Monthly Archives: June 2015

Violent acts

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sansaDuring a recent episode of Game of Thrones, one of the main characters was raped. The scene was a brutal and graphic.

The internet immediately exploded with condemnation. It was a trauma trigger for some viewers; others thought it was far too violent for television; still others thought it was an example of poor storytelling.

My reaction to these perspectives suggests that I am a monster. Perhaps I am.

If depictions of sexual violence are unwatchable for you, then do not watch a gritty medieval drama.

The recent rape scene offended many viewers for the excessive violence. Being offended is an understandable reaction– but those people who are only now protesting the violence in Game of Thrones are a bit late to the party. The show is in its fifth season, and we have already seen the rape of other characters, beheadings, torture, flayings, castration, death by molten gold, burnings at the stake, infanticide, and the stabbing of a pregnant woman’s uterus.

Why cry foul now? Why is the rape of a main character unacceptable when all the rest of it’s okay?

I do not like the sanctimony, the supposition that sexual violence should have its own set of rules. If you’re going to be morally outraged, be outraged about violence, period.

And the depiction of rape is not necessarily an example of poor storytelling. Rape is overused as plot device, but there’s nothing inherently uncreative or unwarranted about it, and sometimes the show writer or the novelist gets it right.

Would I prefer to see less violence in books and television or movies? I’d prefer to see it handled better. I like stories that explore the meaning of violence, or the lack of meaning, and the reverberations for the victims and the perpetrators.

Fiction helps me understand violence without having to endure it personally.