US senator criticizes controversial ‘Game of Thrones’ scene

21 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Gratuitous and disgusting’: Senator leads boycott of Game of Thrones over shocking rape scene of Sansa Stark but actress playing her says she ‘kinda loved it’.

In a comment tweeted Tuesday, Sen. It’s a show known for controversial plot twists and gratuitous scenes, but the latest episode of Game of Thrones has really caused a ruckus across the globe.

Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., described the sexual assault in the most-recent episode of the hit show as “gratuitous” and “disgusting.” She added she was done with the show. The Mary Sue, a popular online forum for ‘entertainment geeks’, withdrew any kind of promotion of the show after the shocking scene, despite its popularity with users. Season five has seen some of the biggest changes to date, with characters meeting an untimely end (RIP Ser Barristan) and events changing completely (Sansa Stark and Ramsay Bolton).

The psychotic, torturous Ramsey has battered and castrated Alfie Allen’s Theon Greyjoy into miserable submission, hunted and murdered past lovers with dogs and on the whole has been generally a horrible piece of work. This was the biggest twist of the series so far for both show-only and book fans, with Sansa Stark marrying Ramsay Bolton instead of her childhood friend Jeyne Poole. But it was the last five minutes of the episode Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken which has seen the backlash intensify against the show and it’s bosses David Benioff and DB Weiss – the rape of Sansa was not featured in the original novels by George R R Martin. “This show has often been criticised for its portrayal and treatment of women and, I must confess, I found this scene – in a show jam-packed with titillation, female flesh and salty banter – enormously unsettling. “The show will probably actually lose some viewers for this. It was certainly a controversial change, but it’s an interesting storyline from the books which is better served by a character show watchers are already invested in.

Game of Tits and Arse, as HBO’s phenomenon is affectionately known in my household, is no stranger to explicit scenes and uncomfortably graphic storylines. I won’t be one of them just yet, but I’m extremely bothered by their choice — their need, it seems, to continually alter Martin’s story to include more rape. “There have been numerous plot points and characters from Martin’s novels that have been omitted from the series; I’d love to hear what the showrunners’ arguments are for not only keeping the brutal assault of a young woman, but changing the storyline so that it happened to a beloved character.” “But while on each occasion in the past it’s been plenty disturbing, tonight’s closing scene with Ramsay Bolton and Sansa was just flat-out disgusting.

But the scene in question departed somewhat from Martin’s treatment of it in the book – as the author himself noted via social media yesterday as the reactions spread online. Over the course of five seasons, we have seen psychotic King Joffrey use a crossbow to porcupine a prostitute, Theon Greyjoy sadistically tortured and castrated, and Craster make sex slaves of his daughters. Even if you’ve never read the books (myself included and that shouldn’t limit anyone’s enjoyment of the show) it’s hard not to know that what happens to Sansa in this episode doesn’t happen to Sansa in the books. “The show’s creators are free to take liberty with certain storylines and characters, but by putting Sansa into this situation, by taking a character that viewers are fully invested in, and subjecting her to the horrors of Ramsay Bolton, it’s hard to interpret this as anything but using her rape as an emotionally manipulative plot device.” “So yes, Sansa’s rape by Ramsay is of the show’s own devising, and it feels every bit the violation it is.

In the TV scene, one of the central characters, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), was raped on her wedding night by her sadistic new husband, played by Iwan Rheon. Turner said Ramsay’s cruelty was more difficult to understand than King Joffrey – her original intended – and hinted that Sansa would remain under her new husband’s thumb for a while to come. The Dorne chapters were a little slow in ASOIAF, but the series did such a good job of bringing Oberyn Martell to life that I had high hopes for Dorne this season. But by involving a multidimensional main character instead of one introduced primarily to suffer, the series has a chance to grant this story the gravity and seriousness it deserves. “Sansa has a story of her own, of which this is now an admittedly excruciating chapter — but she, not Theon, is the real victim here, and it remains her story nonetheless. Readers of the books have also noted that Sansa’s story has been altered significantly from Martin’s vision, making her a victim of the brutality as opposed to a secondary character.

In A Storm Of Swords, when Jaime frees Tyrion he also reveals that his brother’s first wife was not actually a prostitute, but a peasant who genuinely loved him. The debate over Sunday’s episode follows an equally controversial scene last season in which the characters of Jaime and Cersei Lannister, a brother and sister with an incestuous relationship, had a forced sexual encounter as she grieved over the death of their son. At that time, the New York Times ran a front-page feature about the outcry, quoting HBO Original Programming chief Michael Lombardo as saying “the choices our creative teams make are based on the motivations and sensibilities that they believe define their characters. The show is at its slowest and most grating when it starts gratuitously shoe-horning in a sex scene per episode, which serve no purpose for driving the plot forward or revealing more about its characters. But as others have pointed out, Sansa’s primary offense wasn’t rooted in any specific trait, but instead in being precisely what she was raised to be: a lady in an unrelentingly patriarchal society.

Two roads diverging in the dark of the woods, I suppose, but all of us are still intending that at the end we will arrive at the same place. “In the meantime, we hope that the readers and viewers both enjoy the journey. The backlash against Thrones creates a quandary for HBO, which has for decades burnished its image as the home of high-end programming that no other network can provide. In going forward with the plan to marry Ramsay, she is both scared and resolute—but she has a plan, and like her mentor in deception, Littlefinger, she’s learned to keep her cards close. Sometimes butterflies grow into dragons.” Martin directed anyone “curious as to the road the books are taking” to the sample chapters of upcoming sixth book The Winds of Winter on his website.

Viewers already know that Ramsay is a complete maniac and that Sansa’s wedding night will not be pleasant, having it spelled out in such an unsparingly vicious way was unnecessary, like a form of torture porn. Sen McCaskill’s comment is an unwelcome swipe for a channel that has a strong presence in Beltway circles, in part because of its news and documentary programming. But leaving aside the total lack of imagination which sees the writers repeatedly resort to rape as their female humiliation tool of choice, the scene didn’t even have Sansa as its focus. The clamour among viewers for Thrones, now in its fifth season, has also been a driver of HBO’s decision to launch its broadband-only HBO Now service earlier this year.

Since Ned Stark’s death in King’s Landing, his daughters have been separately forging their own paths of survival—and demonstrating that there is more than one path to being a “strong female character.” While Arya took the more archetypal action heroine route, Sansa learned how to play a quieter game in King’s Landing—the art of making astute political decisions and valuable connections. Next week, of course, we may see that this moment was a crucial turning point in Sansa’s story, and that she will now be driven to wreak her vengeance on the Boltons. But whatever happens, it’s clear that Sansa is actively shaping her own future: She refused Brienne’s rescue, and refused to leave Winterfell or abandon her dismal nuptial plans after Myranda tried to scare her off. That brutal change added an extra sense of tragedy to the Red Wedding, while also serving to kill off any fan theories that Jeyne was secretly pregnant with Robb’s baby.

Hopefully, within a few episodes, we’ll see Sansa’s plan in action—ideally it will involve Sansa taking down the wretched family that took her home, starting with Ramsay.

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