Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Rape in soaps

While praising The Archers on Radio 4 for its recent rape storyline, David Aaronovitch in The Observer asks why rapists in soaps are almost never one of the central characters.
It seems to me that this is a very interesting psychological insight. Our sympathy with soap characters is based on identification. But while we can easily see ourselves as potential victims of rape or assault, we find it impossible to allow a connection with the rapist, the molester and the wife-beater. By making the rapist an outsider who leaves after the crime, the scriptwriters externalise evil for us. It is not within us or those who are close to us, but entirely contained within others. So the writers first frighten us with something real, and then reassure us with something unreal, which is the notion of our own essential and eternal correctness.

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