Over the past couple of years, there has been some negativity following this show because of the sexual assault scenes depicted. Among my author peers, I have an unfavourable opinion when it comes to this. I think the scenes were indeed horrible, but depicting them was the right thing to do.
Why do I feel this way? Well, largely for the same reasons that the actress herself feels: “The more we talk about sexual assault the better, and screw the people who are saying we shouldn’t be putting this on TV and screw the people who are saying they’re going to boycott the show because of it,” she said.
Think about how much discussion on this subject has happened since.
Yes, we’re still struggling to get rapists appropriately punished, but discussing the subject and showing how horrible it is help people see why it’s wrong and bring us closer to appropriate punishments. Not everyone can simply intuit things. Not every person has parents that are actively involved in teaching them right from wrong, but they can get that marriage is supposed to be based on love and there’s no question that what Sansa experienced was not love.
Moreover, this reached people who don’t even watch the show. I’m speculating, but it’s possible that whoever caught Brock Turner in the act was more equipped to know when they were seeing something that wasn’t consensual because it was on their minds having heard about this episode online or at school. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if Brock’s father was like Lucius Malfoy and advised Brock to get some action whenever he could. Not that I’m in anyway excusing Brock for his actions, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he has had a life rather like Draco in Harry Potter.
Regardless, only when highlighted and brought into the open can a festering wound be healed and Hollywood has the power to influence more than any other industry.
Sansa Stark has been through a lot of crap. She began as a shallow girl who cared about nothing more than marrying a prince. She got her wish. She was sent off with Joffrey, who was a whiny and emotionally abusive shithead among other things. Then she was given to Tyrion. When Sansa was married to Tyrion, they also showed what respectful treatment of someone who doesn’t want to have sex can look like and he cared enough to get her away from King’s Landing. She had more bad crap happen to her and it gave her agency. She rose like a queen and handled her rapist by turning one of his favourite tools against him and ensuring he couldn’t hurt anyone else ever again.
Anyway, it’s ludicrous to think that a novel series set where and when this one is wouldn’t have true evils that were prevalent to the point of being acceptable in human history. If we’ve paid attention though, the public outcry shows that this behaviour is far from acceptable today. Maybe someday we won’t need to discuss it because the problem will be resolved, but we haven’t got there yet. There are still judges making bad calls and the rare female who lies and both things are detrimental to the legal side of this issue.
Something that causes a disturbance in North America may not rate as newsworthy on another continent and I think everyone should be aware of that. Your fire is not someone else’s fire. Your methods of living are not someone else’s and trying to force them to live in a way that appeases you isn’t right. We don’t live in a dictatorship. Everyone has free will and a different story to tell for reasons you might not understand.
As a writer, I can choose to pretend it’s not happening or I can choose to discuss it. How I discuss it is debatable, but simply preaching leads to people feeling ostracized rather than allowed to talk about an issue. That creates festering wounds.
I personally prefer not to fully show such scenes in my work, but if it’s a necessary story element, I want to get as close as possible so there’s no doubt what is happening. Some things shouldn’t be explained through metaphor. If you’re looking for an author who plays it safe, you won’t like my work whether it’s in film or novel format. I never was the kid who cared about fitting in.
And Game of Thrones has so many wonderful things going for it. The acting, CGI, and musical score are some of the highest quality out there. The fight scenes are also excellent. The writing is too. There are many strong female characters in the show as well. I look forward to its return later this month.