For those of you that have not seen the first episode of American Horror Story: Hotel, please be aware that this article will contain spoilers…For those of you that did tune in Wednesday night for the first look into Ryan Murphy’s fourth installment of the delightfully twisted series, please join me in saying huh? We met many characters with hints of a devious past (and present), but the thing -literally, the “thing”- that no one can stop talking about is the metal strap-on worn by a faceless monster during the painful sexual assault of Max Greenfield’s character (within the first half hour of the episode might I add).
The rape itself wasn’t the part that left most disturbed, it was wondering whether or not it was necessary to the characters, or to the plot. In previous statements made by Murphy during this Summer, he mentioned that the monster was representative of the heroin addiction suffered by Greenfield’s character. Understanding this, one can only ask if this really was the best way to show the viewers this struggle? Drug addictions and their devastating effects on the user and their loved ones has been depicted in many ways including symbolic and realistic accounts, or dramatizations. When symbolic, as this clearly was, others have used colors, or music, or even seasons. Could there have been another way to convey Greenfield’s characters inner battle without the use of shock value?
Sexual assault and rape is a hot topic, especially with Lady Gaga’s new song, “Til it Happens to You” showing three girls in different situations that all become rape victims. Some may ask – Well if you don’t like that way, what would you do differently? Delivering the same message, but executing it in a way that excludes sexual assault and a silver phallus could have easily been done with gore. The mummified-looking creature could have physically and mentally tortured it’s victims, which would also be symbolic of the side effects and aftermath of addiction. Similar to the cigarette commercials (below) where the store clerk accepts a young girl’s piece of skin from her face because that’s the image of what it costs to smoke, a faceless monstrosity that cannot be reasoned with ripping away parts of you inside and out could have been visually terrifying.
The scene was indeed cringe-worthy with multiple angles and constant screaming, and with the episode not even halfway through, viewers were left having a hard time moving onto the next scene. Without much of an introduction into this character, there was nothing to make a connection with, leaving his assault more of a…well…wham bam no thank you, monster. We have yet to see what this faceless monster has in store for the rest of the cast this season, but with that pointy accessory, we can only hope it’s not more of what we saw during the first episode.