'Hunting Bambi': Violence Against Women for Fun and Profit?July 24, 2003
by Lisa Bennett, Communications Director
NOTE: After this story was posted, Las Vegas officials confirmed that the live "hunts" were staged as a scam to sell videos. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that no "hunts" have ever been sold and no "Bambis" have ever been shot with paintballs.
The "Hunting for Bambi" furor has demonstrated that the exploitation of women, and even violence against women, continues to pass for entertainment in our culture.
For those who haven't heard, "Hunting for Bambi" is a video, web site, and possibly a new form of "adult entertainment" in Las Vegas. In the video, men in camouflage run after naked women and shoot them with paintball guns (which, reportedly, can reach 200 mph). The women wear no protective clothing, only running shoes, while the men are outfitted in full battle gear. After a woman is shot, she plays dead and the man drags her off, presumably for sex. The web site endlessly promotes the "controversial" nature of the video, hoping men will pay $19.99 for what it calls "one of the sickest and most shocking videos ever made."
The creator of "Hunting for Bambi" also claimed to be holding live "hunts" where men from around the world could pay $10,000 to come to Las Vegas and act out their fantasy of shooting a woman. A local television station taped and aired a "hunt" that appeared to be real. As soon as the story broke, it spread through the media and email like wildfire. The NOW office was deluged with messages from outraged women and men who wanted the hunts stopped, or at the very least, the women protected.
Before long, allegations were made that the hunt aired on TV had been staged for the reporter's benefit and that no live hunts were actually taking placeit was all a scam to drive traffic to the web site and sell videos. The "Bambi" creator continues to insist that he has organized real hunts His internet service provider claims to have processed orders for hunts. Some reporters, however, remain skeptical and the urban legends web site www.snopes.com has classified the story as false. Local authorities promise that they are investigating the matter, and with the amount of public outcry generated already, the chance of future hunts seems slim.
The question of real or fake hunts aside, there's one thing we can be certain about"Hunting for Bambi" is not alone in its blatant contempt for women. Women are objectified in the mainstream media on such a regular basis that most people hardly notice it anymore.
Occasionally, the level of hatred aimed at women will rise to a degree that earns attentionfor better or worse. Critics have debated the misogyny of Eminem's lyrics, yet his songs about rape and violence continue to sell millions of records. The video game "Grand Theft Auto III" was condemned for offering boys and men the opportunity to act-out beating innocent women to death, yet it still became a best-seller. Fashion advertising has come under fire for its images of women posed and styled to look like murder victims and drug addicts, but these degrading ads just keep coming.
In the world outside of the television box and fashion magazines, hundreds of women are raped, beaten and murdered every dayoften by someone they love. These women struggle for protection from the law, justice and fairness from the courts and a way to gain independence in the world. Oftentimes, they are met with indifference and even blame. And the fear of sexual harassment and violence can affect any woman at any time, from choosing where to walk to what job to pursue.Here are just a few of the issues NOW has been working on lately in an effort to end violence against women, in addition to continuing to expand funding for the Violence Against Women Act:
NOW regularly monitors the issues of media images and violence against women. When crucial action is needed, we will alert our activists. If you haven't done so already, sign up for NOW's email action alerts.
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