Like most gaming and fantasy nerds, I have been mostly enjoying the Game of Thrones on HBO. That series is one of the main reasons we buy the channel, on top of the fact that we enjoy being able to watch television that treats us as the adults we are. On HBO we can hear words and see things we couldn’t normally see elsewhere. It’s sort of pathetic we have have to pay on top of another fee to see those things and hear those words, but whatever.
Like I said, I am mostly enjoying Game of Thrones. There are a few bad points, though. First: no, I have not read the books and never will. I’m sure they’re a fine read, but to be blunt if I were to spend that much time reading a book or books I would rather read a non-fiction book, something that would literally teach me something about science or…real stuff. I’m actually a huge fan of fiction, but the heavy lifting is reserved for facts, not fantasy.
Anyway, I like many of the main characters, but am already tired of the pattern that any one of them could be hiding something or any one of them might die at some point. I understand it is a gritty series of books, written by a man who probably considers himself a “realistic” fiction author like Frank Herbert (Dune, other stuff) and so wants us to understand that no one is invincible. That’s fine…but an obvious point. We all die, everything ends, even in a fantasy novel with magic. We know this.
Setting aside some of the blander characters and predictable unpredictability, I am very, very tired of seeing raping or attempted rapes, hearing about raping, and of how much the word rape it pushed around in the series.
Now, look…I understand; it’s a story. The story is set in a horrible world filled with rape and incest. I get it. But let’s remember this one thing: it’s not fucking real. It was all made up in the author’s head. He decided that the world he was creating was going to be a rapist’s paradise. Again, I understand that he is attempting to tell a story set in those particular parameters, but again I say that it’s not fucking real. He could have made up any world possible.
Let me give you an example of why all of the rape might be even more disturbing to many more people.
When I found out I had Ulcerative Colitis, I was a bit depressed. I heard of the increased chances of cancer and thought it meant, I don’t know, something had changed in my life. I looked up information and became down about it. Of course now I know that the disease is not immediately and rarely life-threatening (they can always just cut out your colon) but to this day when I see a story on television about someone getting the bad news that they are sick, I can feel those moments when I first found out. I feel down and have to pinch myself a bit to remember that I am not that sick. Those thoughts were triggered by the story.
Now, imagine if your mother was killed in a horrible car accident. There’s a possibility that some of your mothers were killed in a car accident. If your friend had something similar happen to his or her mother, you would be reminded of the feelings you felt. That moment with your friend might trigger the feelings you felt back then, about your mother.
Now imagine that you had literally been held down, beaten, tortured and raped. Or, imagine that (and I can’t believe that I am going to say this) the crime was, on the grand scale of horrible crimes, not even that horrible. Perhaps you had been socked in the jaw by a random person at a bar, or called a faggot and pushed down. Most sensible humans would feel, at least, a bit disturbed by the violence of the very real event. If you had a friend go through the event, or saw the event re-enacted in perfect detail on television, you might have certain feelings triggered.
There are reasons feminist websites put up “trigger warnings” all the time. Yes, many feminist bloggers can be so over the top that they end up doing more harm than good, making nonsense out of what should be perfectly clear and sensible rage, but the reason they are all there is because rape and horrible things like rape happen in real life. They happen, for real.
Now, I am not blaming the author or HBO for triggering certain feelings in some of the viewers. That viewer can turn the channel and cancel their subscription. The problem I have is that, in the stories I write, I tend to want to avoid bad things like rape. Of course, I am not writing a story about a rapist, but that’s because I chose not to. I make it all up.
There is a bit of creepiness to an author who decides to write so very much about rape and incest, often including small children in the mix. The series is filled with certain moments that make me question why I even continue to watch it. SPOILER ALERT:There is a moment in which a soldier, while faking an attempt to help an injured boy to his feet (I mean a young boy) stabs a very sharp blade through the child’s throat and kills him. The child chokes on his own blood (we can hear it) and dies painfully and slowly. Of all the things in the books, why did we need to see what was the equivalent of a child snuff film?
Please, I am no softie. I’m not afraid of violent movies or sexually explicit television. I am a grown man. But, for some reason, I find it more disturbing that the author and HBO decided to include such details so painstakingly. There are many, many details they left out that could have easily taken up much of the screen time. Minus that rape scene, (sure, mention that it happened in dialogue if you have to) and put in more of the cool character interactions. And if I hear one more tale of incest I am going to scream.
I don’t know, it’s hard to explain. I recently picked up a new Weis/Hickman book in the hopes of escaping into a good fantasy adventure, like I did with The Dragonlance books when I was young.
Instead I found a tale of a typical barbarian male who, although he was the “hero”, was known to ransack villages. That meant taking women and using them for whatever he wanted. He killed, stole from people and generally acted like a typical barbarian from a typical barbarian story. The women in his village wore aprons and, beside the one or two “strong female characters” in the story, were mainly housewives. I felt disgusted with the lack of imagination and bland character plots.
In the story I am writing now, women will be on equal (and I mean equal) footing with the men. The funniest part of that statement is that it would easy for some people to say that I can easily say they’re on equal footing because it’s a fantasy. It’s not reality, after all.
Exactly. It’s MY story. And in MY story the women ARE equal and do NOT get raped. Rape is punishable by death. It does not happen in my made-up society.
Why should that be a fantasy, and why would many gamers and fantasy fans consider that a fantasy? Because in reality women are not always on equal ground with men, and rape does happen….a lot.
The point is that I don’t give a flying shit if the author of the Game of Thrones (whatever the series is called, I get confused) wanted to make a realistic fantasy novel. He added fucking DRAGONS to the story…it’s nowhere near reality, so why include so much rape and incest? To build character? To show what many of the women must go through in order to gain strength? Sure, go for it. Write your detailed descriptions about rape and incest (although I have heard that HBO has added much of the sex into the series) and be sure to say that it is for the sake of reflecting a “realistic” society.
Fuck that. I think it IS realistic that women will one day not have to suffer in the ways they suffer in the series and books. I KNOW it’s possible. I choose to explore that possible reality because I know women have the abilities and power to do whatever men can do, if the society they live in allows them the freedom. Unfortunately, many societies do not.
Like I said, I enjoy much of the show. I do. But every time some dumbass scene comes on, showing some woman being treated like dog shit while other women in the story are treated only as special cases of power, I cringe. Just tell me a good story about dragons, magic and intrigue. Keep the rape fantasy crap to yourself.
It’s been said that comedy is much harder to do than tragedy. It’s so, so true. Try making your next group of friends laugh their asses off, then try telling them a story that will make them frown. Comedy is hard. Tragedy is easy.
I do not need to literally see the goriest details of a grand, sweeping story to know they are there. I hear the words “epic battle” and I know what it means. I’m not stupid. I simply do not see the need for such exact details in a story that claims to be “sweeping.” Those silly, over-the-top moments of violence and sexual brutality only remind me of how unrealistic the story is. When I see a head being chopped off, I know they did not really kill anyone. It feels silly, not shocking. Tragedy, gore, rape, horrific death….that’s an easy way to spend a special effects budget and make some viewers cringe. Telling me a grand story that makes me feel as though I have escaped into a fantasy world while avoiding such graphical detail takes guts. It takes real, real talent.
We knew bad stuff happened in Lord of the Rings. Horrible, bad things happened to good people. But, how many rape scenes were there in those books? Did the lack of rape and incest make the story less grand?