Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer

Reply To: OUTLANDER ISSUES ****SPOILER ALERT****

#2942
filmfixation
Participant

I ABSOLUTELY agree with Martin. When everything is in a fantasy context, it is not about US. It is us, human being who commit atrocities, and WE have to look at that dark side of our psyche in order to deal with it. “Fundamentally false and dishonest” is exactly right.
Now I have a real issue with what I call violence porn. I think it veers into sadism, a voyeuristic kind of sadistic violence. The slow motion dripping blood, the erotically lit victim.
I have had a real problem with GOT, I think they enjoy the violence a little too much. It seems to savor it. It also has a lot of naked women as furniture and women being raped as just background action. It rubs me the wrong way.
I guess for me it is all about context. And it is all about how you show it. Rape, just like murder, is not pretty, and I have a real problem when it is set up that way visually.

Youre right on with this Terry. Here’s what I think the team got right with the recent “almost rape” of Claire, though I will start by sharing a short anecdote…I was speaking with a female colleage of mine last week because we (the production company I work for) are working on a still in pre-production documentary about the recent string of young teen girls committing suicide after being raped/or sexual assaulted at alcohol fueled parties. I made this comment: “Well rape is really about men. It has nothing to do with women.” That stopped her cold. I realized that without more explanation that comment could be received badly…so I tried to explain. I told her that rape, as a construct, (and I will define it as male perpetrated rape for this context) is completely tied to a male desire to control, subjugate and terrorize-it never says anything about the woman except for the fact that she was chosen for it to happen to her (I dont like the term victim). Rape says nothing about female desire. It does however say much about male dominance and patriarchy. Similarly, white supremacy is NOT about people of color. It is about whiteness.

So, I was thinking of this conversation as I watched the most recent episode and more specifically Clarie and Jaimie’s encounter with the redcoats. I just re-watched it to refresh my memory. We get a few low angle shots of the leering redcoat, and a few high angle shots looking down on Claire as she cowers. Now had the encountered continued as such I would have had a different reaction. But as the assault starts to take place we move into close ups of Claire’s face, POV shots of the man atop her and Jaime and the sequence is slowed down. Sound design here plays a role as well. The world fades and all we can hear is the sound of Claire breathing. All of these choices were intentional to not give power to the redcoat, or his “desires” but to highlight Claire’s subjective experience which culminates in her killing him. By foregrounding HER and what she is seeing and feeling, the rape itself isn’t important, its CLaire’s experience of the almost rape that is important. After all, we are well aware of what this man is about, we dont need close ups of his face as he starts to assault her body, we dont need to see him feel any pleasure because when it comes right down to it, his objective is violent, abhorrent and uncomplicated-not worth giving him subjectivity.

NOW, this will be VERY different when we get to BJR and Jaime. Unlike this episode, Black Jack’s intentions while in the same ballpark, are far more complicated than this useless waste of space! Not to say that BJR is not a psychopath, but he is a figure we have invested in, and whose relationship to Jaime goes far deeper. I would imagine that entering his subjectivity in that scenario might actually lend itself to the narrative-while horrifying, I dont think it would be “violence porn” if handled with the right amount of restraint.

Thoughts?