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'Game of Thrones,' Sex and HBO: Where Did It Go Wrong For TV's Sexual Pioneers?

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by Bethany Jones
June 2, 2014 6:51 PM
64 Comments
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Oh, Game of Thrones. Could it be we've gone a few weeks without a rape? Or should I say, rapes. How innocent it looks now, the controversial Jaime-Cersei scene, with its single demure assault of a grieving woman by her brother beside the poisoned corpse of their incestuously-begotten son. The next episode gifted us with a whole flotilla of angry cocks as - in another departure from George R.R. Martin's source books - the Night Watch assaulted en masse the already serially abused daughter-wives of Craster. It made for grim viewing. Watch the scene for long enough and the Cersei-Jaime-corpse caper takes on the fond, sepia edges of an Edwardian picnic. Ah, for the rapes of yesteryear.

If you're one of the large and increasingly vocal number of people who are disturbed by the treatment of sex and violence on "Game of Thrones", then this scene probably provoked a familiar feeling of angry exhaustion. This reaction can be difficult to manage, because the sadness and weariness means you don't have much energy left for the anger. And – especially as a person who doesn't generally have a problem with sex and violence – you don't know where to direct the anger. Is it at George R.R. Martin, the author of the novels on which the show is based? Or should it be at the show's co-creators, David Benioff and D. B. Weiss? Maybe the problem lies with the directors of offending episodes, such as Alex Graves, who gave us the Jaime-Cersei rape scene? Or does the buck stop ultimately with HBO, who commissions this series, and puts it out into the world?

On this last point, here we have Michael Lombardo, president for programming at HBO, responding to the recent controversy in an email to The New York Times, and defending the show, arguing "the choices our creative teams make are based on the motivations and sensibilities that they believe define their characters. We fully support the vision and artistry of Dan and David's exceptional work and we feel this work speaks for itself."

To which we might reply: yes, the work speaks for itself, but it also speaks for you, HBO. You're a network, a conduit. You are what you choose to present. And this statement offers a blanket endorsement while also spectacularly passing the buck.

Then there's this from Neil Marshall, who directed the second season episode "Blackwater" of "Game of Thrones", and has described the 'surreal' experience of being urged by an unnamed executive producer to add more full-frontal nude shots to scenes during filming. The producer's reasoning? He's not on the 'drama side' of things; he represents the 'perv side of the audience'.

And this got me thinking about HBO's role in all of this. A lot of the anger so far has understandably been directed at the show's writers and directors. And it's true that they're the ones on the ground, making the creative choices. But HBO influences these choices. Drastic departures from agreed-upon limits must be theirs to check, if they want to. But not only does the ickiness of "Game of Thrones" only increase over time, but in the wake of the recent controversy – about something as serious as rape, no less – they've come out with their explicit support.


Et tu, HBO?

So why does this matter, HBO?  It matters, at least to me, because of what you've done for TV, how you helped messianically to transform the medium from Kraft cheese slices to Roquefort.

There was so much to be proud of. It's not the thing to say it now, but "Sex and the City" was a benchmark. It set so many new rules for television and changed the scene so completely that it's hard to see now, looking back at it, what was so revolutionary. Before the last few seasons (and then the egregious movies) tipped it over into sentimentality, product placement, and the sexual status quo, "Sex and the City" put a lot of good stuff in place for television in terms of whip-smart satire, comedy, cine-worthy production values, and depictions of sex (especially women having sex) that brimmed with wit and realism and a refreshing lack of prudery. The tits had a purpose.

And if Sex and the City was your mask of comedy, then The Sopranos was your Mask of Tragedy. And boy, did you give it to us. Everything that tragedy was, everything that film and literature was, you showed us that TV could deliver too. Tony Soprano: the flawed, neurotic, basic, brilliant, ruthless, sentimental bully-boy, the exemplar and antithesis of the American Dream. Sure, there were plenty of boobs in "The Sopranos", genuine and otherwise. There was plenty of sexposition. You could rarely get through an episode without the rote titillations of Bada Bing. But that seemed to be the point of the tits: they were meant to be rote, they were part of a wider exploration of a culture built around power and coercion, especially coercion through gender. The arses were a panorama. They revealed something.

Ditto 'The Wire', a show that made a Seurat of the join-the-dots police procedural. A show that could have gone crazy with the titties, but was sparing with the titties. The titties came out when there were Ukrainians being trafficked for sex, or when a police informant (and bona fide Interesting Character) who happened to be a bar dancer, or when characters were in a brothel for a narratively compelling reason. In 'The Wire', the characters had sex because grownups have sex. Occasional nakedness was a meaningful detail.

Other shows followed. "Deadwood" and "Carnivale". "Six Feet Under". A mixed bag, but all of them shows where explicitness and violence were for the most part approached in grownup ways, for grownup reasons. (Though honestly, looking back on it, "Deadwood" was sometimes pushing it.)

The Muses, somewhere up there, sipping their stiff drinks, shifting on their chaises longues, passing the remote, were pleased with TV. They were blessing the medium.

And that's why, with "Game of Thrones", there was a lot that your faithful audience was willing to overlook at the start. They took it on trust. The endless sexposition. The tittering frathouse atmosphere of so many bared boobies. The casual misogyny. In a world of casual misogyny it seemed, initially, like a knowing nod. Even the most infamous case of sexposition – the girl-on-girl sex scene in that constant brothel as Littlefinger narrates his history, pausing now and then to give the prostitutes instruction on what to do next, and how to do it – could be explained in sympathetic terms. Littlefinger, and by extension "Game of Thrones", was using the cliché of the girl-on-girl voyeuristic fantasy, bugbear of queer women everywhere, as an illustration of political manipulation. It was about connivance through performance, see? It was metaphor, not tits!

But we're in the fourth season now, and it's getting tiring.  As this season has progressed, it has gotten darker and rapier, and there's no sign that the darkness and rapiness has any point other than as splaff-bait and as a sort of spurious 'edge'-credential.  It's become impossible not to ask: what's with all the sadistic machismo, HBO? Has "Game of Thrones" jumped the shark? Or has it jumped so high into its own frathouse flatulent ether that even that famous shark is lost from view, a sort of distant pin-glint in the water?

The logical answer is of course, no. The things that were always good about "Game of Thrones" are still good – and in fact the show has recently upped its game in terms of tighter episode focus on compelling storylines. And certain central performances, like Peter Dinklage’s, continue to deepen and delight. But what was rank in the show has only grown ranker. And you can only take in the whiff for so long before you start to wonder: is this an isolated problem with "Game of Thrones", or does it signal something about HBO's approach more generally?

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64 Comments

  • Pat | August 22, 2014 4:13 PMReply

    Depicting an act and condoning an act aren't the same thing. Those scenes are supposed to unsettle you. It's a show about brutality and savagery. But the male characters should be progressive?

  • Pat | August 22, 2014 4:13 PMReply

    Depicting an act and condoning an act aren't the same thing. Those scenes are supposed to unsettle you. It's a show about brutality and savagery. But the male characters should be progressive?

  • David | August 22, 2014 1:41 PMReply

    Because there wasn't any rape in history--I realize this is a fictional show but let's not pretend they would have the same mores as 21st USA.
    IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT-CHANGE THE CHANNEL
    Calling for censorship in art? How very un-liberal of you

  • Silmaril | August 11, 2014 9:08 AMReply

    Thank you! I agree completely. What could have been an epic series has been nothing more than perverse delight in torturing the viewers to take part in the creator's/writer's/HBO's twisted sense of entertainment. They remind me of mean little boys who take delight in pulling the wings off flies; and expect us to think that's just fine. A good story can be told without this rot.

  • Tom | July 15, 2014 4:27 AMReply

    Who bloody cares!!!! It's a great show and I don't mind of the nudity and sex scenes. If you don't like the show shut up about it and change the freaking channel.

  • Tom's Imaginary Girlfriend | August 12, 2014 1:28 AM

    I am guessing your single? Rape isn't sex Tom

  • Charles | July 13, 2014 1:28 AMReply

    I love Game of Thrones, and in fact felt that the final two episodes of Season 4 were the strongest back-to-back showing in the series' history. But the show has gone so eye-rollingly overboard with the pointless female nudity and sexual violence that any pretense to 'realism' is long gone. This is also the case with the repeat murders of heroic and likeable figures, most notably the gruesome demise of Oberyn Martell, which just felt like shock value and the waste of a good character.

    I worry that GoT is in danger of a downward spiral into self-parody, which certain scenes this season already felt like. It doesn't bode well that the books have been criticized for progressively seamier content and more extreme sexualized violence at the same time as the narrative has stalled out. Hopefully the show corrects course and the garbage doesn't overwhelm the strengths. Tellingly, the last two episodes had no tits or ass in them, as the story simply didn't have the time, and the show didn't seem to suffer at all. Hmmm.

  • Barbapappa | July 12, 2014 6:18 AMReply

    Wow.
    For a website where readers pretend to be pop culture buffs or something, the comments here are so dimwitted that it just leaves me speechless.
    When was the last time you looked into film analyses 101?
    A scene is not mainly analyzed in terms of the plot but camera, lighting, editing etc.
    If you can't even tell that the reason why GoT is showing rape-porn and snuff-porn instead of an interesting analyses of "ye harsh middle ages" is in the way the camera, editing etc is directed, you really don't belong in a comments section of a film critic site.
    If you enjoy watching (or filming) rape-porn and snuff-porn, own it. Just don't whine about how this is all about historical accuracy or "the noble freedom of the artist".

  • Zed | June 10, 2014 1:39 PMReply

    It amazes me how many people say it's okay to show a lot of the rape scenes in GoT because "that's how it was back then." Here's a news flash: this is FICTION. Someone wrote it, and then someone else adapted it to television. Yes, some aspects of GoT reflect things that went on in ancient times: incest, beheadings, rape, etc. You know what else goes on, even today? Child molestation and rape. Are you going to show those things too for the sake of shock value? It's not the depicting rape that's the problem, it's how it's depicted. GoT was a good show, and it's gone too far.

  • Mindset | June 9, 2014 4:22 PMReply

    Otherwise a fairly good article, but Sansa will *not* be raped this season. That Telegraph article is an out-of-context misunderstanding of a recent interview with Sophie Turner, in which she described the *attempted* rape scene in Season *2*. Original interview here, so you can see it for yourself: sophie-turner . com/gallery/displayimage.php?pid=4398&fullsize=1 . Please retract.

  • chris | June 9, 2014 4:53 AMReply

    The author's point is that the portrayal of sex on most HBO and cable drama period nowadays is completely one dimensional and unless you're a prude, which Bethany clearly isn't, isn't remotely challenging in the slightest.

    I'm no fan of GIRLS but I've found the 'how dare she take her clothes off' bashing Lena Dunham has gotten proves that point. Documenting the romantic and sex life of a female character who isn't conventionally attractive(the concept of SEX AND THE CITY as well as GIRLS ironically), by media standards, is actually a far more grownup example of why cable, and HBO in particular, was an attractive alternative to writers and viewers who didn't want to see the same old shit on regular tv or mainstream films.

    The soft core pornifying of female sexuality is no more adolescent than glut of superhero flicks that at times seemingly make up most major movies nowadays.

  • Sand | June 8, 2014 2:40 PMReply

    Game of thrones is of course garbage, but this text reaks of PC clichés.

  • Chris | June 7, 2014 4:27 PMReply

    I don't mind these things that they show in game of thrones. It's how things most likely where in those times. Murder, rape, incest, nudity, etc... Were all common in these days. People could get away with it. It happened. You have to take yourself out of the present time and get in a mind frame of how life was in these times. You can't choose to focus on the harsh nature of human sexuality and be ok with the murders, be headings, and constant gore. Life wasn't all rainbows and teddy bears when it came to sex. That's why they had whore houses everywhere. To keep rape down. It's was hard to be caught, convicted, and tried for these acts. Also common people where not educated and didn't know what to do in these situations. So if it's to much for you then don't watch. I applaud HBO for being real and not holding back. It's the problem with society. Instead of controlling what your kids watch or do, people want someone else to be responsible to make sure games, shows, and movies are produced in a manor that's "acceptable" for everyone. The truth is if it offends you don't watch. They are just tits. You have probley seen them and touched them if your watching this show. I would say seeing a mans head get squeezed like a grape should raise more questions that boobs and butts.

  • Kayla | June 14, 2014 2:24 AM

    It's a fantasy show about dragons, not an exercise in historical realness. And it's not just tits. In scenes where the books had no mention of rape at all, characters on the show are seen talking and carrying on while brutal, screaming-for-help rape happens in the background. We get it, this time period was brutal, blah blah blah. But if they can have giants, they can also take it easy on the gratuitous rape scenes that do nothing to further the plot in any way. Brutality has been established.

  • Mike | June 7, 2014 10:01 AMReply

    I do wonder whether a show where the same levels of sex was present BUT where the main positive characters were all LBG or T would have gotten such a response?

    I also wonder whether its being claimed that in the middle ages type era which the series is styled on albeit not actually set in DIDNT have such goings on and is therefore completely and totally befeft of even a snippet of accuracy?

    Many of the classics contain very graphic sexual content including rape and incest because all WERE occurences in those times but where those are concerned such things seem to magically slip under the radar because of being classed as classics

    But lets not forget that all art was merely contemporary in its day and I daresay many of our "filthy" classics were viewed with scorn when they were first unleashed on the world too

  • Sandee Sutphin | June 7, 2014 7:09 AMReply

    Gave up on the repulsive HBO years ago! Well writing, true dat article!!!

  • Jo | June 7, 2014 4:36 AMReply

    Thank you for the article! Expressed my personal experience of the shows perfectly.

  • dtvluke | June 6, 2014 8:04 PMReply

    The article for me shows two long running trends: American Puritanical thought that won't die off (the reason show runners put in sex scenes like the ones described is that it gets the Column inches/Views and repeat viewers whether fans or foes - you're oxygen for the fire!); and the death of true intellectual discourse at the hands of Post Modernist Cultural Theorists, who have taken their position as being Professional Underdogs, wrapped themselves in the mantle of Political correctness in order to adopt a position of Cultural superiority over anyone not viewing the world from their perspective. It's just a story, it's not a manual on how to live a full and proper life. More to the point, if it offends you don't watch it!

  • Ks | June 6, 2014 6:11 PMReply

    This is the article I've always wanted to write. Thank you for it; it is excellent.

  • William | June 6, 2014 5:06 PMReply

    The show has a a 9.8 score out of a possible 10. So how could so many people be tired of the sex and yet it beats the other shows that are on in the same time frame? It has the highest ratings of any show. This point of view is not reality. The truth is people like sex mixed in with violence. People who complain are hypocrites. All they have to do is turn it off if they do not want to watch it but that is not going happen. They set there eyes glued to the screen just hoping it even gets more erotic and then when it's over they jump on to the computer and talk about how awful it was. The whole time hoping that next weeks show will be even more erotic.

  • Steve Baker | June 6, 2014 3:51 PMReply

    If you don't like what's on the screen, change the channel or read a book. Do NOT tell me/us what we should & should not like. I'm not interested in your views. I'll decide for myself. Go join the Tea Bags, carry a long gun into a Starbucks and bitch about Liberals. Sounds like that would suit you better than writing drivel about your views about sex, rape, violence and whatever else you find disturbing for the next column. Nonsense. Drivel.

  • Dave | June 7, 2014 9:25 AM

    Or alternatively, it pointed out the ridiculousness of the article as the stupid whiny rant that it is. Game of Thrones is a brutal, harsh series of books and a brutal, harsh television show. It is a counterpoint to the cartoonish sex and violence movies often depict, which I am sure would be criticized by this writer as well. Many of us don't want to watch Sex and the City, apparently the gold standard for this writer. So, I won't watch her show, and she doesn't have to watch mine. Just don't complain that I'm watching it.

  • Donna Watkins | June 6, 2014 6:08 PM

    It is as if you read the column on opposite day and took the exact opposite message of what was intended and then broadcast your misunderstanding to the world, or what is basically the world- the Internet.

  • abluevoice | June 6, 2014 2:26 PMReply

    I love HBO and their programming. Enough with this censorship and prudish attitude toward sex and nudity. We get enough of that crap from the religious right and hypocritical Republicans Bethany. Grow up, and if you don't like it change the channel. Stop trying to impose your will and dislikes on the rest of us and HBO. Shame on you.

  • Sherry clark | June 6, 2014 7:34 PM

    Prude huh. HBO went wrong when it stripped all decency with nudity, indecency of all kind, sex put in the gutter. Sex was never intended for public entertainment. I don't have to turn it or read a book I wouldn't have it if it were free. SHAME that is laughable. You have no shame or morals.Ever heard of the road,on the fast track to hell. You better wake up. Grow up ? That is what you call being an adult. Wallowing with the pigs? Let me know when you decide to grow up. I'll help you all I can.

  • Donna | June 6, 2014 6:09 PM

    Is that really your take from the article? That the author hates sex on TV? Wow.

  • Crystal | June 6, 2014 2:14 PMReply

    Can we please stop making the argument that the rape scenes in GoT are a problem because they were more ambiguous and/or non existent in the book. It's totally weakens the argument. And it's not like the GoT books are some kind of feminist parable.

    The rape in the show is a problem because of the way it's handled. Not because it wasn't in the books. Frankly, as a non book reader, I don't give two f**ks what was or wasn't in the books.

  • Ivana | August 22, 2014 4:18 PM

    " Frankly, as a non book reader, I don't give two f**ks what was or wasn't in the books."
    "And it's not like the GoT books are some kind of feminist parable."

    And you know what the books are because you've never read them?

  • Kelsy | June 6, 2014 2:06 PMReply

    Very on point with your criticism regarding rape scenes. They should be focusing on the rapist, not making it an "enjoyable" porn type of thing. It's disgusting.

  • Michelle | June 6, 2014 2:01 PMReply

    I can't watch HBO's shows anymore. I'm sick of the objectification of women's bodies. Seriously, I gave up on Game of Thrones a long time ago. Then I started True Detective and it made me sick as well. Why is the camera ALWAYS pointing at the female body in sex scenes? It's like female audiences don't even exist to them.

  • david | June 6, 2014 1:21 PMReply

    I don't even watch GOT, but you made some very valid points, but a couple of quibbles, SITC realistic? Come on... do you always have sex with your bra on? And Gawd do I hate Girls, wit, complexity? you gotta be kidding.. I think we need a show called Guys where every guy is a total, self absorbed jerk and all their girlfriends act like complete idiots.. nobody would be saying oh what a great show.. it'd get cancelled within four weeks of the backlash...

  • Noelle | June 6, 2014 12:43 PMReply

    To me there is nothing more boring and distracting than an over abundance of sex thrown into a Good Story that quite frankly did not need it and detracts greatly. Too bad some of these idiot producers feel the need to submit more sex when not needed. More story content and less sex would make a much more compelling and interesting show all the way around.
    Thank you.

  • Jacob | June 6, 2014 12:05 PMReply

    It looks like a lot of the comments below are picking apart an argument that was never made. I could be wrong about this (since the article was a difficult read for me), but the author isn't saying that rape can never be shown in any show, ever. I think she is trying to point out that IF rape is going to happen, there needs to be a reason for it. There needs to be consequences, or aftermath. Cersei needs to react to it in other episodes. It must not be used as a "shock" factor as that only perpetuates the problems we currently face.

  • Deborah Pintonelli | June 6, 2014 9:28 AMReply

    Beautifully, exhaustively, put. Plus, love Caligula references.

  • Erik | June 5, 2014 4:25 PMReply

    This season has produced some of the best monologues and dialogue I have seen in years. I think the shock and awe of this show is magnified because it is indiscriminate. Your favorite character may and will die at any moment. How can any show survive when the main character is killed 8 episodes into the first season? Cable shows have the latitude to show terrible things, that's the point. One step further, I've seen more provocative things on walking dead. As far as equal treatment of women, some of the most powerful characters on this show are female and really pulling all the strings. Both homo and bi sexual men have had major camera time and plenty of men have been emasculated, ie Jamie lanister and Reek/Greyjoy. I think you are looking too far into it and missing the fact whether male or female, can be the play thing of someone more powerful whether they be male or female.

  • anonymous | June 5, 2014 4:02 PMReply

    I have some problems with how HBO handles sex. There's too much female nudity and/or not enough male nudity and some sex scenes are pointless and actually detract from the story. I think one of the guys behind True Detective or another show like that said that HBO mandated some of the sex/nudity and if it were up to him there would be less.

  • blah | June 5, 2014 4:00 PMReply

    Your article sucks.

  • anonymous | June 5, 2014 6:13 PM

    That's some articulate criticism.

  • Laurie Mann | June 5, 2014 3:48 PMReply

    I agree with much of what the author's complaining here - the "even more rapes" of Craster's widows, the rape of Cersei, and, in particular, the murder of Ros (a wonderful character who does not appear in the books). There are times when the SNL satire about boobs on Game of Thrones (where the network executive is a 13 year old boy) feels more documentary.

    However...

    I would be much more outraged if this wasn't set in "medieval" times, when women were constantly treated like property. It was certainly true on earth and George Martin has made the same determination that Westeros was the same way.

    And...

    Even though there are many scenes of violent sex and just plain violence (including the Red Wedding, the Purple Wedding, and the gruesome death of Oberyn), Game of Thrones has also has a lot of quiet, character-developing scenes that even include intimacy. The bath scene last season between Jamie and Brienne was much more about emotional intimacy than their nudity. Even the somewhat creepy scene this season where a much older Margery crept into bed with a much younger Tommen; sure she was being manipulative but she was also being kind to a boy who's been thrust into a job he didn't expect.

    I was fairly horrified by some of the violence in Rome (which co-starred Indira Varma, AKA Elena Sand this season in GoT), but I also remember it was one of the rare times that featured full-frontal male nudity on a TV show (James Purefoy having a training fight, set during a time when male nudity during athletics was common).

    I haven't given up on GoT on HBO; I've read the books so I know what's canon and what's not. I hope the show-runners and HBO execs focus on the characters and the plot and pull back a little from the rapes and violence. A rape is never a "ballet."

  • Anonymous | June 4, 2014 10:55 PMReply

    Maybe what No Way was saying was that Sex and the City is one of the most sexist television shows ever made, so it's ridiculous that it was used in this article. In my opinion an article written about the negative aspect to the dark side of literature (which is where the story came from, including it's sexual and violent parts) probably shouldn't include examples from a television show that undermines the entire point that their article is trying to make. The whole article just sounded like the author had never read the books. Maybe they were watching sex and the city instead!

  • No | June 5, 2014 4:32 AM

    Can nobody read anymore? For one, the author points out that it's controversial now to say sex and the city is groundbreaking but argues that we shouldn't forget some of the ways it broke boundaries. Sure, SatC was problematic in all sorts of ways, but it was also one of the first mainstream shows to present female masterbation, and female sexual pleasure, as part of a woman's lived experience. This author wanted you to try and be a little nuanced in how you saw that show. Not her fault you can't do that. Also, your point about "literature" just doesn't stand - this article was about the TV shows. She actually points out moments were the show departs from the book. And she shows that that's often to add rape where George R. R. Martin hadn't written one. If you're not interested in asking why the creators took that decision, or looking at how rape is presented then you just don't have a particularly inquiring or creative mind. Fine. But don't bitch off at other people who want to think about stuff just because you don't.

  • omg | June 4, 2014 10:38 PMReply

    It's literature people. Rape happens. That is a fact. It makes sense that it would be in stories that human beings write and create.

  • The stupid burns | June 5, 2014 4:37 AM

    No one is saying there shouldn't be any depiction of rape. The argument is we should think about how and why we depict sexual violence. That is the *entire point* of the comparison with The Sopranos. The author of this piece argues that the writers on GoT have started to show rape and abuse of women just for titillation, for no apparent plot point and with no thought. I tend to agree. Disagree by all means, but don't pretend that all presentations of rape are just the same, or don't need interrogation.

  • REALLY NOW | June 4, 2014 5:04 PMReply

    The author tohether with the worryingly growing number of people are abusing, even "raping" the idea of tolerancy. Gladly, with this approach these people would probably not get much sexual attention, so their genes will not make it further.

  • no way | June 4, 2014 2:37 PMReply

    Seriously? Sex and the city?

  • Yes way | June 4, 2014 2:39 PM

    Seriously. It was evidence for a specific argument about the historic presentation of sex on HBO. What's your point?

  • Sharon | June 3, 2014 7:44 PMReply

    Um . . . there's no denial that rape is a prevalent behavior throughout history, but in Jones' article, I'm getting her disgust with how GoT is repeatedly going for female exploitation and degradation in their frat-boy approach to sexuality.
    Yes, Martin's books are dark and disturbing, but character trumps titillation in them and plot is the whole purpose. ---Not so in HBO's product. I'm in the same place that Jones is here----just about to stop watching because the series is so stupidly and boringly sexualized and because I dread each episode instead of anticipating good entertainment.

  • james | June 3, 2014 12:53 PMReply

    B/c rape and sadomasochist behavior were not rampent at the level of societal development that Got is set in. Your looking at history with some pretty rose colored glasses.

  • Paulina | June 3, 2014 12:16 PMReply

    "Under 8 percent of HBO's original dramas and miniseries came from women, and 2.6 percent came from people of color. Less than 5 percent of its one-hour dramas -- one of the most high-profile entertainment products in the world -- were created by women. That's over the course of nearly 40 years." Huffington Post.
    There you go, that's where the sex on HBO comes from, creepy old white guys.

  • nope | June 3, 2014 9:44 AMReply

    you're wrong

  • Troelski | June 3, 2014 8:50 AMReply

    There seems to be a prevailing notion in North American culture that, yes, you can show nudity, but you need a DAMN good reason. Which is odd to me. The rape scenes notwithstanding, it's hard to not look at an article like this as anything but born out of a culture that is essentially horrified by nudity and will only accept it in the most dire of circumstances. When it serves the holiest of holy artistic purposes, or a point which could simply not have been made without the nudity.

  • Troelski | June 3, 2014 8:52 AM

    Because at the end of the day the writer seems to be unable to imagine a casual depiction of nudity or sex that's not inherently pornographic. Exploitative. That's not a necessary evil, or a last resort in the realm of artistic endeavors.

    But in fact, as the writer seems to be aware, the nudity - and simulated sex - serves a totally intrinsic purpose in the scene. Sex, to Littlefinger, is not about pleasure or even the transaction of money. It's about power through deception. Like he says:

  • Troelski | June 3, 2014 8:50 AM

    "[Littlefinger's girl-on-girl sexposition scene] was about connivance through performance, see? It was metaphor, not tits!"

    Snark aside, it WAS about the connivance through performance. Quite masterfully so. Yet the writer delivers this 'concession' to the artistic merits of the scene with eye-rolling exasperation, and calls this tendency 'tiring' now that we're in the fourth season.

    The implication seems to be that behind the scene's pretensions to profundity, it cannot escape the fact that it's still smutty and gratuitous frathouse pandering.

  • Alright | June 3, 2014 7:39 AMReply

    I just read three pages of drivel and I still don't have a clue what you're talking about.

  • Oh dear | June 3, 2014 7:45 AM

    Your problems with basic comprehension are interesting why? Excellent piece, IndieWire. More good writing please.

  • Alyssa | June 3, 2014 4:07 AMReply

    I was with you until the comparison to racism. Racism is alive and well and just as big a problem as sexism. There is plenty of racism in GoT, most of it just as blatant, some of it intersecting with the sexism. For example changing Drogo and Dany's wedding night to rape is both sexist and racist, making Drogo into the trope of a raping savage. Otherwise great post! HBO needs to step up it's game.

  • Laurie Mann | June 5, 2014 3:51 PM

    The wedding night scene was pretty similar in the books (and, in the books, Denereys is even younger).

  • Stephanie | June 3, 2014 1:21 AMReply

    Did you read the books?

  • Ser Ibramus | June 2, 2014 11:52 PMReply

    Man, GoT may be trying to reflect the middle ages or something but the depth of its depravity just makes it plain not enjoyable. The human drama is not enough to make up for the evil it portrays and the total disregard for the cersei/jaime rape is puzzling. It had to be poorly written and directed for them to make such a hazardous miscalculation of the audience's sympathies.

  • sirfartsalot | June 2, 2014 11:42 PMReply

    What a crock of shizzit. HBO has been at the forefront of pornographying America. Now that the porno is starting to reflect the darker corners, you bullshizzit artists are getting your panties twisted.

    You wanted it. You wanted your sex and violence and Robert Fuccccccking Mapplethorpe. Now you're being gagged on your own bullshizzzzit and riding whips.

    Good.

  • Joe H. | June 2, 2014 10:15 PMReply

    maybe you should go watch Oz? I think you'll be pleased by the ratio of male-to-female nudity in that one...

  • Bunglemas | June 2, 2014 10:21 PM

    Well, I think you are one of these people that going crazy with Brokeback Mountain almost ten years later.

  • Bunglemas | June 2, 2014 10:02 PMReply

    I say what i said in other topic against GoT. HBO have the best TV shows since Oz (1997) period. The nudity, gore and language put him in the same line with the best films of this age which by the way are not in America. The films of Europe, Asia, South America nobody cares about how polemic and explicit are because nobody watches.

    Well a lot of people watch GoT so let's go and attack them and attack the network too.

    Thanks HBO to surprises in each episode of shows like Boardwalk Empire, True Detective, Treme, Looking, etc. The other networks are very regresive creatively speaking (except Mad Men. Matthew Weiner do a such great job creando sexys love scenes even not been explicit) and dealing with politically correct plots.

    The Cinema is dying with these "remakes of remakes" and "Superheromovies". There also are develop this "storys" in TV right now, but we can save it... don't we?

  • Joe | June 3, 2014 11:57 AM

    AMC > HBO. So no.

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