In case you missed it (and many of you probably did) there was another controversial rape scene on this Sunday’s Game of Thrones episode. I say this with the understanding that part of the ensuing brouhaha includes a debate over whether it was actually a rape scene to begin with. But no matter how you describe it, the show once again included a scene of a really terrible person doing really terrible things which involved one of the series’ more sympathetic female characters, Sansa Stark. This isn’t the first time such a scuffle has erupted among the viewers and the critics, but for some it seems to have been the final straw.
The author of the original books, George R.R. Martin, has taken to his web site to tell people to simply stop complaining to him about it. One pop culture analysis site (yes, there is apparently such a thing) has sadly declared that they will no longer be watching or covering the show. Not only were the events of Sunday night’s show so horrible that it was deemed unfit for television, but the authors felt compelled to include Trigger Warnings for readers lest they become so distressed by simply reading the reasons they shouldn’t watch the show any more that they might need professional help.
I won’t bore the non-viewers of the show with the details, but it seems to me that using an HBO series as a source of outrage at modern culture has grown a bit too tired by this point to keep up the battle. Yes, the scene with Sansa Stark on her wedding night could most certainly be taken by some as offensive. Of course, nearly every episode includes scenes of people being horrifically injured or dying, not only in battle, but by being tortured, having limbs amputated, drowned, burnt or tossed off cliffs. Children are given poison to drink. Distinguished community leaders are burned alive and eaten by dragons. (Yes… literally. Just last week.) This all goes on all the time and I don’t see people threatening a digital walkout.
Look… Game of Thrones is a fictional tale set in a medieval style world where horrible people do horrible things. It’s not much different than the same horrible things which apparently happened on a daily basis in England during the reign of Henry VIII, in Rome under various mad emperors or any number of other less civilized eras of real world human history. And we all have to set our own boundaries for what we consider suitable entertainment. On that subject, the controversial scene this week also included Theon Greyjoy (known now only as Reek) who was previously tortured for weeks or months on end by the other lead character in the room, very nearly dying in the process and suffering the removal of… let’s just something near and dear to poor Theon. I almost needed a trigger warning for that one, but somehow I’ve soldiered on.
The point is, yet again… this is a fictional show about a fictional world and it includes all sorts of violence. HBO puts a warning about that at the beginning of each and every episode. If that’s not your cup or tea or if you fear it will be too disturbing for you, don’t watch it. It’s really that simple. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go catch up on the lost episodes of Spartacus, Blood and Sand.