I watched the latest release of the Sci-fi Horror film The Invisible Man tonight and it has left me afraid. Unlike so many other horror movies containing a monster I did not come away afraid for myself but for women controlled by the violence of manipulation.
Normally I might be careful about spoilers when talking about a recently released movie, given the current state of domestic violence in Australia I am unconcerned about the trivialities of giving away an important narrative in a film.
As I write this one woman in each week of this year has been murdered by their partner or ex-partner and countless others are subject to abusive manipulations, physical violence and control. It seems that the code of such behaviour now seems ingrained into the culture of our nation, existing subtly between the lines of every excuse and explanation in the defence of the actions of men who kill their partners. Many public figures and media commentators try to seek reasonable explanations for what is unreasonable behaviour.
This movie is a horror not because of the
technology that allows the men in this movie to become invisible, but because of the ways such technology is used in the strategy of men to systematically dis-empower women, to track them, to isolate them and remove their power.
For the characters in this film it was easier to believe the decent into madness as the narrative for Cecelia Kass, a narrative that saw her friends and family step away as the lie seemed more credible than the truth. We in our cinema seats were helpless to assist even though we knew the invisible truth. The true artistry of the film was to cause us the audience, safe beyond the fourth wall to question our own belief in the controlling narrative unfolding.
The invisibility in this movie is not the obvious cloaking of the physical man but the exposure it brings to the invisibility of abusive behaviour in our society and the ways such behaviour is made invisible by the belief that this is rare and the exception to the rule. As a society we don’t want to believe that our friends, our brothers our sons could be engaged in abusive behaviour. We engage in alternative narratives of privacy or concern about causing offence.
Like any hidden threat, this needs to be brought out into the open, Men need to be ready to accept a greater level of accountability at the first instance of violent and controlling behaviour. This is happening with alarming regularity and the hidden, invisible nature of this behaviour can only mean that it is happening far more then we hear about.
If you feel offended or defensive about my reflection on this movie, please spend your time reflecting on why in your journal or with a close friend rather than hitting back at me. Your hostile reply will only be an attempt to escalate or control the narrative rather than engage with the real issue.