Lo wanted to pen a smart, thoughtful piece on all the serious, misogynistic, pro-rapey problems with “Game of Thrones” that have made it unwatchable for her, but after reading Bethany Jones’ piece ‘Game of Thrones,’ Sex and HBO: Where Did It Go Wrong For TV’s Sexual Pioneers? over at Indewire’s “/bent” blog last week, there was no point: Jones nails it. At three pages, it’s a tome of an internet article, but it’s so worth it! The piece is funny, erudite, well-researched, and spot on. It should be required reading for any GOT fan.
Here’s one small taste, in which she uses one of our favorite philosophical party tricks to expose just how fucked-up the “sex” scenes in Game of Rapes, er, Thrones are:
So let’s imagine another scenario. Let’s imagine that in the background of most episodes of “Game of Thrones” we saw dark-skinned semi-naked people casually or brutally humiliated because of their race: lynchings, gratuitous beatings, n-words thrown about, all the horrible theatre of race-hate, say. Imagine that the incidental exposition scenes of “Game of Thrones” didn’t take place in a brothel but in a slave market, for no real reason. And in a slave market where the slaves showed signs of contentment and arousal at the point of sale. Imagine that in the background of incidental scenes of “Game of Thrones” we saw dark-skinned people being tarred and feathered, or whipped, or branded, just incidentally. And imagine that the camera dwelt lingeringly on the small physical details of these acts, just for the hell of it. And then, as a finishing touch, imagine that all of this was done spuriously, as a departure from the source material and for no meaningful narrative gain, but just to spice up the action, to show some pecs and tits, to give an impression of grittiness, to get some people off. Imagine a non-white person was subjected to the most violent instance of racial hatred, and then appeared to forget about it in the following episode. Imagine if having resisted being beaten, and imagine whilst saying ‘no, no’ to their abuser, they shifted their body in an ambiguous way, a way that could have been interpreted as inviting further punishment but could also have been seen as self-protection. Imagine if this meant we were told it was no longer an instance of racial hatred but a mutually consenting act. Imagine we were asked to forget all we know about the historical and contemporary power dynamics that structure and inform racial violence.
Would you think that was ok, HBO? And how many people would think that was ok?
If you read only this, then you are doing yourself a disservice: you’ll miss the exact moment Jones declares that HBO jumped the sex shark, how ill-informed about and indifferent to rape the director of one now-infamous GOT rape scene (pictured above) is, and how a 1976 BBC production featuring a young, mad, sadistic king who trusses up a naked woman and kills her (sound familiar?) is less sexist than this “modern” HBO show. This is the stuff brilliant PhD dissertations are made of — except, lucky for us, Jones gets to use phrases like “frathouse flatulent ether” here. Sanity is coming!