The word “peril” with regards to superheroine films can no longer be used with accuracy to describe situations for which it was originally intended. Consumers now largely believe that “peril” is synonymous with abuse or murder or rape or torture or humiliation. That’s simply a fact; the damage is done.
A new word is needed (for the sake of clarity) to differentiate between the ACTS of violence and the THREAT of those acts of violence. Feel free to offer suggestions in the comments section below.
Here’s the Merriam-Webster definition of “peril”…
: exposure to the risk of being injured, destroyed, or lost.
The operative word here is EXPOSURE!
So basically “peril” is the EXPOSURE TO or THREAT OF injury. Actually, it’s not even an exposure to injury… it’s exposure to THE RISK of injury!
Note that it does NOT say anything about actual death or rape or abuse or torture or humiliation. Those things are what happens when a peril actually comes to pass.
“Peril” is a villain THREATENING to rape or torture or abuse or kill a heroine. Peril has always existed as a part of narrative storytelling, most definitely in pulp adventures like comic books and serials. Perils exist as obstacles for the hero or heroine to overcome and escape. The THREAT of an imminent demise adds excitement to the story.
But if a villain is ACTUALLY raping or torturing or killing or abusing the heroine, then it’s no longer “peril” because it’s ACTUALLY HAPPENING! It’s no longer just a threat.
There are many, many producers of superheroine films online and most of them will tell you that they make “peril films”. But most of them go WAY beyond the threat and spend the majority of the film focusing on the acts of violence and violations themselves. Thus the majority of superheroine clip consumers have come to accept that “peril” and the ACTS of violence are one in the same.
Humiliation, torture, death, rape, abuse… rather than calling it what it is… it is instead INACCURATELY and collectively referred to as “peril”.
Now let me be perfectly clear… I do not pass judgment on either the filmmakers or customers and everyone is welcome to enjoy whatever it is that they enjoy so long as everyone involved is consensual. I know that many of these producers and customers and actresses are perfectly well-adjusted people indulging in a FANTASY (i.e. – fiction, not reality). Each to his own, eye of the beholder, throwing stones in glass houses, blah blah blah….
My point is this… the widespread use of the word “peril” to describe the ACTUAL HAZARD ITSELF has resulted in consumer confusion.
I would argue that our heroines often face the THREAT of an imminent demise, therefore we make peril films… in the sense that all comic books and serials and pulps have peril.
However, many superheroine fans will tell you that we do not make peril films at all. We don’t go all the way, so to speak. They’ve bought into the lingo, not the definition.
Likewise many people that HATE “peril films” freak out every time we mention the word, and assume that if Stormy Tempest is in peril then we must be molesting her (which, of course, is not what we mean at all). They’ve also bought into the lingo, not the definition.
So if the word “peril” is now largely and irreversibly understood to have a meaning other than its proper definition… we clearly need a NEW WORD to express the concept of the EXPOSURE TO THE RISK of violence and injury.
If our superheroines are NOT in “peril”… what word should we now use that would maximize clarity?