Why Are GoT Fans Surprised?

I don’t watch HBO’s “Game of Thrones” in spite of its fan base, its pop culture cachet, or its accolades. Sure, I like swords and sorcery as much as the next person but GOT, based on the A Song of Fire & Ice series by George “Rockin’ Raccoon” Martin (that’s what the RR is for, right?), is too smutty, too violent, and too nihilistic in its worldview for my taste. And that’s also why I won’t bother with the books. Martin’s series sort of kicked off the trend of R-to-NC-17 rated dark, amoral, nihilistic fantasy. Again, not my thing. The world is crappy enough as it is and even if it’s “fake,” I don’t need to watch children get tossed out of windows (when I’ve seen police reports of real people doing the same sort of thing), brutal rapes, or graphic castrations.

Which makes me wonder after four years of spectacles like the Red Wedding and other atrocity exhibitions, why were people bothered by a particular rape scene that aired last week? Some were outraged to the point where they insisted they couldn’t watch the show anymore. The Mary Sue went ballistic. You mean everything else that has happened was hunky dory with you and fine entertainment but somehow this was a bridge too far? Huh?

It’s not as though GOT was family-friendly fun and adventure until this suddenly got dropped on the show. I could understand viewers being upset if that was the case. It seems to me what happened was pretty much what’s been going on with GOT since it started airing. Come on, HBO didn’t decide to adapt Martin’s books into a series because HBO execs just love dragons. HBO could’ve adapted Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series ages ago if that was true. HBO was drawn to the series because HBO loves to push the envelope on content, and by that I mean boobs, genitalia, softcore sex scenes, blood, guts, and vulgarity, and Martin’s books presented plenty of opportunity. Some of the complaints about the rape scene claimed it was gratuitous. Well, yeah. HBO specializes in the sensational, shocking, and gratuitous. Ever wonder why it, Showtime, or Starz never developed general audience/PG-rated/everybody-can-watch fare? HBO only wants programming that’s “out there” because the more outrageous it is, the more buzz it will get, especially from the right tastemakers who seem to value this kind of thing above anything else. During this year’s Cannes film festival, the movie that got big crowds practically slugging each other to get in to see was a 3D porn movie masquerading as an art film. That’s what our so-called betters and “sophisticated” people are drawn to these days.

Maybe some viewers got snapped out of a stupor when this scene made them feel, well, icky inside. Maybe the culmination of four years of “eeek” finally bubbled to the surface. Or perhaps some of the social justice warriors out there realized that they can’t keep talking about the “rape culture” meme and complain about Grand Theft Auto if they shrug off rapes on entertainment that they like.

Time will tell if this means Fonzie has slapped on his waterskis as far as GOT is concerned and if it will start to lose support among the geek crowd, which has become increasingly politically correct. But I knew it was a crocodile all along. I didn’t wait for it to bite me in the butt to figure that one out.

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8 Responses to Why Are GoT Fans Surprised?

  1. mes520 says:

    I don’t know why people are all upset either. GoT is full of rape and in some ways that’s what the show is about. And from what I’ve heard (I haven’t read the books) several of the rape scenes on the show didn’t go down like that in the books.

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  2. Derek Tate says:

    Oh well, I *LOVE* GoT. I don’t know what the fuss over that end scene last week is about, really. It fits into that violent world perfectly. I think the show is fantastic, brilliantly made, and I can’t wait to see the new episode this evening.

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  3. Keith Palmer says:

    I have to lead off with the blunt statement that I don’t watch Game of Thrones myself; this has to do in large part to how I’m not especially interested in “medieval fantasy,” and in my weaker moments would slide towards the obtuse dismissal “it all seems like Lord of the Rings knockoffs.” I suppose the thought has occurred to me about what my reaction to some hypothetical “Game of Thrones in space” would be, although given that I understand it involves “noble families” a too-faithful translation would just leave me muttering how quick science fiction authors are to downplay and dismiss representative democracy as inevitably doomed and reduce the common man to forelock-tugging support staff… but it may be that because I don’t watch Game of Thrones I’m facing the uncomfortable temptation of contemplating just what fresh outrage would be “too much at last.”

    I keep worrying I’m not the right gender to even be able to comment on this. Certainly, I can suppose there are people who want to see “uncomfortable truths addressed in art without euphemism,” but when art seems to say nothing more than “yeah, it happens,” I see your point as well… The old, melodramatic comment “a fate worse than death” then drags in the whole matter of “female characters get killed off just so male characters can feel miserable about it,” and there I vacillate between “of course people can get upset when it happens over and over again” and “but at what point does it turn into ‘bad things can’t happen to female characters because bad things can’t happen to female characters?'” There, I’m afraid, I start remembering the people who got upset that Padme was shown to die, and the only way out seems to be to think there’s ambiguity there yet for me.

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  4. M. Marshall says:

    I see GOT as nothing more than “Lord of the Rings” meets “The Tudors” or “I, Claudius”. When it comes to the subject of rape, it really depends on the writing. Downton Abbey did a better job of it than GOT because it showed the painful aftermath from the victim’s perspective. I’ll admit I’m glad the Mary Sue finally had the womb to say “enough is enough”. Nevertheless, I’ve often been irritated with some of the website’s views.

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  5. maychild says:

    I don’t watch GOT for the simple reason that I find it boring.

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  6. Bob Clark says:

    I think one thing is the show has spent such a long time teasing us with rape as a possible fate for this character, over and over again. When Sansa was betrothed to Joffrey, a clear sadist and sociopath, it was a lingering implication, with him threatening her with casual violence all the time. In one episode, she was nearly raped and killed by a rioting mob before she was saved at the last moment. In the Blackwater episode, Cersei teases her about how if King’s Landing is taken, all the women in the Red Keep will likely be “in for a bit of a rape”, and singles Sansa herself out as a possible victim (to make matters worse, Cersei also has a knight on staff to kill them if the city is taken, to prevent just such a fate). When Sansa is then betrothed to Tyrion, they make a very big deal out of the fact that Tyrion WON’T rape her, that he won’t even touch her without her consent.

    So there’s that. Add to that, the fact that the ending of last season implied that she was turning a corner, that she was going to be more proactive about her fate, and maybe even a little more manipulative and empowered herself, and the fact that she’s victimized in this way really feels like a twist of the knife.

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    • Marshall says:

      Your comment gave me an interesting thought, Bob. Hollywood thinks that every single act of violence against women has to be sexual in nature. It seems like every time Sansa turns around, she’s faced with the R word. As if there aren’t other injustices women faced like verbal harassment, physical violence, no inheritance rights, demeaning, thankless work. Rape is a real problem for women but it’s not the only problem for women.

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