There is also a drought of compassion

1) You would be a touch inhumane if you didn’t think the…

How good are jobs? How wrong is Morrison…

How good are jobs?Only ScoMo, "Ya Radge Orange Barmpot's" number one fan-boy…

Yes, Barnaby, you were wrong

Barnaby Joyce seems to be trying very hard lately to find someone…

The 46th parliament: A “lot of smoke but…

By Outsider  Link to Part 1The Statement from the Heart calls for a…

Lunar Narratives: Landing on the Moon, Politics and…

Anniversaries are occasions to distort records. The intoxicated recounting of the past…

The 46th parliament: A “lot of smoke but…

By Outsider  Permit me to share with my friends at The AIMN some…

A conga line of bludgers (part 1)

By Dr George Venturini  A conga line of bludgersLiving off so much wealth,…

The failure of the small government approach

Over the last several decades, the scope and influence of government has…

«
»
Facebook

Neeson, Racism, and Rape

Liam Neeson is not an actor in whom I have the slightest interest. So spending the last couple of days discussing his actions has felt a little odd.

Out and about promoting his new film, a revenge saga, Neeson used a story from his own past as an example of the desire for revenge, and how irrational and primitive it can be.

Forty years ago, a close friend of his was raped. Neeson asked her if the perpetrator was a black man. The answer was in the affirmative. He offers no explanation as to why he asked that question.

For about a week Neeson cruised areas frequented by black men, hoping to provoke someone into a fight that would give him the opportunity to inflict serious harm. He wasn’t seeking the perpetrator. He admits that at the time he thought any “black bastard” would do.

Fortunately, he did not fully act out his revenge fantasy, realised his behaviour was irrational and dangerous, and sought help.

Confronted about the perceived racist nature of his fantasy, Neeson stated that he would have gone after any group that resembled the perpetrator: this rapist happened to be black. He expressed shame, disgust and regret for his fantasy and his acting out, however, he did not agree that either were racist.

His disclosure of this fantasy is puzzling. It isn’t hard to foresee the path down which such a confession will inevitably lead and it has, with global calls for a boycott of Neeson and his films, and quite likely the loss of future employment. Neeson has now been marked as an unrepentant racist, lacking the consciousness to recognise what he is, and what he did.

Going after a group as a surrogate for going after an individual perpetrator is a savage act, as Neeson acknowledged. It’s been pointed out that going after black men feeds into the racist belief that they are “all the same,” and had the rapist been white, Neeson wouldn’t have gone out looking for just any white man because white men are not perceived as “all the same,” at least, not by other white men. People of other ethnicities have been known to observe the white people all look the same. However, it’s not likely that Neeson would have told himself that any “white bastard” will do: he would have needed some identifying characteristics that he didn’t feel he needed in his pursuit of black men.

In his explanation Neeson stated that he would have gone after “Scots, Irish, Lithuanians, Chinese” implying that he didn’t care about the race of the rapist, his primary driver was revenge, and this rapist happened to be black.

It is the nature of a revenge fantasy that it be peopled by characters who most closely resemble the perpetrator. It makes no psychological and emotional sense that Neeson would construct a fantasy centred around a man who bore no resemblance at all to the description he had of the rapist. This is not to make an argument against Neeson’s alleged racism, about which I know nothing outside of this situation. It is to say there are many factors at work here, and it is wise to consider all of them, whether you believe Neeson to be a racist or not.

Post traumatic triggers and revenge fantasies

Survivors of sexual assault, as adults or children or both, are familiar with the triggering experience that occurs involuntarily when something or someone triggers traumatic memories of the abuse. A powerful trigger is a reminder of the body of the abuser. You may remember the colour of an abuser’s skin, or hair, his breathing, the sound of his voice, his hands, his shape and size. You may encounter someone whose physical characteristics resemble those of the perpetrator, and you may find yourself immediately in a highly distressed state, a state that overwhelms you before you have consciously registered those similarities.

For example, two women told me yesterday that they had been stalked and abused by men of Asian appearance. Both women disclosed an ongoing fear of men of Asian appearance, and difficulties in managing their distress when encountering them. These women are not racists because they have these feelings. They are experiencing a “normal” post traumatic stress symptom when confronted with a trigger.

While there is obviously a world of difference between Neeson’s situation and the situation of a survivor of sexual abuse, there is one similarity. The revenge fantasy requires characters who most closely resemble a perpetrator. The trigger response requires encounters with situations and/or people who most closely resemble the perpetrator. Men of every ethnicity on earth  rape women. That is an horrific sentence to write.

Therefore, a revenge fantasy, be it created by an enraged male such as Neeson, or a raped woman, is going to feature characters who most closely resemble the perpetrators and that will be white men, black men, men of Asian appearance, men of Middle Eastern appearance, Chinese men, Mongolian men, Vietnamese men, Indian men, Sri Lankan men, need I go on?

Perhaps if the universal propensity of men to rape women is addressed, men such as Neeson will no longer be able to be racist about it.

The uses of fantasy

Next, we come to the uses of fantasy, and the frankly terrifying idea of policing the fantasies of others.

The therapeutic value of fantasy is well known. It offers a safe outlet for powerful feelings that otherwise have no expression. It relieves the suppression of feelings that can have negative physical, mental, emotional and psychological effects on an individual, and people around them. It can be immensely satisfying to fantasise misfortune and worse upon someone who has done you damage. In the ordinary course of events the fantasy runs its course and the fantasist moves on, released from crippling negative emotion. Neeson took his fantasy into the real world when he went looking for black men. It’s not unusual for people to do this, and still stop before they actually commit harm.

Neeson has copped a lot of judgmental criticism for having the fantasy he had, a fantasy deemed to be racist. His mistake was not in having the fantasy, which might well have helped to prevent him actually harming someone, but in admitting to it. Revenge fantasies are seldom pleasant. That’s their nature. The majority of us would not emerge from a scrutiny of our darker impulses particularly well, I am confident of that. Indeed, Neeson showed considerable courage, or some might say utter foolhardiness, in publicly confessing his fantasy of revenge.

I would like to raise here the horror of policing Neeson’s or anyone else’s fantasies, judging them unacceptable and condemning their creator. I’m casting serious doubt on the mind set of people who have done and continue to do that. You disapprove of somebody’s fantasies? You think they should censor themselves in their own minds You want to tell other people how they should fantasise and about what? You want control over another human’s fantasies? Really?

You are one scary motherfucker and I hope you never attain political office.

Fantasies are the one medium in which we can be at our very worst, without harming anyone. Writers, artists, filmmakers transpose fantasies into creative product we all consume. That last horror movie that so thrilled you? Read Aristotle on catharsis.

Whatever Neeson’s intentions, and I have no idea what they were, they seem entirely self-destructive if the consequences are any measure, the outcome of his revelation is a global fire storm of condemnation, contempt, judgement, and nauseating self-righteousness. Really, he should have kept his mouth shut and made a movie with the material.

We are creatures of the dark as well as the light. Neeson admitted his darkness. Sadly, the consequences of that admission will not encourage anyone else to do the same.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

8 comments

Login here Register here
  1. Shaun Newman

    I honestly believe that jumping on one statement that anyone makes and blowing it out of proportion and labeling that person as anything should be avoided at all costs. It is just as dangerous as racism itself, in my humble opinion.

  2. andy56

    Shaun, this is a classic case of PC with your brain in reverse. I agree with you 100%.

  3. pierre wilkinson

    He promoted his movie about revenge, but also shared his own personal experience: one he reviled and apologised for, yet sensationalist media calls him out? The whole interview casts a different slant on the entire episode.
    Shaun and andy56 have it in one.

  4. helvityni

    I agree with Shaun regarding this article by Dr Wilson, but I use this opportunity to say that her contribution on IA ” Border Force enforces Saudi Arabia’s anti-women policies at airports” is excellent…

  5. Kronomex

    The Main Sleaze Media has to keep feeding the jaded beasts, and what better way than to continually finding dirt about, mostly, celebrities and stars. Who cares if it destroys a person, the MSM can then move onto the next star or public figure. It sells and also keeps the mobs attention away from matters of import. In some cases the attention is warranted and may deter someone else from doing the same thing or force a change for the better. On the whole, however, it’s all about selling papers, magazines, etc, AND most importantly advertising revenue. I think we all know one of the worst offenders in the world of media.

    Keep ’em happy and keep ’em dumb.

  6. Zathras

    I don’t know whether Neeson’s admission was deliberately too frank or was contrived to cross-promote his latest film but many Hollywood films portray vigilante justice as inevitable or desirable.

    The media reaction was likewise over-the-top and ignored his later epiphany that it was wrong in favour of reporting his initial threat.

    We see constant threats in the media about gays and the threat from immigrants and even from Union “thugs” from out leaders (although nowadays the average unionist is a 40 year-old Nurse).

    I recall when the phoney media threats about African gangs in Melbourne were reported about ten years ago and a couple of white men went out and murdered an Indian man in response. I don’t think that incident received the same degree of media attention. Maybe it was because the media was largely to blame.

  7. Kerry

    He’s a hollywood actor so all he is doing is promoting his movie.
    Writing anything at all about this transparent piece of PR from a less than interesting actor is just helping him to earn more $$$

  8. Karen Joyce

    It bother’s me that people are piling on with their criticism. He used is as an example of something that was wrong, something that he has changed his attitude towards. Stupid to criticise him as if his attitude had not changed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Return to home page
Scroll Up
%d bloggers like this: