Rape and sexual violence have been portrayed so often on the TV series “Game of Thrones” that many critics are now worried that it has become “almost like background noise and is no longer a ‘shocking’ occurrence.” Still others voiced their outrage on social media outlets Twitter and Facebook at an episode in which noblewoman Cersei Lannister is raped by her brother Jaime, as well as another program in which a young woman is gang raped by “half a hundred shouting men behind a tanner’s shop.”
Although other programs, both on cable and network TV have included rape in some of their storylines, none have done it so persuasively as “Game of Thrones,” which is viewed by approximately 14 million viewers every Sunday night, the (constant) brutality is reportedly making many of them uncomfortable. The question is, is it that necessary.
According to George R.R. Martin, who wrote the series of fantasy novels that the series (and its accompanying comic books) are based on, the answer is yes, writing in response to e-mailed questions.
“Rape and sexual violence have been part of every war ever fought, from the ancient Sumerians to our present day,” he stated, adding that he felt he had an “obligation as an artist to tell the truth about history and human nature. To omit them from a narrative centered on war and power would have been fundamentally false and dishonest, and would have under-mined one of the themes of the books: that the true horrors of human history derive not from orcs and dark lords but from ourselves,” he went on.
Still, depiction of what he actually wrote in his novels has become increasingly more explicit on screen, as well as in the comic-book adaptations. This, he blames on the fact that they are “in the hands of others who make their own artistic choices.” And while the debate about the cavalier way rape and sexual violence are portrayed by the “Game of Thrones” franchise, it is important to note that Mr. Martin’s novels (written under the collective title as “A Song of Ice and Fire”) have now sold more than 31 million copies, translated in to more than 25 languages, and that the HBO series, itself, is aired in 150 countries.