I Don't See Myself as a Libertine: HBO Boss Speaks on Game of Thrones' Rape and Violence

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I Don't See Myself as a Libertine: HBO Boss Speaks on 'Game of Thrones'' Rape and Violence

By Cindy Davis | Trade News | August 22, 2014 | Comments ()


After last season’s one-two Game of Thrones bang of “Breaker of Chains” and “Oathkeeper,” discussions of the series’ rape and violence were everywhere. Some feel such things are a natural byproduct of the time and circumstances; others find it excessive. After “Breaker of Chains” aired, we read the disconnect between intentions and what we saw onscreen, and everyone from George R. R. Martin to Lena Headey had something to say about how that was handled. At the Edinburgh International Television Festival, HBO president of programming, Michael Lombardo finally added his two cents:

“I personally don’t see myself as a libertine. I don’t think [graphic scenes] have ever been without any purpose. Dan [Weiss] and Dave [Benioff] are two very sober, thoughtful men. They have books as a map. Which involve wars, violence, sex. We have certainly not given them an edict or a note that they need to tone down the sexual content in the show.”

“I appreciate there was some controversy and it generated a conversation about what consensual sex is and isn’t…People responsible for programming have two responsibilities: To be responsible, not to have sex and violence that’s gratuitous. That is certainly not who we are. At the same time we don’t want to be a censor that inhibits the authentic organic creative process by policing how many breasts should be on a show.”

“It is an adult service. Our subscribers pay a fee for uncensored shows. My job is to be in business with responsible creative forces. And if I am doing that I trust their decisions about what is appropriate for the character or not. And I feel we made the right choice with Dan and Dave and they continue to try to be responsible. As long as I feel that [violence] isn’t the reason [people] are watching the show, that it isn’t a show trying to attract viewers with sex and violence, I am not going to play police.”

Fair enough, and good points all. As much as I objected to what I saw as excessive, I’d be just as irritated if HBO did try to exert control over what Benioff and Weiss do. There’s no such thing as a series that pleases everyone; we each hold our own limits…and remotes.

Cindy Davis, (Twitter)

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Robert Sanchez III

    The craters keep scene, while trigger worthy would be a decent representation of the devastation wrought by the men who broke from the wall. The one that has seemed to cause the most issue is jamie and cerseis scene which can be put up to incompetence by the director in laying out the scene. Though B&W have a problem with this consensual book sex becoming rape.

  • Maddy

    I also think it's a fundamental misunderstanding to assume that people want them to censor. I think the main thrust of the criticism has been: if you're going to depict things like sexual assault, then do it better and in a way that privileges the perspective of the victim. Not as set dressing in the background while the evil man monologues.

  • alwaysanswerb

    I've been VERY SERIOUS in the comments this week, so I'll keep this brief:


  • The Replicant Brooke

    I really do love, and endorse 100%, that video.

  • By its nature, GOT is showing a world that's gone to hell in a handbasket as civil war tears the norms and rules apart. Rape and violence are part of that. I don't think anyone disputes that.

    I guess the issue (if there is one) is how much in your face do we want such graphic sexual violence to be? Separate the Jaime-Cersei scene from the scenes at Craster's (one was a key interaction between 2 central characters while the other was a depiction of an event created by the show to highlight side characters' depravity). Did we need to see the Night's Watch brothers engage in rape while Karl went on and on? How much of it could it have been implied vs showing it front and center?

  • nailpolishcolor

    absolutely. And with exception of Jamie and Theon, there really isn't a whole lot of gratuitious male violence...or peen for that matter. I get it, "oh we dont want to censor blah blah blah" but come on, the boob to peen ratio is like 40:1

  • Maddy

    People bring up the Theon scenes (and I think they were awful and largely unnecessary) but let's not pretend that he was dehumanised or treated the same way in those scenes.

  • Maddy

    I mean .... Hmm. This is five months late. And I would rather hear from Benioff and Weiss themselves.

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