Today In Questionable Ideas: Brad Pitt Might Make a Steubenville Movie


Brad Pitt’s production company is making a movie about the Steubenville, Ohio sexual assault case that will focus on the male hacker who played a role in untangling the events of August 11, 2012 and the subsequent high-level cover up. This may or may not be a bad idea.

As Vanity Fair (and a bunch of other places) reports, the film will be based on David Kushner’s Rolling Stone article “Anonymous vs. Steubenville,” which chronicled the role of the hactivist collective Anonymous and specifically Deric Lostutter, the hacker who uncovered information about the case and ended up getting sentenced to more jail time than the actual sexual assailants as a result. A good rageboner type storyline.

But is focusing on Lostutter’s story the best way for Hollywood to approach Steubenville and rape culture and athlete worship and all of the other American cultural tumors this incident highlighted? Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress doesn’t think so. She writes,

In a culture where rape survivors’ voices are often ignored, and women’s stories about their own lived experiences of sexual violence and oppression are constantly brought into question, it’s discouraging to envision a movie about one of the most famous rape cases in the country that places a “white knight” at the center. Although it’s likely not the intention of Plan B Entertainment, that framing choice ends up further obscuring the real women who are victimized by sexual assault.

Yeah, but in order to do that, Hollywood would have to make a movie starring multiple women, some of who might be old and unattractive. It might have to make a movie that implies that sometimes big, strong men are the cause of and not the solution to problems. Which, ugh, amirite?

Joking about Hollywood sexism (LOL!cry) aside, a movie that confronts rape culture could be a good thing, if it’s approached delicately and humanely and empathetically. The case in Steubenville, as Culp-Ressler points out, brought issues relating to the intersection of rape culture and jock culture to the forefront of US news in a way that it hadn’t been in recent memory. But where a hacker-focused movie adaptation could go awry is if it takes the case of a girl who was sexually violated by two teen creeps and then ostracized by an entire community as the result of her victimization and uses her story to serve a role in a movie with a larger point about how unfair it is that hackers have to go to jail. Lostutter may have gotten a heavier jail sentence than the assailants, but the victim in the Steubenville case lost much more.

Image via Getty

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