Q30 Television

#MeToo in the Media

By: Alex Taglieri

 

For months, #MeToo has been trending across social media as people demonstrate the magnitude of victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment. While the issue involves people of all age groups, it is especially pertinent for college students, where rape and sexual assault are major conversations on campuses across the country.

However, one concern about the hashtag is how big of a difference it will make. While it is important to listen to these victims’ stories, it isn’t enough to sit back and do nothing after reading them. The movement can’t make an impact if people become immune to the posts that flood their social media timelines.

Television, movies and books have always been extremely powerful for me, and their depictions of sexual assault have left lasting impressions. While I have learned about sexual assault in classes, as well as from my peers and on social media, nothing has been more impactful than the life lessons I have taken from the stories on screens and in books.

If you’re looking to delve further into this topic, look no further than these books, movies and television shows.

 

Big Little Lies

 

 

This HBO limited series is linked with the #MeToo movement all too closely, as showrunner and leading actress Reese Witherspoon has revealed instances of abuse throughout her career in the entertainment industry.

The connection with #MeToo doesn’t end there; the show explores this issue throughout its seven episodes. While the show hinges on a murder in a small Californian town, it’s more than a superficial murder mystery. At its core, it’s about the lives of three women trying to maintain a facade of perfection and hide the challenges they’re facing in their marriages, families and careers.

While the series was a standout of the year for its beautiful cinematography, witty dialogue and dramatic finale, it made headlines for its realistic portrayal of domestic violence. Celeste Wright, played by Nicole Kidman, spends most of the series trying to fake a perfect relationship while simultaneously trying to escape it. The violent scenes between Celeste and her husband Perry, played by Alexander Skarsgard, are chilling and disturbing.

While the whole cast is excellent, Skarsgard and Kidman’s scenes are all showstoppers that will stay with you long after you finish watching the final episode.

 

“It Happens All The Time” by Amy Hatvany

This gripping novel provides an interesting spin on the topic of sexual assault by alternating its narrator between the viewpoints of the victim and rapist. The book tells the story of childhood friends Amber and Tyler, documenting the highs and lows in their lives and relationship with each other.

 

 

Hatvany’s choice to tell the story through both Amber and Tyler’s eyes is both enlightening and troubling, as it blurs the line between the victim and perpetrator. One chapter, Tyler is portrayed as a monster. The next, he is a hero. On the other hand, the victim isn’t just a two-dimensional character, she’s a fully realistic person with her own dreams and her own demons.

When I finished reading the book, I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I had never read a more powerful depiction on the aftermath of sexual assault.

It’s a reminder that there are real people behind the headlines that we see all too often. Once the trials end and the media coverage stops, these issues and the people involved have to move forward no matter what the outcome is. Hatvany shows just how challenging that can be, and inspires readers to change their own actions and thought processes towards sexual assault.

 

Perks of Being a Wallflower

 

 

This movie, based on the book by Stephen Chbosky, follows narrator Charlie as he navigates high school and comes to terms with traumatic events from his childhood and adolescence. It sheds light on something that is often forgotten: boys can be victims, too.

While the film doesn’t show instances of sexual assault like “Big Little Lies” does, the details it does provide are just as powerful. Instead, it shows the repercussions on the victims, as well as the effects on their relationships with romantic partners, friends and family members.

“Perks of Being a Wallflower” has plenty of highs that makes it quite enjoyable, but that also means the lows hit even harder. Watching this film will open your eyes to the reality of acquaintance rape, as well as plenty of other issues that teenagers face.

Overall, the movie is a fantastic coming-of-age story, and any viewer will find a character that resonates with them. “Perks” is realistic without ever becoming preachy, and emotional without being sappy. Once you finish it, you’ll want to re-watch it immediately (or at least listen to the soundtrack).

 

“Beartown” by Fredrik Backman

As a huge hockey fan, this book about the politics of youth hockey hit home for me. It manages to capture the thrill of hockey, explaining why it’s impossible for some people to stay away from the sport. It shows how the game can save a small town and its residents, but quickly turns around and demonstrates how the culture of the sport can destroy those people as well.

Like “Perks of Being a Wallflower,” this book takes on many issues, from homophobia to gender inequality. At the center, however, is the story of Maya, who has brought rape charges against the star of the town’s youth hockey team, just as he is on the brink of international success. Backman demonstrates the dangerous repercussions of victim-blaming, and forces the reader to reevaluate the language they use when talking about cases like this one.

 

 

Although the book has many characters, Backman weaves his story expertly, and the plotlines never become confusing. Switching between narratives kept me engaged and offered a broader perspective on the central conflict. While there were some characters that I despised, there were others that I absolutely loved and was sad to leave behind once I finished the book. 

“Beartown” may take place across the world, but its message will ring true and serve as a warning for any sports fan. Although the story will break your heart, the ensemble of characters will also piece it back together, providing many moments of hope for a brighter future.

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