Notice: This post talks about the current season of Game of Thrones – specifically one episode which has garnered a lot of attention. It also has SPOILERS from the books. If you are waiting to watch GoT, or wish to read the books and haven’t yet, I advise you to skip this post, as it contains SPOILERS. It also talks a little about nudity, so if you don’t like that you should skip this post too. Reread my post about hot pot – that post went underrated.
I will try to keep this short – like the Mass Effect series, I could go on and on about Game of Thrones.
When I was younger, I read A Game of Thrones. It was years before I read A Storm of Swords, or any of the later books, because I was so traumatized by Ned Stark’s death as a teenager I hated the book for awhile. In full disclosure, I didn’t know George RR Martin was writing more books at the time, but boy when I found out I refused to touch them!
Then I did – I mean, there’s a pull in a series. I wanted to see justice – there was going to be sweet justice. I just knew it.
I did not learn my lesson from reading A Game of Thrones.
Even as a seasoned reader of fantasy and science fiction, I am a very gullible. I trust, inherently, that good will triumph, because that is a little of what makes a fantasy a fantasy. I know there is evil, mind-destroying blackness in the world. I believe that good will happen. I also throw myself wholeheartedly into stories. I am the perfect victim for Martin’s gleeful “realism.”
Watching the show is easier, because I know what’s going to happen.
When I was staying at the Renaissance Hotel this past weekend, I got to watch an episode of Game of Thrones.
It struck me as a very tame episode. The violence – Wildlings butchering a village – did not seem overly gory. More interestingly, there was not a sex scene to be found. Not one – and that was when I thought something must be amiss. Don’t Jaime and Cersei have violent sex in the Sept after Joffrey’s death? Surely the producers wouldn’t pass up that opportunity, as first off it is an actual sex scene from the book, and they already seem driven to fill as much down time with naked flesh as possible (naked women’s flesh, but that’s a different debate covered by better writers than me). And there was a scene in what appeared to be one of Littlefinger’s brothels, except there was no one in the room except Tywin and Oberyn. Again, why were the producers passing up the umpteenth opportunity for gratuitous nudity?
It wasn’t till I went on the AV Club to read the review I realized what had happened.
Not only do international episodes air a week behind the US, but either HBO International, or HBO as broadcasted in China, cuts out all nudity. So the scene were the Red Viper and Tywin Lannister are talking takes place in a red-curtained EMPTY brothel, and it starts empty – Tywin does not interrupt an orgy. Jaime and Cersei have an angry conversation about the death of Joffrey and the blaming of Tyrion, and that’s all. There’s no controversial rape scene. Okay, based solely on reading comment boards: it seems like there’s this huge disconnect about justice in television. Jeoffrey dies and there are massive cheers. Cersei is raped – yes/no/sort of and it sparks a huge debate about whether rape is deserved. I find it fascinating in a way – there seems to be an ease to saying death is earned, but not sexual assault for some reason. Not that either is, ever. Just something I’ve noticed.
(Man, having typed that and not deleted it, I can feel all my muscles bunched up in fight/flight response. The comments were a little viscous themselves.)
The kicker? Though I was puzzled, I was not bothered by the lack of flagrant nudity. I thought, actually, it was refreshing to see everyone clothed for an hour. I thought it was a complement, saying, “We trust you to pay attention to plot without the aid of bouncing breasts.” I’m not naive, but I am proper, and sometimes it’s really hard to watch GoT without wincing. Watching this cleaned up version, it occurs to me that you can make a watchable hour of Game of Thrones where the plot moves forward in other ways than having a guy lecture on history while getting a blow job from a properly lit whore.