Discussing 'Game of Thrones' as Television with George R.R. Martin

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And You May Ask Yourself, Well ... How Did I Get Here? Discussing 'Game of Thrones' as Television with George R.R. Martin

By Emily Chambers | Trade News | July 29, 2014 | Comments ()


After his big week at Comic- Con, George R.R. Martin sat down with The Daily Beast to discuss the show, his writing approach and ultimately “that” scene.

I think there’s been enough written about Jaime’s rape of Cersei that we don’t need to spill anymore ink over it (utilize any more pixels? What’s the online version of that saying), but I did want to highlight one specific exchange between the interviewer Annaliza Savage and Martin:

AS: What do you think about the HBO series drastically altering scenes from the books, for instance the rape scene between Jaime and Cersei in the sept? It really changes Jaime’s whole character.

GRRM: That scene is written somewhat different in the TV series than in the books.

AS: I think that’s why it disappointed so many fans.

Is it just me, or is that line of criticism kind of, well, shitty? Yes, they did change the scene. And? Shouldn’t the showrunners have as much right to shape the story in this form as Martin does in the book version?

This was one of the first times that I was actually really happy not to be a book reader. Because without any additional knowledge of Jaime’s character arc, I wasn’t really that shocked. Forcing himself on his sister didn’t irrecoverably change the way I viewed Jaime. It was very much “Oh, you pushed a kid out of a window? And now you’re raping your sister? OK.”

And that’s not to say that there hasn’t been a lot of really well thought out, insightful criticism of the scene and why book-readers reacted to it the way that they did. It’s only to say that book-readers don’t have any claim to the characters or their stories. If and when the stories change, they should be judged on how well it progresses the overall plot or advances a character’s development. It shouldn’t be judged on only if the change took place.

It seems like Martin gets that.

Or at the very least, he’s gotten really good at hiding his rage about it.


Source: The Daily Beast

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Maddy

    I also kind if thInk since the show runners themselves refuse and/ or haven't been asked about this, it's only natural they ask him. He is an executive producer even if he isn't super involved.

  • $78742978

    "Is it just me, or is that line of criticism kind of, well, shitty?"

    "And that’s not to say that there hasn’t been a lot of really well thought out, insightful criticism of the scene and why book-readers reacted to it the way that they did."

    These two sentences just do not add up together.

    So, just a little unrelated but related story of mine to beat on a less dead horse. I live with a very uptight woman who permits neither meat, nor alcohol or drugs, nor men in the house. She found my pipe and went apeshit (I do not smoke in the house). Hours long conversation, crying, calling women's crisis hotlines for me. And, to give context, this woman used to be an alcoholic and, in her words, weed addict. For her drugs are really bad. So towards the end of this godawful conversation, she asks me if I am prostituting myself, because I insist on paying cash lots of the time because I freelance tutor. She does not actually think prostitution is wrong, but it is illegal and she doesn't want it in her house. I'm just trying to get you into her headspace a little so you can see the logic of it, what little there is. She thinks, if I lied to her about my self medication, why wouldn't I lie to her about this, and there is evidence (paying in cash) that I might do this.

    But at the end of the day this lady thinks that because I smoke weed and lie about it, I might just be prostituting myself and lying about it. Ridiculous, right? Because I think we all share similar moral compasses here, where smoking weed is pretty normal and prostituting yourself (I do not think it is wrong either, for the record), is a pretty risky, unusual thing to do. We don't share Jamie's moral compass, but in his world, murdering people, even children, is a pretty every day occurrence. Raping the only woman he's ever been with? Not so much.

    And also I think we women are just so fucking sick of the rape rape rape rape rape that if you use it can there please be a fucking point to it They're fine like two episodes later, no repercussions whatsoever. And when they had Drogo rape Dany when that also didn't happen, it's like these fanboys are rapejacking a story with lots of awesome female characters that lots of female real people love.

    I mean you can understand it and have a different opinion. But you can't understand it and say that line of criticism is shitty and reduce it to being mad that the books changed. Lots of shit about the book has changed, but yeah I get annoyed that these overgrown adolescents need MOAR RAPE, MMMMKAY?

  • John G.

    there is a growing level of book reader hate brewing these days, and strangely at a time when more and more people are reading the series and thus becoming book readers themselves.

  • Maddy

    I like that more people are reading the books. Basically this show is the best and worst thing that happened for this book series, but GRRM is happy with his pile of money.

  • Maddy

    I also wish GRRM would stop talking about the show if all he is ever going to say is 'it's different in the books'. Seems like a cop out to escape criticism to be honest. I get that he's in a difficult position but stop bro.

  • Maddy

    I don't necessarily think you can't do a rape scene. But you should at least know that you're doing that. I'm not someone who even thinks Jaime is redeemed as much as we get a new perspective and insight on his character. It pisses me off for Cersei's character more than Jaime (although that wasn't my initial reaction). Jaime raped her because she gave him blue balls. And yes I understand that 'depiction doesn't equal endorsement' but they also never even mentioned it ever again so screw that argument. This is bringing my book knowledge in here but both of those characters would have understood that that was rape. Also this whole argument that you don't have to show consequences of rape if the characters don't recognise it as that makes no sense to me.

    And then they tried to do a 'turns the tables' scene in the last episode which makes it seem pretty clear to me that they fucked up. Reading some criticism I've actually changed my opinion on the original scene. But something being problematic in the source material doesn't mean it gets a free pass in the adaptation either. Bryan Fuller gets this, I wish they did. I'm pretty glad that director isn't coming back.

    I don't mind every change - some are good, some are bad, some are meh. It's hit and miss which makes sense considering how huge the challenge is in making this show. But someone having a hard job doesn't mean not criticising when they screw up

  • Sammers

    I have read the books, watch the show, and I love both equally, but separately. I really do not understand how people flip the fuck out over every little change that the tv series makes. Generally speaking, Benioff and Weiss took on the task of ADAPTING this gargantuan series, so obviously some things are going to have to change. As long as they stay true to the heart (for the lack of a better word) of the series, I really don't care. Yes, *that scene* was awful and didn't make much sense especially when everyone that was involved in that episode was saying different things. But when you remove what was said by the director, GRRM, et al, did that scene really change Jamie's character? This is a guy who has a sexual relationship with his sister, pushed a child out of a window, physically lashed out at Ned and killed a bunch of his men... Sure, we have seen a different side of him over the last couple of seasons, but does that mean he has changed? Doubtful. This guy has some serious issues, and I wouldn't put it past him to force himself upon his sister, even if that is not they way the director intended that scene to read.

    Ugh, I am rambling.. I've just had enough of the whole book reader vs. show watcher debate, that I can't even make sense of it anymore. I'm gonna go drink.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    *timing Maddy's entrance*

    *also remembering all previous discussions on this topic and deciding not to get suckered in*

  • JustOP

    If a deviation from the book happens, and it is in a worse direction, then the obvious question to ask is 'why change it'? A significant portion of people thought what happened with Jaime was one of those instances.

    As to this statement:
    >Shouldn’t the showrunners have as much right to shape the story in this form as Martin does in the book version?

    Not entirely sure. It's an adaption of an already popular and well-known series - I'm sure they have the 'right' to shape the story how they want, but I don't think it's a good idea. I'd rather they changed small things that have little to do with character.

    An example - the Jaime and Cersei thing. If 'rape' is what they intended to shoot, then that isn't something I particularly welcomed given Jaime's character development. However, the difference in *SPOILER* the Red Vipers death and how it was presented was actually more enjoyable and affecting that how I experienced it in the book, without damaging any character development.

  • pfeiffer87

    yet another post criticising book readers. yawn.

  • Maddy


  • Art3mis

    I have no problems with the show changing things from the books. I have big problems with the show making a huge character change without realizing that's what it was doing (seriously, the interviews with the director after that episode aired are... enlightening) and then continuing along with the character's arc without in any way reflecting that big rapey character change.

    I actually think it might have been a really interesting, bold decision if the show had purposely decided to have Jaime rape Cersei. As you point out, it's not like he hasn't done really bad stuff in the past, it wouldn't be out of question that he would do something like that. But the show DIDN'T make that decision -- it thought it was showing a consensual (if super screwed up) sexual encounter, and therefore never explored what the aftermath of Jaime raping Cersei would look like, and continued to paint Jaime like a totally redeemed man.

  • meh

    It's hard to respond to this without spoiling the books, but there's a lot of character development that doesn't necessarily follow a redemption arc. Characters become more sympathetic but in no way less monstrous.

    That said, this is the second sex scene in the series that has gone from uncomfortably consensual to flat out rapey. It's one of my few complaints with the series. The other being that I can neither afford a suit of armor nor do I have the skills to make one, and I would be a PERFECT cosplay Brienne.

  • Maddy

    If you're talking about Dany/ Drogo that was a rape scene in the books too. She is not old enough to consent. She has been sold as a child bride. And he rapes her plenty of times in the books after that. And yes I'm 'judging by modern standards' come at me. Westeros isn't real. That whole Dany/ Drogo love story is skeevy in the books and the show to be honest.

  • meh

    I do agree she is not old enough to consent, and I really don't want to be the one to argue shades of consent (I think Stockholm syndrome would not apply as they had been around each other for what, a day?) but I just think the act in the books is more nuanced than in the show and I wish they had shown that. Doesn't make it right or justifiable at all, but I think it would have been more interesting of a character moment for both Dany and Drogo. Still rape, still wrong, still vile....but different.

    I almost find it more disturbing the way their relationship developed in the books, because it seems like there WERE Stockholm implications and the series progressed, and GRRM seemed content yo say, "oh, but she learned how to f*ck him so it all turned out happily". Show does that too.

  • Maddy

    Yep. It's super skeevy in the books and the show. I kind of wish the show hadn't done the whole love story angle to be honest.

    I think the Stockholm syndrome thing is more falling for her 'captor' that comes later. Which makes sense as he is her only form of protection against her brother.

    And the whole implication that he started loving her after she learned how to fuck him properly. This didn't occur to me reading the books for the first time because you're seeing it from Dany's POV but it's so true.

  • meh

    I deleted my comment since I felt it was too easy to misconstrue, and while I'm ok with people misconstruing my feelings on say, books or wine, rape is one of those areas that I find really hard to express my feelings well, since I find the action so distasteful.

    Hats off to a dedicated Pajiban who managed to respond so quickly. May I offer you a cheap but decent Malbec and some horseradish Gouda?

  • Maddy

    If you could ship that to Australia ASAP that would be much appreciated.

    And I could see what you meant. I was pretty upset with what they did in the pilot when I first watched it. But it is a tricky thing to talk about. I like Dany but I find her storyline pretty hard to read/ watch and it's one of those things I sideeye GRRM about if I'm honest.

  • Chatty Penguin

    I've always viewed Dany/Drogo as a case of Stockholm Syndrome. Also, given what we now know about neurological development (people really aren't fully mentally mature until their early twenties) I don't think anyone who pushes the "waa waa you can't judge child brides by modern standards!" has a leg to stand on. Child brides were *always* about getting a girl who wasn't yet mentally/emotionally developed enough to be her own person, so that she could be easily manipulated/forced into what her "husband" wanted her to be.

  • Maddy

    Yep I always thought that too. Like I don't blame Dany or anything. Which is why when people blame Sansa for not wanting to sleep with Tyrion I get really mad. No. She doesn't owe him things.

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