Turning the Tables: Sexual Violence in Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs (1971) and Rod Lurie’s 2011 Remake

There are few films that have proven more troublesome for the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) than Sam Peckinpah’s Cornish-set modern western Straw Dogs (1971) with its notorious double rape scene. For those unfamiliar, it tells the story of American professor David Sumner (Dustin Hoffman) arriving in a remote Cornish village with his young wife Amy (Susan George). Given a sabbatical to pursue research, David has come hoping to find peace and quiet in Amy’s former home -- a remote farmhouse -- but his appearance stirs resentment and hostility in the tight-knit, patriarchal community. At the same time, Amy’s return to her roots sparks the predatory interest of several men in the village, notably her former lover Charlie (Del Henney). The pent-up hostility boils over in a sexual assault: Amy is the victim first of Charlie and then of his friend Scutt (Ken Hutchison). Soon after, a siege of the farmhouse results in the death of a local magistrate who has attempted to intervene. Finally, all five of the villagers besieging the building, including Charlie and Scutt, are killed. Amy and David survive.

Call for Contributions – Screening Sexual Violence

The BBFC are currently in the process of consulting with the public about film classification guidelines in order to review those previously published in 2014 and issue new guidelines in early 2019. In his keynote address at the annual 'How safe are our children?' NSPCC conference last week, BBFC director David Austin shared some initial results of the current consultation and suggested that the revised guidelines would likely become stricter in order to reflect the increased increased public concern about scenes of rape and sexual violence. We are seeking short (1000-2000 word) articles, interviews, discussions, video essays or other content that address the politics of sexual violence as it relates to the screen and screen cultures in the current climate.

Are there Disciplinary Differences in Writing about Pornography?

By Alan McKee, University of Technology Sydney and Roger Ingham, University of Southampton, UK. In 2016, Professors Alan McKee (a humanities researcher) and Roger Ingham (a psychology researcher) submitted to the Australian Research Council a successful grant application for a project entitled ‘Pornography’s effects on audiences: explaining contradictory research data’ (DP170100808). We were approached by Feona Attwood, who knew of the grant and asked if we could provide a piece for this special issue that explored ‘writing about porn across disciplines’. The process of writing the grant application had already provided us with plenty of rich data about differences in disciplinary vocabularies and the ways in which various words implied different objects of study and different relationships to objects of study. Rather than trying to hide these differences we decided to make them the focus of the article. This piece presents three voices – Alan (AM), Roger (RI) and the original grant application (GA) – in trialogue, as a tentative beginning to the exploration of some potential differences between academic disciplines in conceptualising, researching and writing about pornography.