Game of Thrones Has a Rape Problem

Jaime Lannister's uncomfortable scene
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 21, 2014 1:50 PM CDT
Game of Thrones Has a Rape Problem
Khal Drogo didn't rape his bride in the books, but he did in the show.   (AP Photo/HBO, Helen Sloan)

How did Game of Thrones top last week's [SPOILER ALERT] death of King Joffrey? By having his dad rape his mom next to his corpse. But while that first shocker drew cheers, this one is drawing fire. Here's what people are saying:

  • In the book version, Cersei Lannister resists her brother Jaime's advances at first, but soon shifts to egging him on in almost porn-worthy fashion: "Hurry, quickly, quickly, now, do it now, do me now. Jaime Jaime Jaime. … Yes, my brother, sweet brother, yes, like that, yes, I have you, you're home now."
  • This is the second time the show has inserted a rape that wasn't in the books, making it "hard to shake the idea that Game of Thrones, the show, doesn't see a problem with pushing a scene from complicated, consensual sex to outright rape," writes Sonia Saraiya at the A.V. Club. Since it's hard to see what statement is being made here, it looks like the show is "falling into the same trap that so much television does—exploitation for shock value. And, in particular, the exploitation of women's bodies."
  • "I couldn't help wonder if it was yet another instance of rape-as-a-plot-device," writes Hayley Krischer at Salon. The writers appear to be using the scene to sever the characters' relationship forever, but "I can’t help but wonder if there could have been another way Jaime could crush Cersei, emotionally and physically, without having to overpower her sexually with his massive Kingsguard armor."
  • It may just be a badly shot scene; the episode's director, Alex Graves, tells Alan Sepinwall at HitFix that the sex "becomes consensual by the end, because anything for them ultimately results in a turn-on."
  • Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays Jaime, echoes that sentiment. "I think that, for some people, it’s just going to look like rape. The intention is that it’s not just that," he tells the Daily Beast. "It’s about two people who’ve had this connection for so many years, and much of it is physical .... It’s him trying to force her back and make him whole again."
  • If that's the intention, the show "completely failed," writes Amanda Marcotte at Slate. "It's as straightforward a rape scene as you'll get on TV. … Graves' inability to see what he's put out there compromises Jaime's character, and, frankly, makes a joke of a very serious, very violent act."
  • Margaret Lyons agrees. Her headline on Vulture: "Yes, Of Course That Was Rape on Last Night’s Game of Thrones." And anyway, "the [director's] idea that a rape could be 'consensual by the end' is grotesque and dangerous."
  • "For the first time, I'm concerned that Game of Thrones has made a mistake it can't take back—and one that sets a troubling precedent for the show's future," writes Scott Meslow for The Week.
(More Game of Thrones stories.)

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