Weighing in On Game of Thrones, Moral Outrage on the Web and ‘Pro Rape Culture’

Game of Thrones Rape SceneHBO Press
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So, the web is in an uproar about Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones, specifically the raping of Cersei by her Brother Jaime Lannister. Some are angry that it veered away from the storyline in the book, and many going so far as saying that is was “pro rape,” a term that is flung around with great abandon and little actual analysis or thought. I watched the episode, hell, I recapped the episode, and at no point did I think, “Wow, they are totally saying that rape is okay!” Rape portrayed in any manner makes us feel icky, it’s Supposed to make you feel icky inside. If it doesn’t, then yes, there may be something wrong with you. The Game of Thrones rape scene was not promoting rape as an okay thing to do. There was no Barry White playing in the background, there was no mutual post coital bliss instilling the belief that she wanted it all along.

Game of Thrones rape scene

HBO Press

The inclusion of this scene being for shock value alone is yet to be determined, but they definitely shocked (though it’s funny to me that pushing a small child out a window didn’t shock people, nor did the slicing open of a slew of innocent people’s throats at The Red Wedding incite a fervor on the internet). We can look to what world creator George R.R. Martin had to say on his LiveJournal about the scene for his insight of the Game of Thrones rape scene:

Since a lot of people have been emailing me about this, however, I will reply… but please, take any further discussion of the show to one of the myriad on-line forums devoted to that. I do not want long detailed dissections and debates about the TV series here on my blog.

As for your question… I think the “butterfly effect” that I have spoken of so often was at work here. In the novels, Jaime is not present at Joffrey’s death, and indeed, Cersei has been fearful that he is dead himself, that she has lost both the son and the father/ lover/ brother. And then suddenly Jaime is there before her. Maimed and changed, but Jaime nonetheless. Though the time and place is wildly inappropriate and Cersei is fearful of discovery, she is as hungry for him as he is for her.

The whole dynamic is different in the show, where Jaime has been back for weeks at the least, maybe longer, and he and Cersei have been in each other’s company on numerous occasions, often quarreling. The setting is the same, but neither character is in the same place as in the books, which may be why Dan & David played the sept out differently. But that’s just my surmise; we never discussed this scene, to the best of my recollection.

Also, I was writing the scene from Jaime’s POV, so the reader is inside his head, hearing his thoughts. On the TV show, the camera is necessarily external. You don’t know what anyone is thinking or feeling, just what they are saying and doing.

If the show had retained some of Cersei’s dialogue from the books, it might have left a somewhat different impression — but that dialogue was very much shaped by the circumstances of the books, delivered by a woman who is seeing her lover again for the first time after a long while apart during which she feared he was dead. I am not sure it would have worked with the new timeline.

That’s really all I can say on this issue. The scene was always intended to be disturbing… but I do regret if it has disturbed people for the wrong reasons.

i.e. that was my meaning, hands washed. (At least that’s what I got from it).

The TV writers veered from the book, in which Cersei first says no, then consents…no.. yes..no…well, okay, let’s get it on. The intent to shock you and make you feel disturbed because Brother and Sister are getting down in a church in front of the casket of their dead son. Not because Cersei said no first? Then consented because, well, he’s been gone and damn, isn’t my Brother fine! Damned this casket with our incestuous love child getting in the way!

Game of Thrones rape scene

HBO Press

If we look at the Game of Thrones rape scene in the show objectively, and the character of Cersei herself, what could they have been really trying to convey? Maybe, just maybe, they were showing just how helpless Cersei really is, in spite of all of her manipulating and conniving? Or that characters, like people, are far more complex than we care to admit? Were they mirroring an era when woman, like Cersei herself laments, had no real power? This scene would certainly drive all those notions home. If that is the case, is it really for gratuitous shock value? I don’t think so. Cersei being raped as a point of plot to illustrate the truth of her situation, regardless of all her posturing, I don’t think is any more for shock value than any of the other shocking things in the show.

What I get peeved at is when people jump on bandwagons, like the “pro rape culture” thing, and don’t actually look at things objectively. In the eras of Kings and Queens, there was little regard for women’s consent. Showing someone raped isn’t pro rape, any more than showing slavery in Django Unchained was pro slavery.  These things happened, acknowledging that something existed is not coming out as being for it. Pretending that they didn’t exist because they make us feel uncomfortable is what is really bad for society.

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About the Author

Ruby LeRouge
is a long time slave to the Silver Screen, and all around media junkie, with a strong interest in the study and archival of classic cinema reels, scripts, press releases and props. A professional artist, dabbling in prop fabrication, costuming, and practical effects makeup in her spare time. She credits much of her artistic inspiration to her life long love of movies, and holds a special adoration for stop motion animation, film noir, and classic B movies. She writes a movie editorial blog called Sleepless Cinema, sharing her candid view on all media, new and old. Insomniac and cinephile, coffee swiller and media collector, has silver screen scream queen dreams, and she lives her life in technicolor. "While the world sleeps, I watch". - Ruby LeRouge
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