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An Open Letter to 'Game of Thrones'' David Benioff and Dan Weiss

By Cindy Davis | Think Pieces | April 22, 2014 | Comments ()


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*Warning: This letter contains spoilers for the current Game of Thrones episode.

Dear Most Excellent Game of Thrones Writers and Showrunners,


First, I’d like to thank you for everything you’ve been through and accomplished to bring George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series to television. As a reader, I am consistently thrilled, entertained and challenged by the way Martin’s vision has been translated. I’m also a reader who has no need for you to specifically follow every word, deed or chapter to your utmost ability; part of the fun of watching Game of Thrones is to understand and appreciate the material in a new light, or to travel down a side road the source may not have taken. That said, I’m certain you realize after Sunday’s “Breaker of Chains” aired, audience reaction to Jaime Lannister raping his sister Cersei was exceptionally conflicted.

For many of us, there is what feels like an unacceptable change to the nature of the scene, not so much because it’s different from the book, but because it alters audience perception of both characters. (We’ve watched Jaime go through an evolution of sorts—not that he’s perfect by any means—but he is a man who protected Brienne from rape, and said were he a woman, he would fight his rapist to the death.) Even for many non-readers, rape is incongruous with the Jaime they’ve come to know. Perhaps more importantly, there is quite a disconnect between your (David Benioff) comments on HBO’s Inside the Scene clip: “It becomes a really kind of horrifying scene, because you see obviously Joffrey’s body right there, and you see that Cersei is resisting this. She’s saying ‘No,’ and he’s forcing himself on her, so it was a really uncomfortable scene, and a tricky scene to shoot,” and those of episode director, Alex Graves: “Well, it becomes consensual by the end, because anything for them ultimately results in a turn-on, especially a power struggle…”

There is clearly a chasm between how Mr. Graves intended the scene, and how the rest of us have interpreted what we saw Sunday night. I can assure you that I don’t know anyone who saw that rape and thought Cersei was turned-on at the end. Regardless of how this event undoes Jaime’s redemptive character development over the past three seasons, and the possibly ill-advised Cersei sympathy drummed up, doesn’t a different scene interpretation by showrunners and director tempt disaster?

Last August, when you both appeared on The Writers’ Room, I was so impressed by your humility and honesty. To hear the hurdles and mistakes overcome was human and inspiring; this is a moment where a bit of clarification could turn the tide. As a colleague of mine mentioned in an ongoing discussion, if there is a longer scene where Cersei’s consent becomes obvious, releasing that cut could go a long way toward audience understanding. You could be the guys who aren’t afraid to say, “Hey, obviously our read on the scene isn’t how it was widely interpreted—here’s what we meant…” (I swear, a heartfelt statement would make you guys the coolest, most respected showrunners out there.) If there’s something gained by another twist of rape (Daenerys Targaryen’s was perhaps more understandably being used to establish the Game of Thrones world), a good portion of your audience has failed to understand. If backpedaling Jaime Lannister’s character growth is somehow beneficial, we’ve been left confused. Sexposition is one thing, but adding an unnecessary rape to incest and funeral sex may prove a bridge too far.

p.s. In case you haven’t seen, George R. R. Martin had a little something to say as well.

Cindy Davis, (Twitter)




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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • frankelee

    That you have thousands and thousands of people so worried about a TV show really speaks to the moral inability of the masses. But even taking the scene as important, it's incredible that there are actually adults who watch that and are more morally outraged that this woman gave a weak "no" to having sex with a man she's had sex with hundreds of times before, than are morally outraged that she's actively engaged in incest with her own brother. This is a television show that features mass murder, war, slavery, and all manner of other actual atrocities, and these people get upset that a brother and sister had sex over the body of their dead son, oh, not for those reasons, but because she wasn't really in the mood.

    There can be no more necessary proof that you are in desperate need for moral leadership. When left to your own devices this is what you come up with, in a world where education and wisdom is available everywhere, when left to your own devices this is what you come up with. You need more wise individuals to guide and lead you and fewer blogs about your latest hysterical TV show outrage.

  • Michal Richter

    Hey, Cindy Davis, are you really putting the time into writing this article? Do you think the topic is really so important, or is there some hidden motives behind you writing this? Like you are personally especialy outraged about any depiction of rape? I wouldnt call that scene a rape at all, and even though we can discuss that (if we care enough, and I am afraid no one does), could you please hide your personal outrage in the meantime?

  • mal

    will adding anything matter? Jaime's intent was clear, he would have forced himself on her whether she consented or not. Jaime's still a rapist. Actions and words can't be changed. Jaime "I don't care". Awful. Ok, so Jaime's a rapist, I don't care about that, what I care about is that they are not treating this as it was, or won't treat it that way.

  • kirbyjay

    Ok, I'm gonna get killed for this one but, Cersei and Jaime have a sexual relationship. It looked to me like Cersei had no problem with the sex, she just didn't want to be going at it under the dead body of her son. She sounded ambivalent and had she wanted him to stop a good slap in the face and a knee to the balls would have cooled his ardor. Cersei has no problem letting her feelings be known.
    Think about it. You and your boyfriend are in a parking garage and boyfriend wants to fool around. He starts nuzzling and kissing and rubbing, you want to but you're not big on the location. If you really want to, you let him, if you really don't, you push him off and jump out of the car.
    Jaime may have forced himself on her but it was not in an aggressive and violent manner, and he is her sexual partner, albeit her brother. YUCK! At least that's what I saw.

  • David Manvell

    Jamie threw a young kid out of that tower because he saw him having sex with his sister. I have no love for Jamie at all. This show is full of bad stuff and each character is good and bad. Don't change anything. Keep making your episodes how you want them.

  • Jason Artiga

    Funeral sex is awesome tho

  • Jamie

    turning the dany/drogo scene into a rape scene almost completely ruined the character of dany for me. i hadnt read the books and just did not understand how one minute she was being raped by this horrible man and the very next episode she was calling the same man her sun and stars. i didnt feel i could connect with the character and as a result, despite her recent badassness, she's still nowhere near my favourite characters.
    and that's also why im so annoyed about this jaime/cersei rape scene. Because Jaime WAS one of my favourite characters and no in one moment of either lazy directing or poor storytelling, his character has been ruined for me. No matter what he does from now on, his redemptive arc has been permanently halted for me. and that pisses me off.

  • Guest
  • Guest

    Note: I am not condoning the scene, I just thought this meme rather apt given the level of outrage at it.

    At a certain point, you have to remember what terrible fucking people both Cersei and Jaime are. Does that excuse the horrificness of what happened in the episode? Of course not. But let's not kid ourselves. There are tons of things that have been shown on the series in the last 3 years that are (and I would argue in some cases just as) horrible yet there hasn't been such sturm and drang as I've seen erupt over the past two days.

    As it is, I'd very much like to hear what Benioff and Weiss have to say for all this, what their intentions were with the scene, and why they chose to change it from the way it was portrayed in the books.

    Some things to consider though that I've not seen brought up here:

    1) We're two episodes into the season. Perhaps there's a larger plan at work in terms of the arc this season and we just have to keep watching.

    2) The director, Alex Graves, is he a producing director? Or is he just one of the guys on the rotation? Because if he's one of the directors on rotation, then it means he's likely in for a week of prep, a week of shooting/directing, and a week or two of post production. He likely had only a cursory insight to what was going on with the overreaching arc of the season and was also likely instructed by the showrunners regarding how to shoot what they'd written. Through this lens, I'd say it's fair to attribute only a minimum of credence to what he's had to say so far and let it rest within the realm more of his own personal opinions than those of the show (at least if and until Benioff and Weiss choose to comment.)

    Finally, there is also a part of this whole situation (this article in particular) that reeks of more fandom trying to take ownership of the intellectual properties they fandom over. I don't question the intent behind the "Open Letter" posted here; I get it. But the idea that a bunch of blog writers would seem to know how to write a television series episode better than the actual people who do precisely that for a living is a little disconcerting. It was well on display with Courtney's reaction to the HIMYM finale a few weeks ago, and it just strikes me as short-sighted. My mother's a nurse. I've been around hospitals and medical equipment my whole life because of that. I would never dream of waltzing into an ER and say "I've known a couple surgeons and I've seen a few operations, let me perform your open heart surgery!" With all due respect toward the subject matter and how sensitive in nature it is (because I do not at all mean to trivialize the severity, horror or plain evilness of rape) almost insulting to the craft of television writing to assume that just because you don't like something, you must therefore automatically be able to do it better than the professionals.

  • $4792324

    One of the things that strike an odd note in many of the articles on this scene is the repeated comment about how this is against Jaime's character arc; that there's some kind of betrayal here because the audience was starting to like Jaime. To this I simply say that Jaime Lannister has been a stone cold killer from the start. I don't see how this act should be counter to the personality of someone who would toss a boy out a window without a second's thought. That he could also bond with Brienne doesn't change that.

  • John G.

    This is completely wrong. No one in GRRM's world is beyond redemption. He delights over and over again in the books in making you hate some character and then making you see things from their point of view.

    Jamie has been raised from infancy by Tywin Lannister to be egotistical, ruthless, and to be valued for nothing except his skill at fighting and his name. He's never really been outside of that bubble. Then he loses his sword hand. Everything he is or ever thought he was was instantly removed and he is confronted with a different world that he must face for the first time. He's never been helpless before. He's never been spit on and mocked and kicked around before. It changes everything for him. His time with Brienne challenges his notions of duty and honor. He's swimming up toward a new appreciation of what it means to be honorable. It all flows naturally, and then this? a totally nonsensical rape scene at the bed of his dead son?

  • $4792324

    Again, it's totally nonsensical only if you buy into the notion of him turning into a kindler, gentler Jamie. But this show can also play with conventions of what to expect from characters. I think he is simply a man who is both capable of growth with Brianne and utter brutality at the same time.

  • Pretty sure The Mountain is beyond redemption.

  • John G.

    you may be right. but he's a mountain, not a man. :)

  • Probably I'm mostly alone in this, but I totally read evolving consent as the scene progressed. After the initial ripping of the skirts, as they moved to the floor but before the final icky thrusting, she was astride him, visually and physically having the upper hand. Speaking of hands, she was clawing him toward her, not away. Scenes like this are carefully choreographed, every motion and position of their bodies just as scripted as every word they say. As Cersei's physical actions changed from fighting-off to pulling-toward, so did her dialogue. "No, stop" became "this is wrong", which feels less like the protest of a victim and more like the commentary of an accomplice.

    Sure, it's still muddy. She never gives a clear yes, and Jamie never pauses to hear one. It's very likely that my book-reading has colored my perception of the scene, but I can't unsee what I done seen.

    To clarify: rape is bad. Under no circumstances should a man hear "no, stop" and just keep ripping off clothes until he gets "yes" behavior. I don't think anybody is unclear on the fact that Cersei and Jamie Lannister are not models of good relationship decision making.

  • km092407

    Well put, I wholeheartedly agree. When the scene began, I thought I was going to be watching a rape and braced myself for it. However, as the scene progressed, I saw Cersei's behavior as more fighting her own urges knowing how wrong it all was and not wanting to give in to them, rather than her fighting Jaime's advances. It was two extremely flawed people, not knowing what to do with themselves in the face of harrowing grief, finding comfort in the only other person who knows just how much this loss meant to them, and mourning in a way that not only allowed them to express all their pent-up emotions but also showed the audience just how messed up these two really are. It was them being able to demonstrate their love for each other in front of their son, finally letting him in on the secret. Sick, twisted family time, but not rape. That was my interpretation, and as gross as it is, I think it does still serve the story, as it gives us a peek into their messed-up psyches.

  • AudioSuede

    I'm a little confused by the arguments I've seen about this scene saying that it is more misogynistic than the book version. Having read the excerpt from the book in which this scene takes place, it makes Cersei seem insatiable and weak-willed (the scene in the book is not ambiguous at all about her getting "into it" by the end, as she flat out spurs him on after initially saying no). The way it's written, Cersei makes a weak pass at rejecting Jaime's advances out of some sense of propriety, when the show's version was much darker but also made more sense. She wasn't just saying no because she's grieving over the body of her son, but because it's only been two episodes since she flat-out told Jaime their relationship couldn't go back to the way it was.

    I don't like what they made Jaime do, but at least at the end of the show's scene I had some sympathy for Cersei's plight, whereas in the book version it says that she secretly "wants it" and it seems way more "victim blamey," like she was "asking for it." That just doesn't sit well with me.

    That said, the director's quote is also confusing, because if he thought that scene turned emotionally by the end, he was very much not on the same level as the audience, the actors, or the editor.

  • tarkin12

    I'm so disturbed by how many "it wasn't rape in the books!" articles there have been. If the book scene was shown completely unchanged through the medium of TV, it would look similar. Although being inside Jaime’s head while reading the book may soften the scene a bit, I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing. It’s certainly a darker moment for Show!Jaime, as he’s doing attacking Cersei out of a combination of disgust with her and self-hatred for having loved her (can’t emphasize this enough, but I am NOT defending his actions), which is very different in tone from “relapsing” with her on their reunion out of habit, though both depict a sexual assault. Would a “yes” from Cersei at the end of the show’s scene have helped capture the essence of Martin’s book scene more? Mayhaps. But I’m not sure it should, and frankly I prefer not to have violence against women being depicted as morally ambiguous, as Martin does in both his book and his interview.

    So the "reason" it was in the show? Because it was in the books. This is a problematic world Martin created. If you think this has a straight-redemption arc, you haven't been paying attention.

  • TK

    Put differently, ask yourself this: what does the scene lose by removing the rape element from it? What is undone? Is the narrative damaged at all? If we're all so willing to acknowledge that these already are and were horrible people who already had a wedge driven between them, then does the rape aspect actually serve a storytelling purpose here?

    If the answer is no, then the next question must be "then why did they do it?"

    And once we've gone through the first exercise, we begin to realize that there really was no good reason for it.

  • AudioSuede

    I disagree. I think there is a narrative justification for the change (though we will have to see how the fallout plays next week).

    Specifically, it fits a more understandable arc for the emotional dilemma of Cersei, who's in a position where she's probably the only person in all of Westeros who's mourning the death of her son, as everyone else seems ready to move on, even Jaime, who she's already told must stay away. If the scene had played out the way it did in the books (Jaime forces himself on her, she says no, then they start having sex and she starts crying out in pleasure and telling him to keep going), it would come across as callous from both of them. In a dark, totally unsettling way, the show has physically expressed the internal horror of Cersei's suffering at the loss of her son by having the man she loved take advantage of her without any thought to her feelings or desires.

    I personally wish the scene hadn't happened at all, because it's a terrible image, but I feel like the pairing of that scene with the scene immediately before it, with her father telling her living son what a bad king her dead son was right over his corpse, makes a pretty clear, if extreme and brutal, connection between her lonely sorrow. In the book, she basically stops caring about her son's body and just wants to have sex with Jaime. In a horrible way, the show at least provides some pathos for her character and makes her inner turmoil more sympathetic.

  • TK

    the show has physically expressed the internal horror of Cersei's suffering at the loss of her son

    Then I return to my original question: was it necessary? Given that we saw her sobbing with her dead son in her arms, saw her frozen and horrified and numb as her father so callously talked about what a shitty king he was, after all of that, do we need a rape scene to somehow depict how much she is suffering? Or has the story, to this point, depicted that sufficiently? Given how much time they've spent showing how much Cersei loved Joffrey despite what an overwhelming asshole he was, and how effectively she conveyed her grief previous to that moment, I'd say that they managed to convey that pathos and horror quite adequately.

  • "Necessary' is a pretty unfair barometer, IMO. Is anything objectionable on Game of Thrones -- or dozens of other adult shows -- really necessary? The violence, the nudity, the rape, the torture? Of course not. Everything that appears in a television show doesn't need to be justified to the masses. If the masses don't feel like enough potentially objectionable scenes pass the smell test, the audience will shrink. I'm never ever the "market will take care of it guy," but in this case, I can't see another option.

  • AudioSuede

    Well, I guess my argument would only extend so far as "it shouldn't exist at all," because I agree that, even by my own justification for the scene, it's more like an exclamation point on the statement of the scene than a truly necessary scene. I think it's sensationalized and in poor taste, and was written to be shocking and really isn't vital to the series.

    But in terms of the change of the scene from its origins in the book, I would say that the show's version is, in a terrible way, actually less sexist and lascivious than the book, and to that end I think there should be more discussion of the way George R.R. Martin wrote the original scene rather than the barrage of think-pieces chiding the showrunners for changing the details into something that's much more brutal but which doesn't put nearly as much of the onus of the action on Cersei as the victim as it does on Jaime as the one who forces himself on her.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I don't think any questions about the narrative can be answered until we see the fallout.

  • Spazholio

    Would it be fair to say that there's "no good reason for it" *that we know about yet*? Is it possibly setting the stage for something later on in the series? I haven't read the books, and obviously have no foreknowledge of the show, but it's within the realm of possibility, no?

  • Maddy

    ALL OF THIS sums up a lot of my issues.

  • TK

    I am consistently surprised at how many people don't understand why there is a difference in emotional responses to rape vs. murder in entertainment, and how easily they shrug off the occurrence of the former without stopping to wonder whether its contribution to the narrative (if any) outweighs its impact.

  • L.O.V.E.

    I am consistently surprised at people's emotional responses to rape vs. murder in entertainment, and how easily they shrug off the occurrence of the later without stopping to acknowledge its contribution to the narrative and its impact. Have we become so desensitized to murder that if Jaime poisoned Cersei we might cheer but we are aghast at his decision to rape her?

    The greatest writers have used "murder-out-of-love" or "suicide-out-of-love" as a twisted literary device. In a (GoT) world of murders at weddings (beheadings no less), perhaps it is only rape that will evoke the necessary emotional response the writer's are looking for.

    In other words, people who watch GoT aren't blinking an eye to dicks getting cut off or people getting eaten. So when you do need to take it to the next level, where is the room to go? It seems to be rape. It seems the only thing that has emotional heft at this point.

  • nosio

    It was gross and awful and uncomfortable. Unless they're setting up each character for completely different arcs than they're given in the books, I can't see how it was justified. There are a number of any small details that could've been changed to accomplish what the show runners and episode director say they were going for, but the audience was given what we were given, and it's hard to justify Jaime's complete character assassination.

  • Guest

    *POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT FOR NON BOOK READERS BELOW*

    Although (and here I'm giving the show a LOT of benefit of the doubt), the *only* thing I can think of for a semi-legitimate reason as to why this scene was done in this particular way is that it will heighten/speed up the trainwreck Cersei is about to become. Given that a lot of her mental unraveling happens during her POV chapters in the books, it's possible that the Benioff and Weiss are trying to prepare their audience for her absolute unhinging. Perhaps they did this to show that she is being absolutely stripped of everything, every last resource of power, and so when she resumes her role as Queen regent after uh, certain events, it makes sense that she is sort of insane with lust for power.

  • Dumily

    Can you explain the character assassination? Real question, not trying to be bitchy. Because I've seen some character development, but I haven't seen any character redemption. He doesn't seem like he's at all sorry for any of the terrible things he's done previously. Even if we know him better than the guy who pushed a child out of a window in the first season, I don't think he's become better than that guy.

  • nosio

    Are you a book reader? (also a real question, not trying to be bitchy!) I ask because while I love the show, it was his POV chapters in the books that totally won me over; he is portrayed as a far better man whose been dealt a way shittier hand than the show depicts. Also, at the point in ASOIAF in which this scene sort of takes place, Jaime raping Cersei would not only undo the last few years of character growth and development, it would also preclude him (in my mind) from a few plot points farther down the line that actually do (in my mind) redeem him.

    It's sort of unfair, I suppose, but it's hard for me to distill the show and the books into two distinct storytelling experiences. My fondness/dislike for characters in the show are totally based on how I felt about them while reading.

  • Dumily

    I'm not unfortunately. I keep meaning to, but I never find the time. And I'm sure that would change my perception of the scene. But as only a show watcher, I sort of felt like "Well sure he'd force himself on his sister. Dude's a creepy bastard."

  • Dumily

    Am I the only one that thinks Jamie hasn't really grown that much as a character? We've gotten some additional explanation as to why he killed the Mad King, but he's never shown remorse for any of the horrible things he's done. I think Jamie's worldview is incredibly self- centered. He cares about Brienne so he doesn't want her to get raped. He doesn't care about Bran so he pushes him out of a window. He cares about Cersei so he's willing to kill his cousin (who he doesn't care about) in order to get back to her. He cares about all of King's Landing not burning to death so he kills the king. But he doesn't care enough about Ned Stark's opinion to explain what happened. In fact, all those years later, all he really cared about was how judge-y Ned was.

    And I actually like that they put in this weird, vaguely rapey scene to remind us that Jamie is a terrible person. He might be hot, and maybe we like watching him interact with Brienne, but at the end of the day, he's an unrepentant murderer who is fighting for nothing bigger than himself. I think we need to be reminded of that.

  • I kind of like GRRM's idea that they're terrible people because of all the things they've already done, and they both would be unable to resist having sex beside their son's corpse. Like, that's not enough?

  • hmm

    And there's so many other ways to show they're terrible people, if the viewers need reminding (and do we?) - rape is such a lazy narrative choice. After this, I worry about what they're going to write into Sansa's stay with Littlefinger...

    Run, show-Sansa, run!!

  • Dumily

    I should preface, this is based only on the show since I haven't read the books.

    I think we specifically needed to be reminded that Jamie is a bad person though. For a couple of reasons: 1.) He hasn't done anything evil since he killed his cousin back in season two. Since then, he's been on the Jamie and Brienne Goodwill Tour which has softened his image for a lot of people. 2.) Just straight up sexism. Cersei is a woman attempting to weild power against Tyrion, and had a hand in killing Ned Stark. She's never going to not be seen as a bad guy even when we're able to to muster some sympathy for her. Jamie is much more likely to fall victim to Logan Echolls/Eric Northman disease. They started out as the psychopath bad guys, but then we realized they're hot so whatever terrible thing they did early in the season is explained away/ forgotten about because True Blood doesn't do consistent characterization.

    And I can see why the reminder that he's a bad guy doesn't need to be him raping his sister, but we needed something and we needed it fast. The changes that they've made to the story line made him a likable, wounded and, now rejected, hot guy. The audience would not have allowed him to stay a bad guy for much longer.

  • Maddy

    I think there are ways to communicate that Jaime isn't completely reformed or a 'good guy' without making him rape his sister and take away her agency. If rape is the only way they could think of showing Jaime's moral complexity, than they made a bad and lazy storytelling choice.

  • Dumily

    That I can agree with. If you only object to the fact that it's bad storytelling, I can get behind that. But I don't understand the idea that he's been maligned by the rape scene. He's not a good person.

  • Maddy

    Just because you're a bad person doesn't mean you will rape someone. That is something (in my view) that Jaime just wouldn't do.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I don't think Jaime would rape strangers, or after a battle, or Sansa. That would be out of character to me. This rape seems very much about a complicated love/power structure with his sister.

  • L.O.V.E.

    The last time I saw Jaime spreading his sister's legs he tried to murder a kid for witnessing it. So there is no confusion, I think rape is VERY BAD. There is no need to get into the discussion of "What is worse: attempted murder of a small child or raping your sister/lover?" They both make you a deplorable human being, right up there with attempting to murder your brother (Cersei), framing a loyal man for murder and thus leading to his beheading (Cersei) ...

    Again, rape is VERY BAD. But on the list of shitty things that happened in this episode, it didn't even take the top spot: that would be the murder of an innocent husband and wife in front of a child and then telling the child about how you are going to eat his parents.

    But lets all give a fuck about Cersie now. If we think of rape as the violent act it most certainly is, then my equality meter says we would all cheer if Jaime put a sword through her skull and called it a day.

  • Jenn Hamm

    Yes. A 1000 this ^

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Oddly enough, the acts in my mind that are comparable to rape in evil intention are the murder of a child and deliberate maiming.

  • Dumily

    And I can totally see that. I personally think he would be capable of raping Cersei if he felt like 1.) she was actually into it and just needed to be "convinced" and 2.) if he felt that he was owed her. If he views his own morality in terms of her (he only pushed Bran out the window because he loved her, he only killed his cousin because he needed to get back to her), I could see him forcing her in order to restore his image of himself. Because I think he's a crazy narcissist who is a terrible person.

  • Maddy

    I get that - and it's possible that I'm creating a nicer Jaime in my head. But it's not just about Jaime to me - it's about Cersei and the show's decision to take away her sexual agency (and the larger issue of them taking away so much of her agency in general in the show)

  • Dumily

    I agree that they've done plenty to remove Cersei's agency, but I'm not sure if this is the worst thing they've done to remove Cersei's power. In the words of my good friend L.O.V.E rape is VERY BAD. I am in no way attempting to apologize or minimize any rape. But on the show, Cersei was already forced by her father to marry Robert and forced by Robert to bear him children. And after she'd done what a good daughter does and marry one guy and give him babies, her asshole dad turns around and make her marry some other asshole she doesn't love.

    And I'm not trying to start a "which injustice is worse" contest. I just don't like some of the comments suggesting that if you weren't as a viewer absolutely appalled by the scene then you're a rape apologist and hate women. I was disturbed by the scene, but not as much as watching Ygritte shoot a guy in the back of his head while he's talking with his son about lunch.

  • Maddy

    I don't think people who defend the scene itself are rape apologists - I do think people who defend Jaime in that scene or try to say that it's 'ambiguous' are (which you're clearly not doing)

  • Liroo

    Alls I know is that reading the comments section of these discussions makes it very fucking terrifyingly apparent how down some dudebros are with rape. Because it's 'ambiguous' (WAT.) or because we shouldn't be offended by our 'PC', 'delicate' and 'female' sensitivities when it comes to superfluous rape scenes.

    Because what about murder? What about Theon? What about the zero sum/straw man game we're all making up in our heads right now called 'the tragedy Olympics'.

    It doesn't surprise me that such people would come out of the woodwork after a rape scene, to tell us all how we ought to be responding to it. Or even better, defending the showrunners rights. As if their 'rights' are what's in question here. But hot damn. If I had some dragons, I'd burn every last one of you rape apologists to the ground. But don't worry, I wouldn't rape you beforehand. Because that would be barbaric.

  • AudioSuede

    I 100% agree that the MRAs are out in full force and it makes me sick. My whole thing is putting this all on the feet of the showrunners instead of on GRRM, when he's the one who came up with the scene in the first place and his version was wayyyy more "she was asking for it," "justified rape" than the show version.

  • dangeruss

    good point

    its funny how topics like rape, diversity, etc show the worst in people and i feel that the anonymity of the internet encourage this bad behavior.

  • Maddy

    This is amazing.

  • Enrique del Castillo

    Showrunners, when GRRM is less creepy than you, you know you have big issues.

  • AudioSuede

    Honestly? I think his version is way creepier.

  • Ben

    Ok I'm not a book reader but I didn't have a problem with the scene as a narrative choice (yeah obviously I had a problem with the whole 'dude raping his sister over the dead body of their incest son bit because wow that is like 10 levels of just fucked up) And this is gonna come off a lot like defending Jamie for raping his sister and excusing his behavior but it's definitely not meant that way. He raped her, that's bad. No question about it.

    Just trying to understand what he's thinking in the situation.

    Ok so the whole problem is that Jamie wouldn't do that. He's all like he'd make a rapist kill him etc, saving Brienne from rape and all that and that's all true.

    But given the context I don't think he sees himself as a rapist at this point.
    So cersei and him have been in a consenting (if icky) relationship that has always been kinda weird and about power games and shit. Then he goes through hell to get back to her and she is just like "Bitch you took too long" and fucks off. Then they have that brief moment of passion together over Jofferies body and he sees it as a "Shit it's on son" kinda thing and goes for it.

    When he says rape, he's thinking of rape in the context of the world they live in. The soldier dudes beating up Brienne and raping her, soldiers killing a village and raping it's women. This kind of increddibally violent image of women beind held down in the dirt and mud while a gang of guys take turns with her.
    Taking someone who you're in a consensual relationship with when they're not feeling up to it is like a whole other thing in his mind. It's not Rape it's having sex with your partner. I mean shit what he did wouldn't have even been considered rape back in the 50's, let alone in medievil fantasy settings.

    As for his evolution as a character. I think it's that kinda thing where when you're away from people for a long time you grow and change without them, but then when you're back with them you kind of revert to how you were. Like whenever I'm home with my 3 sisters the dynamic is back to how it was when we were kids. We've all changed but when you're in that situation you just kind of revert to how you were. And Jamie was definitely not a good person, after he was slighted and felt like Cersei wasn't giving him what he rightfully deserved after everything he went through last season, I don't see what he did as entirely out of character for someone who pushed Bran out a window in the first eppisode.

  • BAM

    Get the fuck over it. Sheesh.

  • Pants-are-a-must

    Honestly? If there is a longer cut of this scene, which changes the way we would've interpreted it, IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN THE SHOW. No "oh, but in the director's cut it's all different!" excuses (which I doubt is even the case). It was intended to be disturbing? Mazeltov, you've just lost a good chunk of viewers. Being humble in the face of one's success is great, but being FLAT OUT STUPID about misogyny and rape is a whole different thing. This is what the show's creators decided to cut to in the editors room. This is their intended result. And I, for one, am done with this show.

  • Spazholio

    Don't be hyperbolic. They haven't "lost a good chunk of viewers" over this. And if this was enough to make you leave an otherwise amazing show, then it's better off without you.

  • Pants-are-a-must

    Gee, thanks for leaving an asshole comment. An internet full of hatred for this episode begs to differ with you. You think this is the only reason I stop watching this show? How about it's the last straw in a show full of sexploitation, boobsploitation, and misogyny? How about the trivializing of rape? How about the objectification of nearly every single female character in this show? Oh, I could give you a full essay about how horrible this show is to women, but I bet there are enough of them going around. Take your bs back to reddit. I am allowed to have an opinion that differs from a die-hard fan's one.

  • Genevieve Burgess

    FYI: Most of us who have a problem with this scene have a problem with it because of the characters involved and their previously established relationships and personalities, not because we are somehow delusional and think Westeros is a kind and fuzzy place. Jaime is a man who risked himself (and lost his hand) to save Brienne from rape, after telling her that if he were a woman he'd make his rapist kill him. It doesn't make sense for a man who holds that view to force himself on a woman, particularly a woman he adores as much as his sister. He threw a boy out a window at her insistence, and then he turns around and assaults her? It's not a consistent characterization.

    Saying "Well, that's just their world" dismisses the fact that different characters act different from each other and hold different values. Maybe the relationship going forward will offer answers, but at this point I feel like they meant to show the scene in a more ambiguous light and failed and it's going to poison that relationship for a lot of viewers.

  • hmm

    YES! You are as awesome as your name is awesome, Genevieve Burgess!

  • Thanks for this thread, easily the most thoughtful part of the comments for this post.

    1. It's a good 'open letter'. It asks questions and offers reactions and a desire for understanding.
    2. We want to understand, not simply to criticize.

    If we can gain some insight into why the change was made, consciously, then perhaps we can accept the portrayal as appropriate/authentic, even if the act is always to be condemned. My current thinking is the scene has been poorly executed, and both the choice to not show consent and to alter character arcs could be significant mistakes for this season, unless the trajectories show us going forward how this specific choice was important.

  • JJ

    Myles McNutt's piece on this (http://cultural-learnings.com/... delves into it more thoroughly and summarizes my thoughts very well but to call it character assassination or not a consistent characterization completely ignores everything Jaime has experienced since returning to King's Landing. For me, the "I know he was incestuous, murdering, and horribly duplicitous before, but he's changed now!" argument is less nuanced and more oversimplified than it is "consistent characterization."

  • McNutt's piece is excellent and everyone would do well to read it.

    I do agree with Yossarian that the scene was poorly executed, based on all I can discern from multiple sources. Too bad.

  • Yossarian

    But the real problem here is with how poorly that scene was executed, and that is on the director, writers, and show runners.

    We can engage in speculation and try to reconcile that scene with Jamie's character and make excuses for the motivations and try to justify how it may not be completely inconsistent.

    But the fundamental problem, as Cindy and others have pointed out, is "There is clearly a chasm between how Mr. Graves intended the scene, and how the rest of us have interpreted what we saw Sunday night."

    And the director saying things like “Well, it becomes consensual by the end..." (which is always going to be the dumbest statement anyone can make, right up there with "I'm not racist, but...")

    So even if we can create a scenario where Jamie would be the date rape type, the scene in question was jarring in all the wrong ways and completely out of place and unnecessary. They've already fucked up the timeline, as GRRM points out, which is fine but it removes the urgency and motivation for that scene, so why include it?

    He forces himself on his sister next to the corpse of their bastard son. It's a crazy fucked up sensational scene. There's going to be a certain degree of difficulty to pulling it off. There's going to be a resistance from audience suspension of disbelief that these characters would behave in this way in this situation. If you're going to attempt that scene you damn well better be good enough to pull it off. And they weren't. Not even close. It was just bad. And that makes it susceptible to a lot of criticism. And just because we love a show doesn't mean we can't point out mistakes, like this.

  • JJ

    And never did I say that you couldn't point out mistakes, because of course you can. Mine is the argument for why I don't think it's character assassination necessarily. I didn't comment on the execution question because I do think that the execution was flawed.

    On its face though, I don't think that Jaime forcing himself on Cersei is inconceivable for his character as established in the show because we've seen what his anger and his lack of control over a situation had made him capable of.

  • AudioSuede

    My problem with people putting this on the showrunners is that the book version is, in my mind, much more problematic. If anything, they took a horrific scene from George R.R. Martin and tried to find some humanity in it, even if that humanity was being violated in a monstrous act of rape.

  • Pippa_Laughingstock

    I think it's not so much that people think he's good. I think it's that while he is a defenestrator and sister-fucker, his type of bad is not rape-bad. As Cindy notes, everything we've seen before indicates he's not into rape. Not every shitty person in this world is shitty in a rapey way.

  • Vladimir Arutyunyan

    But why is defenestration not worse than rape? It was attempted murder of a child. In this case it was the rape of one's partner, which according to book readers should have become consensual and the show tries to point it out.

    Is rape worse than attempted murder. Maybe, but I use that to argue that if we saw season one Jamie rape his sister, we would have thought what a scumbag, thats so like Jaime. However his story arc has evolved to see him gain somewhat of a conscience. So this season's Jaime seems somewhat ill fitted to carry out such a deplorable act. Thats why I thought it wasn't a great scene.

  • Pippa_Laughingstock

    Point taken on why you didn't like the scene, and I think this point contributes to the failure of that scene. However, I think it's sort of misguided, story-wise and real life-wise, to say that if you're the kind of person to do this terrible thing, then you're naturally the kind of person to do any lesser terrible thing. Villains or anti-heroes have their own logic and code going on, and it's entirely possible that someone capable of killing all manner of people would never, even if starving, steal. Hannibal the cannibal, for instance, cannot abide impoliteness. People who are immoral are not amoral. Their morals deviate from the norm, but they've got their own internal logic.

  • JJ

    Kudos for use of "defenestrator!"

    I agree that up to this point, especially based on his conversation with Brienne about how he would react to being raped if he were a woman, would make it seem like he wouldn't be capable of rape. However, I don't believe it's unthinkable that a conflicted, incestuous murderer who has been starting towards redemption would cross another line given such dramatic loss of control (his hand, his son, his relationship/love, his identity, his attempted legacy) in his life.

  • Pippa_Laughingstock

    While I respect your opinion, when considering stories, I think it's useful to distinguish between "What is believable generally" and "What is believable according to what we've established within this fictional world". Your point is that it's believable generally, and I grant you that. My problem is that it's not believable according to the terms of the fictional world.

  • J4Sho

    Thanks for that link. I agree that he did a great job of saying what I've been thinking about the scene, the character, and the discussion as a whole.

    People will feel whatever they feel and that's fine. I just happen to be one of the people who feel that it was a great scene and am interested to see where the writers are going with this as far as how both of the character are going to deal with the aftermath.

    The only part about the whole thing that truly bothers me is the questioning of whether it was indeed rape. Of course it was. Period. That should not even be part of the debate in my opinion.

  • JJ

    "Of course it was. Period. That should not even be part of the debate in my opinion."

    Absolutely. There are far better things to discuss or debate than what should be the most obvious in this case.

  • Maddy

    It doesn't bother me that people are defending the scene from the showrunners, it bothers me that people are debating whether that was rape. WTF.

  • THIS SO MUCH.

  • Genevieve Burgess

    That's the thing, though, I DON'T think he's changed. Jaime and Cersei's relationship was always portrayed as loving, as a respite for her from her brutal and turbulent marriage to Robert. He threatened to kill guards in order to be next to her for the birth of their children while Robert was off hunting. He has shown a willingness to do anything for her, even things he may not have chosen to do otherwise ("The things I do for love.").

    Jaime may not be a good person, but he was always good to Cersei from what we've heard from both of them. We're saying that a few weeks worth of rejection is enough to completely change the dynamics of a relationship that's been built over a lifetime. I don't buy it.

  • Dumily

    Maybe it's different in Westeros, but I don't see how you can have a "good" sexual relationship with your sister. I always saw it not as a loving or caring relationship, but the result of the most fucked up family dynamic Tywin could come up with. I haven't read the books, but it didn't feel like a betrayal of Jamie's character because I always figured their sexual relationship started with some fucked up, coercive power struggle.

  • John G.

    in the books, incest is considered a sin, but the Targaryens did it, so Cersei and Jamie's relationship is kind of like trying to be cool. It's that forbidden thing that only the truly royal of all royals gets to get away with. However, it's not fake. It's made clear over and over again that Cersei and Jamie really do love each other like that.

  • Dumily

    I'm not saying that they didn't really want to bone each other. I'm saying unless their familial relationships are vastly different from our own, their relationship has to be an incredibly dysfunctional shit show.

  • narfna

    It's been a while since I've read the books, but I think Cersei was the one who initiated the relationship when they were about 16. I think out of jealousy? I seem to remember a passage from her POV in AFFC where she remembers just opening up her legs to him, and he looks and then just goes for it. I think?

  • Dumily

    The Mister read all of them in the past few months, and remembered it started at 13. I haven't asked him for details on who initiated/ how it started, but he didn't seem shocked by the scene on Sunday. I was just a little surprised at how many internetters felt like the rape somehow ruined something. Like really? The incestuous, murder twins have a creepy rape scene so now you're not into them?

  • John G.

    everyone is younger in the books. Everything happens to them at much younger ages.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I think it's facile to reduce it to "he turns around and assaults her" because there's quite a bit going on in between there. If it's not out of character for him to play up in morals by rescuing Brienne, then it's not necessarily out of character for him to play down, by forcing his way past the wall he thinks his other half has put in front of him.

    I also (and I feel queasy even going into a "levels of rape" discussion) do think that he would not consider coercing his sister to be the same violation as being used by a group of enemy soldiers for entertainment. Nor do I think Cersei, who dealt with an unwanted husband for years but had her poison ready if the castle gates were breached, will consider it the same form of injury. An injury yes, but not in the same way. Since spousal rape is still "acceptable" in a good chunk of the world today, it doesn't seem farfetched or illogical to me in a feudal universe, even if it does seem distasteful. I don't cheer it, but in a world of beheadings and cannibalism, this seems par for the course.

  • Genevieve Burgess

    Again, I'm not saying this isn't typical for the world. I'm saying we haven't been given anything from Jaime that would show him to be this kind of cruel to his sister. Specifically. If they had established that the two of them had a very dominant/submissive dynamic and that their typical interactions were forceful, I'd be more on board. If the last shot of Cersei had been her embracing him and saying "Yes" instead of shoving at him and saying "Don't" I'd be ok with it. It'd still be a complex and unsettling scene, but it would fit better with what we know of the characters.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    For me, the fact that we haven't seen it before is the reason for the scene, and to my mind a far better one than merely the unnecessarily provocative transgression of sex next to a corpse. Their relationship is in New territory - his new behavior is a response to Cersei's new behavior (which, if I must clarify for trolls, is not the same thing as saying she deserved it or brought it on herself).

  • zoes_revenge

    I created an account just to tell you that this is the best response I've heard in response to this topic. You hit the nails on all the heads.

  • ferryman

    Perhaps if dear viewers are so sensitive to rape in any of it's forms they should not be watching this program. Maybe it's just me, but I would have thought all the squeamish viewers would have been weeded out by now, considering the incest and attempted murder, torture, sadism, beheadings, and various murders that have taken place. I would have thought that murder would trump lesser crimes on the intolerable scale, but I guess murder is fine as long as there is no rape involved. But it's not about the rape you say?
    If the outrage is because the scene differed from the same scene in the book, then you haven't been paying attention. This isn't the first time the show and the books differed; where was the outrage before? But it's not about the difference from the book you say?
    Well then; what's your beef? Personally, and I know it's not the popular stance on this and many other sites, I don't let pretend rape bother me any more than I let pretend murder bother me.

  • Yossarian

    Yeah, it's almost like there's more to it than just a knee-jerk reaction to rape or a knee-jerk reaction to taking liberties with the source material.

    It's like these people are responding to something more nuanced and complex than that and weighing the shock-value of the rape scene against an informed understanding of character development and narrative significance from having watched the show (and read the books) that even takes into account social/cultural/historical significance from real world experience and then evaluating the value and strengths of that scene against it's weaknesses.

    But that's crazy, because then how would they have come to a different conclusion than you did? Clearly they just have a problem with rape (but they're hypocrites because they totally watched season two). Fucking casuals.

  • John G.

    the differential between your upvotes and the idiot you're responding to are not big enough. your count should be about a thousand times larger.

  • Maddy

    Yeah man, all those complainers are just pearl clutchers who can't deal with watching hardcore badass stuff. People should just stop being whiny and oversensitive. FFS.

  • saint_91

    They do a good job in general on the show, but they have a habit of turning things into rape for no reason at all. Look at the way they turned the sensual consensual sex between Dany & Drogo in the books into yet another rape scene. This turned Dany into a girl who fell in love with her rapist instead of a man who surprised her by showing her respect, honour and affection when no-one else in the world did. It would be nice to hear an explanation from Benioff and Weiss.

  • I've heard that even George R.R. Martin said he would have written the scenes between Dany/Drogo in the book differently at this point - they were "consensual" but not realistic given the situation he had put them in or the characterization of the Dothraki that he had established.

  • saint_91

    Really? I would love to see a source for that. I thought it was very realistic - not everyone in a supposedly savage people is a rapist. It gave the Dothraki a little depth. The fact that he was kind to her makes her love for him believable. It would have been unrealistic that a foreigner like Daenerys would have fallen for him, if he'd turned out to be the senseless, dumb, raping brute she'd feared he would be all along.

  • Maddy

    I liked in the books that Drogo was actually really clever and you got more of a look at the Dothraki as a culture they weren't just the 'savage brown people' that they were in the show. There are lots of issues with how the show depicted the Dothraki.

  • Crap, I just read it yesterday too. Let me see if I can find it and the source.

  • Maddy

    I still don't know if that would help or just make the situation worse to be honest. They seem like cool guys but I just ... leaving aside how upsetting this scene was, their decision in this case (as writers and showrunners) just honestly baffles me.

  • saint_91

    Just holding up their hands and saying "we f--ked up" would be a great start. I always have time for people who can admit they got things wrong. And they obviously did, whether it was the decision to turn these events into rape or the huge disconnect between creators and audience in interpretation of their depiction. I love the show in general, and if they can admit these things were errors, I would be a lot more comfortable with my enjoyment of the show.

  • hapl0

    Still not entirely sure that it was rape rape.

  • Maddy

    What the hell is 'rape rape'?

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