Lady Gaga released a music video for her new song “Till it Happens to You” on Sept. 17. The video has garnered over 12 million YouTube views, but instead of an energetic, meat-dress wearing Gaga, it graphically illustrates rape and assault.
According to RYOT News, Gaga’s video “might be the most important video of the year.” Diane Warren and Gaga wrote the song and contributed it to the documentary “Hunting Ground,” a film addressing the crisis of college campus sexual assault.
Alumnus Cole Mokry learned about the documentary through Gaga’s video and attended a viewing of the film Tuesday, Sept. 22, in Little Rock. Mokry said he has always been aware of the issue of campus rape though the music video was uneasy to watch because of the realistic footage.
“I was kind of surprised by how little it held back,” Mokry said. “It really put it all out there. The music video really showed you what rape looks like, and it was very difficult to watch because it’s something you doing want to see.”
According to the Huffington Post, Gaga shared in a radio interview with Howard Stern that she was raped at age 19. Though Gaga can relate to the message of the documentary, Mokry said she contributed only her voice to it in order for the focus not be on her.
“It’s really easy for a celebrity to come in and take control and be the center of attention because it’s what they’re used to,” Mokry said. “This is one situation where she declined the spotlight and deferred it to what’s important, which is that we have a very serious problem.”
Sophomore Will Hagerman said he applauds the unconventional music video because it raises awareness to the topic of rape and its victims.
“I am glad to see that someone is finally going to mention that we have a problem on our college campuses,” Hagerman said. “It is time that we stop turning a blind eye on this crime, and it especially time to stop finding ways to blame the victims of these crimes.”
A study in The Journal of American College Health stated nearly a quarter of college women are raped during their college careers.
“It is a very important subject that needs to be addressed,” senior April DeVore said in a Facebook response to the music video. “Women need to be aware of what is going on and they need to know how to protect themselves.”
According to the National Institute of Justice, only 26 percent of sexual assault incidences are reported. The 2014 Harding security report states no sexual assault cases have been reported since at least 2011. Mokry said he struggled to relate to the documentary because of Harding’s Christian atmosphere, yet action against the issue is necessary.
“I think what we can do is say that we’re not going to accept this anymore,” Mokry said. “I think the documentary was partially calling attention to rape but also calling attention to how we treat rape victims after the fact.”
“The Hunting Ground” emphasizes the lack of action taken by the universities it features. Mokry said the women in the film claim the degrading treatment from peers was worse than the assault.
“I think it is especially important that we as Christians start helping victims of sexual assault,” Hagerman said. “For too long we, Christians, have viewed victims of sexual assault as shameful people, and it is starting to reflect on the victims themselves.”
In a Twitter post on Sept. 17, Gaga tweeted the song was written for “people all over the world who suffer painful experiences” and “we hope u feel our love & solidarity through the song & perhaps find some peace in knowing u r not alone through this film.”
“The Hunting Ground” will be shown at the Rose Theatre in Memphis on Tuesday, Oct. 6, and Wednesday, Oct. 7. It is also available for rent on Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Vudu, Microsoft and Google Play.
“We know rape happens but we don’t know everything about it, and we don’t want to look at it because it’s ugly and it’s uncomfortable,” Mokry said. “I think when things are ugly and uncomfortable you have to look at them in order to get emotional enough to do something about it.”
For more information on “The Hunting Ground” and how to help, visit thehuntinggroundfim.com.