Blog of Feminist Activism

The feminist activism of charliegrrl and co

Stop selling the Grindhouse Rapist Doll

Posted by charliegrrl on May 4, 2007

The Rapist No 1 Doll is being sold by a few companies. The Rapist No 1 is modelled on a character in the Tarantino/Rodriguez film Grindhouse- a torture porn film.

 

Letter in The Guardian May 3rd

The availability of the so-called toy Rapist Number One – a character from Grindhouse – demonstrates so clearly the links between the prevalence of rape and sexually violent films and pornography. The purchaser of the toy will not necessarily commit rape, but his acquisition legitimates rape. His action, and the availability of this toy, sustains a culture in which rape and sexual violence are not taken seriously; in which sexual violence is normalised and legitimated. We may not have the empirical evidence which clearly shows that watching violent porn makes someone commit rape, but the fact that this film has spawned this sort of merchandise, sold as a “toy”, should tell us all we need to know about the harmful nature of this sort of material.
Clare McGlynn
Professor of Law, Durham University

 

Rape Crisis England and Wales are urging people to complain.

Please send complaints to the following companies. Call for them to stop selling the doll immediately.

Complain to You Buy Now

[*edit* as a result of complaints, You Buy Now are no longer selling the rapist doll,
see comments 07/05/07]

Complain to Forbidden Planet

Complain to Amazon by emailing them or by ringing their customer services 0800 279 6620

[*edit* Amazon has removed the Rapist doll from Amazon.com, but it still remains on
Amazon.co.uk 08/05/07]

Other people are complaining about this already.

Anymore places selling the rapist doll? Please let us know

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59 Responses to “Stop selling the Grindhouse Rapist Doll”

  1. hairylesbian said

    There have already been complaints in local papers in Wales as well, and in Alaska the state legislature is trying to prevent the doll being sold. When I complained to Amazon they sent me a standard reply as follows:

    “Thank you for writing to Amazon.co.uk with your concerns about one of
    the titles we list in our catalogue.

    This is an issue we take very seriously and we wanted to share with
    you our goals with respect to our catalogue.

    Our goal is to support freedom of expression and to provide customers
    with the broadest selection possible so they can find, discover and
    buy any title they might be seeking. That selection includes some
    titles, which most people, including employees of Amazon.co.uk, may
    find distasteful or otherwise objectionable.

    Amazon.co.uk believes it is censorship not to offer for sale certain
    titles with repugnant or distasteful content, and we would be rightly
    criticised if we did so. As a result, we will continue to make
    controversial works available in the UK and everywhere else, except
    where they are prohibited by law.

    Furthermore, because we strongly believe that the appropriate
    response to distasteful or repugnant speech is not censorship, but
    more speech, we will continue to allow readers, authors, and
    publishers to express their views freely about the books and other
    products we offer on our website. It is important to note that we do
    not endorse any opinions expressed by individual authors, musical
    artists, or filmmakers.

    We value all feedback from our customers, and I thank you again for
    taking the time to send us your comments about this issue.

    We hope you will allow us to continue to serve you”

    To which my reply is – well Amazon.co.uk

    This is a PLASTIC DOLL not a work of art and it is being sold as a toy.

    If you will sell anything that is legal does that mean you would sell Child Porn if it was legal?

    If you think I’m giving you any more of my money – THINK AGAIN.

  2. Freedom of expression…
    Censorship…

    The usual lame arguments. But they are still profiting from selling this rapist doll. No excuse. Why don’t these companies take a stand against selling such distasteful items? This would be a positive step towards being an ethical company. Taking social responsibility seriously.

  3. Joanna said

    Oh for fuck’s sake. Doesn’t this just tell you everything about the state of the world today? The reason this sick joke is on sale is the same reason Playboy merchandise is sold in your local family newsagents, the same reason why pole dancing kits are avaliable in the toys and games section of Tesco’s, the same reason little girls grow up wanting to be lap dancers: NOTHING IS OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN ANYMORE. Even porn.

    >>The marketing campaign to promote the £11.99 model includes the chilling statement: “With a name like that, you know he is going to be a hit with the ladies.”

    For fuck’s sake. If there was a male equivalent it wouldn’t be allowed but torturing and raping women – pah! It’s just ironic! It’s only a film! It’s just a luagh! Fucking disgrace.

  4. Exactly, I always find myself saying- ‘Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse…’

  5. eilidh70 said

    Was reading about this hideous film and toy the other day. Thanks for the links; will get complaining.

  6. Richie said

    The worst part of this whole mess is that the character’s name is “Jones”, and they could have sold the thing as “Jones” rather than “Rapist Number 1”, but went for the latter because… they think it’s funny, I guess. If it were called “Jones”, then everybody who had seen the movie would still know who it was, but everybody who hadn’t seen the movie would just see a guy in dirty clothing. The marketing campaign has been hideously insensitive.

  7. emma said

    Before anyone says ‘oh no this is a collectable/action figure’ try this. Go to amazon.co.uk and put rapist into the search engine – up pops at No 1 –

    ‘Rapist number 1 from Planet Terror by Neca (Toy)’

    And lest you are in any doubt click on ‘review the item’ and you get the following

    1. How much fun is this toy? – 5 stars 4 stars 3 stars 2 stars 1 star
    2. How would you rate this toy’s educational value? – 5 stars 4 stars 3 stars 2 stars 1 star
    3. How durable is this toy? – 5 stars 4 stars 3 stars 2 stars 1 star
    4. How do you rate this toy overall?

  8. fannyblood said

    “Rapist Number 1″, but went for the latter because… they think it’s funny, I guess.”

    more like pandering to and celebrating deep-rooted misogyny in society. that’s what sells after all doesn’t it?!

  9. Grace said

    Am I right in thinking that the doll is actually modelled on Tarentino himself? It looks like him…what does that say about him? Hmm what the whole film would say I guess…

    Hmmm take a look at this – both films apparent feature strong women Am i then to assume that rapist no 1 gets his balls shot off my rose mcgowen’s gun legs?

    well apparently he does get killed brutally and apparently the fillm isn’t ‘anti-feminist’ excuse me while I dont hold my breath.

    in conclusion, the doll is sick, like the ‘yellow b**stard’ doll from Sin City (I can’t even look at it). RE Hairylesbian -“If you will sell anything that is legal does that mean you would sell Child Porn if it was legal?” – I agree with this sentiment entirely! Is there anywhere left to shop for media??

  10. hairylesbian said

    Oh and if you want to phone Amazon and complain their customer service number (which isn’t on their website helpfully) is

    0800 279 6620

    This seems to have got a slightly better response than e-mailing, so can I suggest as many peeps as possible do it. I phoned up and said I wanted to close my account because they were selling the ‘rapist no 1’ doll and that much as I would love to continue shopping with Amazon, I couldn’t while they were selling this figure. Ask the person you are speaking to to pass your comments on higher up BTW, because they’re just the poor sod on the phone, don’t get angry with them, it ain’t fair….

  11. This has to be rudest reply I’ve ever had!

    From You Buy Now

    Please just go help the homeless.

    It is a real problem with actual, quantifiable effects on society. Stop stepping over them. Help them and allow us our freedom of speech and commerce.

    Thanks


    http://www.YouBuyNow.com
    Your Source For Kick Ass Toys

  12. eilidh70 said

    Sometimes it’s when you complain that you realise how much contempt these companies actually have for their customers. It’s a useful side effect of complaining, actually – thankfully I will never give You Buy Now any of my money now!

  13. Richie said

    The Salon letter misses the point. Whether or not the movie features strong women isn’t important when discussing the figure, because the figure exists outside the context of the movie. For the record, he doesn’t rape anybody and gets his dick blown off in the movie, but most people haven’t seen the movie, and to them it’s just a rapist doll. If they have a problem with that, then it’s not in any way fair to blame them for not knowing what happens in the movie and not “getting it”. As somebody who does “get it”, I still think it’s a terrible thing to do. Turning rapists into an in-joke between director and fanbase, bugger everybody else who might come into the equation, isn’t something people should be supporting. Again, there’s no good reason they couldn’t just have sold the fucking thing as “Jones” / “Jones the Zombie” / “Jones the Zombie Creep”. Bad reasons, yes, but I find it hard to stick up for their FREEDOM! OF! SPEECH! when an alternative that didn’t make light of sexual trauma was available the entire time.

  14. I spoke to a looovy Irish man who completely agreed that it was a ‘horrific’ and ’inexcusable’ item and that action against it needed to be escalated at once. He is taking it immediately to his supervisor. He genuinely seemed shocked by it! Yay!

    This was after crappy bog standard emails

  15. tiggy said

    Oh.My.God.
    I read about this in the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/women/story/0,,2069285,00.html
    I’m already in a terrible mood and now I’m off to phone Amazon…

  16. Michelle said

    “Amazon.co.uk believes it is censorship not to offer for sale certain titles with repugnant or distasteful content”

    So they’d sell toys that legitimised black slavery? Somehow I don’t think so…

    “As a result, we will continue to make controversial works available in the UK and everywhere else, except
    where they are prohibited by law.”

    Rape is against the law. There is no justification for selling this ‘toy’ at all, and Amazon’s bs about censorship and freedom of speech is just crap, this toy normalises sexual violence against women! What will it take for people/corporations to take this stuff seriously?!

  17. theendlesssky said

    It is a real problem with actual, quantifiable effects on society As opposed to the promotion of rape, which isn’t. Gotcha.

    Would they sell a doll that was called ‘paedophile no.1’ ? I don’t think so.

  18. Grace said

    Okay I’ve been thinking about this all day and I am now thinking that this whole thing is just some massive power trip for Tarantino (learnt how to spell his name too). Firstly he gets to act as the villian in a ‘trashy’ movie which must be fulfulling the dream even further for him, so he gets to ‘act’ and furthermore gets to act at being one of the most vilest of creatures AND gets to do some oscar (or Tarantino-worthy equivalent) winning death performance, as a result of the sexaaay ms mcgowan blasting his tackle to pieces (REALLY Rodriguez needs a new storyline, this one has been done…by him!). And just when it can’t get any better – there is an action figure/collectable doll made OF him (again probably, as there are no doubt previous ones) immortalised in another form with the unmistakeable villianous title of ‘rapist’. And he must be loving it. F’ed up if you ask me.

  19. Sukie said

    Hey there. I couldn’t help adding my two cents’ to this as it’s a subject I feel strongly about – I was interested to read that Grindhouse is now being split into two separately-released movies for the UK, Rodriguez’ Planet Terror and Tarantino’s Death Proof. Death Proof is being released in the UK first. Which means that there will be a premiere at a central London location, and lots of cameras will be there. Is anyone else thinking what I’m thinking…?

  20. Sukie, I think a protest would be an excellent idea. I would post the idea onto the london feminist network mailing list to rally support.

    http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/londonfeministnetwork/

    Do you have any idea when the premiere will be?

  21. Pardon me for butting in here, but perhaps it would be helpful to point out this item is not actually a “doll” but a collectable action figure from a cult movie. I think you’ll find these will be bought by anoraky type movie fans, not children.

    Selling action figures of fictional characters from films is hardly legitimising real life crime. Following your course of logic, maybe we should ban the Darth Vader Star Wars figure because of all the people he killed when the Death Star blew up that planet?

    Would you be happier if the action figure character was called something else perhaps?

    Incidentally, what makes you say this is a “torture porn” film, have you actually seen it or are you basing your assumptions on what a few fuddy-duddy film critics make of it?

  22. Arantxa said

    I’m also closing my Amazon account as a result of Amazon selling this ‘rapist #1’ toy.

  23. Heather KM said

    Hey, I also complained to Youbuynow.com with a polite email, and the emailed back saying I was ‘ridiculous’ (I’m happy to post both emails) and there was no difference between a Rapist Doll and any other villain. I’ve never had such a rude reply from a company, aren’t they meant to be courteous to potential customers?

    “So they’d sell toys that legitimised black slavery? Somehow I don’t think so…” I put that to them but they didn’t reply.

    Also their reply to you, “go and help the homeless” made me sooooo angry! Firstly, how the hell do they know what other charity/campaigning work you do, secondly, how much do you want to bet some corporate-internet guy spends all *his* time campaigning about the homeless, and lastly — like someone else said — the fact there are other ‘quantifiable problems’ in the world somehow detracts from rape?!?! Unbelievable.

  24. emma said

    There are also currently about 20 traders on ebay selling the figure. Ebay have recently prevented parents selling used cloth nappies on the site – despite the fact that they’re better for the environment and expensive to buy new – because some people want to use them for fetish wear, but they’re happy to let traders sell a rapist figure!

    Complain…..

  25. Simon, yeah I gathered that most parents wouldn’t buy this toy for their children- if they did I would have great worries…so yes the doll or action figure will most likely be bought by horror film geeks or whatever…although parents do buy Playboy stationary for their girls, so maybe parents would buy the rapist doll for their boys..?

    But film geeks buying the ‘action figure’ isn’t any better. Why call it Rapist No 1? If they considered rape to be a heinous crime that should not be trivialised and commercialised, they wouldn’t have called it Rapist. How would you feel if stores were selling Paedophile No 1 dolls..?

  26. Heather feel welcome to post their replies…so we can compare whose was rudest!!!

  27. Arantxa said

    You Buy Now: ‘go help the homeless’

    Homeless women are more likely to be the victims of rape than women who are not homeless. Homeless women are raped by rapists. Many women and children are homeless as a result of trying to escape rapists. You Buy Now are selling a rapist doll as a piece of entertainment.

  28. Bea said

    Dear Brian, (brian@hippocart.com)

    I am disappointed with the reply of You Buy Now to complaints regarding the sale of a doll called ‘rapist no. 1’.

    What worse way to show that your company distances itself from sexual violence against women than to, first, sell a doll called ‘rapist no. 1’ and, second, tell anyone who raises any objection to ‘please just go help the homeless’ – something that, unlike rape (as implied below), is a ‘real problem with actual, quantifiable effects on society’.

    Your freedom of commerce has indeed been noted. Could it be that, perhaps, it is commerce rather than genuine concern for the well-being of vulnerable persons that lies behind the choice of You Buy Now to stock, promote, sell ‘rapist no. 1’ and rudely dismiss anyone who dares exercise their freedom of speech to object?

    hippocart.com/index.php?page=news&menuId=11

  29. Yes Simon – how about Man Rapist No 1 as a desirable geekified collector’s item.
    Clue – Do not even attempt to patronise.

  30. Richie said

    Why call it Rapist No 1? If they considered rape to be a heinous crime that should not be trivialised and commercialised, they wouldn’t have called it Rapist. How would you feel if stores were selling Paedophile No 1 dolls..?

    This is the same problem I have. Simon’s right when he says that children aren’t going to buy this, but that doesn’t alter the fact naming the thing “Rapist Number 1” and having “He’s sure to be a hit with the laides” in the marketing campaign trivialises rape. There figures that are far more explicitly violent and/or sexual out there, and have been for decades, but none of them are this thoughtlessly named and marketed. McFarlane Toys’ “Twisted Land of Oz” figure of Dorothy, where she’s bleeding, in pseudo-BDSM gear and being whipped by munchikins, isn’t called “Sexualised Torture Of Women Funtime Playset”, for example.

    In other words, yes, it should have been sold under another name. The figure would still be out there and Grindhouse fans would still know who the character was, but rape survivors, and those close to them, wouldn’t feel like their pain was being exploited.

  31. emma said

    Simon Taylor – can I refer you to my earlier comment (No 7 ). Amazon are clearly describing this item as a ‘toy’ – look if you don’t believe me. And even if it is just an action figure – as theendelsssky says – would the geeky anoraks all rush to buy something called ‘paedophile no 1’. No? So what’s different about rape then?

    Calling this a ‘cult’ movie – when it hasn’t even been shown in the UK yet, is like those people who call porn ‘erotica’ because it sounds more respectable. Oh nasty people watch porn but I watch erotica because I’m a middle class pretentious twat – it’s ART doncha know.

    No it isn’t.

  32. Joanna said

    Heather KM – I would take the replies youbuynow sent you to a national newspaper and tell them you are doing so. Maybe then they will take you seriously.

  33. Sukie said

    At the moment, neither Grindhouse nor Death Proof appear on the launchingfilms.com schedules.

  34. If I may respond to my critics…

    I agree calling the doll/toy/action figure/whatever “Rapist No1” does sound a bit dodgy, and I can understand people finding such a title “offensive”. However is that not what the character is listed as in the credits (I think IMDB have his characters listed simply as “the rapist”)?

    Certainly its a poor choice of descriptive words, even though that appears to be his title in the script, but I mean its not as if they’re producing collectable figures of real life rapists now is it?. In which case I could understand your objections.

    Yes these are described as toys, but that does not mean they are being targetted at children and the type of people who would buy this item (ie horror film geeks) certainly wouldn’t view it as legitimising rape. It is interesting to note that companies like Neca, McFarlane etc also do action figures of other horror film characters, ie Jason from “Friday the 13th”, Michael Myers from “Halloween” etc, but would anyone here say that these figures legitimise murder?

    It does seem to me that the objections being voiced here are solely to do with the characters title and had he been named something else, such as “attacker no1”, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. OK, would these people buy a character called “Paedo no1”? Well I don’t know, depends on the film I suppose and what the main storyline was about. I mean you can get action figures of Freddy Kruger from the “Elm Street” films who was meant to be a child killer, but that doesn’t stop people buying them, nor does it mean they think that killing children is acceptable.

    In the context of a fictional character from a film I don’t see this as a major issue and I find myself in agreement with the response from the YouBuyNow website in that people are taking things out of context. But has it actually occured to anyone that this figures title could be part of a crafty marketting campaign to generate publicity for the films upcoming European release?

  35. Brian - YouBuyNow said

    We have removed the figure from our site (youbuynow).

    I feel that our comments are being taken much farther than they were meant to. In none of our replies, have we said that we thought the person sending the email was ridiculous nor do we feel the act of rape is anything less than horrific. What I said was we thought the argument against this figure was getting ridiculous. Your feelings are certainly not ridiculous but you are right, we could have handled it better.

    Maybe it’s because the rest of the Grindhouse figures have sold out so it’s out of context and it seems like we are just selling a rapist figure. Or maybe none of you have seen the movie but, I just don’t understand how anyone who has seen this movie can think this figure is promoting rape. The act of rape is disgusting and evil, there is no doubt about that. Every action figure line we carry has it’s villain. In that movie, it portrays two very strong female characters, one of which shoots and kills the rapist character. He is portrayed as a vile character and he gets his due in the movie before ever assaulting anyone.

    We have been inundated with emails from people from this site, as well as others, telling us to remove the figure. Some have been polite requests, others have been extremely offensive. I apologize to anyone who received a reply from my staff that was rude and impolite.

    Our target market is adult collectors, they are collectors of action figures from movies, comic books and sci-fi shows. I still don’t feel that this action figure promotes the act of rape, nor do I feel it’s different than having other villainous and murderous figures on our site from popular mainstream movies.

    I hesitate to post this reply because the last thing I want is for our stance to be misconstrued or for this escalate more than it has. I hope that our apology for any rudeness and the removal of the action figure will satisfy those that we offended.

  36. Thanks Brian and You Buy Now for no longer selling The Rapist No 1 doll.

    You say that you don’t consider that the doll promotes rape, but the fact that the doll is called Rapist No 1 trivialises and glorifies rape. Rape as you say is an abohorrent crime, predominantly acted out on women and children, but is still not taken seriously by the Criminal Justice System. So we thank you for exercising social responsibility by refusing to sell and profit from the Rapist doll and the glorification of sexual violence.

  37. Joanna said

    Brian – please don’t use that same old argument that because there are two supposedly ‘strong’ female characters in the film that somehow it makes their rape and torture OK, because it does not. This is a clever ploy to justify abusing women – it doesn’t matter if they’re raped and beaten up, because the guy gets to die afterwards? I don’t think so.

    >>Or maybe none of you have seen the movie but, I just don’t understand how anyone who has seen this movie can think this figure is promoting rape.

    Er…because he is called Rapist number 1 maybe? Why would anyone WANT this on their shelf? It’s like having a paedophile figure on sale and claiming you don’t understand how it can promote sexual abuse of minors.

    I’m not saying men who buy the figure are going to go and copy the character but just how insensitive do you want to be? This is de-sensitizing rape and violence to women – we have to put up with abuse from men every time we walk down the street, no matter whether we are drunk/sober, covered from head to toe or wearing a skirt and heels. Men who were once deviants for indulging in mysoginistic behaviour are fast becoming the norm, and you selling a rapist figurine only blurrs the line between what is acceptable and what is not even further.

    You would gain more respect by taking a stand and refusing to sell it. Would you be happy for your son to buy one, or your daughter’s boyfriend to have this on his shelf? Just what would that say about his attitude to women, do you think?

  38. emma said

    I’m sure everyone will be really pleased to read that you buy it now have stopped selling the figure, so thanks to Brian for taking this action. (Maybe now there’ll be extra time for some intensive customer service training…)

    However although you won’t have seen the film unless you’ve been to the US, even if the Tarantino character does get shot that’s not really the point. Most women, (or children, or men) however strong they may be, don’t have the option of shooting someone who’s about to rape them.

    And that’s the problem with the figure – it trivialises rape by the very fact it’s being described as a toy. Tarantino seemed to think it was funny to say Toys R Us would be stocking the figure – Toys R Us didn’t agree and issued an immediate denial. A Sunday Telegraph journalist wrote about this:

    “The thought of a child playing with an action figure entitled Rapist Number 1 makes me feel powerfully nauseous, but Tarantino would evidently consider it a witty in-joke. But then Tarantino himself is a talented nerd, a movie obsessive steeped in references and technique but with a stunted conception of humanity. He is admired by Hollywood producers who believe that pushing the boundaries of sex and violence ever further and “sicker” is excitingly macho”

    Exactly

  39. Thanks to everyone who complained and made this happen

    xxx

  40. Grace said

    It’s great that You Buy Now have stopped selling the figure, and it just goes to show what can be accomplished with a bit of activism.

    What really wears on me though is the argument that figures of murderers aren’t viewed in the same way, nor are murderers in general in comparison to rapists. I really don’t see how the two are equivalent as murder victims are much more likely to be from a broader range of the population than rape victims. Of course there are some imbalances towards certain demographics in different parts of the world but this is to do with lifestyle, socio-economic status and military involvement, rather than purely gender/vulnerability.

    I think an important point which people often overlook is the comparison between sexism and racism. As Heather KM said “So they’d sell toys that legitimised black slavery? Somehow I don’t think so…” – nor would they market a doll with a title that equated to ‘killer of Black people’ – although of course within film they would use the N word and the character would prouldy state that he was a N killer, the character would be called by a normal forename/surname. Of course a doll of this kind would not be acceptable, because it would legitimise racial hatred, and I agree, so why can a doll that legitimises woman-hatred, by it’s very NAME, be acceptable??

    Re: Darth Vader – you can’t really compare science fiction that portrays scenarios that are physically impossible to scenarios that are possible (rape I mean, not gun-legs).

    If the character doesn’t actually sexually assault anyone prior to being killed, then why is he even called The Rapist?? It seems that the use of the word for his character is in place purely to sensationalise the plot and to vilify the character, i.e. it is used flippantly…for a change…

  41. I’ve just put YouBuyNow’s reply on my blog it that’s ‘k charlie.

  42. Yeah that’s cool

  43. One down, a few more to go, including Amazon, Forbidden Planet and Ebay. Now that the bank holiday is almost over we should continue to complain until we get a satisfactory response.

  44. Arantxa said

    I’ve asked amazon.co.uk to close my account and received an automated response that did not address my concerns (and my account is still active) so I will call instead, as suggested above.

    Amazon.com, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to list the ‘rapist #1’ doll anymore so, Charlie, you might want to link to amazon.co.uk instead.

  45. Arantxa said

    Forbidden planet calls the doll ‘Army Soldier Action Figure’. I wonder what they call it in their stores though.

  46. Richie said

    I mean its not as if they’re producing collectable figures of real life rapists now is it?

    This is where it differs from Freddy Krueger / Mike Meyers / Darth Vader. Real life rapists do look like normal people, and aren’t removed from reality in the way a supernatural character is. The fact it’s a normal-looking human male is way, way too close to the truth of what happens for the character’s fictional status to matter. It essentially is a figure of a real life rapist, because real life rapists look like normal, anonymous men.

    In the context of a fictional character from a film I don’t see this as a major issue and I find myself in agreement with the response from the YouBuyNow website in that people are taking things out of context.

    But the figure itself is out of context, because it exists independently of the film and you can easily view one without viewing the other. It’s up to the person looking at the figure to give it context, and unless that person has seen the film and knows that the character doesn’t actually rape anybody, they just see a figure called “Rapist Number 1”. You can’t rely on everybody being in on the joke.

    Grace’s mention of the Yellow Bastard from Sin City is a perfect example: The Yellow Bastard is a far, far worse character than the guy Tarantino plays in Planet Terror, but he’s sold as “The Yellow Bastard”, not “Sadistic Paedophile Murderer”. Anybody who’s seen / read Sin City can place him context and knows who he is and what he does. Everybody who hasn’t seen / read Sin City sees a creepy yellow man.

    I don’t take issue with Gindhouse figures being sold, I just take issue with treating rape flippantly while doing so.

  47. Heather K M said

    Yes! Sorry I didn’t reply to people who replied to me (if that makes sense), but I did write back to them saying I was currently posting on every consumer board (I was posting on a few) that Youbuynow.com were rude, called their customers ‘ridiculous’, and I quoted some of the other replies I’d seen here. I guess they do actually want customers after all then, as much as they’ve still missed the point about the doll.

    I’ve been writing to the national press about the doll but no luck so far.

  48. emma said

    Don’t forget to contact your local press as well Heather, particularly if there’s a branch of Forbidden Planet near you. National papers will often pick up on stories that appear first in the local press.

  49. Thanks for that Arantxa. I presume if it is called Rapist No1, it will be advertised as such on the packaging it comes in.

    Excellent Heather. Just a tip about national newspapers- it’s best to contact individual journalists, rather than just the editor of papers. It maybe worth contacting parent groups..?

    x

  50. hairylesbian said

    Amazon.co.uk have now changed the name of the doll to ‘Action figure from planet terror’ but it’s still there and still comes up if you put ‘rapist’ into the search engine. This is not what is meant by stop selling it!

  51. ruxandra said

    amazon.com no longer sells the item (it seems only amazon.co.uk still does). the last response I got from them was:

    …I am very sorry if offering the Grind House Rapist doll offended you
    in any way, shape, or form.

    Let me assure you that Amazon.com does not support or promote hatred
    or criminal acts and customer feedback provides us an opportunity for
    improvement.

    I have since searched for this item on our website and was unable to
    locate it. As such, I am led to believe that we are no longer offering
    this product for sale in our catalog.

    i had written:

    In response to my complaint about the “rapist” doll that Amazon
    carries, I received the comments below. I *don’t* feel like my concern
    has been addressed and I don’t agree that Amazon needs to “represent a
    wide spectrum of opinions on a variety of topics” when that “topic” is
    normalizing rape. It’s not a freedom of expression matter, rape is a
    crime and material that promotes it discriminates against people, like
    material that promoted pedophilia would, for instance – and you
    wouldn’t invoke the same excuse for selling pedophilia promoting items,
    would you? As I said, I don’t intend to support a business that sells
    something like this particular doll. Therefore I will be closing my
    Amazon account.

    not sure if they’re no longer selling the action figure just because it sold out (none of the grindhouse action figures are listed now), but they have taken it completely off of the website, too.

  52. Liz said

    Hi Charlie,

    I emailed amazon.co.uk and got the standard ‘censorship’ reply within about 5 minutes of complaining. This suggests that it is a standard email that they send out to everyone. Yuk. I’m so disgusted. Where is the customer service???

  53. hairylesbian said

    Ruxandra – can I suggest you reply as follows to Amazon.

    If you go to the Amazon home page and put rapist into the search engine (ie search the whole of Amazon.co.uk) the doll is top of the list. Only it’s now called ‘Action figure from Planet Terror’. However I have seen the doll in its packaging and the packaging is clearly marked ‘Rapist No 1’. So Amazon are currently running the risk that an unwary person will buy the doll thinking that it is a (very ugly) toy and receive something marked ‘Rapist No One’. Which is going to cause no end of offence to their customers.

  54. Sukie said

    I have spotted this trend in action movies of a certain type – the comedy rapist. There were ‘comedy rapists’ crowbarred into the storyline purely for comic effect in at least two of my younger brothers’ films, Con Air and True Romance. They existed purely to be laughed at, and then killed by the main, avenging (and always male) character. I’ll bet there are others too. Rapists, eh? They’re HILARIOUS.

  55. myfunkymonkey said

    As a survivor of rape I am absolutely astonished that this product is onsale anywhere. I am sickened and very, very angry.

    Something else to think about…..Anyone noticed on youtube how many rape videos there are..?!! I was looking for tubers who were offering support and tips and came across videos that were extremely distressing.

    When did rape become a joke?

  56. Alice said

    Grindhouse…. I read that guardian article a few weeks ago and to be honest i spent the majority of that evening crying. I’m only 16 and i’m probably really naive but i was sickened by the fact thatthat people could get away with reenacting their fantasies in film – if the film directors take pleasure in making such films then surely that encourages people to have a go themselves!
    I don’t understand how these kind of films are allowed to be shown! Couldn’t we campaign against Grindhouse or something? I dont think ‘torture porn’ as a type of film is any less sickening than watching real people actually being tortured.
    It’s disturbing.

  57. Yes it is shocking to read that torture of women is considered entertaining. I think the key here, is that torture porn films, are not harmless entertainment, but are the glorification of torture and harm of women, and they foster misogynist attitudes about women. Such film makers will dismiss our claim of the impact on women, by stating they have a creative license and it is just fiction.
    I think it would be great to protest outside cinemas and premieres when Grindhouse comes to Britain. Or even find out when Grindhouse is coming to Britain, and write letters to the cinema showing it complaining. And you can continue to complain to Amazon.co.uk until they stop selling it.

  58. Tanya said

    Hi, I just wanted to respond to a few of the arguments that have been made in defence of the sale of this product…

    1. It’s not a toy/ it’s not targetted at children/ it’s being sold to adult horror movie geeks:

    Well, my best friend is a massive horror movie obssessive and has been collecting figures, books, posters and magazine articles from horror movies since before I met him at the age of 16, so that would be when he was a child then. And I hardly think he is unique in being interested in and exposed to such material from such a young age. (I hasten to add that my friend is neither violent nor misogynistic however). Moreover, I think it would be naive to assume that over-18s are suddenly immune to cultural stereptypes about rape, women and masculinity.

    2. Banning this product/movie would be an assault on freedom of expression/speech

    This is probably the most problematic argument for me personally because I do think freedom of speech is important and generally I don’t support censorship, BUT we have laws prohibiting racist speech, incitement to commit criminal acts; and laws restricting the publication, display and sale of violent and/or pornographic materials, so the ‘freedom of speech argument’ can hardly be used carte blanche to justify saying and portraying anything and everything that makes a profit. Moreover, as Amazon themselves point out, ‘we strongly believe that the appropriate response to distasteful or repugnant speech is not censorship, but more speech’, in which case, as has already been noted, complaining about this product is itself an exercise in freedom of speech.

    3. “it portrays two very strong female characters, one of which shoots and kills the rapist character. He is portrayed as a vile character and he gets his due in the movie before ever assaulting anyone.”

    Thanks Brian. This argument is problematic for two reasons. Firstly it promotes the idea that when someone wrongs you, the appropriate response is to take revenge. I should make it clear here that I am not trying to condemn any rape survivor who has taken revenge on their attacker, all I am saying is that I don’t think we should encourage the idea that acts of violence are justified if they were provoked.
    Secondly, as several people have already commented, the fact that the ‘strong female character’ takes revenge on her attacker doesn’t somehow cancel out the trauma that she has suffered. However I want to go further and suggest that the act of revenge may add to that trauma. I mean, are we supposed to believe that having brutally killed ‘Rapist no 1’ McGowan’s character thinks, ‘brilliant, I’ve got closure, now everything’s hunkydory and I can go back to my cosy ordinary life, albeit that amputated limb is still giving me a bit of gip’. Isn’t it far more likely that McGowan’s character (if she didn’t die early in the second film) would feel further dehumanised by committing this brutal act of revenge? (See Charlize Theron in ‘Monster’ for a more realistic portrayal of sexual violence followed by violent revenge.)

    4. Selling this figure doesn’t promote rape.
    I don’t know if anyone will be encouraged to commit rape as a direct result of this movie or related merchandise. But a point that seems to have been overlooked is that the normalisation of rape doesn’t just affect people who might commit rape, it also affects barristers, judges and juries who argue and decide criminal cases based to an extent on stereotypes and cultural assumptions about the nature of rape, rapists and rape survivors. (This is currently the subject of my masters dissertation and the reason I stumbled across this discussion). Misconceptions about rape also affect the close friends and confidants of rape survivors who play a pivotal role in either encouraging them to go to the police or to see the incident as partially their own fault; and on rape survivors themselves, the way they conceive of their experience and whether they feel confident to speak out.

    I suppose I should be saying this to the people who sell this product and make and promote this movie rather than the majority of people on this message board who already know all this… I’ll let you know what response I get.

  59. Elizabeth said

    Sometime ago I was in a group in which me and another member had a fall out with other members of the group. So we where glad when are membership was cancelled. If I remember correctly you where also a member of that group.

    However, I am still a member of object and am fortunate enough to own a fax machine. If you want to find out what I did you will have to e-mail me.

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