If you’ve seen the entertainment headlines this week, you’ll know that on FX’s “Louie,” there was an attempted rape scene perpetrated by the titular character – a scene decried by many TV critics and others who are concerned about the use of rape as a plot device in TV and movies.
Here are a few of those headlines:
- Salon: “This would be rape if you weren’t so stupid”: “Louie’s” most disturbing scene yet
- Vanity Fair: What on Earth Is Louis C.K. Trying to Say About Rape?
- Nerve: Last Night’s Episode of ‘Louie’ Convinced Me to Never Watch an Episode of ‘Louie’ Again
- The Wrap: ‘Louie’ Enters TV’s Rape Debate, and Things Get Personal
Some of these TV critics were rightly turned off by the premise that the main character, the “good guy” who the audience could often empathize with, would seemingly change character and sexually assault a woman.
“Louie” now joins a growing list of TV shows on both broadcast and cable – PBS’ “Downton Abbey,” ABC’s “Scandal,” HBO’s “Game of Thrones” – that have recently used rape or attempted rape as part of the storyline.
As Lauren Duca from The Huffington Post recently wrote, “Rape is never a required story line; it is a deliberate choice by the writers, which should be just as deliberate as their decision to incorporate advocacy in story lines which encounter sexual violence.”
In other words, what these critics are saying is that what happens even on fictional TV shows does matter. It matters to the audience. It matters to the culture. And let’s face it – the truth is that what is shown on TV has real-world effects and consequences.
We couldn’t agree more.
To take it a step further, what happened on “Louie,” a cable TV show airing at 10:30 pm with an adult TV-MA rating, matters – no matter who was in the viewing audience.
That’s the logical conclusion anyway.
So when parents are up-in-arms about frequent and incessant “jokes” about child molestation on Fox Broadcasting’s “Family Guy,” or about the fact that NBC’s “Hannibal” showed a “man being disemboweled by a serial killer, and a woman’s throat being graphically slit open for ‘entertainment” – shows that are given low TV-14 ratings and broadcast earlier in the evening than “Louie” (meaning that more children will be in the viewing audience), then society should also be rightfully concerned about the influences of these TV shows.
After all, what we’ve learned this week is that what happens on fictional TV shows does matter, and it has an impact.