*potential trigger warning — non graphic content*
Game of Thrones is well known for its depiction of rape; in Westeros, even King’s Landing where the king rules from the Iron Throne, it seems guaranteed sexual assault will happen. Sometimes, it’s front and center while other times, its somewhere in the background as storyline-moving events occur. When rape happens, it’s treated as a bad thing, which is the way it should be (hear that, General Hospital?) and, as I’ve said before, as long as it’s an honest depiction and fallout, I take no issue with it in stories. Game of Thrones, for all the complaints lobbed at it, handles it correctly.
At least, it did. Until it didn’t. Oh, yeah, #spoileralert.*
*If this is a spoiler, too bad. It happened last year.
Damn it, HBO, why’d you have to go and fuck it up!?
(And if anyone out there says, “the culture is different in Game of Thrones, so rape’s treated differently” this is for you.)
Sympathy for the Rapist
First off, I’m getting sick of seeing Cersei treated like a second class citizen. She’s a goddamned Dowager Queen, yet everyone seems to think she’s there for whatever purpose they see fit. I already bitched about her Walk of Shame – and that felt so good – but today I’m bitching about something even more heinous: her rape at her own brother/lover/babies daddy’s hands.
Ugh. Incest-rape. So gross.
Of course, it’s not the actual assault that annoys me; it’s the whole “oh, it wasn’t really rape” crap that came after, in a weak defense of the scene –and Jamie being all good and noble afterward that made me want to kick him in the nuts.
Listen, a rapist is a bad person. A very bad person. A very bad person who deserves to be punished for their crime in severe, scream-inducing ways. They should never be “redeemed,” and sent by their rape victim to bring their incest-baby home. Would you send your attacker after your (shared) daughter?
Now, I admit that when I first watched the episode and the scene beside the Brat-King’s cold body, I didn’t see it as rape. See, I’ve been a fan of the show since day one and all that time, Cersei and Jamie have had quite the twisted love affair, even for siblings. So, what I saw was another power play between the two. And, yes, I hoped Cersei was gonna grab that cloth, pull too hard and have Joffrey’s body fall right on top of them.
(Yeah, I know, I have a sick sense of humor. Get over it.)
Afterward, as I normally do, I hopped online for one last pre-sleep social media crawl. Unlike typical Sunday nights, there weren’t gasps and shocks and freak outs over some character’s demise; this night was filled with pure venom spat at HBO over the shocking rape scene that wasn’t in the book (it’s purely consensual there, George R. R. Martin even took to Twitter to say so).
Wait, what? Rape? When’d that happen?
So I rewatched it. And, yup, there it was.
Holy shit. What was gonna happen next? They’d spent a lot of time trying to make Jamie a sympathetic character, not that I ever bought it – he did push a ten-year-old boy out a window, and tried to have him assassinated when he survived – but others had.
What was HBO thinking?
Director Alex Graves said it was “consensual by the end because anything for them ultimately results in a turn-on, especially a power struggle.”
Um…what? Dude, she said “no,” like, a bunch of times and he said “I don’t care,” and refused to stop. That’s sooooo rape. Gah!
See? I told ya.
Now if y’all can see it, why can’t they?
Rape is Rape, No Matter What the Director Says
I guess I need to go over this again because there are some really stupid jerks out there who like to claim “it’s okay when she just goes with it,” which is never, ever true, plain and simple. The rule is so easy to remember; it’s only three small words:
No. Means. No.
But because reasons, some people try to make it somehow less rapey with phrases like nonconsensual sex. Weird, I thought that was the textbook definition of rape. Even Dictionary.com agrees:
“unlawful sexual intercourse or any other sexual penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth of another person, with or without force, by a sex organ, other body part, or foreign object, without the consent of the victim.”
Maybe Graves didn’t see that…or any other definition that basically says the same thing. Perhaps he’s illiterate? I mean, he’s the director, not the writer. Oh, wait, the writer put in the word “don’t” multiple times, so did he or she not realize what they were doing? Sure, sometimes when you’re typing away you don’t notice certain things, but someone, somewhere should’ve been like, “um, dudes? This doesn’t seem kosher.”
But nobody did. Not s single person has stated they tried to stop it, knowing full well that Jamie The Raper was going to continue his journey toward heroism.
Stop turning these bastards into saviors. It’s offensive to good taste, among other things. And stop taking strong characters like Cersei and using them for “shocking” scenes that amount to nothing but a hill of beans. If you wanted this horrific scene, which once again showed how talented this cast, especially Lena Headey, is, fine. But make it count. Rape is not something to treat lightly; it’s a serious event with serious consequences that can haunt a victim or survivor for years.
Why Bother Speaking Up?
Someone asked me, after writing about Luke and Laura, why I’d talk about something that happened before I was even born. This is why. In 2014, we had another rape/not-really-rape/sorta seduction on television; proof that society still sees rape as something that doesn’t deserve to be portrayed honestly. Hell, the director went so far as to defend his “interpretation” of the scene and basically tell everyone they were wrong.
No, dude, you were wrong. You were so busy trying to shock your audience, you showed your lack of empathy, compassion, and understanding. What a tool. Like DC Comics and General Hospital, Game of Thrones took what could’ve been an amazing opportunity to show how someone — in this case, a strong, powerful woman — is affected by something so intrusive and demeaning it can change everything. Instead, it was another write-off, and the criminal became his victim’s ‘white knight.’
But don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom. I have a happier article in store, which proves not everyone is remedial. Well, it starts out not-so-nice, cause rape, but at least one show handled it so well, it should be the new standard we use to rate all others.
But that’s next month…
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