Freddy vs. Jason
Promotes Raping Children and Adults
Freddy vs. Jason (2003) Starring Robert Englund. Written by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift. Directed by Ronny Yu.
Victor Salva isn't the only horror filmmaker promoting child-molestation these days. In Freddy Vs. Jason, the latest sequel to both A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th, charmer Freddy Kruger is clearly meant as a stand-in for a child-abuser. In an early scene, a little girl tells the teenaged heroine, "Freddy likes children. He especially likes girls."
In fact, in the very first scene, we see Freddy Kruger corner a girl no older than nine. She screams. Then, as Freddy moves in on her, the child drops to her knees, much like a woman about to perform fellatio. There is no reason given for her dropping like this. It hardly seems a common response to fear. The usual instinctive response to fear is to try to move away from the threat. By dropping to her knees, she is actually moving toward her attacker. We have to assume the filmmakers deliberately chose to sacrifice credibility because they were eager to suggest sex in the midst of this violent attack on a child.
There's nothing particularly new about horror films using their villains to represent sexual predators. Slasher films too often present a symbolic rape for the enjoyment of the audience. In other installments of Friday the 13th, Jason attacks scantily-clad beauties, and this installment is no different. Within the first few minutes, we see a woman running from Jason while her breasts are on display. Psychiatrists would say the filmmakers here are (intentionally or not) using "classical conditioning" to promote rape. The view of breasts makes men in the audience feel aroused and feel enjoyment while watching the woman attacked. The most likely psychological effect is to cause men to associate attacks on women with feelings of enjoyment and arousal, rather than the normal feelings of anger and compassion for the victim. When they later hear about actual attacks on women, or see one, or commit one, they will be more likely to, on some level, enjoy it and feel sexually aroused in addition to feeling their normal responses.
This typical promotion of rape is bad enough. But Freddy Vs. Jason is even worse for two reasons. First is the age of the victims. The horror movie ethic used to be that young adult women were fair game, but children at least were off-limits. Now even defenseless children are under attack by the filmmakers.
The second reason has to do with style. The other slasher movies were usually meant to be scary. We were asked to associate violence against women with feelings of fear as well as arousal. Freddy Vs. Jason, however, is presented in a cartoonish style, and I couldn't find a single scare. The film resembles nothing so much as one of those comic books that offers Superman Vs. the Hulk or Batman Vs. the Flash. Like these comic books, Freddy Vs. Jason offers two well-known characters testing their super-powers against one another. Jason has super-strength (like the Hulk) and the power to survive anything (like Wolverine). Freddy also cannot be killed, and he has the power to control dreams.
Jason wears a mask while displaying his powers. Freddy, in this installment, looks like the man-in-a-mask that actor Robert Englund actually is. (In A Nightmare on Elm Street 5, one attack scene actually depicted Freddy Kruger as a comic book character.) And like comic books, Freddy Vs. Jason is aimed primarily at immature males who cannot get dates. (Englund once said he believed the reason his character was so popular was because, "I kill that girl who wouldn't go to the prom with you.")
Critic Fred Topel wrote, "This isn't a horror movie with a human protagonist against a monster. It's a movie where the monsters are the protagonists."(1) Indeed, the film's opening (which includes the attack on the child) is narrated by Freddy, increasing the audience's identification with the child-abuser rather than asking audiences to see things from the child's perspective.
In one scene, characters watch the news on TV station KRGR, a play on Freddy Kruger's name. This is the level of humor one might expect to find in a children's book or a Saturday morning cartoon. The Seattle Times wrote, Freddy Vs. Jason "is like Elmer and Daffy in the Grand Guignol. I kept looking for an anvil."(2)
Even those who liked this film described it, not as "scary," but as "fun." The website Mutant Reviewers praised the film, writing, "Man, this is fun stuff if you like this sort of thing, and it's okay not to (it is all a little sick, you know?)."(3)
Yeah, I do know. The film not only suggests sexual assault on children, it portrays such crimes as the work of a cool and fun superhero, not the scary act of a villain. It trivializes crimes against children by putting them in the context of a goofy cartoon masquerading as a horror movie. This film encourages us to respond to child-abuse with laughter rather than outrage or demands for justice.
To be fair, attacking children is only a small part of the film. Most of the film has our two homicidal superheroes killing teenagers — which isn't anything to be happy about, either, though it is what we are used to. The child-molester element may take only a minute or so of screen time, but why is it here at all?
There are plenty of movies and novels that offer fun scares and gross-outs without attacking children. This film does not deserve our money.