Chapter

Watching Rape, Enjoying Watching Rape …: How Does a Study of Audience Cha(lle)nge Mainstream Film Studies Approaches?<sup>1</sup>

Martin Barker

in The New Extremism in Cinema

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780748641604
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651221 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748641604.003.0009
Watching Rape, Enjoying Watching Rape …: How Does a Study of Audience Cha(lle)nge Mainstream Film Studies Approaches?1

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This chapter draws on a 2005 study sponsored by the British Board of Film Classification to evaluate the ways in which real audiences (not audiences artificially assembled for purposes of a laboratory-like ‘test’) make sense of and respond to watching sexual violence on screen in extreme cinema. It argues that such an endeavour is imperative because it challenges the widespread tendency to make general predictions regarding the ‘ways in which films might affect audiences’. Looking at the different responses that Critics (those who reject the film) and Embracers (those who engage with it) had to the violent ending of Catherine Breillat's À ma sæur! (France, 2001), the chapter concludes by arguing for the importance of heeding the ‘rich and complex’ ways that Embracers engage with films, noting that we need as film scholars to learn how to learn from them rather than falling back onto generalised predictions about the figure of the spectator.

Keywords: British Board of Film Classification; sexual violence; audiences; extreme cinema; Critics; Embracers; Catherine Breillat; À ma sæur!

Chapter.  5898 words. 

Subjects: Film

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