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The Pointless Outrage at Game of Thrones Rape Scene

I’ve just about had it with the internet. I used to think, wow it’s so great that there are so many young strong voices protesting things that matter. I used to think that the youth’s collective outrage over things like sexual assault and racism was a good thing. But what it has turned into, what it is in danger of becoming is about as helpful to the collective well being of people overall that driving a hybrid SUV does for the economy. You see, this outrage at Stephen Colbert, for instance, or the worst of these – Lena Dunham – or now, Game of Thrones reminds me of the tragedy that online discourse has become. You see, none of it means anything. None of it changes anything. None of it helps anyone anywhere. These are examples of people who really have too much time on their hands because no one has yet tuned them into the real problems — the devastating station of many real life issues here on the planet earth. Every time one of these controversies, so-called, bubbles up I want to put my head through a plate glass window.

Is it really just another form of entertainment? Is it really just yet one more way to distract a democracy – a government for the people, by the people that we’ve absolutely lost control of? Are the 1% laughing at us as we angrily tap away on our computer screens about whether or not that scene was sexual assault or rape? Are they laughing at the long think pieces in online magazines that draw 1000 comments? Probably. If they can pull themselves away from counting their billions, sure.

The sad part is, the comments on one of those faux outrage articles can sometimes equal comments on whether Justin Beiber should be deported, whether Beyonce and JayZ “crossed the line” when they sexy-danced at the Grammys, whether Tori Spelling’s husband cheated on her, or whether Kate Upton should get a breast reduction. Yes, this is how much We the People give a shit about our shrinking democracy, our polluted world, worldwide poverty, slavery, exploitation of children, actual assault everywhere in every country in the world. Do we give a shit about anything anymore? No, we don’t have to because we have these outlets for our imaginary outrage at an imaginary work of art that once we condemn publicly we can walk away feeling as though we’ve done something good for society. Oh yeah? And what good was that exactly? Huffing and puffing about right and wrong where art is concerned?

Imagine a scene where Jaime had climbed off of Cersei because she said “it’s not right.” How would that have soothed the tortured souls of the many who claim that the show is advocating sexual assault? Oh, what’s that? It would make you feel good about what exactly? That the directors and producers of a television show align with your idea of political correctness? This, because presumably you are unable to actually use that giant brain you were born with that enables you to think for yourself?

I would posit the following to anyone who spent more than five minutes huffing and puffing about Game of Thrones (you do realize, of course, that controversy on television only equals publicity? You get that, right?) to put your energies somewhere that matters. For every angry tweet and think piece about the wrongness of that scene write an equally angry tweet about an issue that could actually, you know, inform people about something terrible that’s happening in our world right now. Here are a few ideas for you:

1. Those floating masses of plastic in the oceans of the world. What are they? Why does no one care that they are there? What could they possibly be doing to the ecosystems?
2. The fallout of the BP oil spill – just because CNN has its head up the ass of the missing plane (it’s gone, they’re dead, sorry but there is no story) to write about it but it is still killing dolphins as we speak. Fuckers at BP still refuse to pay for research. Does anyone care?
3. The ferry disaster in Korea. Any outrage tweets about that? Yeah? Didn’t think so.
4. Man charged in sexual assault of 12 year old girl in Claremont. Not sexy enough for you?
5. Chemical attacks in Syria, new charges – but hey, that’s not on HBO!

6. And finally, rich douchebag spared prison after raping his own daughter.

Things are bad in our country. Really bad. They are getting worse for our civilization and they sure as shit aren’t going to get any better if the internet decides Stephen Colbert is a racist or that Game of Thrones advocates rape. Do yourself a favor – every time you feel an outrage tweet bubbling up about something that doesn’t matter do a google search for an example of something really awful in the world. You don’t have to do much. It will take you thirty seconds. In the meantime, stop wasting YOUR time.

But if you must pin me down to actually discussing something that really doesn’t matter in the least bit – I will tell you this about that scene. It could be rape and still be allowed on that show. It makes a comment ON RAPE without condoning it. I did not see it that way. I saw it as a struggle between two people who have a very wrong but very irresistible sexual connection. It was no worse than much of what is depicted on Game of Thrones. It is not meant to be politically correct or depict an ideal world. It is meant to depict a mostly lawless world where women only have power if they can take it for themselves and a few of them actually are. But don’t let me stop you from condemning the one show on TV that actually hands that power over to the females on the show because that would stop from you getting on your soapbox and making broad proclamations that ultimately do no more than make you feel as though you’ve done good work for the way by standing up for what’s right. Here’s a tip: you really didn’t. It is imaginary outrage aimed at an imaginary world. That’s all.

Yes, I know, the books – yes, it was shocking – yes, people love Jaime – I get it. Doesn’t change a thing. Tomorrow there will be something equally outrageous to take its place, probably involving Justin Beiber.

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16 Comments

  1. April 22, 2014

    Although I don’t agree with your characterization of things in America being “really bad,” I’d like to thank you for writing this article. The internet seems to have become nothing more than a mechanism for irrational venting for a lot of people. Rather than make actual changes in their lives, they take to digital communication to loose their frustrations about the world. You’ve nailed exactly why it’s unhealthy for them (and bothersome for me).

    I also don’t understand why people like Jaime Lannister. I probably never will.

    Reply
  2. Mel
    April 22, 2014

    Lol like starting a website about all important movie awards so the horrible travesty of Martin Scorsese not having an Oscar can be rectified? Don’t throw stone you run an entertainment website.

    Reply
  3. Trent
    April 22, 2014

    Mel:
    An entertainment website that you are reading. Don’t throw stones, they may get thrown back at you.

    Reply
  4. lionel Hutz
    April 22, 2014

    Agreed with first comment regarding the state of the country. No matter how bad we believe things are now, you have to understand that they are better than before. Look at how domestic violence is treated. Thirty years ago it was seen as a “family issue” and only the most extreme cases were prosecuted. Now law enforcement is effectively required (based on fear of litigation) to arrest if even the slightest accusation of physical abuse is made.

    Nevertheless I agree with the mainpoint of the argument that what occurs on a make believe fantasy show shouldn’t summon the same outrage as the true horrors that occur locally, nationally, and globally. If people want to make a point of raising awareness regarding sexual assault in our society they should comment about their distress over the character’s conduct, but they shouldn’t attack the show writers for including it in the show.

    And by the way, this is the same character that threw a boy off a tower to cover up his inter-family sexual relationship. If your shocked by this latest incident, you probably need to recalibrate your judge of character.

    Reply
  5. Ivana
    April 22, 2014

    This article is so right, we should really focus on important real life issues such as the state of human rights, environmental disasters, chemical attacks, wars, accidents, crimes, instead of such trivial issues as fiction and entertainment. We should follow the example of the website this article was posted on, which is called…. AwardsDailyTV?

    Oh, wait…

    Reply
  6. Kevin Klawitter
    April 22, 2014

    Mel & Ivana:

    You’ve proven quite adept at ad hominem attacks. Now why don’t you actually formulate an argument IN FAVOR of the outrage? If you can’t, your words are even more empty.

    Reply
  7. April 22, 2014

    Have you ever realized how much better you think you are than the rest of us?

    I was outraged by the rape scene in Game of Thrones because it corrupted a character who was supposed to be on a redemption arc. I couldn’t believe that they chose to do that and I thought it said something about the producers themselves. They didn’t seem to think this sudden change of heart about rape was going to make him undesirable. That’s kinda scary about those real people and then they kinda messed up a perfectly good storyline about fake people.

    But isn’t it entirely possible that people can be outraged on a Sunday by a scene in a television show and be just as outraged come Monday morning about the shit going on in the world? There are a lot of people who go online to get away from real world problems. They want to talk about fun things and joke around and maybe get into arguments over it occasionally. So what? That doesn’t say anything about what they’re doing in real life. Maybe while they’ve got one window open talking about the Purple Wedding, they’ve got another one open where they’re reading all about the ferry disaster. Maybe they spend all week as social workers dealing with victims of child abuse and pedophilia and just want to take some time off in Westeros to get out of their heads.

    The fact is, you don’t know. But you’re always judging people because they’re not thinking what you think they should be thinking. But how the hell can you begin to know what they’re really thinking about? You don’t. Stop being so high and mighty.

    Reply
  8. Joshua S.
    April 22, 2014

    You are correct; it is only entertainment and I doubt that anything can be done about it. But I also doubt that the 30 minutes of my day, which I have devoted to voicing my discontent and reading blogs about the story, could have been use to solve the problems you name.

    you seem to assume that people who care enough to complain about the depiction of rape in our media only care about celebrity BS. It is not an either/or dichotomy. I write my congressperson regularly, attend protests, and give to refugees through UNHCR. In addition to this, I get up-set enough to bitch about it on the internet when complex fictional characters are unnecessarily depicted as unrepentant rapists.

    It is irritated that the screenwriters passed-up morally ambiguous sex scenes/passages for the shock value of overt rape. Khal Drogo’s consensual sex with a 14 year-old orphan and Jamie’s forceful albeit consensual sex with his sister at his son/nephew’s funeral are shocking (as is) and riddled with moral hazard. ‘Why are the screenwriters forgoing complex situation for one-dimensional and morally simple rape’ is a question worth asking.

    Reply
  9. Eoin Daly
    April 23, 2014

    As a book reader it was always rape and even in martins writing who never was what Cersei wanted. For me people should be talking about how this act happened near the corpse of their dead son. The GOT books portray their characters as ones who both can be redeemed but also can be just horrible and Jamie is a main example is that where he goes from pushing a kid out a window to saving Brienne last season to now raping his sister. His arc is not over and he will experince much more grey moments as he is a grey character like everyone on the show. I believe this is such a talk issue because people who love this fantasy show have never expected something this horrific to really happen and in an emetic an culture which goes through such horrible crimes is nature it is so interesting that a show like Game of Thrones can really effect the zeitgeist.

    Reply
  10. LS
    April 25, 2014

    Antoinette:
    “I was outraged by the rape scene in Game of Thrones because it corrupted a character who was supposed to be on a redemption arc.”

    And that is STILL not a valid reason for the outrage. The show has license to do whatever they want with the characters, I haven’t read the books, but they are not obliged to redeem him just because you want it. Nor do they have to present the character as so morally black and white, bad people can do good things and go back to doing bad things, this is the reality in the world of GOT.

    “They didn’t seem to think this sudden change of heart about rape was going to make him undesirable.”
    And what makes you have that impression? There was only that one scene which his acts where clearly portrayed in a bad light, he raped his sister in front of his dead son and going of that you think he is desirable? Not to mention, should anyone be finding him remotely desirable after the attempted murder of a 10 year old, how is that acceptable?

    “That doesn’t say anything about what they’re doing in real life.”
    It’s certainly an indicator when the passion and vitriol over this are beyond unnecessary and would be better spent elsewhere.

    Reply
  11. April 25, 2014

    LS, thank you for telling me when I can and cannot be outraged. Once again, that’s not rapey at all.

    This character last season SEEMED to be changing from the guy who throws kids out of windows because of his relationship with Brienne when he saved her from rape because it seemed for his character that rape was really horrible. Now this season, it’s no biggie. Makes all kinds of sense. Wonderful.

    Keep defending rape if it makes you feel better. I’ll allow you your opinions. I’m nice like that.

    Reply
  12. Roger D
    April 25, 2014

    “thank you for telling me when I can and cannot be outraged. Once again, that’s not rapey at all.”

    Actually that’s not rapey, so maybe you don’t understand the concept as well as you think.

    That scene showed the complexity of the characters, their relationship, and the world they live in. You, and many others, are entitled not to like it, but it doesn’t mean your assessment about what happened, what it means going forward for the characters, or what it means about the producers is accurate.

    Reply
  13. Adam
    June 16, 2014

    LS – “Not to mention, should anyone be finding him remotely desirable after the attempted murder of a 10 year old, how is that acceptable?”

    In regards to this question, when Jaime pushed out of that tower window, he did so in order not just kill the boy, but to save the lives of the woman he loves and that of his children(Joffrey, Tommen & Myrcella). Is it a terrible act? Absolutely, no argument there. However, he felt he was in a position where if the entire country of Westeros had concrete proof, in this case the actual visual evidence of Jaime and Cersei having sex, then they would lose the Lannister claim to the Iron Throne and they would probably be executed in the name of incest. the country would be thrown into even more disarray than it was at that moment. His children and Cersei would never stand a chance, so in that moment he chose to save the people he loves.

    Also, you’re right. The showrunners have every right to make changes from the page to screen. But, how telling is it that a clear cut consensual sex scene was changed to a clear cut rape scene? What purpose, narratively speaking, did it serve aside from shock value? Perhaps, if the rape was addressed in subsequent episodes and evolved into its own storylines, then it could have some significance toiwards the story. As it played out, however, the plot moved forward as if it never happened.

    Reply
  14. Adam
    June 16, 2014

    And if the story moves forward in the same manner if a character is raped or not raped then what is the point? Why fuck up a character’s brilliant characterization in this manner? How will he come back from rape? You don’t, plain and simple. It’s a severe disservice to unnecessarily alter the story in this manner. That they even thought this would even be a good idea shows their misunderstanding of the entire Game of Thrones story.

    Reply

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