“One of my hard-and-fast rules when reading spec scripts was, the second that there was a rape that was used for shock value and that didn’t have any sort of narrative purpose, I threw the script aside. And I was shocked by the number that had that,” Slater said. “I would say out of those 200 scripts, there were probably 30 or 40 of them that opened with a rape or had a pretty savage rape at some point.”
He shook his head and sighed. “It has become a plague on the industry.”
Rape as a plot device has come under renewed scrutiny in light of Bernardo Bertolucci’s comments about what occurred in an infamous scene in his film “Last Tango in Paris.” The director implied in a recent interview that he and star Marlon Brando conspired to spring the assault on star Maria Schneider, though he’s now clarified those comments. Regardless of the director’s attempts to defuse the controversy, the actress, who died in 2011, said the encounter felt like rape to her.
Of course, on-screen assaults are all too common in both prestigious films and less ambitious fare. Innumerable movies use attacks on women — usually a wife, girlfriend or daughter — as the motivating incidents for a male protagonist.