Game of Thrones is incredibly popular and it is frequently very good. Since the beginning though the show has had a problem. The people who have adapted George RR Martin’s books for the screen insist on adding scenes of violence against women that aren’t in the books and that do not advance the story.
They have added a considerable amount of sex and violence, but that is not unusual for Hollywood. The real problem comes in when they insist on combining the two. In researching the reaction to the most recent episode, I found an article from Swarthmore College detailing many of the events and that was from last year before the incestuous rape scene between Jamie and Cersei and before the rape of Sansa Stark.
Some of the scenes of violence against women do exist in the books, but there they are only mentioned and mostly occur “off camera” they are not long, graphic depictions.
To list a few examples:
- The character Ros was not in the books, she was introduced early in season 1 and appears to have been there only to add more sex scenes before she was murdered by Joffrey with a crossbow while tied up in his bedroom. There are also rumours that her character was killed off for refusing to do more nude scenes.
- Daenerys’s first sexual encounter with Khal Drogo was much more animalistic and violent than what is (briefly) described in the book.
- Robb Stark’s wife Talisa was killed at the Red Wedding, repeatedly stabbed in the stomach while pregnant. In the book, Talisa isn’t even at the wedding. She skips the wedding and departs to stay with her uncle (carrying a potential Stark heir inside her).
- In season 4 Ramsay Snow hunts a woman for sport in the woods, setting his dogs on her after she is wounded. In the books this action is mentioned, in the show it is graphic.
- Then there was last season’s rape scene with Cersei and this season’s with Sansa.
None of these events really advanced the plot or told us anything about the characters that we didn’t already know. Even the things that actually happened in the books gained nothing by being extended and made more graphic.
The reaction to these scenes is increasingly negative. Today the Mary Sue, a publication that specializes in all things nerd, announced that they would no longer be covering or promoting the show and others are following suit.
I’m not writing this simply to pile on, but to suggest that D. B. Weiss and David Beniof should probably consider seeking professional help. Their continued addition of violence against women to the show contributes nothing to the story, it isn’t popular with the audience, it is bad writing and bad storytelling and they know that (or they’re surrounded by people who could tell them) but they keep doing it anyway.
To me this suggests that they have some kind of a problem; some deep hatred inside them that causes them to continue to create these scenes, even if it is self-sabotaging.
Unfortunately the original creator of Game of Thrones is not going to be of any help. Martin continues to defend Weiss and Beniof at every turn. The HBO show is, after all, a big paycheque for Martin for a series that he hasn't really done much with since 2005 and may never finish.
Whether or not the show’s creators decide to seek help for their problem, it is time for HBO to step in and address the situation. The current show runners are risking one of the most popular shows in HBO's history because of, what appears to be, a personal obsession with violence against women.
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