The Progressive Ethics of Impropriety

There are some subjects that are so thoroughly offensive, the mere kindling of curiosity about them would make the most uncouth individual feel as if he has been somehow sullied; yet independent film director Deborah Kampmeier has chosen to anoint her latest creation with one such a subject.

I am referring to a movie called Hounddog, directed by Ms. Kampmeier, in which 12-year-old Dakota Fanning's character is raped.

A film in which a minor is raped - with no discernible bearing on the movie's plotline, if reports are to be believed - clearly speaks of an obvious dearth of wisdom behind the director's choice of subject matter; this is attested to even by comments from critics who would hardly be considered puritanical by any stretch of the imagination.

The fact that the aforementioned scene neither enhances nor diminishes the movie plot should hardly be grounds for outrage. My concern is more the mysterious creative process that prompts what some have lauded as one of the most inspiring minds in the independent movie business to introduce what has been called a "carefully choreographed rape scene" into the medium, and then justify the decision under the banner of victim advocacy concerns and artistic freedom.

Like many directors nowadays who relish any opportunity to push the proverbial envelope, Ms. Kampmeier forgets that - tragically - the subject of underage rape makes the news more frequently than they wish it did. As it is, there are more reported cases of rape than there are of bestiality, which happens to be the subject of another Sundance Film Festival submission; but in the realm of fiction the creative impulses of today's film makers seem to churn out these types of sexually exploitative themes at an alarmingly quicker pace than the average entertainment junkie can keep up with.

It's not inconceivable that director Deborah Kampmeier uses her movies to deal with some personal traumatic experience she may have encountered at some point in her life. I am venturing this guess given an earlier movie of hers called Virgin, in which a teenager called Jessie (Elisabeth Moss) is raped by a drunken young boy (Charles Socarides). When she wakes up the next morning having forgotten the incident, she is convinced that the baby is a gift from God. Learning of her pregnancy her father orders her to repent in front of the Baptist church community.

It doesn't take much to discern a pattern where the director appears to be projecting some kind of latent animosity toward patriarchal figures of authority and the hypocrisy element in organized religion; her creations have the feel of some sort of self therapy. Why movie goers would choose to suffer through the experience of watching this type of cathartic exercise is a whole other matter.

For her part, Director Deborah Kampmeier has spent a considerable amount of time and money to produce a deliberately shocking film which delves into subject of child rape with little regard to the fastidious queasiness of those of us who may not boast of such creative prowess in her field of expertise. We see the movie theater as a place to temporarily escape from the numbing infelicities of daily life.

But the bigger problem with the likes of Ms. Kampmeier, who draw from such polluted wells for their inspiration, is that they often see themselves as pioneers of a new kind of enlightenment, vicariously doing a service to society by advancing to the fore what they feel are cutting edge concepts of morality. They are seldom deterred by the scorn they justifiably receive for advocating such perversions; instead they see it as a first step toward a greater emancipation from the rigid mores imposed on humanity by less enlightened souls who would rather shield us from the public unveiling of the gratuitously profane.

Director Kampmeier will likely find a willing audience for her talent these days, as we have grown accustomed to the usurpation of traditional morality by trendy practices that openly advocate a myriad sexual deviations; this new morality is not without standards, for it reserves its highest contempt for politically incorrect transgressions such as affronts to contemporary notions of diversity and multiculturalism.

In such an "open minded" age as ours I worry about what taboos story makers will tackle next when again they judge that the limits to which their creative genius can unleash moral depravity in its manifold forms have been exhausted.
There are some subjects that are so thoroughly offensive, the mere kindling of curiosity about them would make the most uncouth individual feel as if he has been somehow sullied; yet independent film director Deborah Kampmeier has chosen to anoint her latest creation with one such a subject.

I am referring to a movie called Hounddog, directed by Ms. Kampmeier, in which 12-year-old Dakota Fanning's character is raped.

A film in which a minor is raped - with no discernible bearing on the movie's plotline, if reports are to be believed - clearly speaks of an obvious dearth of wisdom behind the director's choice of subject matter; this is attested to even by comments from critics who would hardly be considered puritanical by any stretch of the imagination.

The fact that the aforementioned scene neither enhances nor diminishes the movie plot should hardly be grounds for outrage. My concern is more the mysterious creative process that prompts what some have lauded as one of the most inspiring minds in the independent movie business to introduce what has been called a "carefully choreographed rape scene" into the medium, and then justify the decision under the banner of victim advocacy concerns and artistic freedom.

Like many directors nowadays who relish any opportunity to push the proverbial envelope, Ms. Kampmeier forgets that - tragically - the subject of underage rape makes the news more frequently than they wish it did. As it is, there are more reported cases of rape than there are of bestiality, which happens to be the subject of another Sundance Film Festival submission; but in the realm of fiction the creative impulses of today's film makers seem to churn out these types of sexually exploitative themes at an alarmingly quicker pace than the average entertainment junkie can keep up with.

It's not inconceivable that director Deborah Kampmeier uses her movies to deal with some personal traumatic experience she may have encountered at some point in her life. I am venturing this guess given an earlier movie of hers called Virgin, in which a teenager called Jessie (Elisabeth Moss) is raped by a drunken young boy (Charles Socarides). When she wakes up the next morning having forgotten the incident, she is convinced that the baby is a gift from God. Learning of her pregnancy her father orders her to repent in front of the Baptist church community.

It doesn't take much to discern a pattern where the director appears to be projecting some kind of latent animosity toward patriarchal figures of authority and the hypocrisy element in organized religion; her creations have the feel of some sort of self therapy. Why movie goers would choose to suffer through the experience of watching this type of cathartic exercise is a whole other matter.

For her part, Director Deborah Kampmeier has spent a considerable amount of time and money to produce a deliberately shocking film which delves into subject of child rape with little regard to the fastidious queasiness of those of us who may not boast of such creative prowess in her field of expertise. We see the movie theater as a place to temporarily escape from the numbing infelicities of daily life.

But the bigger problem with the likes of Ms. Kampmeier, who draw from such polluted wells for their inspiration, is that they often see themselves as pioneers of a new kind of enlightenment, vicariously doing a service to society by advancing to the fore what they feel are cutting edge concepts of morality. They are seldom deterred by the scorn they justifiably receive for advocating such perversions; instead they see it as a first step toward a greater emancipation from the rigid mores imposed on humanity by less enlightened souls who would rather shield us from the public unveiling of the gratuitously profane.

Director Kampmeier will likely find a willing audience for her talent these days, as we have grown accustomed to the usurpation of traditional morality by trendy practices that openly advocate a myriad sexual deviations; this new morality is not without standards, for it reserves its highest contempt for politically incorrect transgressions such as affronts to contemporary notions of diversity and multiculturalism.

In such an "open minded" age as ours I worry about what taboos story makers will tackle next when again they judge that the limits to which their creative genius can unleash moral depravity in its manifold forms have been exhausted.