relationship". I don't feel I need to look at any context of any relationship to know that what I saw in that scene was brutal and a rape, regardless of how she behaved afterwards or during. He felt powerless (according to what Tolan said in that interview) so he felt powerful doing that. But it's not rape because of the context and if you don't get that well you shouldn't be watching our show. Uh, ok.
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