How to improve ‘#RewindBlurredLines’
Every Washington University first-year student attended “#RewindBlurredLines,” an improvised, interactive skit about sexual assault, throughout the month of February. The skit has occurred every spring since 2014 but faced directorial changes this year.
“#Rewind BlurredLines” is supposed to start a safe, inclusive conversation about the serious issue of sexual assault, especially during the #MeToo movement.
“I thought it was helpful, because any sort of education in that topic is important. But at the same time, the biggest problem with it is it’s always still really clear-cut; there’s no consent given,” freshman Astrid Maldonado said. “In real life, it’s greyer. All sorts of things come into play. These performances are too clear-cut, and that’s not the real world. “#RewindBlurredLines” did a good job trying to diverge from the traditional scenarios that these topics convey; the actors were in a relationship. It wasn’t just a stranger preying on a girl—it was more complicated than that. But even then, it was still black and white. She didn’t say yes, it was forced upon her. Sometimes it’s even more complicated than that, though.”
“#Rewind BlurredLines” is interactive in that audience members are encouraged to yell “Blank!” when they notice a character has acted in a way that could have been altered. As for improvements to the show, Maldonado said that participants shouldn’t be allowed to step into the role of Lacey, the victim. In her opinion, it suggested a form of unintentional victim blaming; by letting Lacey’s role be changed, it implies that her actions could have changed the outcome.
“It’s not her fault. Her behavior shouldn’t be a factor in if the situation could have been changed. She was pressured and manipulated,” Maldonado said.
Maldonado believes there also should be a bigger focus on LGBTQIA* characters. In “#RewindBlurredLines,” there is a gay character who has experienced similar problems as Lacey, but he’s seen as a side character rather than a major talking point; there is rarely a focus on a specific education about LGBTQIA* consent.
Other students noticed that female audience members were mostly the ones to engage in dialogue. This skews the open conversation.
“I didn’t want to seem over-imposing in a conversation about a situation when males are more often than not seen as oppressors. But once other guys started talking, I felt significantly more comfortable speaking out,” freshman Zach Eisner shared. “That’s the thing with ‘#Rewind BlurredLines.’ I enjoyed it better than ‘The Date’ [a production shown during Bear Beginnings] itself because it led to more open conversations.”
Residential Advisor to first year students and junior Maverick Salyards believes that “#RewindBlurredLines” should add more structure and instruction on consent instead of functioning as a completely open dialogue.
“[‘#Rewind BlurredLines’] does a good job starting conversation, but there needs to be a bigger focus on education,” Salyards said. “When problematic comments were made, it gives an opportunity for us to educate or correct. However, in my opinion, too many of these moments were passed on. It was left up to the students to correct these comments when it could have been done more completely by the facilitators and professional educators.”
As a first-year student myself, I thought “#Rewind BlurredLines” did an excellent job trying to educate first years about consent. However, it is up to the audience to listen and take it seriously. The issue arises when audience members treat the show as a joke. Often, the people who volunteer their opinions already recognize that there is a problem. Instead of asking for suggestions, to improve this performance facilitators should perhaps call on certain people, specifically asking them to share their opinions if they’re comfortable. This way, all demographics are included in an open dialogue. Everyone comes to this show with different levels of experience, and it’s important that all those experiences be heard. It’s hard to get people to agree on such a sensitive topic, but this show was a step in the right direction.