The NY Times covers the latest "news" from the entertainment world:
For ‘Game of Thrones,’ Rising Unease Over Rape’s Recurring Role
From its very beginnings, “Game of Thrones” has been riddled with sexual brutality. The franchise, which started as a series of fantasy novels by George R. R.Martin about a bleak, feudal world, has at various times included a warrior king who claims his child bride on their wedding night, and the gang rape of a young woman by “half a hundred shouting men behind a tanner’s shop.”
These scenes and others have raised concerns, but this discussion was confined to readers and critics of fantasy fiction.
Or, as a brother-in-law said, there is a lot to like about the book series if you can ignore the author being a sex-obsessed perv. Of course, in Hollywood that is a feature rather than a bug, but now the series is so popular that a bit of a backlash is brewing:
Now the debate about the series’s sexual violence has spilled into the mainstream and grown vehement, fueled by the explosive growth of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” series. In its fourth season, the show, which airs on Sunday nights, averages more than 14 million viewers and has become its cable network’s most watched series since “The Sopranos.”
In the latest episode, women held captive in a wintry shelter are sexually brutalized. In the deeply controversial episode that preceded it, a scheming noblewoman in an incestuous relationship with her brother is forced to have sex with him, despite her cries of no.
Rape is often presented in television plotlines, where it has far-reaching and lasting consequences for the affected characters. But critics of “Game of Thrones” fear that rape has become so pervasive in the drama that it is almost background noise: a routine and unshocking occurrence.
That obviously doesn't jibe with the current push to root out "rape culture".
George R-Squared Martin was available by email for comment:
In response to email questions, Mr. Martin wrote that as an artist, he had an obligation to tell the truth about history and about human nature.
“Rape and sexual violence have been a part of every war ever fought, from the ancient Sumerians to our present day,” said Mr. Martin, 65, who lives in Santa Fe, N.M.
“To omit them from a narrative centered on war and power would have been fundamentally false and dishonest,” he continued, “and would have undermined one of the themes of the books: that the true horrors of human history derive not from orcs and Dark Lords, but from ourselves.”
Humans have a worse history than orcs and Dark Lords? Sure, on this planet! But he can only say this because orcs and the Dark Lord are (spoiler alert!) FICTIONAL! And do let me add, if Mr. Martin is (unexpectedly) taking a veiled shot at Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings, well, he can pack his dragons and his rapists and sail back to Westeros. Tolkien packed the best and worst of human qualities in various non-humans in order to emphasize his themes. Sort of like the dragon and the White Walkers of Game of Thrones, if the author ever gets around to explaining whither TF the various plotlines are going. Hmm, maybe Martin's point is that humans built a seven hundred foot wall of ice to keep the White Walkers out, but accidentally kept the more fearsome enemy, themselves, in. I can hardly wait...
And speaking of waiting, yes, I have read all five of the very long books, a project which I undertook against my better judgment. As a very casual fantasy fan my impression is that every author has two goals: bang out a swords and sorcery epic eclipsing Lord of the Rings, and create a franchise assuring lifetime employment and a healthy bequest to the heirs. This goal is pursued by employing the trick popularized by Scheherazade, spinning a yarn that never ends, but finally comes to a halt with the author's death, after which the estate organizes his notes and bangs out a wrap-it-up book or two (I say this as a regretful reader of Unfinished Tales).
At this point we have been given five Game of Thrones books; Mr. Martin has said this will be a seven book series unless he changes his mind but I see through that as well - what was meant to be Book Four became a two-thousand page sprawl that was eventually published as books Four and Five, and instead of narrowing the scope new characters and plotlines were introduced. What are now conceived as books Six and Seven will eventually be published as books Six through Ten, if we all live that long, and Alzheimer's doesnt overtake us. For myself, I was paging through the books recently and remember so little of what is going on that reading Boox Six will be a waste of time.
All of that said, the HBO production seems to be fabulous. I am not actually watching it, but this scene of Arya and The Hound is a YouTube classic of the "Make My Day" genre. The Hound is a fearsome but disaffected fighter for the King; Arya is a deeply wronged, deeply vengeful, tomboy of the rebellious Stark family who may have value as a bride or as ransom. The Hound is holding her prisoner to collect a ransom, but adventures await...
I DEPLORE THE LACK OF DEPLORING: This crowd reaction to the above scene at a bar in socialist Burlington is not as PC as some might have hoped.