Outrage Watch: This ‘Game of Thrones’ rape controversy is not going away

05.19.15 3 years ago

Welcome to Outrage Watch, HitFix's (almost) daily rundown of entertainment-related kerfuffles. Not anxious enough already? Get your fix of righteous indignation below, and stay posted for outrage updates throughout the week.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) echoed the sentiments of many “Game of Thrones” viewers by tweeting the following on Tuesday morning:

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The scene in question, which depicts Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) being raped by her new husband Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) while her stepbrother Theon (Alfie Allen) is forced to watch, has stirred outrage among a number of the series' fans, not to mention commentators including the New Statesman contributor Sarah Ditum:

“What is obvious after the last episode is that ['Game of Thrones' has] given up on seeing women through our own eyes,” she writes, before continuing later: “But the programme makers had the choice of whether to make us watch or not, and they put us right there in the room, camera focused lasciviously on [Sansa's] suffering face. Even worse though is that they put Sansa”s stepbrother Theon in the room as a witness, and made his anguish at watching her rape the closing note of the programme. Apparently violence against a woman counts for more if it distresses a man.”

Salon writer Sonia Saraiya, meanwhile, compared “Thrones” unfavorably to George Miller's “Mad Max: Fury Road,” which features the escape of a group of woman sex slaves from their male captors but does not actually depict rape:

“The problem, as ever, with 'Game Of Thrones'” rape is not that it exists but that it fails to adequately justify why it exists,” she writes. “Miller”s film has incredible vision and purpose and energy. Every moment is considered and vital. 'Game Of Thrones' doesn”t feel that way. A world of violence is not a narrative, it”s just a theater of horror. There is a real disconnect in this show between the character arcs and the brutality of each moment; between the subtle storytelling and the entirely unsubtle treatment of its women. It creates a dissonance of attempting to identify with characters before seeing them suffer almost cartoonish horror in the arena of the show; the violence is titillation.”

Over at the A.V. Club, this from Myles McNutt, who calls the show out for its “problematic” treatment of rape as a narrative device:

“The show has lost my faith as a viewer that the writers know how to articulate the aftermath of this rape effectively within the limited time offered to each storyline in a given episode and given season. Three of the show”s main female characters have now been raped, and yet the show has struggled to make this a part of their character history-their rapes may function as narrative climaxes, but the rising action has never been particularly well-drawn, and the denouement has been non-existent.”

You can check out our own Donna Dickens' take on the episode here, and Richard Rushfield's recap here.

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