Posted by: da_nibbler | August 14, 2009

Rape On ‘Stargate Universe’

I was really looking forward to the new Stargate series despite some of the casting choices that have been made. When series creators Robert C. Cooper and Brad Wright disclosed the inclusion of gay characters I was pleasantly surprised. SyFy, the network broadcasting the new show, has so far not been known for being very inclusive or gay friendly, actually receiving a failing grade from GLAAD a few weeks ago to which they responded “we need to work harder”.

And harder they did work. Unfortunately in the wrong direction.

Casting sides hit the net this week for a female, quadriplegic guest character:

[ELEANOR PERRY] (35-40) and quite attractive. A brilliant scientist who happens to be a quadriplegic. Affected since childhood, her disability has rendered her body physically useless. However, after being brought on board the Destiny as the only person who may be able to save the ship and her crew from certain annihilation, she is given temporary powers that enable her to walk again and to finally experience intimacy. Strong guest lead. NAMES PREFERRED. ACTRESS MUST BE PHYSICALLY THIN. (THINK CALISTA FLOCKHART).

The casting sides show Eleanor, having taken over Camille’s (the resident lesbian character played by Ming-Na) body, first going after co-worker Eli Wallace (played by David Blue), but he stops her saying it’s not her and Camille wouldn’t want it with him. Disaster averted. Or is it?

Unfortunately not all men on the expedition have a conscience and morals. That’s the cue for the group’s leader Dr. Nicholas Rush (played by Robert Carlyle), who jumps at the chance to have non-consensual sex with a lesbian’s body. But read the scene for yourself (Eleanor is in Camille’s body):

INT. DESTINY – WRAY’S QUARTERS — NIGHT

They enter. And then they’re kissing. Softly at first, but with swiftly increasing intensity.

RUSH’S POV: WRAY is staring back at him as she removes her top, revealing her undergarments.

RUSH — doesn’t miss a beat, and they embrace again.

There are not enough words to describe all the things that are wrong with this scenario. Consent issues, basically forcing a lesbian to have sex with a man, at least two people being okay with this scenario – Eleanor, the woman that took over Camille’s body, and Dr. Rush raping Camille’s body – which makes Eleanor and Rush equally responsible for the rape. The real killer would be if Camille doesn’t remember thanks to Eleanor’s take-over of her body. Equals the scenario to rufies.

As appalled as I am after reading that scene I am willing to give the writers (and everyone involved) the benefit of the doubt and hope that they will deal with the aftermath of this in a responsible manner. Having the lesbian character’s spouse be lightyears away, back on Earth, takes away an interesting component for the aftermath of it all. But then again this is SyFy (the channel, not the genre). No one ever expected them to actually show a lesbian relationship in the flesh on air. Only save way to appeal to the LGBT community in the slightest is having a gay character without ever having to show a gay encounter (= women kissing or, God forbid, have sex on screen).

While some are borderline rioting at the decision to use the lesbian character for that scenario as opposed to a heterosexual woman, I can see a point for that decision – using the lesbian character adds a whole new layer to the situation. Yet understandably the LGBT community is in an uproar about this. Hardly having any representation  on TV at all and now having this happen to the only gay main character in the whole wide TV landscape – who wouldn’t be upset? Given how few gay characters there are the LGBT community is understandably very protective of them. Yet I am still not giving up hope the writers will resolve this in a respectable manner. I shall wait until I have seen the episode for my final judgement. But the existence of such a scene alone is very disturbing.

It will be interesting to see how the scenario is handled and how the LGBT community reacts after the episode has aired. I wish I could have been present at the read-through for that scene and how everyone reacted to it who is actually involved in the creation of the series. Initial reactions by the cast, opinions on how it was handled etc. Maybe we will get some juicy comments after the episode airs.

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Responses

  1. Part of the whole point of science fiction (at least good sci fi) is to challenge society to think about issues that matter – and I think that that’s probably exactly what’s happening with this episode.

    What we DON’T know about from the information currently available is how everyone reacts to this and I think it’s the reaction of the other characters that’s going to make this an episode worth watching.

  2. That is what I’m hoping for as well.

  3. Tal makes a really interesting point which I hadn’t considered… but I’m not going to hold my breath. If the lesbian and rape issues were the only issues surrounding these casting sides and the bits of script released for the audition, I might be more hopeful. But the side also contains ableist language which suggests to me this will be treated as an unfailingly positive event.

    I agree with your point that using a lesbian character rather than a heterosexual woman adds another dimension to the situation; however, I doubt that the brilliant minds behind SG:U have considered it. I think it’s likelier that Ming-Na is perceived as the actress who will garner the highest ratings when topless. I’m not sure how familiar you are with the other Stargate franchises, but they’re not well-known for their adept handling of sensitive issues such as these.

    (Also, to clarify something in your post– Wray is Camille’s last name. The woman who takes over her body is Eleanor Perry.)

  4. I have watched the other two Stargate series and unfortunately I have to agree with you. Handling sensitive issues such as this is not their forte.
    And thanks for pointing out my name fuck-up. Changed 😉

  5. Keep the gay stuff OFF StarGate or at most limited to the feminine Kissing.

    SyFy DON’t Apologize about this, don’t change the show, don’t resolve it in a pleasant manner. This is a new DARK show, and replacing BSG … ever see that?

  6. Hello there straight male reader of mine.

    They didn’t apologize for the content but for the tonality in the casting sides.
    As for keeping gay stuff OFF anything – the creators have already publicly stated that they want the show to portray more realistic characters with real relationships, including gay ones. Welcome everyone to the 21st century!
    The hypocrisy of showing/wanting heterosexual relationships and intimacy on screen while opposing the same for homosexual relationships and intimacy – only wanting gay females kissing – is the main problem in the media. It is time TV execs realize that not all TV shows have to cater to an all straight male audience (who are usually drawn to whatever show is showing two females kissing during sweeps) and usually it is the sci-fi shows that break boundaries (see BSG, which I have recapped extensively).

    Thanks for reading.

  7. I know, butt old entry 😛
    ———————————-
    But this is not the first “rape” scene. There’s been 2-3 others before this one, one of them being a lesbian scene with Ming-Na’s character and her lover.
    I’m really surprised that they treat it so casual as they do. Rape is rape is rape, end of story :/

    Not to mention the really lame story that often goes with those scenes:
    – Hi, I really am your man.
    – Well ok, lets get it on…

  8. Was this an issue just because she was lesbian? So, say, Telford doesn’t have the same rights? In fact, his experience was actually worse than this supposed rape, coz he had to come back to Young having sex with his wife. AND WRAY HAS SEX WITH HER SPOUSE USING SOMEONE ELSE’S BODY!!!!!! IS THAT NOT RAPE THEN ?? This isn’t just a gay/lesbian issue. If you’re gona call out rape, be realistic; everyone with the body transfers has been.


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