You don’t have to be a “Game Of Thrones” viewer at this point to be familiar with the show’s history of depicting rape on screen. But a scene that aired last Sunday stirred and upset many fans and casual viewers alike, especially among the feminist community.
I stopped watching Game of Thrones several seasons ago. I saw this rape issue coming well before the Cersei/Jaime “incident,” and certainly before Sansa’s wedding night (both of which I did not see, obviously).
I have a hard time watching rape on screen. I acknowledge that, sometimes, it’s genuinely relevant to character development or plot progression. If I really want to see something, I am usually able to fast forward through the rape scenes, or just leave the room until they’re over, and return for the rest of the film. And, I don’t mind doing that under certain circumstances.
However, it became clear to me that the reasons Games of Thrones creators had for adding rape were swiftly falling apart. There comes a point when none of the arguments for their being present hold up.
For example: “It’s revealing the severity of women’s oppression, and just how bad things are for them. Yet, they survive.”
I’ve been reading that argument at lot lately. Here’s the problem: we know. We know how bad things were and are for women, in life and in the show. You’ve established rape is commonplace, and that’s an important thing to understand. However, when you throw in rape over, and over, and over again, increasing the level of violence and taboo each time you do, it becomes pretty clear that you’re counting on that very real horror to draw audiences in by creating controversy. In other words, you’re taking advantage of women’s oppression for the sake of shock value.
Well, it’s working.
Everyone’s talking about it. Hell, here I am and I don’t even watch the show anymore.
None of this surprises me, because it became obvious to me by season two that the show was going to do absolutely anything to be the most “edgy” show on television. The violence, the sex, the language, it was all growing at an incredibly quick rate. It reached gratuitous levels by the end of season two. Thus, I called it quits.
I am concerned about impressionable viewers becoming accustomed to the idea of rape in a problematic way, about people becoming desensitized to the severity of it because they see it all the time. Women experience it, they survive it, and then they move on. All’s normal, right?
What’s to be done? I’m not sure. Game of Thrones is popular enough that, even with the current backlash, I don’t see them making any significant changes anytime soon. But, it’s still a free country (how long that will last, I cannot say). And I have the right to express my opinion, and to choose not to watch the show.