Lifetime movie: Judicial Indiscretion

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TRIGGER WARNING: this post covers a movie which features rape as a main theme.

A wise friend once told me never to watch a bad movie simply because an actor I admire is featured in it. Oh, but had I heeded that advice! After a day of lying around trying to make my brain feel less like a deflated soccer ball and more like an actual working organ, the last thing I needed to do was inflict a terrible movie called Judicial Indiscretion on it. But that’s what I did a couple of nights ago.

The title would lead you to certain conclusions about the plot of the movie. So would the little description the cable company provides, something along the lines of “a judge faces blackmail and sexual intrigue.” Both imply that the judge in the story has somehow made a terrible mistake, that she’s done something horrible enough to warrant blackmail and have her character questioned.

Okay, let’s recap the actual story: Judge finds out she’s probably going to be nominated for the Supreme Court. Judge goes to San Francisco for some reason, where she meets a charming young man who sweeps her off her feet…then drugs and rapes her. Judge doesn’t report the rape, thinking the last thing she needs while going through the nomination process is the embarrassment of a rape trial. Charming young rapist turns stalker and follows her around threateningly. Judge does a background check, discovers he’s a criminal…and sits on the information. Judge is then officially nominated for the Supreme Court, goes around to various major cities. Charming young rapist keeps showing up. She still doesn’t tell anyone, but definitely feels terrorized.

Then, and here’s the kicker, a person who’s been with her for the whole campaign, supporting her, turns out to be the one who hired the charming young rapist (though, he says, the rape wasn’t part of the deal, the guy just threw it in for free – bonus!), and he intends to distribute a tape of the act online if she doesn’t withdraw from the nomination. Won’t that just mar her reputation? Yes, folks, he’s blackmailing her with a tape of her RAPE. She’s not a victim of a terrible crime – oh, no, she’s a party animal who drinks too much and has sex with hot young men.

Oh, but don’t worry. In true Lifetime Channel style, the charming young stalker gets too big for his britches, kills the guy who framed the judge because he wouldn’t give in to demands for more money, then goes after the judge and gets shot multiple times by her security detail. It’s all fixed. It’s only then that the judge steps forward with her story and refuses to let them control her life. Apparently, she had to be convinced to not drop her bid – I’ll admit I missed that part (thankfully), because by that point I was agog by all that had occurred prior to it – and there are big smiles all around for this empowered Supreme Court Justice.

Er. Yeah. The only “indiscretion” committed by the judge character was deciding to not report the rape; it would have ruined her chances at a nomination. And even then, it’s not an indiscretion so much as a bad judgment call. I realize the loss of a highly sought position is certainly a valid consideration, however it seems the only reason it was done in this scenario was so that, ultimately, she could magically be the victor in all aspects. She couldn’t make the journey to becoming empowered if she had power to begin with, you see.

And Lifetime Channel says it’s television for women. I should mention how wholeheartedly I disagree with that claim.

Comments

  1. Jennifer Kesler says

    Next time my advice you will heed, young one. :D

    Let’s start a list here, shall we?

    (1) Commercials refer to “sexual intrigue” and “an indiscretion”, and by those terms they mean a brutal rape. WTF?

    (2) Not only are those terms inaccurate, they both imply she got into something willingly that she shouldn’t have. W.T.F.?? Did the marketing department not see the movie?

    (3) And what was her campaign ally’s plan? If he didn’t hire the guy to rape her, did he hire him to have consensual sex with her on film? That might actually have been blackmail material. But… what? She wouldn’t do it, so the hired guy figures he’ll make her do it, and the campaign guy thinks, “No sweat, I’m sure she’ll keep quiet about this”???

    You know what? I’m thinking originally the story was that she had gleeful, fun, consensual sex which she didn’t realize was being filmed for blackmail purposes. But somewhere in the process someone decided “But she won’t be sympathetic if she has sex without Jesus’ written permission, so let’s make it rape!” Only they didn’t really change much else, because they are idiots who conflate sex with rape, anyway.

  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    Oh, no, I just read this:

    The writer/director said in an interview that one of the things he wanted to do was show an older woman as a person who could be attractive and alive and all that.

    Oh, for the love of all that’s decent, NO. I know most of you get it, but in case there are readers who don’t, I have to use more bold:

    Men rape 80 year old women. Men rape infants. Men rape women who aren’t beautiful at all. And in prison, just to show who’s boss, men rape other men. Rape is not an indication that the victim is attractive. Neither is sexual harassment.

  3. MaggieCat says

    I have a whole host of problems with Lifetime’s claim to being television for women to begin with, since I’m pretty sure the only female characters who reliably come off well on that network are the ones on The Golden Girls.

    But this…. just makes so little sense. I cannot understand how rape is a blackmail worthy offense. I suppose it could depend on the drug that was administered, i.e. whether her actions could be interpreted as consensual by people with no idea what was going on vs. being obviously unconscious, but… Yeah, still not seeing it.

    I’m really not seeing why not reporting the rape makes any sense at all. A Supreme Court nominee who doesn’t report a violent crime? Um… as an officer of the court, isn’t that kind of her job- to see criminals brought to justice? How is that a good idea (script wise, I mean) in any universe? “I only want to see crimes prosecuted as long as they don’t interfere with my career”? I know there is no way to predict how any single woman would react to something like that, but I can’t help but think that someone who’s in a position to see what happens when crimes are pushed under the rug and knows that this person already has a record of some kind (which would seem to suggest a repeat offender) would choose that option.

  4. SunlessNick says

    It’s all fixed. It’s only then that the judge steps forward with her story and refuses to let them control her life.

    So, once all the parties are dead, she decides not to let them control her? Way to present an empowerment message, people.

  5. sbg says

    But this…. just makes so little sense. I cannot understand how rape is a blackmail worthy offense. I suppose it could depend on the drug that was administered, i.e. whether her actions could be interpreted as consensual by people with no idea what was going on vs. being obviously unconscious, but… Yeah, still not seeing it.

    They showed the tape. She was most definitely unconscious. Apparently the guy who was pretending to be her friend had been humiliated by her in the past (she made a ruling against him and his company?), therefore the rape was just the perfect, unexpected revenge for him.

  6. Jennifer Kesler says

    Maggie: given that right-wingers would instantly doubt her “rape” claim and call her a big whore, I can imagine her keeping it quiet (given the stats, do you really think NONE of our current female Congresspersons have ever been raped?).

    However, this storyline’s been done better on Criminal Intent: a successful female politician was keeping quiet about her husband’s abuse (which included rape) not for fear of career-destroying controversy, but because he actually had blackmail material on her, which HE had created, but she couldn’t prove that. That was a situation that actually left the viewer thinking, “That IS a tough choice. I’m not sure what she should’ve done.”

    Nick, sadly, that’s about as empowering as LifeTime gets. I can understand how perhaps “women in jeopardy” (or “pussies in peril” as the industry calls them in meetings) are cathartic for women who’ve been violated in some way, when they’re done right, but… to my taste, they never are. They just come off as exploitative.

  7. sbg says

    (3) And what was her campaign ally’s plan? If he didn’t hire the guy to rape her, did he hire him to have consensual sex with her on film? That might actually have been blackmail material. But… what? She wouldn’t do it, so the hired guy figures he’ll make her do it, and the campaign guy thinks, “No sweat, I’m sure she’ll keep quiet about this”???

    I think the idea was to get her drunk and wild. Any sex at all captured on tape would have been a bonus for him. That she was clearly unconscious and helpless was just icing on the cake for the guy.

    I was expecting to cringe at my favored actor’s role in this…I was not expecting that of all the horrors played out on screen, him playing a rapist was the least bothersome.

  8. sbg says

    The writer/director said in an interview that one of the things he wanted to do was show an older woman as a person who could be attractive and alive and all that.

    There was a scene in a doctor’s office, where the judge was getting checked over. In it, she lamented being so foolish as to believe a younger man would find her attractive without some ulterior motive.

    This was the only indication of the writer/producer’s overall intent for the flick and it left me feeling very…WTF?

    He missed the goal by a long shot.

  9. Jennifer Kesler says

    I was not expecting that of all the horrors played out on screen, him playing a rapist was the least bothersome.

    That is pretty sad.

    Side note: his character name was Jack? Well, that at least gave me a little chuckle. :D (To anyone who doesn’t know what I’m on about, don’t worry – it’s not that interesting.)

  10. sbg says

    Nick said (I almost always forget to include who I’m responding to!):

    So, once all the parties are dead, she decides not to let them control her? Way to present an empowerment message, people.

    Empower, empowered, empowerment…all words I am quickly coming to loathe. Not because of what they mean, but because they’ve become catchphrases used in many situations that are not empowering at all. We’re just supposed to believe it’s so because the word was used.

    Example: I endured the first episode of the Pussycat Dolls “reality” show, during which this word was used at least five times, if not more. And I just can’t see how scantily clad women slinking around singing about how they’re so much hotter than the average man’s girlfriend (and aren’t you men just envious and drooling? You should be!) is empowering; to me that seems to be cutting against other women.

    This movie, too, was just horrible. Here was this highly respected, highly intelligent, highly POWERFUL woman at the beginning, and her power was very easily taken from her…so that she could be empowered by the end. Er. She was empowered to START with.

  11. sbg says

    That is pretty sad.

    Side note: his character name was Jack? Well, that at least gave me a little chuckle. (To anyone who doesn’t know what I’m on about, don’t worry – it’s not that interesting.)

    I know, right? Dude needs a better agent!

    And, yeah, his name was Jack. I think. I really do think I slipped into some sort of horrified catatonia after a bit.

  12. Nialla says

    Example: I endured the first episode of the Pussycat Dolls “reality” show, during which this word was used at least five times, if not more. And I just can’t see how scantily clad women slinking around singing about how they’re so much hotter than the average man’s girlfriend (and aren’t you men just envious and drooling?

    I’ve always been amused by that song. “Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?” Well guess what, she can, if you fork over all the money for plastic surgery and fancy clothing and all that goes with the packaging. Which is all it is, packaging, and it costs money, baybee.

    I haven’t seen all of the movie yet, I had to tape it, but from pre-movie promo info, I was under the impression the judge had a fling with a man she later discovered was a male prostitute and that was where the blackmail issue came from.

    That would have made a lot more sense, because from what I could tell it was obvious she was drugged, though I guess it could be argued in court she was drunk, but in either case she wasn’t in command of her facilities. She was just asking for it, don’t you know. [rolls eyes]

    The real flaw in the story is that she didn’t report the rape. If she had, they would have drawn blood and shown traces of whatever she’d been given.

    I also kept thinking she should have gotten a copy of the video and taken it to the police as evidence of her rape. It was well within the statute of limitations to report it, but logic rarely applies in Lifetime movies.

  13. Jennifer Kesler says

    Nialla, that would have made more sense. Definitely.

    Also, I think she could report it to the police and still keep it confidential, since they don’t release victims’ names to the press and it’s basically wrong for the press to air them even if they get a tip. So that would have been very smart, even if she didn’t want to go forward with prosecution, just to have her side on record.

  14. says

    I think there are lots of reasons a woman might choose not to report a rape – and fear that it would damage her personal and professional reputation is pretty valid, really. Think of all the character assassination that goes on in rape trials – but it sounds like even if we were to give this narrative a pass on that aspect, there’s still plenty of stupid in the plot to discuss. Ugh.

  15. Nialla says

    There are definitely a lot of reasons women (and men) don’t report their rape, and the primary one is they blame themselves.

    Even if they know on an intellectual level it’s not their fault, it’s still difficult to go to the police — who are generally strangers and in many areas, mostly male — and tell about their own violation.

    I’ve also heard that some women who’ve been drugged don’t realize they were, and blame themselves because they think they allowed themselves to get too drunk and out of control. Many women who are drugged don’t even realize they’ve been raped at all.

  16. Nialla says

    BetaCandy, it is against the rules for the police to share their info, but it happens all the time, especially regarding public figures.

    I’d at least go to a hospital and get a rape kit and tox screen done to prove there were drugs involved.

    The police would get involved at that point, but if charges aren’t filed, then filed later, it might make them think there’s something suspicious.

    It all still comes down to a lot of “he said, she said” debate. The defense can claim the victim had consensual sex, then took a drug to “prove” her rape.

  17. Jennifer Kesler says

    Er, I did say earlier that I didn’t have a problem with her not reporting it. In this case, it would be political suicide even though it shouldn’t. In every other case, I’d say it’s a personal choice and I can’t judge women for not reporting when the trials are hell and the conviction rate’s something like 11%.

    I was simply saying that I *think* she had a third option between prosecuting and not reporting at all: reporting without prosecuting. Any of these options could have made for a good narrative and a sympathetic leading woman, but it sounds like this movie missed that on all counts.

  18. Nialla says

    It is a personal choice to report at all, but even if it was reported without prosecution, there’s still the risk of a leak to the press, which would still have the same result she was trying to avoid.

    I think it’s also possible for the State to prosecute even if the victim doesn’t want to, and if she names her attacker, it’s a possibility. Even if she kept his name out of it to report it but didn’t want to prosecute, the later feels it’s necessary to do so, naming his name then could complicate things as well.

    There’s such a stigma about talking about rape. But just a few decades ago, women didn’t talk about breast cancer either, it was a complete taboo for public discussion. I’m not trying to say they’re anywhere close to the same thing, but I think it may take someone well known talking about their own rape (and this is starting to happen) for the average woman to feel more comfortable with coming forward.

  19. Purtek says

    There are definitely a lot of reasons women (and men) don’t report their rape, and the primary one is they blame themselves.

    I think that may be one of the reasons, and it may be the primary one in some cases, but I’ve certainly heard a much larger number talk about how it’s like being assaulted over and over again having to talk about it so publicly. Even after a woman has come to terms in her own mind with the fact that it was not her fault, she may choose not to report, because it’s very likely other people, both in the trial itself, and among friends and family, will blame her. Part of that happens because of misconceptions, and part of it is also just because the nature of the defense in most rape cases has to be to eradicate the woman’s credibility. Plus, because of the standard of proof, and the fact that many rapes don’t involve injury, not to mention that judges and juries aren’t necessarily so enlightened about what constitutes consent, the vast majority of rape cases don’t result in conviction, so it just doesn’t seem worth it.

    I say all this because I think the “she should report” generalization, and the suggestion that if we could just break through the self-blame, more women would, simplifies the situation too much.

  20. scarlett says

    Well for me, just from the sounds of it, the issue is the incredibly thin logic applied. That she was obviously raped is good blackmail material… how? Then that things get resolved, not off her own initiative, but because the two antagonists DIE… this goes beyond the general tripe of ‘rape is about her being screwed up/him saving her’ and just awful.

  21. SunlessNick says

    I’ve always been amused by that song. “Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?” Well guess what, she can, if you fork over all the money for plastic surgery and fancy clothing and all that goes with the packaging. - Nialla

    I can’t be alone in thinking that the Pussycat Dolls are not hot.

  22. Nialla says

    I can’t be alone in thinking that the Pussycat Dolls are not hot.

    No, I’m pretty sure you’re not. I think they look like they should be walking the street or work in a strip club, not singing.

  23. sbg says

    From Scarlett:

    Well for me, just from the sounds of it, the issue is the incredibly thin logic applied. That she was obviously raped is good blackmail material… how? Then that things get resolved, not off her own initiative, but because the two antagonists DIE… this goes beyond the general tripe of ‘rape is about her being screwed up/him saving her’ and just awful.

    The bizarre thing about the blackmail twist is it wasn’t blatantly revealed until nearly the end…so before that she was just plain being terrorized by this rapist popping up everyplace. Sooo, the mastermind behind it wanted her to feel well and truly powerless when he issued his ultimatum.

  24. sbg says

    I can’t be alone in thinking that the Pussycat Dolls are not hot.

    I don’t think they are, but then I’m prone to thinking people are more attractive the less they make themselves up.

  25. scarlett says

    No, I’m pretty sure you’re not. I think they look like they should be walking the street or work in a strip club, not singing.

    Well, they DID start out as a burlesque act. I don’t think that excuses their complete lack of talent – having a hot bod does not excuse you from a complete lack of talent, it just means you should go back to stripping – but it does explain somwhat why their emphasis seems to be showing off their bodies and singing about their bodies.

  26. joanne says

    i agree! Lifetime is not TV for women..i have written to them several times about their movie line up of rapes, beatings and abuse of women..it’s obvious the men that run Lifetime don’t get women at all…in fact..it seems to me that they dislike women immensely and wish all the bad things in their movies to happen to women. I think their programming is programming for abusive men. Except for REBA..that’s the only good programming they offer.

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