A Personal Post on HBO’s Game of Thrones

I don’t normally make personal posts about my life and choices on Bookbanter, as I like to keep it mostly about my work, books and writing. But I feel this post needs to be done.

I have been enjoying HBO’s Game of Thrones since its first season. The look of the show is incredible; the detail that goes into the sets and costumes and design is enriching and engrossing. The writers have done a decent job of keeping to the story from the books. Because it’s HBO, they’ve naturally added extra scenes of nudity and sex and even a whole new prostitute character. While this added material hasn’t felt crucial to the story for the most part, because it’s HBO, it’s to be expected. One particular scene comes to mind involving a monologue from Littlefinger gazing out a window, while he has two prostitutes pleasure each other.

Nevertheless, overall I have enjoyed the show and with this new season, because little happens in the concurrent book, they deviated from the story, adding new material that kept the show fresh and interesting.

Except for a couple of particular incidents, unsurprisingly all involving rape.

The first is between Daenerys and Khal Drogo consummating their marriage. In the book, Daenerys is understandably terrified, but Drogo is kind and gentle with her. The TV show chose to make it a disturbing scene of Drogo raping Daenerys.

The second is between Cersei and Jaime Lannister, who are deeply in love with each other, but the writers decided a rape scene between them was necessary.

The third rape scene was in this past Sunday’s episode between Ramsey Snow and Sansa Stark, while Theon/Reek is made to watch, and in fact is the character who is the focus of the scene, as viewers see his reaction with little face-time on the girl being raped. This scene served absolutely no purpose except to abhor viewers. The character of Ramsey had already been established in the previous season with his incessant torture of Theon/Reek, and we already know everything that Sansa has gone through being married to Joffrey. It was so unnecessary.

I didn’t watch the episode, but started hearing about it shortly after it aired, and when I learned what the scene actually was – as I had been somewhat suspecting it in the previous episode – I decided almost immediately I was completely done with the show, and no matter how much they might apologize and admit their error in their terrible decision to do this, they won’t be able to get me back.

Rape seems to be the one conflict male writers turn to when they want to challenge their female characters, and seeing how omnipresent it is becoming both in real life and in entertainment media, it’s a sad telling on our current reality. And I feel the only way to start exposing this as something so very wrong and horrific and to change it is to make a strong and final choice, such as not watching the show anymore, even though there was a lot about about the show I liked.

When I tweeted on Sunday about quitting the show and my reasons for this, I soon received support and other people either doing likewise or those who had been planning to watch the show now choosing never to. There were also other comments and discussions on the events of the episode on social media and the following day The Mary Sue announced its decision to no longer promote the show in this great post.

And over the week there has been more reaction to the episode, from all areas, including TV critics. IO9 made this post addressing the episode. And then there was this fantastic post from Robert Jackson Bennett which I feel is the right note to end this post on.