Amid all the stealth-misogyny and meta-messages that exist in film and TV today, it can sometimes feel almost like a relief to encounter something completely blatant. Almost. Until the nausea sets in. A few weeks ago, I saw a film called Beserker, about reborn Vikings in the modern era.
There were two brothers, one a dark warrior attempting to kill the Valkyrie Brynhilde, the other attempting to protect her. In this iteration of their lives, Brynhilde was the doctor at a mental institution – and unaware of all this – and the warrior who wanted to protect her an inmate. During the film, the villain brother claims that Brynhilde does know the score, and is using mystical seduction to manipulate the hero brother into shielding her from a just sentence ordained by Odin. To prove his point, after kidnapping Brynhilde, he rapes her, supposedly to rob her of her powers, as that trope goes.
Then the plot twist: his claim is true. So the person we thought was the hero was really the victim, the one we thought was the victim was really the villain, and the one we thought was the villain was really the hero. If that sentence was all there was to it, fine. But that also presents the rape as heroic: it works, it spoils Brynhilde’s illusions; the alluring but evil woman is raped, which ruins her allure, and allows her male victim to see her as the evil thing she is. If the plot twist of Brynhilde’s evil was necessary, any number of tactics could have been used to carry it off. But the producers went with rape, and made it just and heroic.
BetaCandy talks a lot about backsliding in the film industry’s portrayal of women, and this has to be seen as proving her point. Is there any other time where this would have made it to screen?