April 7, 2009


Posted in Popular Culture, Rape Culture tagged , , , , at 9:14 pm by sacetalks

I was somehow roped into seeing the new Liam Neeson film over the weekend. It was either that or He’s Just Not That Into You. I picked the action film, thinking it would irritate me less than the romantic comedy that seems to excuse men who won’t communicate their partners by shaking its finger at silly women who just won’t get the hint. Little did I know that the action film would be rife with sexism, racism and false notions of sexual purity.

Taken masquerades as an action film about a man whose daugther is kidnapped when she’s on vacation in Europe with her friend. In it, Liam Neeson stars as an ex-spy who quit his job in order to develop a closer relationship with his 17-year-old daughter, Kim. When Kim wants to go to Paris over the summer, he’s uncomfortable and initially refuses to sign the form which would grant her permission to leave the country. When arguing with his ex-wife, he explains that he has seen what the world is like and that the silly women (aka his ex-wife and daugther) are just too naive.

He’s proven right when Kim and her friend Amanda are taken by Albanians to be sold into trafficking. He’s fortunately on the phone with Kim when she’s taken. Of course, he saves the day and rescues her.

In Taken, we learn that:

  • Travelling women are simply naive
  • Never get into a cab with a stranger
  • Muslim men are out to rape white women
  • Father knows best
  • Girls should just listen to their dads
  • Virgins will always be rewarded
  • Lying to your parents might get you killed
  • Women are too weak and “hysterical” to save themselves or their children

My mom, who I saw the movie with, didn’t get what the big deal was. “Isn’t it nice to see a father who loves his daugther so much?” she asked. Sure it is. The movie, however, isn’t just about a man who loves his daughter. It’s about scapegoating Muslim men as perpetrators of sexual violence; it’s about excusing controlling behaviour; it’s about framing women as either pure or polluted; it’s about a rape culture.