Game of Thrones’ recent episode portraying Sansa’s rape by her husband, Ramsay Bolton, led to massive outrage in social media and among individuals. One could read all over the internet about the show’s indispensable projection of rapes, castration and other violent acts, to an extent that it has been reduced to their theatrical presentations only. Serious issues over gender bias and racism have also been raised against the show.
But before critically analysing the show, I would like accept the fact despite the inherent issues, the show has managed to gain worldwide support. This can be due to the individual actors brilliantly enacting their roles and the picturization of the storyline, but more so because George Martin’s creation of fantasy with a strong base of political game and struggle has truly led to rise in interest of the viewers. A strong script about various towns and cities with their kings participating in politics at all levels in the fight for the ‘Iron Throne’ has kept the viewers hooked to the show.
On one hand, the viewers wait for the latest season’s episodes with excitement but these are the same viewers who have condemned marital rapes and castration within the show as well. This explains a lot about the viewers. Although excitement over the fight for the ‘Iron Throne’ is positively accepted by them but they are not ready to be mere watchers of indecent and gory depiction of violence against women, men and children in the show all the time. Viewers’ realisation of social issues have been a positive leap but one needs to ask why it took almost five seasons to raise these issues.
Why was the issue of marital rape not raised in the first season when Daenerys was raped by her husband? Where were these voices when Cercei was forced to have sex with Jamie Lannister in the same hall where their son’s dead body was kept (although in a few minutes, she consensually has sex with him as well). These instances are not isolated; projection of violence against common people and the sick portrayal of the practice of prostitution should also create rage against the show. Serious problems are also witnessed in the way these remarks against the show have been defended by the supporters of the show. Saying that these projections mark reality and that these were the kind of situations that existed in the past does not give allowance to the GoT team to go beyond imagined levels in gory presentations like gouging of eyes, decapitation and cruel acts of rape.
GoT has also shown problems in visualising women characters in the show. Characters like Cercei and Daenerys who were victims (or survivors) of violent sexual acts against them have been depicted as rising from these emotional upheaval and eventually joining the race for the acquirement of the Throne. And now, Sansa Stark’s rape in the show clearly presents that GoT team has serious inclinations in presenting women as repressed subjects within their so-called households or private spheres from which they arise as new beings who have attained empowerment. This is an illusionary concept. One does not and can not always feel empowered after having emotional and physical repression forced against them. As opposed to women, male characters are seen as fully associated with the political game of the throne and the portrayal of high levels of power attained by them is shown in their access to prostitution camps, raping common people and brutal acts of wars. Thus, the male characters have retained their patriarchal roles but women, although shown as being equal participants in the political game (example, Daenerys Targaryen) but their characters are uplifted post exploitation and oppression.
The viewing of GoT has not gone down yet but the makers would have to realise that these issues can be raised on much greater levels if they kept their idea of presentation intact in the show. It is not an age where full acceptance to all kinds of violent portrayal would be granted without opinions being raised against it. Like it or not, society is getting sensitised and the viewers are smart enough to not mindlessly accept dramatical presentations of blood, violence and deaths only. Viewers want more than that which can be provided only by showing sensitivity towards gender issues and reviewing the content projecting exploitation and oppression.
Image Source: The Viewspaper