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Why I’m Still Watching Game of Throne” Even With All The Rape

Sansa Stark

Last night I managed to finally catch up on Game of Thrones. I was particularly curious about the last few episodes because the internet was collectively freaking out about a rape scene. Since I have only read the first book, I avoided reading about this episode. I wanted to see the story, not have it spoiled. Last night, I watched it and I do not understand why everyone is so upset. [Spoilers]

Let’s be clear. I am in no way happy to see a person raped in a work of fiction. Whether it’s a book, movie, comic, or television show, it’s uncomfortable to experience no matter how it fits into the story. But the crux of this, for me, is that it is a story that takes place in a world that is horribly abusive and harsh, but also not real.

This is not the first season of Game of Thrones. This is not the show’s first rape. This is not the first time a human has been treated horrendously and been physically, emotionally, or sexually assaulted. The world which George R.R. Martin created has always been as it is in the episode where Sansa is raped.

Sansa

She’s not a real person. She is a fictional character on a fictional show that takes place in a fictional world. This is Martin’s fictional world adapted for television. There is no right or wrong here. It is a work of fiction created to entertain and for many it does exactly that whether in written or televised form. Debating if it is good for the story or bad for the story is one thing, but condemning it for having a rape scene doesn’t make sense to me.

I’m utterly at a loss as to why this scene, this one act of violence among many, has people reacting as though the show has suddenly gone off the rails. For crying out loud, they cut off Theon’s penis in a previous episode. The tone of this series and the nature of this world is abundantly clear. Sexual violence is the norm in this world.

Theon

There are hundreds of television shows out there and I only watch a small number of them because I don’t like every show. I’m not interested in variety shows or reality shows. I’m not interested in true crime because violence couched in reality bothers me. I am interested in Game of Thrones because I find that fictional world, as cruel as it is, fascinating.

Those bothered by the excessive sexual violence should absolutely not watch Game of Thrones. Not every story is for every person. There are thousands of books out there because we are all so different in our likes and dislikes. If Game of Thrones is on your dislike list because of the rape and violence that happens in every episode, that’s just fine and I understand. The outrage and shock at this point in the series as though it’s suddenly gone too far, that I don’t understand at all.

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5 Responses to “Why I’m Still Watching Game of Throne” Even With All The Rape”

  1. Tom Sias says:

    I think the internet outrage has less to do with the actual violence (which we've come to expect from GoT, as you say) and more to do with the mechanics of the storytelling.

    This scene was unnecessary from either a storytelling or character development perspective. Instead, this scene ignores the character growth and strength that Sansa has developed through the current story arch and instead makes her a plot element in Theon's story. From a writing perspective, she is victimized (again) not to develop her character (she's been a victim plenty) not to show the nature of the world (we know it's violent) and not to show that Ramsey is a monster (that's ABUNDANTLY clear) but instead to advance Theon's character. If there's any doubt that this was intentional, it's made pretty clear by the fact that the camera pans away from her (despite the fact that we know the showrunners are not shy about showing this kind of violence in-frame) to show Theon's reaction to Sansa's rape.

  2. Nicole says:

    Was it unnecessary? Maybe. Or maybe they chose it to show both how far Theon as fallen and the desperate situation which Sansa is now in. I don't disagree that there were other ways to show both of these things. They could have written plenty of other scenes. That scenes may have been better or worse. I do think what they chose to film was perfectly in context with the show and what happens to everyone. It wa unpleasant and I hated seeing it happen, but it was effective.

  3. Tom Sias says:

    That's a fair point, and I don't necessarily disagree. I've spent a bit of time trying to wrap my mind around the internet outrage surrounding that episode and I only think I partially understand it. The Mary Sue did a good job explaining it, I think, in the article where they announced they would no longer be supporting the show:

    http://www.themarysue.com/we-will-no-longer-be-promoting-hbos-game-of-thrones/

    For my part, I'll still be watching, and I'll still buy the season on Blu-Ray and binge the whole thing while drinking wine and eating various meats and cheeses (as is the tradition in my house.)

    Enjoyed reading your thoughts, as always, TFG.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I do not mind watching violence. What I do mind is watching a rape scene take place in an adaptation of a story where that rape scene never happened. Sansa was never raped and had never even met Ramsey let alone married him.

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