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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 | Industry | August 22, 2014 |

By Cindy Davis | Industry | August 22, 2014 |

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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