Saturday, April 20, 2013

Consequences of Sexual Assault

Lauren, compellingly written by Jay Rodan, under the competent directorial vision of Lesli Linka Glatter (Gilmore Girls, The West Wing), features Pretty Little Liars' Troian Bellisario as Sgt. Lauren Weil who reports to her commanding officer, Maj. Jo Stone, played by Jennifer Beals (Flashdance, The L Word) about being raped by three fellow soldiers. Stone's reaction is far from what the Sergeant expects. She warns Lauren about the consequences she would have to bear if she pursued the accusations regarding the "incident." The assailants' punishment would be minimal compared to the repercussions this would have on Lauren's career, a mother of a five-year old daughter and a five generations of soldier. Stone deliberately avoids using the word "rape" as she considers it "an emotive word."

According to Associated Press, Beals, who'd been researching for more than a year what it's like to be a woman in the military, said that even if her character's words "may at first seem hurtful and harsh, (...) later viewers realize it's more complex for the commanding officer, (...)."

In the second episode of the series, Lauren is approached by Maj. Stone's legal counsel in a sarcastic way the Sergeant doesn't appreciate. If she wants her superior to proceed with an investigation though, she's told she'd better cooperate. Maj. Stone learns meanwhile from her superior that the investigation is not going to happen, because one of the suspects in the case happens to be the grandson of a four star general. How she's going to handle Lauren's report is revealed in the last episode.

Beals' character is strong yet human and sensitive. That shows not just at the end of the first episode, but also when Stone tells Lauren with tears welling up in her eyes: "What I feel doesn't matter, what I care about doesn't matter." She had to fight her way up to be where she is now.

Speaking of whether she has a preference for playing strong characters with every new project, Beals answered in a Twitter Q & A chat after the series' finale: "I find the roles interesting. I think it might be a combination of the characters finding me and me wanting to delve into a more complex realm."
Bellisario is by no means beneath the talent of her much more experienced co-star. Only a brilliant actor has the ability to show their range and grab the viewers' attention within such a short amount of time the way she did, with the material she's been given.

Statistics show that in 2011, nearly 3,200 sexual assaults in the military have been reported, with many more going unreported each year. Beals is extremely invested in the military sexual trauma topic and hopes that Lauren "implements some kind of change and does bring back some integrity to the military and people's perception of the military, because there are so many fine soldiers out there and not everybody has to be categorized as a sexual predator," as she recently stated in a video interview on Huffington Post Live.

Courtesy Digital Journal