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Thread: Torchwood- Owen Harper & his actions (spoilers)

  1. #1
    Lieutenant General ShadowMaat's Avatar
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    Default Torchwood- Owen Harper & his actions (spoilers)

    Rather than have a couple of threads veer off into a heated discussion on whether or not Owen raped the couple in the pilot ep and if it was funny or if he'd done it before, I figured I'd start a separate thread for it.

    So... Owen sprayed himself with some kind of alien drug/pheremone for the express purpose of attracting a woman who had no interest in him. She immediately became interested and wanted to take Owen back to her place to have sex with him.

    Unfortunately (depending on which school of thought you ascribe to) they were interrupted outside the pub by the woman's boyfriend. An argument ensued and chances were looking good that Owen would get the crap beaten out of him, so he used the spray again and became irresistible to the boyfriend as well. The argument then turned to which of them (woman or boyfriend) would get to shag him first.

    Now, as I remember it the scene ended in a tug-of-war which left it ambiguous as to whether he had sex with both of them or if he used the confusion to escape. Some say he went through with it, others say he ran off. Personally I think he went through with it as it seems to be in character for him (although admittedly it's hard to know what's in character in a pilot ep).

    I also got the impression that this wasn't the first time he'd used the spray, but I could easily be wrong about that and again, the ep didn't make it clear.

    Personally? I find the character repugnant. While I can understand how- on the surface- the whole scenario might seem funny and I even managed to grin initially at what he was doing, that quickly changed when I realized he was going to go through with it. The only thing that stopped him- or may have stopped him- was the intervention of the boyfriend.

    Now... if you go with what some are saying and believe that Owen ran away at earliest opportunity that doesn't change the fact that he intended to have sex with a woman who had, until the use of the drug, refused his attentions. I equate what Owen did with slipping someone a roofie and proceeding to rape her. The fact that she would have been a willing participant is invalid because of the drug involved and that, in my opinion, isn't funny at all.

    Am I taking it too seriously? Maybe, maybe not. I certainly don't think so, especially since I know women who've been raped. I have no real issue with people who didn't read deeper into the scenario and who found it to be amusing, but I'd appreciate it if those who DID like the scene wouldn't imply that there was something wrong with me for disliking it or that I'm the one at fault. It's called an opinion. It can't be wrong. You don't have to agree with it, but try to at least respect it.

    Now... anyone else?

  2. #2
    Captain VirtualCLD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Torchwood- Owen Harper & his actions (spoilers)

    I know this would open up a huge can of worms, but it would be interesting to see how many of the viewers who thought the scene was amusing were male and how many viewers who stopped and thought date rape were female. I can honestly say that I thought it was completely amusing until someone on the forums here brought up date rape and that was like having a bucket of cold water thrown on memory of that scene. It never even occurred to me that Owen's intentions were date rape and suddenly his character and in fact the episode was in a new light. I realized how this could be seen as an example of why technology is not allowed outside of Torchwood and at the same time, foreshadowing Suzie's role in the episode.

    What's even more interesting is I still find myself smiling at Owen's antics even perverse and wrong though they may be and I wonder if that was intentional. It's sort of a "like-to-hate" attitude with him. While others may just despise him, some may actually enjoy despising him. We've certainly seen more evidence of is low moral standards later on and in the next episode, but I still find myself smiling and enjoying his presence on screen even if his actions are downright awful. As for the following episode itself:
    Spoiler:
    It was also satisfying to see him get a little bit of his just desert.

    In any case, I think part of this post was just to state how truly despicable Owen can be viewed and another part of it was myself feeling guilty for not even recognizing date rape when it was staring me in the face and needing someone to spell it out for me.

  3. #3
    Colonel Pitry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Torchwood- Owen Harper & his actions (spoilers)

    Yes, I think he was attempting a date rape. However -

    re-posting from the Torchwood thread...

    They weer all abusing the techonology. Which is why I don't think we're particularily supposed to dislike Owen. Suzie was murdering people, but the scene to explain what her feelings about all of this were ambiguous, showing the viewers her side of the story, as well as the wrongs she did. You don't come out of the episode feelign she's a horrible murderer, in some way you migth even sympathise her, even if just a little bit. What Toshiko did was just as moraly wrong as Owen or Suzie, just the outcome wasn't as horrid.
    Yet.
    She got lucky.

    I see this much more as the metaphore on people abusing technology rather than having one fo the main characters as an evil rapist.

    I don't hate Owen. I don't think that implication has elluded RTD's mind, and yet don't think he created a character we're deliberately supposed to hate. I think there's the bigger metaphore here - what Kurt Vonnegut referred to in one of his books as "had I been German in WW2 I would have probably been a Nazi". All three characters abused technology to some extant - hinting that this could have been any one of us. Taking the moral high ground and saying "he's a filthy despicable rapist and I hate him" is equal to saying "I would never be in this place, I'm much above that". But until you've been there, you can't tell, not really. And it is my own personal opinion (again, feel free to disagree) that we're more vulnerable to falling as low when we're not aware of the risk.
    So no, Owen is an imperfect person who has acted in a flithy, despicable way - and I agree that whether this was his first time using this pheromone or not, whether he did manmage to use it this time or not, it doesn't matter. The act itself was bad enough. But this specific act isn't enough, IMHO, to judge the character. Not yet.
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  4. #4
    Lieutenant General ShadowMaat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Torchwood- Owen Harper & his actions (spoilers)

    So what is this "blatant" point that so many people are missing?

    I don't recall anyone saying that the reason they think Owen ran away is because he couldn't have been intending to shag the boyfriend, I thought it was pretty clear he was going to (or would have) had sex with the guy as well as the girl, but then, my eyes started to glaze over a bit on the rage thread, so I may have missed a few things.

    If I had any "issue" with the fact that Owen made a play for the boyfriend, it'd be that I'm pretty sure the boyfriend is straight and that it seems worse to me to force sex on someone who's not only not interested, but not of the right orientation. I can remember feeling more sympathy for the gay sperm donor the possessed woman absorbed, too. That probably says more about me than about the writing, though.

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    Colonel smurf's Avatar
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    Default Re: Torchwood- Owen Harper & his actions (spoilers)

    Quote Originally Posted by ShadowMaat View Post
    So what is this "blatant" point that so many people are missing?

    I don't recall anyone saying that the reason they think Owen ran away is because he couldn't have been intending to shag the boyfriend, I thought it was pretty clear he was going to (or would have) had sex with the guy as well as the girl, but then, my eyes started to glaze over a bit on the rage thread, so I may have missed a few things.

    If I had any "issue" with the fact that Owen made a play for the boyfriend, it'd be that I'm pretty sure the boyfriend is straight and that it seems worse to me to force sex on someone who's not only not interested, but not of the right orientation. I can remember feeling more sympathy for the gay sperm donor the possessed woman absorbed, too. That probably says more about me than about the writing, though.
    I wasn't going to get involved anymore but...
    1) You think it was clear he intended to have sex with them both. I think it is clear that he intended to get them arguing so he could run away.
    Both of us could be right, because we saw no further than him hailing a taxi. Not getting in and fleeing, or inviting them in with him, or even saying "I'll leave you to it/I've got a great idea, why don't we..."
    I maintain further that the later discussion over dinner suggests he sees Jack as the "other", and thus he is not like Jack, so probably actually legged it.
    So anyone telling me my interpretation is incorrect, or in any way needs to be seen in context of "challenging perceptions of sexuality" will get a short shrift from me, thank you.

    2 - on topic) I'm quite sure it was designed to show how power corrupts, yet still remaining mildly humourous. Sadly, I actually don't think as much thought was given to the date-rape implications.
    Unless he gets a real comeupance later on. But I kinda doubt it.

  6. #6
    Major General Willow'sCat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Torchwood- Owen Harper & his actions (spoilers)

    I want to give the writers the benefit of the doubt and say, "they were only meaning it as a joke, a light bit of fun..." unfortunately these days, this is so common; date rape or drug *including alcohol fulled* sexual assault, that I just cannot laugh at it.

    I am even one who had a problem with Jack using the cocktail of drugs on Gwen; so no one is really going to change my mind on this. It was, what it was; non-consensual and plainly illegal. Hopelessly unethical, and dare I say immoral. But that is just my opinion.

    btw, this does nothing to help people understand why rape occurs, it just adds to the stupid and wrong belief that rape is only ever about sex, it isn't. It is an act of violence and taking control of someone against their will. That is another reason I didn't like this, Owen doesn't seem to get that.... I am really not liking this character. It is one thing to be an idiot in social situations but this goes way beyond that IMO.

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    Default Re: Torchwood- Owen Harper & his actions (spoilers)

    Quote Originally Posted by Willow'sCat View Post
    I want to give the writers the benefit of the doubt and say, "they were only meaning it as a joke, a light bit of fun..." unfortunately these days, this is so common; date rape or drug *including alcohol fulled* sexual assault, that I just cannot laugh at it.

    I am even one who had a problem with Jack using the cocktail of drugs on Gwen; so no one is really going to change my mind on this. It was, what it was; non-consensual and plainly illegal. Hopelessly unethical, and dare I say immoral. But that is just my opinion.

    btw, this does nothing to help people understand why rape occurs, it just adds to the stupid and wrong belief that rape is only ever about sex, it isn't. It is an act of violence and taking control of someone against their will. That is another reason I didn't like this, Owen doesn't seem to get that.... I am really not liking this character. It is one thing to be an idiot in social situations but this goes way beyond that IMO.
    I didn't like the drug cocktail thing either. A Men in Black doodad is one thing since it is obviously sci-fi and a little way away from reality, but this was very close to the bone and is all too easily replicated in the here and now.

    I'll be interested to see (if I manage to stick it out) if this immorality on the fine details disappears/modifies itself as Gwen gets more deeply involved, or if it's an underlying blind spot on the part of the writers.

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    Lieutenant General ShadowMaat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Torchwood- Owen Harper & his actions (spoilers)

    Quote Originally Posted by smurf View Post
    I wasn't going to get involved anymore but...
    1) You think it was clear he intended to have sex with them both. I think it is clear that he intended to get them arguing so he could run away.
    Ohhhh. So maybe I'm being too open-minded in simply assuming Owen swings both ways.


    Quote Originally Posted by Willow'sCat View Post
    I am even one who had a problem with Jack using the cocktail of drugs on Gwen; so no one is really going to change my mind on this.
    Did you have any issues with the various uses of the neuralyser in the Men in Black movies? Seriously, I'm curious.

    I think it was a rotten trick (as is the neralyser, in its own way) but I could understand why he did it and considering that in the old days folks who "learned too much" tended to be killed, I'm willing to settle for just having their memories erased. It is pretty unethical, though, and another example of abuse of power.

    I'd have been more upset if he'd used the opportunity to take advantage of her in some way. Not necessarily sexually. There was an episode of Eureka that I think was called Blink wherein

    Spoiler:
    one of the characters was using a short term memory erasure device for personal gain. He "convinced" a happy couple they had broken up so that he could marry the woman and he routinely let the scientists (particularly his wife) figure out all the hard stuff only to erase their memory of it so he could waltz in and "solve" the problems.


    So... Jack might have been bad, but it could have been a LOT worse.

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    Colonel smurf's Avatar
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    Default Re: Torchwood- Owen Harper & his actions (spoilers)

    Quote Originally Posted by ShadowMaat View Post
    Ohhhh. So maybe I'm being too open-minded in simply assuming Owen swings both ways.
    Thank you for implying I'm closed minded. It's very kind of you. And for ignoring the entirety of the argument.
    So, again to reiterate, anyone who thinks there is a possibilty that he actually had no intention of bedding either the girl or boy once he knew there was a boyfriend involved is not open minded and has problems with sexuality other than your (completely guessed) view of what the person thinks is normal?
    Or are we saying that just because he was kissed by a man it automatically means he swings all ways? That's a narrow view of sexuality...

    Actually, to throw something different into the ring. His shocked reaction to finding out about the boyfriend suggests he only intends to go for single girls, and does have some sort of morality as to what is and is not acceptable.
    ie. not taking another guy's girl.

  10. #10
    Lieutenant General ShadowMaat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Torchwood- Owen Harper & his actions (spoilers)

    Sorry, smurf, didn't mean to imply you were close-minded. But since I can't think of a rational explanation for what I WAS thinking I'm not gonna try because I'll just dig myself deeper.

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    Default Re: Torchwood- Owen Harper & his actions (spoilers)

    Ok, as the person who hasn't seen Torchwood yet (I'm in the US) I want to add my two cents from a theoretical standpoint.

    I can't comment on the episode in question because I haven't seen it, but this trope has a long history.

    The orginial Star Trek and TNG both have episodes where various viruses make the characters want to sleep with each other. After the TNG's episode, the characters went "oh crap!" and dealt with awkward moments, but the virus was not deemed similar to a date rape drug because it was an illness.

    By DS9, this tactic had again changed. This time, Luwaxana Troi's hormones causing trouble, and everyone in a three foot radius tried to act on their unspoken, subconscious attractions. The episode was a fan favorite because the characters acted insane, but at the end of the episode, no one "got" anything more than a kiss.

    Recently, SGA tried this tactic, and while I didn't see the episode in question, I can see how many viewers felt that the character's use of a way to make women love him bordered on a date rape drug.

    Now, we have Torchwood with someone using a spray. I agree that this is getting too close to home, especially with commerials encouraging just this type of behavior. Has anyone else seen the horrible Tag bodyshots commercials? For those that haven't: a young male goes to a location with lots of women (like a sorority house), sprays on the cologne, and all the women go nuts tearing off their clothes and trying to instantly have sex with him. I don't find these commercials funny, so I'm not inclined to find this example in Torchwood funny either. While appearing harmless, it encourages deception and the objectification of women. It also implies that whomever the spray lands on is a mindless machine only capable of sex.

    If we would not find it funny if people used a spray to make others want to kill someone, then we should not find a spray that increases desire while lowering consent amusing.

    Then again, that's just my view.
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    Lieutenant General ShadowMaat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Torchwood- Owen Harper & his actions (spoilers)

    Quote Originally Posted by MasySyma View Post
    The episode was a fan favorite because the characters acted insane, but at the end of the episode, no one "got" anything more than a kiss.
    Exactly. My "issue" with such scenarios kicks in when it moves beyond kisses and gropes to full-on sex. In the past, shows have managed to stay short of that particular line, but now the "in" thing seems to be crossing it. On Atlantis

    Spoiler:
    Lucius married those women and you will never convince me that he didn't "consummate" his relationships with them... and that he didn't do it on a regular basis.


    And now Torchwood has Owen. Unlike Atlantis, though, I think there's a chance we may actually see some consequences to what Owen's been doing... and I look forward to seeing the fallout from that. It might not redeem the character for me, but at least I'll be reassured that it isn't being played off as a cheap joke.

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    Default Re: Torchwood- Owen Harper & his actions (spoilers)

    I think you're all taking it far too seriously tbh. How many men buy that pheromone X crap advertised in the back of tabloid papers and dodgy mens magazines (so i'm reliably informed lol) it's the same premise. As for it being akin to giving someone Rhohipnol or a "roofie" I find that remark pretty stupid.

    Rhohipnol and other DR drugs apart from the abhorrent nature of their use they can also leave the person theyre used on seriously ill if not worse.

    A friend of mine had a drink spiked by a "friend" who thought it would be funny she died TWICE in the ambulance and was resucitated both times then spent weeks in a coma and many months recovering, fortunately she did recover and is now a keen sports person representing a company at big sporting events and has been in many many magazines etc so kudos to her!!

    I think we need to keep in mind it's sci-fi and as to that drug it was a drug that made the person on the receiving end totally attractive to the person near them so hardly DR at all

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    Default Re: Torchwood- Owen Harper & his actions (spoilers)

    lol ok then hey im a 51st century guy

    {Snip} you will see what I think to drinks being spiked and DR and I didnt intimate at any point that I don't think that these crimes should be taken seriously at all just what Owen was up to was underhand and morally indefenisable but it WASNT DR nor would it ever be if anything because of the pheromones she was jumping him
    Last edited by TameFarrar; November 5th, 2006 at 09:17 AM.

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    Default Re: Torchwood- Owen Harper & his actions (spoilers)

    After watching the Torchwood DE-Classified afterwards, it appears that more of Owen's past will be revealed. Personally I think that he's from either another planet, dimension and time.
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  16. #16
    Lieutenant General ShadowMaat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Torchwood- Owen Harper & his actions (spoilers)

    You want to disagree, fine, but next time try and keep the insults out of it.

    And just because there are no ill side-effects to the alien drug/perfume (as far as we know) doesn't make it okay and I don't see how it makes the comparison to a roofie invalid. Making someone sick is a side effect of a roofie (so you say) but the purpose is to make them more pliable. Same as the perfume.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Torchwood- Owen Harper & his actions (spoilers)

    Let's remember guys to debate the topic, not each other.

    Every person has his/her own opinion and it's not 'wrong' or 'stupid', it's just thier opinion. YOu may not agree. That's your right. But don't diss anyone's opinion.

    The topic of this thread is Owen and his actions on Torchwood, so let's keep it at that please

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Torchwood- Owen Harper & his actions (spoilers)

    Quote Originally Posted by rich44 View Post
    I think you're all taking it far too seriously tbh. How many men buy that pheromone X crap advertised in the back of tabloid papers and dodgy mens magazines (so i'm reliably informed lol) it's the same premise. As for it being akin to giving someone Rhohipnol or a "roofie" I find that remark pretty stupid.

    Rhohipnol and other DR drugs apart from the abhorrent nature of their use they can also leave the person theyre used on seriously ill if not worse.
    Why is it stupid to compare it to Roophinol? One is a drug that enables rape, the other is a drug that enables rape. One can have dangerous side effects, the other has probably not been tested under clinical conditions to establish if there are side effects. Seem pretty similarly vile to me.


    I think we need to keep in mind it's sci-fi and as to that drug it was a drug that made the person on the receiving end totally attractive to the person near them so hardly DR at all
    No, it wasn't 'DR' cos there was no date. It was just rape or an attempt at it.

    If a flirty woman had been eyeing him, and then his spray tipped the balance, or if a non-responsive woman had started chatting friendly-like and ended up liking him enough to go with him, there might be ambiguity. Then, we wouldn't know if the spray had made sex inevitable from the start, or if it had just made him more attractive and upped his chances, like the makers of certain deororants would have us believe we can do with one of their aerosols.

    It wasn't like that though. No amount of lipstick, perfume, smart clothes or hormonal scent can turn Sod Off Creep into Take Me Now. Do you think that woman had a choice? I don't. His spray clearly made her agree to something that was anathema seconds before when in her right mind. It was an attempt to rape her.

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  19. #19
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    Default Re: Torchwood- Owen Harper & his actions (spoilers)

    I'm sorry, but to me it was obvious that he was using the couples fighting as a chance to escape quickly...

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Torchwood- Owen Harper & his actions (spoilers)

    Besides, the guy wasn't exactly Brad Pitt either was he?

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