I got home from Coachella at 3am on Monday morning. I was exhausted, but buzzed from Arcade Fire’s performance (and let’s be real, the 3 days worth of secondhand marijuana smoke). I ignored how sleepy I was though, because there was a new Game of Thrones. I crawled into my bed with my iPad.
And then, that happened.
I’ve talked to some friends about the episode, and I think I finally have my feelings all figured out.
I expect raping on Game of Thrones as much as I expect gratuitous violence. It’s a part of the genre. That’s not what I take umbrage with. What bothers me is the manipulation of the content that the show is born from and the nonchalance of the creative team.
First things first, the adaptation. I don’t want to belabor this point too much because I read the books after the seasons air, for this reason in particular: I don’t want to get fussy and precious about the adaptation. The more I learn about story-telling, the more aware I am of how tedious adapting is. But, that said, adaptation and manipulation are two totally different things. Also, we’re midseason, and the creative team has said that this has some bearing on what happens in the finale. So, fine. I’ll wait to beat that dead horse.
Ignorance and nonchalance regarding sexual assault, however, is worth belaboring. What the episode’s director Alex Graves has told Vulture deeply troubles me.
There wasn’t a lot of talk about it, to be honest. Everybody knew and then confirmed with each other this is a sort of animalistic, desperate escape moment in the middle of a tragedy that is twisted enough that only Jaime and Cersei could pull it off. That was all that was really discussed besides laying out the scene physically, and what would and wouldn’t happen in terms of protecting the actors.
There wasn’t a lot of talk about it. Really?! This is a scene that’s been written about more than Joffrey’s offing last week. Intelligent people are having meltdowns, but no one on the creative team raised concerns? Later in the interview, Graves says that “It’s a very, very complicated scene.” Okay, so then, why wasn’t there more talk about it? (Also, FYI, Graves is real proud of his work, saying “That’s one of my favorite scenes I’ve ever done.“)
A friend of mine brought up that this fits nicely into the “Rape the Bitch” trope, meaning that Cersei deserved it because she’s a bitch. This is also very concerning to me; as an assertive female, I’ve been called “bitch” by men who feel emasculated. I don’t really like my favorite show allowing rape as punishment because it teaches the unwashed masses that that’s okay. It’s different from the other rapes and murders in the show because, seemingly, this one was just dropped in there for no reason. But again, I’ll hold on. We’re only on episode 3.
(Also, in a way that only Game of Thrones can pull off, this falls into a Marital Rape License trope. And on that note? It was legal for a husband to rape his wife in the United States all the way up until 1993. #themoreyouknow)
I hate to do this, but…David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the creators of the show and writers of this episode, and Alex Graves, director of this episode, are all men. How different do you think this episode would have been if it was penned by, say…a woman capable of writing good, thick, nuanced narrative? Or – and maybe this is just a CrAzY lady-brain thought – if it was directed by a woman? According to IMDB, in the 40-episode history of the show, 3 episodes were written by and 4 episodes were directed by women. (In Thrones’ defense, there do seem to be more women as producers.) We’ve got two more Alex Graves episodes. Next week’s is directed by Michelle MacLaren.
A lot of this is conjecture, so…please, correct me if I’m wrong. I’d love to be wrong about this!