chapter  5
16 Pages

A MEDIA HIJACK – RAPE, HOUSEHOLDER DEFENCE – LEGAL DEBATES TAKEN HOSTAGE BY STRAW DOGS

WithDebates Taken Hostage by Straw Dogs

Straw Dogs, released uncut on video for the first time in 2002, is known most notoriously for two issues of legal note – its controversial rape scene (with resultant feminist response) and the censorship reaction which ensued. The depiction provoked questions of interest for current policy debates, not least in critical points still undetected in relation to the offence of rape. More dramatically overlooked were some wholly different juristic issues raised prior to the making of the film and overshadowed by the film debate. Gordon M Williams’s book The Siege of Trencher’s Farm, which forms the basis for the film, deals with a range of juristic issues, which also hold pressing contemporary relevance, issues taken hostage and buried in the furore and fascination which followed the release of Straw Dogs.1 This chapter sets out to tell the story of these hijacked debates – occluded not only by scenes remoulded for the purposes of film, but by righteous indignation and reactive repressions.