America just felt the shock waves I and the rest of Britain experienced when Anna Bates of the beloved Mr and Mrs Bates of Downton Abbey (Downstairs Chapter) was brutally raped and assaulted in 2013. As far as I know, that was the only shared experience. It’s been haphazard ever since. Twitter went rancid at series creator Julian Fellows calling him all sorts of names and basically labeling him a “ratings whore”.
Hello! When you’re in charge of material as powerful and period-heavy as Downton Abbey, IT IS A LOT ABOUT RATINGS and staying in the news or else its all for naught.
It wasn’t the first time Downton Abbey had managed to leave us gasping. When Matthew Crawley died, in a car accident (of all things) on the day Mary had his baby, I didn’t think it could get worse than that.
Matthew had gone off to war, fought, got crippled, managed to walk again, almost got disinherited, got out of that and just when it seemed like nothing could touch him, POOF! Julian Fellows struck again
The Pen is definitely mightier than the sword…or the AR15 but I digress. Downton Abbey has definitely had its dramatic moments but does a dramatic scene make it any less realistic?
Mary Crawley’s flirting with Lord Gillingham does feel a little too soon but I bet no one will remember that after the intense rape scene where Mr Green, Lord Gillingham’s valet played by Nigel Harman carried out his sadistic rape in the worst of ways. It was monstrous seeing him walk off to do the deed, while Kiri Te Kanawa’s rendition of Puccini’s “O Mio Babbino Caro” conveniently drowns out Anna’s struggles.
When Anna is discovered crouching in a corner, battered and bruised by Mrs Hughes a.k.a Head of Maids. she pleads with her to tell no one of the incident. I really didn’t think that would fly. How do you pin stark facial bruising, swellings and cuts on “I fell down the stairs?”
Well she did and it worked.
Anyway Britain hated it. The rape and hopefully the music. I can’t be the only one who felt the rape was more of ‘nightmare material’ because of that music.
I think the hate for the rape scene might have come from having it thrown in their faces and forcing them to really dwell on it when they would rather just tweet stuff like “Stop Rape” and feel like they’ve done their civic duties. Anna’s rape definitely could have happened the way it did, some rapists are just that monstrous, spurred on by anything- a bit of friendly banter, pretty hair, classical music, the fact that they could be caught very easily, etc.
And a woman like Mr Bates in that time would worry about her husband’s name, a soiled reputation, the fact that Mr Bates has a record and the possibility of blinding rage that could lead to murder.
Plus let’s not forget another key factor:
The entire Downstairs clan had witnessed their banter at the card games. It was a bit effusive and even though that’s no excuse, it would make it so easy for thick-minded clods to claim that Mr Green, had been led on and Anna was just trying to cover for her adultery.
For those probably born in the late 90s OR living in developed countries all these might seem quite far-fetched and that’s o.k.. You might not know what it means to be Anna Bates but there are thousands of Anna BatesS in other countries. Places where no one talks about these things or the police accuse you of tempting the rapist with the swirly patterns on your wrapper or you can’t even walk into a store to buy protection without major/evil/judgy looks and you can’t even tell your own family. Yes there are TVs in these countries and they watch Law and Order or Special Victims Unit but units like that will never exist in their world. There are no dedicated officers fighting for them,Rape Kits are fiction and therapy is avoidance.
So they swallow their rapes like bitter pills even when attackers are family, neighbors and people who they see quite regularly without ever reporting it. They endanger their lives and health by turning to quacks in countries where abortion is illegal while rape “is a white-man’s word that makes women promiscuous.”
Even when there is no abortion or STD, the rape is no less poisonous, tainting everything until life brings no true victories.
I know Anna BatesS.
Real ones that live in this time not some period drama and so when people like The Telegraph’s Glenda Cooper called the rape a scene that “came out of nowhere” it begs the question: What do reviewers really look out for?
Are they just after out-of-the-box? And that’s not to say period drama can’t be out-of-the-box but is there some way to make a nasty brutish rape ‘not nasty’?
I was in Korea when i watched that episode and it took me two weeks to recover. It hit me hard because I could already picture the world of hurt Anna was setting herself up for. I’ve listened to a few people share their rape incidents. Most of those times the victims believed that they must have brought it on themselves or they tried to laugh it off and wave it away as the past.
Recently, popular Nigerian Comedian, Basketmouth’s popularity took a plunge when he posted a joke that ended with a girl crying rape.
MY OPINION: I think he was trying to make jokes about girls that lead men on by going out with them date after date.
Look ere, I’m all for change and i can’t stand twitter mobs where people tweet-yell and call themselves activists and follow others blindly without trying to understand the situation. Yet Basketmouth’s joke smacks of a ‘miseducation’ and a lack of empathy for women that many men share (In & out of Nigeria).
Why does going out on 5 or 6 dates have to mean that Sex is on the table? I think Nigeria’s silent culture supports rape, the Police Force do nothing to deter it (seems like they only act when victims are below the age of 7 and above 68ish) and above all else the law is as good as dead where rape is concerned.
Everyone has a role to play where rape is concerned. Starting from the government to schools and parents on the way issues of rape and sex are addressed (or not addressed)
I’m proud of Julian Fellows for taking on a subject as sensitive as rape and making it as real and as jump-in-your-face as he did. Last time I checked, rapists don’t send “Save the Date” cards in the mail. In the Rape of Lucrece(1594), Shakespeare’s narrative poem, Lucrece became a sort of political symbol after she was raped by a man her husband broke bread with. I think this is what Anna’s rape should be viewed as. I think it was as true to the period as Lady Sybil dying at childbirth because it portrayed a time when women came last on everyone’s priority list including their own.
I’ve always thought the Arts should exist for such a purpose, to create purpose, to drive change and keep us from forgetting our humanity.
And for beauty of course….(don’t know what’s worse “The Art’s for Beauty crazies or the Arts for Arts sake ones)