Paramount via Everett Collection
Last year, it was difficult to escape news coverage of the Steubenville case: a small town in Ohio covered up the rape of a 16-year-old girl to protect two local football players despite evidence of the crime on social media accounts. When the famed hacktivist group Anonymous got involved, the story garnered national headlines. Now, a little more than a year since the trial ended, Brad Pitt’s production company bought the rights to Rolling Stone’s article “Anonymous v. Steubenville” and plan to make a movie. The proposed film will focus on Deric Lostutter, a member of Anonymous who faces jail time for his part in releasing information and exposing the cover up. But is that the version of this story we really need to see?
While Lostutter’s experience is certainly an interesting side of the Steubenville case, it’s not the only story. To many, there was a small victory won in the way that people, especially the media, talks about rape cases. It was the first time that people rebelled in a big way against slut shaming and victim blaming language. (One infamous instance of victim blaming was when Serena Williams said the victim “shouldn’t have put herself in that situation.”) An online petition protesting CNN’s coverage of the trial garnered over 200,000 signatures when the anchors talked more about how the case will affect the rapists’ future than the lasting effects of the crime on the victim.
While that facet of the story might be more difficult to translate to film without the whole thing feeling like a made-for-TV melodrama, it’s important to at least incorporate within any movie about Steubenville. We’re worried that Pitt’s film may leave it out entirely, or discuss it in a way that negates the progress made during the Steubenville coverage, which would be worse.
Of course, there’s a possibility that Pitt and the production team helming the project will handle the subject beautifully and with grace; they did create the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave. Though the fact that they’re choosing to tell the story from a male perspective rather than a female perspective (like, say, the crime blogger that originally broke the story) is still somewhat dubious.
As much progress was made in the form of the aforementioned movement, a film on the issue could really do some good in shifting the way America views instances of sexual crime. If Pitt and his company are planning on making a film detailing the tragedy that befell Steubenville, they might serve the world best by keeping this element of the story at the forefront.