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Old 06-27-2006, 09:04 AM   #1
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Controversy Surrounding Rescue Me Episode

I used to watch this show occasionally, one of the reasons I don't anymore is the depiction of the female characters and the relationships. It got to be tiresome and degrading in many ways. So they have him receive some sort of " karmic payback" and that ties it all up into a neat little bow? Yeah rape is the "technical term". Haven't seen the episode but depicting rape in that way doesn't sound all that appealing or appropriate to me. The sex on the show is quite graphic and "raw", but they really seem to have blurred and crossed the line with this one.

http://www.calendarlive.com/printedi...,6506788.story

Taking risks comes naturally to the creators of "Rescue Me"; the series, after all, is a delicately balanced comedy-drama that explores the screwed-up lives of a group of fictional New York firefighters, the same fraternity who were dubbed "America's Heroes" after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. But last week's episode, co-written by Tolan and star Denis Leary, went way too far for many fans and critics.

In the closing scene, after Tommy Gavin (Leary) and soon-to-be-ex-wife Janet (Andrea Roth) argued over custody of a chaise longue, he knocked her onto a sofa, ripped off her clothes and forced himself on her sexually. Then he apologized — not for the rape, but for tearing her shirt. ("It wasn't one of my favorites," Janet replied dazedly, a line that, in suggesting her lack of anger over the violation, did as much to incense some viewers as the act itself.)

Accept Tommy as a boozy, faithless, neurotic lout? Sure. He redeems himself by risking his hide to save people trapped in burning buildings.

But accept him as a rapist? No way, said many viewers. Not goin' there.

The Chicago Tribune's Maureen Ryan blogged that the rape scene "hit a sickening new low." Newark Star-Ledger critic Alan Sepinwall attacked "Rescue Me" for "a pattern of misogyny and pathetic characterizations of women" and said the scene "made me uncomfortable and unhappy in a way even the most extreme TV and film almost never does." Fans began heatedly deconstructing the scene on Web forums.

...

TWOP started in 2001, but Tolan learned of it only last month, from an article in Entertainment Weekly. Surprised by the strong reaction viewers had to the rape scene, he thought he would use the TWOP arena to remind them of its context within the series.

He wrote: "I'll admit this is extremely dicey stuff. The idea of any woman 'enjoying' being raped is repellent, and caused all of us (and the network) a great deal of concern. But again, these are seriously damaged people who are unable to express their emotions — and so expression through brutality has become expected."

"Many TWOP denizens were pleased that the executive producer of a series had bothered to join a discussion. But others were hardly star-struck, including one who suggested that Tolan was merely making fancy excuses for a poorly written script.

Tolan followed up with a protest that some of the discussion was "combative."

"The scene was not written to be provocative," he told me Friday. Asked if he believed what Tommy did to Janet constituted rape, he paused and replied: "Yeah, I guess I'd have to say that. That's the technical [term]. But we never called it that, because we were trying to hook more into the relationship."

Will the rumpus from fans affect the rest of this season's stories? Probably not. Tuesday's episode was the fourth of 13 episodes. Nos. 9 and 10 are being shot now; Tolan is currently rewriting the 11th. But Tolan made a point of noting that Tommy will get his "karmic payback" for the rape in a future episode: "There is a consequence, and it's an unexpected one."
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Old 06-27-2006, 09:13 AM   #2
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I hope it's disturbing to any viewer male or female. Yes it's just a TV show but what message is it sending?


http://metromix.chicagotribune.com/t...,2387527.story

"Rescue Me" has crossed a troubling line.

Sure, Tommy Gavin, the bad-boy firefighter at the heart of the FX drama, has done awful things in the past. But when he raped his estranged wife, Gavin (played by "Rescue Me" co-creator Denis Leary) hit a sickening new low.

On the June 20 episode of "Rescue Me," Gavin had a conversation with his estranged wife about how to split up their possessions. The conversation grew heated, and he became violent with her, shoved her on the couch and forced her to have sex with him.

It apparently wasn't enough that the show depicted Gavin raping a woman, but it had to show that Janet Gavin appeared to enjoy it by the end of the act.

The worst part? Gavin exited the house with a huge smirk on his face.

The smirk seemed to say, "Women love me, no matter what I do to them." After all, Gavin had just gotten a string of phone calls (on "crazy chick call-in day," as he dubbed it) from four of the women in his life, all of whom are needy or shrewish or sexually obsessed with him -- if not all three.

It's one thing to create a show about a troubled alcoholic with rage issues. But it's another thing entirely to make the lead character of the show a scary sociopath who assaults women.

That's disturbing to any viewer, male or female.


But there are signs FX wants to expand its viewer base beyond its largely male demographic; Glenn Close had a terrific run on "The Shield" and both Susan Sarandon and Marisa Tomei make appearances on "Rescue Me" this season. Still, allowing the lead character on one of the network's flagship shows to be not just a sexist jerk but a rapist as well is not a good way to keep FX's female viewers, let alone attract new ones.
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Old 06-27-2006, 09:29 AM   #3
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There have been other violent "sex" scenes on film that have blurred this line. The first one that comes to mind is from 'History of Violence'.

Although it's not how I would like to define sex, I don't think it technically defines rape. It sounds like she was of consenting mind and didn't say no...doesn't mean I approve, just doesn't sound like the legal term for rape.

Of course I haven't seen it, so I can't say for sure.
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Old 06-27-2006, 10:03 AM   #4
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i would have to see the scene to make a judgement.

i am all about art, especially art that pushes boundaries and makes us uncomfortable especially if it leads to deeper understanding and complexity (for example, Dr. Melfi's rape in Season 3 of The Sopranos was tremendously unsettling due to its frank depiction, however it also lead to one of the more profound statements on the cyclical nature of violence that the show explores).

it doesn't sound as if this episode was as artistically valid.

but i'd have to see it.
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Old 06-27-2006, 11:51 AM   #5
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Hmmm...I guess I'd have to see it too but considering the furor, I'm guessing it's safe to call it a rape. Knowing the show, I can't say this comes as a big surprise, especially from Tommy.

I dunno, this kinda reminds me of when people thought Trainspotting advocated heroine use. Personally I thought all around it was a great anti-heroine story. All the Rescue Me characters are hugely flawed and depicted as pathetic stereotypes, not just the women.

Does that advocate or sanction pathetic behaviour or just describe it? The great art debate. I guess it will remain to be seen whether Tommy faces any repercussions for what he did. I don't follow the show closely (I like Leary in general but it's too depressing), but it seems the worse his behaviour, the worse karma bites back at him and continues his downward spiral.
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Old 06-27-2006, 01:31 PM   #6
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"It wasn't one of my favorites," Janet replied dazedly...

But isn't this a true depiction of the reaction some women have to rape? A girl I knew who was raped in college was so stunned initially that it took her days to process what had happened -- going from shock to grief to self-doubt (and self-blame) before going after her accuser.
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Old 06-27-2006, 02:03 PM   #7
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I really hope they have written that same arc of realization for Janet into coming episodes then because the most despicable part(s) of this scene (even though I haven't seen it) are that she succumbs to enjoy it and Tommy leaves with an empowering smirk on his face.

Regardless of how honestly that may portray their fcuked up relationship, unless there is hell to pay for Tommy, the messages it sends are disgusting.

I hope she has the last laugh before the show is cancelled...which I'm guessing may be soon.
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Old 06-27-2006, 06:29 PM   #8
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Well given the way they describe it, it would never qualify as art to me to portray a man and a woman in a heated argument and to have that as a result-whether they actually had her say no or not, the message is disturbing to me. It also perpetuates the notion of a "rape fantasy", which is disgusting to me as well.

The fact that they had him "smirk" says to me they were trying to portray that he had shown her, that he exacted some sort of sick twisted power or something over her. I would have to see the episode to form a complete opinion. It also really disturbs me that the writer said rape was the "technical term" but they never called it that. So if you never call it that and never have her say no, it's not rape according to them, it's just "character development".

I didn't care at all for the scene in History Of Violence either, it made me extremely uncomfortable
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Old 06-27-2006, 06:44 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen


I didn't care at all for the scene in History Of Violence either, it made me extremely uncomfortable
Yeah it was extremely uncomfortable...
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Old 06-27-2006, 07:01 PM   #10
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Another article I found

http://www.zap2it.com/tv/news/zap-re...ap-home-promo1

She fights back but then she submits and enjoys it. Grossly inappropriate message, no matter what other messages they are claiming they were aiming for- we will fight at first but we really want it, we are only somehow pretending otherwise. Yeah I get that their relationship is disfunctional, but there are so many other valid ways in which to convey that. She can stand up to him in so many powerful ways other than in a rape scene in which they are suggesting that she wants it or enjoys it somehow. Sounds like he (Tolan) thinks that is female empowerment, he needs a different angle. I wonder if there are any female writers on that show. Here's some empowerment for you-have men on that show who treat women with respect and depict some healthy male/female relationships. That empowers everyone. Fantastic physical attraction to me is mutual and non-violent.

"At issue is one of the more polarizing scenes in a TV drama in recent memory. In the June 20 episode, called "Sparks," firefighter Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary) and his estranged wife, Janet (Andrea Roth), were having a testy though reasonably grown-up conversation about dividing their assets. A throwaway comment about a dining-room set, though, sets Tommy off, and he forces himself on Janet, tearing her shirt and forcibly having sex with her.

Janet fights back, clawing at him and punching him in the face, but then seems to accept the situation, if not even enjoy it a little. And Tommy leaves her house with a smirk on his face. Those two details, as much as the act itself, have sparked debate among fans and critics about not just whether Tommy raped his wife but whether the show was somehow condoning his actions."

"Rescue Me" co-creator Peter Tolan has been a part of that back-and-forth, posting a number of times about the episode, which he co-wrote with Leary.

"Our feeling has always been that Tommy and Janet are in a highly dysfunctional relationship (obviously), a negative vortex fueled by only one positive -- a faint glimmer of love that is constantly overshadowed by truly fantastic physical attraction," Tolan writes in one of his posts. "In terms of the scene ... I never wrote the words 'don't' or 'no' at any point in the scene, and when I talked to Andrea about the playing of the thing, I pretty much told her that she had to stand up to Tommy -- that he had taken so much away from her over the years, that she had to stare him down from a position of strength while he was forcing himself on her. I told her to shame him with the words she was given - to let him know she couldn't hurt her anymore, no matter what he did."

That said, though, Tolan acknowledges that a lot of viewers didn't interpret the scene that way. "


It's on tonight, I will watch to see if anything happens to him. But the Red Sox are on too.
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Old 06-28-2006, 08:10 AM   #11
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Gee what a surprise, they didn't even mention it. Just from the recap they showed at the beginning-well..sure looked like rape to me. Fighting back like that means no to me, no does not have to be verbalized. Why would any guy continue after that unless his intent was to force someone into submission against their will and humiliate them? I will try to catch the rerun of this episode if they show it.

I did like that line to Tommy that she (not his wife, whoever that other woman is-can't remember) can't live up his ass because he took up residence there a long time ago and the Susan Sarandon character seems like female character other than the typical one on that show.

So his payback is supposed to be getting an STD from the teacher?
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Old 06-28-2006, 08:41 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
Fighting back like that means no to me, no does not have to be verbalized.
This is true.
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Old 06-28-2006, 09:14 AM   #13
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There are some interesting comments on huffingtonpost.com

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2006/0...-_n_23833.html

"I saw the episode, and it was definitely a rape scene, without question. She screams in his face "Does this make you feel like more of a man?" and punches him in the face trying to get him off of her and writhing away, and he holds her down by force and mounts her as blood drips out of his mouth onto her neck. It was very hard to watch, and as he finished he had a look on his face that was filled with rage and pain and failure. She just tried to hold out until it was over.

The scene made sense for the characters, and it made sense in the context of the show. Maybe what really disturbed the viewers was that the scene looked like something that had happened before between the couple, something she'd put up with for a long time and knew how to cope her way through and something he'd done before but denied every time immediately thereafter (neither of which, of course, stop it from having been rape). I hope they explore that event more as the season progresses. While it's reassuring to hear that they intend fot the action to have consequences, I'm not surprised -- they do a good job on the show with the way that characters pay for their misdeeds.

In any event, people who don't expect Tommy Gavin (Leary's character) to be an utter failure at pretty much all of life's ideals missed the other episode this season where he nearly kills his brother with his bare hands for having a relationship with his ex-wife. He's not a good guy, and it's odd to think that viewers would think he was, as everyone on the show -- including Gavin himself -- think he's an asshole."



"Having been date-raped -- and by someone I knew and thought I liked beforehand -- I can tell you from first-hand experience, that even though I'd found him attractive beforehand (hence, the date) once force was applied, all sexual desire was gone on my part.

I might have had sex with the same man, unforced, and I might have enjoyed myself.

But my enjoyment wasn't the point, was it? When force and violence is added, it's for the thrill of the sadist and rapist, not the victim.

It's a sick male fantasy that rape turns a woman on -- and perpetrating that fantasy encourages rapists, the idea that men should use of force to get sex, and the idea that women don't mean "no" when they say "no."

I'd had it with "Rescue Me" -- a misogynist's tale on it's best day -- and can only hope none of the writers or producers involved are ever raped at knifepoint, and forced to learn empathy and reality from personal experience."
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Old 06-28-2006, 10:09 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
Gee what a surprise, they didn't even mention it.
The following episode? No mention??? Wow.

You know, they could have Tommy pay dearly for HIS actions in a variety of ways (or not as they haven't so far) but they can't write anything into the story to explain, justify, take back or fix the perception that many people (mostly men) who saw the scene took away the idea that once he forced her to give in, she enjoyed it.

Even if Tolan's intent was that she was "standing up to him" and not giving Tommy the satisfaction of thinking he was victimizing or controlling her, how could anyone possibly get that unless they've been a woman in that twisted type of relationship? Not to mention that the majority of the audience is men.

And now, since we're supposed to think she was standing up to him of course she won't say he raped her and if she does, he wins and he'll make her look like a vindictive bitch playing a pseudo-victim.

Now all this publicity will boost ratings.

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Old 06-28-2006, 10:45 AM   #15
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My boss has been telling me what a great show it is and that I should try to catch it.
This is the first episode I have been able to watch.
I'm not impressed and probably will not waste my time watching another minute of it.
I was very much disappointed with a few of the characters, having been told how "funny" they are.
However, I was amused by the two roomies in 'denial'
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