Student Filmmaker's Answer to 'Blame the Rape Victim' Ethos: a Positive Video

Courtesy of Samantha H. Stendal

April 01, 2013

A recent case in which two high-school football players in Steubenville, Ohio, were found guilty of raping a teenage girl sparked a contentious debate about whether the girl—who was heavily intoxicated and had passed out—was partially to blame. But Samantha H. Stendal, 19, a University of Oregon film student, decided to tell a different story. A 27-second YouTube video called "A Needed Response," which racked up more than 1.7 million views in one week, is her answer to the Steubenville controversy, Ms. Stendal says, and is designed to promote respect. The video shows a male actor with a young woman who has passed out on a couch, apparently after drinking too much. The actor says to the camera, "Hey bros, check who passed out on the couch. Guess what I'm going to do to her," before gently tucking a pillow under her head, covering her with a blanket, and leaving her a glass of water.

Q. What inspired you to make this video?

A. I had been reading about the Steubenville case, and kept seeing the victim-blaming that was going on, and the general "rape culture" that was being expressed. I felt that I needed to make a response, and I wanted to finally put something positive out there.

Q. What sort of response have you gotten from viewers?

A. I've gotten a variety of responses. Some are from close friends or maybe even people I haven't talked to in a long time. They're very happy with it, and proud that I've put it out there. It's interesting to see the negative comments that show up.

Q. What are some of the negative responses?

A. On the more horrifying side of the spectrum, there have been people arguing that drunk girls deserve to be raped, which I think is horrible. Then there are other comments like, "Oh well, you could've had a bucket in your video for her," or "You should call 911 if this is the situation." And that's the kind of conversation I like to see. I like to see people discussing how to properly take care of someone.

Q. How do you feel about the outcome of the video?

A. I'm just happy that the message is getting out there. It's in direct response to the Steubenville case, and is about a boy and a girl. I feel that whatever your gender, you should be treated with respect, and you should be treating everyone around you with respect.