Game of Thrones, the Sansa rape scene – another point of view

29 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

11 Ways ‘Game Of Thrones’ Ramsay Could Die A Very, Very Satisfying Death.

Bryan Fuller’s acclaimed NBC thriller Hannibal is arguably the darkest, most gruesome, most operatically violent show on television. There are four times as many instances of rape in George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones novels than there are on the HBO show – and the way in which the books portray sexual violence is arguably more insulting to women than in the television series.As the fourth to the last episode of Season 5, “The Gift” comes right after the controversial episode that ended with Sansa Stark’s rape on her wedding night at the hands of her new husband, Ramsay Bolton, as Theon/Reek watched.

Yet there is one all-too-common act of assault that Fuller has long promised he would not depict, despite its seemingly increasing ubiquitousness on other shows. In contrast, on the show, there have been 50 acts of rape, and 29 victims. (A comparison between a 1,7770,000-word book series and just under 50 hours of TV might seem hard to make in some ways, but it is worth noting that, story-wise, by the end of season five both the books and the show will be at a similar point.) The scene in question, which occurred during the end of last week’s episode, Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken, was condemned by many fans, with one online outlet, the feminist entertainment blog The Mary Sue, announcing its intention to immediately cease all promotional coverage of the show. Add that to the rape of Cersei (Lena Headey) in season four, all of the background rapes throughout five seasons, and rapes on countless other shows — “Reign” and “Outlander” have also featured rape scenes in recent weeks — and you’re left with a whole lot of sexual violence, which has been proven to be extremely traumatic for viewers who have survived sexual assault.

The repulsive Ramsay has tortured Theon until there was nothing left of him, hunted down women for sport, flayed people, and horrifically violated Sansa Stark — and, to add more insult to the grievous injuries he has left in his wake, Ramsay is also currently ruling Winterfell. That would have been a pity, if it has really happened, because in this episode, we see Sansa Stark, black and blue, but with a sense of dignity and determination about her. Amid a sea of stark, tweet-length opinions about rape on TV and cautious silence from most industry executives, Fuller offers a candid and thoughtful view of a challenging and controversial creative issue. Last year, the season four episode Breaker of Chains also sparked outrage among viewers, when it took what in the books was a consensual sexual act, between siblings Jaime and Cersei Lannister, and portrayed it as a rape. That’s why it’s so refreshing to hear “Hannibal” boss Bryan Fuller tell Entertainment Weekly about his “self-imposed” ban on rape in his (extremely violent) show. “There are frequent examples of exploiting rape as low-hanging fruit to have a canvas of upset for the audience,” Fuller explained. “The reason the rape well is so frequently used is because it’s a horrible thing that is real and that it happens.

Which just goes to show – as if there were any doubt – that human beings love death and bloodshed, we no longer have amphitheatres to observe the bodily destruction of others, we have HBO and Netflix. It is time for Ramsay to die the painful death he deserves — but what death would be satisfying enough for the fans who have had more than enough of Ramsay’s reign?

It was challenging approaching the Red Dragon story because the crimes that Francis Dolarhyde commits [in the novel] include the horrible raping of corpses, and near-corpses. That’s something I can’t derive entertainment from as an audience member — and I’m the first person in the audience for ’Hannibal.’ My role, as a showrunner, is to want to watch the show we’re creating. His death will not undo the damage done to Sansa, Theon, and the nameless characters who have suffered at his hands — but it will offer a small sense of satisfaction for the fanbase. But her most worrying find is the fact that, while each of the chapters in Martin’s novels is told from the perspective of an individual character, the rape victims themselves are rarely “point of view” narrators.

And if something feels exploitative or unnecessary, I’ll try to avoid it.” Fuller — who also told EW that he thought that Sansa’s rape was “handled tastefully, all things considered” — added that, while Hannibal’s crimes of cannibalism seem far enough removed from reality that he can find irony and amusement in them, there’s something about the vicious realities of rape that he can’t “get behind” on his show. “’A character gets raped’ is a very easy story to pitch for a drama,” Fuller continued. “And it comes with a stable of tropes that are infrequently elevated dramatically, or emotionally. That Sansa not only knows her place but is willing to accept it as part of the natural order of things has made her an anathema to a modern feminist audience. Sansa shows her spark by planting in Ramsay’s head that Roose’s future child will have a stronger claim to his inheritance, that he was still a bastard and the King that legitimized Ramsay, Tommen, was himself a bastard. That was one of the big challenges in terms of how do we keep our promise [to not tell rape stories] to our audience—which is largely female—and also service the novel.

Plot domino after plot domino has been set up, but very few of them have actually been knocked down (and the ones that were, like Sansa’s marriage, were often unpleasant to watch). But, as Arya would say, “Anyone can be killed.” I am sick of seeing Sansa suffer, therefore I am going to do the only thing I can in this position and imagine the most satisfying ways Ramsay could meet his devilish maker. You’re reduced to using shorthand, and I don’t think there can be a shorthand for that violation — it’s an incredibly personal and intimate betrayal of something that should be so positive and healthy.

In scenes omitted from the show, fan-favourite Tyrion Lannister descends into depression after murdering his father, Tywin, and former lover, Shae, and is shown having callous sex with slave girls and prostitutes. She knows that the Boltons were responsible for her family’s death, and thanks to Myranda, she is aware of Ramsey’s break-up exit strategy involving crossbows and a pack of dogs. For sure we have seen Theon/Reek experience go through some horrendous ordeals, up to and including the aforementioned castration, though we hate the cowardly wretch we also sympathise with him, such is the level of his torment. Instead, the focus is squarely on Tyrion, and his own emotional turmoil. (In a discussion on the fan website Westeros.org, many readers have suggested the act constitutes rape.) When this tendency of Martin’s to take far more of an interest in the rapists than the victims is taken into consideration, it puts the recent events of the television series in a more favourable light.

Shows like “Degrassi: The Next Generation,” have been able to accurately depict the aftermath of a rape, but “Hannibal” is never going to have the bandwidth to devote three seasons to a character’s inner journey to overcome a crime. Davos urges Stannis to go back to Castle Black to spend the winter there, but rightfully, Stannis says that by the time winter is over, everything will be over. Tyrion’s meeting with Daenerys represents the beginning of that endgame, so it’s electric TV, even though they’re only face to face for a few seconds of screentime. By changing the storyline to make such a prominent character a victim of rape, the programme-makers are arguably ensuring that the act is portrayed in an appropriately serious, emotionally impactful way, rather than as an inconsequential “background” event. Though the Dornish aren’t nearly at Daenerys’s level, their introduction last year through Oberyn, an all-time great character, created a thread that needed to be pulled back into King’s Landing’s orbit.

The best way he could do that would be to put a knife right in Ramsay’s back, both metaphorically and literally, ensuring Sansa is the Queen of the North. Back in Castle Black, Aemon Targaryen dies, and with Stannis and his army moving towards Winterfell, and Jon Snow travelling to enlist the Wildlings, Sam Tarley and Gilly are in a precarious position, amongst people who mean them harm.

While Littlefinger is distracted right now, Ramsay vowed not to hurt Sansa — so when Littlefinger finds out what Ramsay has done, he is not going to be happy. Another would-be rape starts playing out as two crows try to have their way with Gilly, but Sam turns hero and tries to fight them, announcing that he has killed a White Walker and a Thenn and he would undoubtedly take his chances on the two. Sam’s heroics did not come to naught, however, since he and Gilly finally consummated their “romance.” In Dorne, Myrcella tells Jamie she refuses to go with him and that she was better off in Dorne, as she has obviously fallen in love with her intended, Trystane. But the nudity felt designed to fit HBO’s “boob mandate” more than anything else, and the Sand Snakes as a group still feel more like basically anonymous plot devices rather than real people with real motivations. Tyene and Bronn get into a flirtatious encounter that includes getting poisoned (Bronn) due to a nick from Tyene’s dagger and having him admit she was beautiful before she threw him the antidote.

Prevalent orthodox medical and legal opinion in the late medieval period emphasised that consent must be granted in order for procreation to occur and it was believed that a woman would not be able to conceive without an orgasm. And I’m saying this as somebody who can derive immense entertainment from cannibalism – there’s an irony to cannibalism that I find horrific and amusing.

Ramsey Bolton, himself the product of rape, presumably has more up-to-date medical knowledge this lot (and indeed, 21st law maker Todd Aitken) and is working on the assumption of; put sperm in woman, make baby, baby come out of woman. Is there no other way we can show a female character “going through hell”, no other horror that can befall our heroines and why have we not seen a male character raped. Not watching TV.” This is entirely unsurprising coming from the fourth wave feminism which has collapsed into an echo chamber of simplistic ideological diktat. And while Sansa gets a few good scenes out of it, trying to guide Theon back to reality and confronting Ramsay with his manifest inadequacies, that doesn’t excuse the ridiculousness of the resolution. Acceptance of received wisdom, furious and hysterical quashing of dissent and an inability to examine concepts clearly and thoroughly make this particular group of feminists incapable of commenting with credibility on any serious issue, so thank God that they have never shown any intention of doing so.

Nothing would give me more pleasure than to see the two of them trap Ramsay in his chamber room and inflict a bit of torture before putting an arrow in his chest. The decision to introduce Ramsay Bolton at all is only redeemable if he falls — if, as Matt suggested last week, his inability to rein in his cruelty causes his ultimate downfall in the same way that Ned Stark’s refusal to compromise his honor caused his. Sansa consented to pain and humiliation willingly and of her own volition and this is the logical conclusion of being engrained in a society which denies women any control whatsoever over their reproductive rights.

It might be argued that the television version is remaining faithful to the books, but it departs from the text whenever it feels it necessary, and there is no reason why an adaptation cannot become more sophisticated that its source. She then gets Littlefinger, who was her collaborator in the untimely death of Joffrey, to do something and he gave her a “gift” in Lancel Lannister—Cersei’s cousin and one-time lover, and now die-hard Sparrow. Sansa does not see it as her place to challenge her subjugation because she lives in a culture where the concept of meaningful consent for a woman is automatically void and she accepts the terms of this arrangement. Once Lancel spilled what he knew about Cersei to the High Sparrow, everything culminated in Cersei being captured, and being thrown in jail, a similar cell where she gloated over Margaery earlier.

Not only does she have justice on her side, but she is also carrying Ned Stark’s sword, now called Oathkeeper — so it would be perfect and poetic if she killed him with that very weapon. There are three episodes left before the Season ends, and we can’t wait to see how the stories will progress, specifically, Tyrion and Daenerys and how their dynamic would be.

In the case of Sansa Stark, it feels like they are building toward something for this woman to overcome, and some horrible lessons that she has to learn about the patriarchy that surrounds her—such as Littlefinger knowing what could happen to her and knowing it might force her into taking more drastic vengeance [toward the Boltons] that could benefit him.

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