Rape in Entertainment

[Trigger warning.]

Part Nineteen in an ongoing series...

Via Renee comes this story about one of the plethora of judges ubiquitously populating the daytime television landscape to mete out something distantly resembling justice in sassy, short-tempered soundbites. Judge Greg Mathis, aka "Judge Mathis," and director Matty Rich, whose résumé begins and ends with Straight out of Brooklyn and The Inkwell, have teamed up to make a videogame called Mathis "Detroit" Street Judge, described as "a Grand Theft Auto-style action game featuring prison rape."
"The main difference between our game and Grand Theft Auto is that players will have to deal with the justice system and consequences for their actions," said Mathis. "When you go to prison, you gain credibility when you come back on the streets. On the other hand, when you go to prison you can also be raped. So take your chances. We may see young people who make the wrong choice and go to prison and are assaulted repeatedly (in this game)."
How delightful!

What makes this bit of rapetertainment particularly appalling is that it doesn't even make the merest attempt to suggest that the rape itself is wrong. Even the most hideous, rape-dependent films like The Last House on the Left ostensibly condemn the act (even as they rake in profits off the back of its frivolous consumption by popcorn-inhaling filmgoers). No, Mathis "Detroit" Street Judge is, in fact, reliant on the idea that prison rape is, at best, morally neutral—just something that "happens" in prison to bad people who shouldn't have broken the law if they didn't want to get raped.

If pressed, Mathis and Rich might say that rape is wrong no matter what, but, like most Americans, follow it up with a casual shrug as they note it's nonetheless a "fact of life" in prison, a position that belies any reluctant condemnation: Indifference to prison rape is rooted in the belief that it serves as an effective deterrent, its efficacy wholly dependent on actual rapes happening. The game is thus an unreserved, if not explicit, endorsement of rape.

But somehow that's okay—because it's only prisoners getting raped. Despite the fact we have prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishments. Despite the fact that prison rape may turn an already-dangerous individual into a dangerous individual with post-traumatic stress disorder. Despite the fact that innocent people sometimes go to prison. Despite the fact that rape is always wrong.

There are plenty of people (including self-identified progressives) who simply don't blanch at the thought that rape is a likely part of any prison sentence, and I've heard that attitude ascribed to many things, from ignorance about the prevalence of prison rape to contempt for the rule of law. But I suspect the predominant quality which most closely tracks with holding the position is never having been raped oneself.

[Rape in Entertainment: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen, Eighteen.]

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