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That Wasn't in the Script
April 2, 2009 3:37 PM   Subscribe

Via The A.V. Club (which was in turn via Jezebel): Actress Keira Knightley stars in a (graphic) domestic violence PSA for the UK charity Women's Aid. Probably SFW, but may be very upsetting to watch.
posted by kittens for breakfast (56 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Not as upsetting as this Canadian PSA on workplace accidents.
posted by infinitewindow at 3:49 PM on April 2, 2009


very powerful. thanks for posting.
posted by CitizenD at 3:52 PM on April 2, 2009


Dear god. Those Canadian PSA's (especially the hot oil one) haunt my dreams. I was fully expecting that level of disturbing here and was thankful that they made quite an effective (and frankly, much more important) PSA that didn't, you know, haunt my dreams.

But to be honest, I do a great deal of cooking and I'm now overtly cautious when working with hot oils.... For fear of eye melting death.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 3:54 PM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


may be very upsetting to watch

Not half as upsetting as the comments. Some day a real rain is going to come and wash youtube commenters off the internet.
posted by dersins at 3:55 PM on April 2, 2009 [11 favorites]


The Canadian PSA with the hot oil was upsetting to watch. The one with Keira Knightley not so much, primarily because the guy was so obviously faking the kicks and stuff. It didn't hit that "real" button the way the Canadian one did, at least for me.
posted by Justinian at 3:56 PM on April 2, 2009


Those YouTube comments will haunt my dreams.
posted by Kattullus at 3:57 PM on April 2, 2009


I'm not gonna lie, those canadian workplace accidents (as well as this domestic abuse one) are so over the top I find them comical. The keira knightley one is much better.
posted by dead cousin ted at 4:00 PM on April 2, 2009


I can only imagine what the YouTube comments are like after reading the ones on the A.V. Club. I thought those were bad enough.

Powerful PSA, though. I didn't really expect how brutal it would be at the end.
posted by darksong at 4:04 PM on April 2, 2009


The youtube comments are about what I expected. I never thought I'd see AV Club comments that horrific though.
posted by minifigs at 4:04 PM on April 2, 2009


I mean, Keira Knightley annoys me too, but that's way outta line, you jerk!
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:05 PM on April 2, 2009


Actually I find the Kiera Knightly ones way worse. I guess partly because when the hot oil psa came out I wasn't sure if it was real video or not and made sure it was fake before clicking. The one from this post just ends with the kicking, kicking, kicking that is sickening.

They need to just go ahead and disable comments on youtube videos like Yahoo had to disable comments on all their news articles. Because it's just a breeding ground for trolls and stupidity.

I'll never forget I took a class in college about the family. Toward the end of the quarter after class, one of the female students sat there, and then said to the few of us that were there, that she had just come to the realization that she was in one of these abusive relationships we were studying and discussing. I left so she could talk with the instructor, and have always remembered that. It's similar to those people who post askme's like "oh no, am I that guy?" regarding personality matters.

I saw the New York Times article talking about fans of Chris Brown that defend him. I couldn't even read it.
posted by cashman at 4:07 PM on April 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


HOLY SHIT. The Canadian one is awful. Just about as bad as that scene in the Watchmen.
posted by HopperFan at 4:09 PM on April 2, 2009


frankly, much more important
Eh? Bit of an invidious comparison; both very important in their own way, surely.
posted by Abiezer at 4:10 PM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


HOLY SHIT. The Canadian one is awful. Just about as bad as that scene in the Watchmen.

Oh come on, it's not as bad as the Nite Owl spaceship sex scene.
posted by ALongDecember at 4:14 PM on April 2, 2009 [9 favorites]


ALongDecember, I've been trying very hard to get past that. Thanks for bringing back the nightmare again.
posted by HopperFan at 4:17 PM on April 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


Gonna go ahead and agree with Abiezer that suggesting the issue of domestic violence is "more important" than the issue of workplace injury isn't really of much help to anyone.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:18 PM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh come on, it's not as bad as the Nite Owl spaceship sex scene.

YOU TAKE THAT BACK. YOU TAKE THAT BACK RIGHT NOW!

Dude, she leaves her boots on. Rowr.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:21 PM on April 2, 2009 [8 favorites]


Not half as upsetting as the comments. Some day a real rain is going to come and wash youtube commenters off the internet.

Agreed. But "I'd hit that" was a pretty funny one.
posted by ElmerFishpaw at 4:21 PM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Interesting take in the Guardian about whether it references the Peter Greenaway film The Baby of M√Ęcon.
posted by jokeefe at 4:22 PM on April 2, 2009


But "I'd hit that" was a pretty funny one.

No. It wasn't.
posted by dersins at 4:23 PM on April 2, 2009 [32 favorites]


Gonna go ahead and agree with Abiezer that suggesting the issue of domestic violence is "more important" than the issue of workplace injury isn't really of much help to anyone.

It's a kinda pointless argument to have, since it's not as though PSAs about workplace safety prevent the existence of PSAs about domestic violence (or vice versa). That said, though, I think that being advised to walk out of an abusive relationship is slightly more useful than being advised not to stick your head in a pot of frying oil. I mean, yeah, don't do that, but I don't know that there's an urgent need to be told not to do that.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:26 PM on April 2, 2009


Domestic violence is nasty, and the effects ripple outward and hurt all of society.

Having said that, 500,000 people a year die in the UK. A little over 100 deaths a year just isn't all that many. Am I an asshole for pointing that out?

I think it would have been more effective to point out how many people live in fear, not how many die.
posted by poe at 4:29 PM on April 2, 2009


Also powerful is the Emma Thompson sex trafficking PSA. I'd link to it, but the only copy I could find was on what looked like a porn website, which squicked me the fuck out.

The Keira Knightley ad was good.
posted by hifiparasol at 4:30 PM on April 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Having said that, 500,000 people a year die in the UK. A little over 100 deaths a year just isn't all that many. Am I an asshole for pointing that out?

Is death the only metric by which to judge horrible things?
posted by Bookhouse at 4:31 PM on April 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


a Jezebel commenter ...

Points for sincerity, but I think that maybe this is a little too meta to being a really effective PSA. Especially the last deal with the reveal that KK/her abuser are actually still on a set - I could see people thinking "Man, negligent movie directors really are a major social problem!" or the like.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:31 PM on April 2, 2009


Having said that, 500,000 people a year die in the UK. A little over 100 deaths a year just isn't all that many. Am I an asshole for pointing that out?

Is death the only metric by which to judge horrible things?


And now I comprehend the point of your second sentence.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:32 PM on April 2, 2009


Having said that, 500,000 people a year die in the UK. A little over 100 deaths a year just isn't all that many. Am I an asshole for pointing that out?

No, you're an asshole that assuming that, because domestic violence results in a relatively small number of deaths, there's a relatively small amount of domestic violence going on.

One hundred deaths is the tragic by-product of one million domestic beatdowns and shattered lives.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:38 PM on April 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


The youtube comments are about what I expected. I never thought I'd see AV Club comments that horrific though.

Not to derail the thread that I, like, started, but the A.V. Club comments are about like normal. (And they're better than they used to be, actually.) It's a good site, but some real cretins post replies to any article that requires little or no effort to get through (like a paragraph and a two-minute film). The book reviews -- unsurprisingly -- are the only consistently asshat-free zone, comments-wise.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:39 PM on April 2, 2009


Oh wait, I notice your second sentence, too. Mea culpa.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:40 PM on April 2, 2009


Having said that, 500,000 people a year die in the UK. A little over 100 deaths a year just isn't all that many. Am I an asshole for pointing that out?

Truthfully? Yeah.
posted by piratebowling at 4:51 PM on April 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


So this issue is emotionally charged enough that people can't read through a whole comment before responding.

That probably means that this ad is actually counter-productive. Seeing this ad only increases fear on the part of victims, and will do little to prevent the crime.

After 5 years in EMS I can tell you it also a pretty unrealistic representation. Mostly because there is a lack of alcohol and children present. Also because the perpetrator is without remorse, and the victim seems surprised.

In my opinion the most important message to get out about domestic violence isn't "women are horribly beaten by people who love them". The message that I'd like to see is "it is never too soon to leave an abusive relationship. There are places for you to go".

That said, I hope the ad raises lots of money for women's aid, who seem to represent those places.
posted by poe at 5:13 PM on April 2, 2009 [23 favorites]


Thanks for commenting, poe. Very insightful.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:17 PM on April 2, 2009


This is a timely issue, if only because of the Rihanna/Chris Brown incident. Indeed, Oprah just did a show focused on abusers today.

Since Rihanna is apparently staying with Chris Brown* she, as something of a role model (whether she wants to be or not), is setting a genuinely dreadful example to young people in abusive relationships. Of course, this is also unfair to Rihanna to some degree - how awful to not just be in an unhealthy relationship, but to have to got through that under the glare of the 24 hour entertainment media.

Anyhow, reminding young women (and, really, by extension anyone) in an abusive relationship that (as poe intelligently put it) "it is never too soon to leave an abusive relationship. There are places for you to go," is a particularly important thing to do in light of the current barrage of "see, Rihanna forgave Chris Brown, you should forgive me, too, baby" crap that a number of abused women are no doubt hearing right now.

* There's some belief out there that the "Rihanna forgave Chris" story is spin by Chris, or was somehow related to their record contracts. The reasons are somewhat irrelevant. What's being communicated is that she's staying with him, and that's kind of dreadful.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:10 PM on April 2, 2009


Surprised to see not so much notice of the film/tele metaphor (see title of post); she says "I didn't agree to this!" twice, the first time clearly looking to someone out of frame and "offstage". I don't know what I think about this yet, but I'm curious how others see the use of "glamourous KK signed on to do a Merchant/Ivory film but ended up on a snuff set" frame?
Part of me thinks analogizing the entertainment industry to a relationship is odd, but I also found this frame-breaking moment quite affecting, as if you showed up for your life and found out that, surprise, it involved unpredictable but routine abuse. [Disclaimer--I'm a bit of a fan of the KK of Bend It Like Beckam and Domino, and this violence resonates oddly with those pix] I'm appreciative of Poe's observations of how atypical this is, but I also think this kind of metaphor--especially when it looks the viewer (almost) in the eye--has potential.
posted by Mngo at 6:30 PM on April 2, 2009


I agree, Mngo, but I think the last line should've focused on the women living with the abuse, rather than those dying from it. A much larger and more powerful number, I think, 1/3 or something, are currently in abusive relationships.
posted by graventy at 6:40 PM on April 2, 2009


"It is never too soon to leave an abusive relationship. There are places for you to go."

I would actually like to see this as "It is never too soon or too late to leave."

Too many women get caught in "I can't leave, we're married." 'I can't leave, what about the kids?" "I can't leave, I'll never find a job." "I can't leave, we've been together for x years."

No matter how long it has been, anyone caught in an abusive relationship, married or not, kids or not, whatever, should know what resources are available to them and how to get out.
posted by FritoKAL at 6:41 PM on April 2, 2009


There's also "I can't leave or my parter will kill me." which unfortunately is not an irrelevant thing for someone suffering from abuse to worry about.
posted by supercrayon at 6:52 PM on April 2, 2009


I found it confronting and powerful, much like the Canadian PSAs. But I'm not the intended audience. What really matters is how women in abusive relationships react to it.

I don't know if it was intended as such, but "I didn't agree to this" and "This wasn't in the script" seemed to me to be Keira's character referring to the violence in the relationship in the movie-in-the-movie, at least as much as it is Keira talking to a director of the movie. It's an important point: the abused woman didn't agree to it. I believe it's meant to remind women in such situations that they didn't agree either.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 8:38 PM on April 2, 2009


So this issue is emotionally charged enough that people can't read through a whole comment before responding.

I did read through the whole comment. Here's what I got out of it: bare numbers wise, the death rate from domestic violence is not a scary/impressive statistic. Fair enough.

BUT, what I think the ad drives home far more is the fact the shocking, terrible nature of these deaths/slow torture scenarios. The fact that you glossed over it to say that a little over 100 out of 500,000 isn't "all that many" makes you sound like an obnoxious troll. Then you took it one step further by sheepishly asking if that made you sound like an asshole. So, I answered your question. Yes. It does.

I get the larger point you are going for, especially in terms of the fact that they could have stressed the fact that leaving is an option, but Jesus Christ on a pogostick, did you choose an obnoxious way to make that point.
posted by piratebowling at 8:50 PM on April 2, 2009


Oh Keira! So brave yet so fragile. Gag me.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:01 PM on April 2, 2009


New link = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctoZbeD-GlY
posted by Beardman at 9:28 PM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's a great ad. A lot of young girls think that being fabulous will make them immune to all the dirty sordid things in life. The young women who are most vulnerable to these kinds of relationships are unfortunately the same young women who often think that being pretty and desirable to men they don't know is the way to avoid being used by the ones they do know. Fake it till you make it, right? Seeing a "celeb" in this context is much more powerful to that audience than to the average metafilter reader.

I bet you $20 if you showed that ad to a bunch of young girls who look up to Keira Knightley they wouldn't want to watch it. If they did watch it they'd insist it was just acting and that would never happen to her in real life. That it was impossible for a pretty, young, desirable woman to have that happen.

Teenage girls drive me nuts sometimes.
posted by fshgrl at 9:50 PM on April 2, 2009


So I guess what they're saying is that the 'narrative' of your relationship shouldn't include violence, and if it does you need to 'call cut' and leave the relationship, right? It took me a while to get that, probably because I fast forwarded through all the 'suspense' and ended up missing the little bit of dialog, where the establish the relationship between herself and the guy. I thought she was being beaten by her director, like as if she was an orphan in a 1900s vaudeville show or the Beijing Opera operated by a cruel master. That seemed like a pretty confusing message.
posted by delmoi at 10:09 PM on April 2, 2009


If you'd like to watch it without the neanderthal YouTube or AV Club comments, it's also up at Feministing. They also followed up with a PSA about verbal abuse.
posted by harriet vane at 12:21 AM on April 3, 2009


Teenage girls drive me nuts sometimes.
Lolyeah, don't you hate how young people aren't as educated about the world as adults? They're so dumb! Especially girls, amirite?
posted by !Jim at 1:07 AM on April 3, 2009


Please do not think this comment has anything to do with my views on domestic violence.

This PSA was very poorly done. Well-directed, good cinematography, but horrible at putting across any coherent message, other than maybe "violence against women is bad". It doesn't give any advice or guidance, other than "donate some money."
posted by tehloki at 2:30 AM on April 3, 2009


Compared to the Canadian PSAs others have cited or the Montana Meth Project this is just lazy, sleb studded marcomms that is much more about her own PR and positioning as a brand in the marketplace (and yes, that emaciated wisp of a talent void is a brand in her own right) than the cause. That woman has an acting range more limited than a soggy cornflake - she could barely carry a 30 second package holiday advert.

It is like the dark side of Heat or Hello rather than a real PSA and is profoundly demeaning to one of the most important and seldom spoken about issues out there. Disgusting, really. Yuck.
posted by The Salaryman at 2:30 AM on April 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


The message that I'd like to see is "it is never too soon to leave an abusive relationship. There are places for you to go".

This.

One of the things that people don't seem to understand about abusive relationships is that they are very difficult to get out of. Abuse is not as simple as being battered. Abusers put up a lot of walls around their partners so they can't leave, not just physical, but emotional and social. They isolate their partners from friends and family, restrict their social activities and employment, break down their self esteem, and generally manipulate them so they won't go. Because, in a lot of cases, abusers fear being abandoned, even though they seem to disdain their partners.

It's easy to look in from the outside and say, "Why doesn't she just leave?" Some people assume that it's foolishness on the part of the abused partner that keeps her (or him) from getting out. But it's more complicated than that, and that's rarely addressed.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:06 AM on April 3, 2009


Since Rihanna is apparently staying with Chris Brown* she, as something of a role model (whether she wants to be or not), is setting a genuinely dreadful example to young people in abusive relationships.

It seems to me that she's in an especially bad position. Whenever I see Celebrities in Trouble,especially very young ones, it strikes me that they're surrounded by a lot of people who care about their fame and not a lot about the things they genuinely need as people. In this case, here's a woman who, were she not famous, would be able to protect herself by taking up with friends and family and physically staying away from her abuser. But where can she go where the paparazzi won't be following her, photographing her, and publishing her whereabouts on the cover of the next tabloid?
posted by louche mustachio at 4:14 AM on April 3, 2009


Emma Thompson Human Trafficking PSA. Not sure it's the same one referred to upstream.
posted by mecran01 at 8:33 AM on April 3, 2009


A good PSA gets the intended results: safer workplaces, safer homes, safer cars, and so on, but that seems almost impossible to measure. People remember a lot of PSAs as beautiful small pieces of art, or as something too horrible to view more than once, or something to make endless parodies of ("This is your brain on ..."), but how often do people take away the message and change their own lives in response? I think commercial producers are aware of a similar conundrum. The commercials that win Clios and medals at Cannes aren't always the most effective commercials. Ring around the collar, don't squeeze the Charmin, and Sleep Country Cana-duh! annoy some people but sell to many others. (Worth listening to: Terry O'Reilly's The Age of Persuasion series.)

(BTW, several people here and in earlier threads have mentioned the "hot oil" in the Canadian kitchen safety PSA. It's not oil, it's boiling water, but somehow more and more people remember it as oil, maybe because of the greasy floor she slips on, maybe because their memory of the horror of that PSA moves to the more terrifying concept of boiling oil.)
posted by maudlin at 9:59 AM on April 3, 2009


I think one of the main issues with PSAs is that a single commercial for any cause or brand will never work. It promotes buzz for a hot second, and it's onto the next interesting internet video. You simply cannot communicate the complicated important messages about an issue such as domestic violence in a two-minute cinematic spot.

For reference, I've been involved in big-agency pro-bono work, and it's just as much as a star-fucking ego-boost for the folks involved as any other campaigns ad agencies do with celebrities.

Eve Ensler, for all her faults and lack of talent (according to many) works hard to create a sustainable, marketable voice for women around the world. The Vagina Monologues are incredibly empowering to perform and to witness, and it will do a billion times more to help domestic violence than some stupid expensive ad. They should have just donated the money to the cause.

If you want to watch something TRULY moving, watch Eve's spoken word performance, "Teenage Girl's Guide to Surviving Sex Slavery."

Not sure how to insert yt previews.
posted by anthropoid at 10:30 AM on April 3, 2009


Oh, it did it for me. Thanks MF.

Also, here are some Eve Ensler links:

Wiki
V-Day (Global movement to end violence against women and girls)
Her books
posted by anthropoid at 10:33 AM on April 3, 2009


this is just lazy, sleb studded marcomms

It is like the dark side of Heat or Hello


I used to think of myself as a fairly worldly guy, but I have no clue what this means.
posted by hifiparasol at 2:18 PM on April 3, 2009


sleb = celebrity, I assume
marcomm = marketing / communication

I have no idea what "Heat" and "Hello," are referring to, but assume those are references to mainstream movies, tv shows, or conventional advertising campaigns that Knightley is involved in.
posted by dersins at 2:23 PM on April 3, 2009


Hey there - sorry too UK-centric in my comment! Hello is a kind of celebrity magazine that is rather frightening. Heat is a weekly, scruffier equivalent. One also can safely assume that this PSA was timed to coincide with the DVD release (or 'deposit') of that awful bit of gloss and costume fromage The Duchess. The cynicism of all this is hard to understate.
posted by The Salaryman at 11:39 AM on April 4, 2009


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