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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Why I've Quit Game of Thrones and Will Not Return

(Trigger warning:  this post will involve discussion of sexual violence, homophobia, and related subjects.  If you watch Game of Thrones, you probably already know what I'm talking about.

I'm also releasing this post early because I can't wait until Friday to drop it.  I'm moving my Retro Nostalgia feature to Friday for this week only.)

I loved you, Game of Thrones.  I loved you so much that I used to wait up late at night to catch the latest episode after it had aired because I didn't have HBO.  I loved you so much that I started doing a weekly ritual with a friend where we'd watch the new episode together between bouts of silly video games.  I loved you so much that I reviewed every single one of your episodes in the first season and even convinced myself to keep watching after the Red Wedding, when you filled me with so much dread that I honestly thought there was no hope left in the GoT world.

I loved you.

But no more.

Tonight, HBO released the latest episode of Game of Thrones entitled "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken" (S5E06).  The title is a lie.  In truth, this episode is entirely about bowing, bending, and breaking.  It's entirely about violence against homosexuals, violence against women, and rape.

Tonight, GoT not only gave us religious fanatics supported by the State to punish (by death, I assume) homosexuals and to punish the women who might support them.  It turned one of the few characters in the franchise who might have been a hero into a tyrant.  And it went to the most extreme lengths it could possibly go to remind us that women are really worthless in this story and world:  it brutally and violently raped Sansa Stark.

That's the moment I finally broke.  It's bad enough that this show reduces so many of its female characters to sex objects.  It's bad enough that almost all of its women are either scheming, being abused, being fucked (literally or figuratively), or being raped.  But last night, GoT finally reminded me that there is no hope in this world.  Sansa Stark had to be raped, like Cersei before her.  She had to be raped because in this show "rape" equals "drama."  It's not bad enough that Sansa had to marry Ramsay Bolton.  But to really hit it home that Sansa is a ruined character, she has to be raped.

Of course, what GoT will want us to believe is that being raped made her stronger.  She'll persevere and grow.  Maybe she'll get revenge.  Maybe she'll survive all this and become Queen of the North.  But that's all a ruse.  In truth, this story is so much about the brutalization of women that it is at this point a farce to even argue there's anything resembling fair treatment here.  Women are not people in GoT.  They are things to be tormented.  They are objects for us to devour as we watch them become brutalized and wrecked and ruined.

Women in GoT are objects, not people.  And we are voyeurs for watching, over and over, as the writers of this story beat, maim, defame, and/or rape their female characters.

And that's it for me.  I refuse to be a voyeur to so much abuse.  I can't stand to watch a show that is so devoid of hope and decency.  Because that's what GoT is:  a story without hope.  Over and over, we've been shown this simple truth.  Eddard Stark's beheading.  The Red Wedding.  Joffrey becoming King.  The Freys betraying the Starks.  Roose Bolton taking control of the North.  Loras being imprisoned for homosexuality, and where he will probably die.  And now Sansa's brutal, horrifying rape.

I refuse to watch a show with so little hope.  I refuse to watch a show that continually abuses its female characters for dramatic effect.  I refuse to watch a show that makes me so uncomfortable that I literally start shaking with anger.

I am done with you, GoT.  I will not return.  You have lost me for good, now.  You can keep raping your characters, but I will not watch it.  You can keep killing hope, but I will not participate.

There are better stories that deserve my attention.  I'm going to go watch them.

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  1. Well, this gives me some hope that someone might want to read my novel once it's finished. It's getting a bit dark for me, too. My only hope right now is that Cerci's daughter and her love survives. That softness and regular human nature is much needed in this show.

    I do feel like GoT has female characters who can be just characters, BUT I agree that it would be pleasant, and beneficial to the story, if we could have at least just one episode without sex/objectification/rape/abuse.

    I'm not sure if all this is in the books though, or how much of it is television - although my guess is a lot of it is television.

    1. I'm told the Sansa thing is not from the book. This is an addition.

      I would like to believe that the women in GoT are allowed to be characters, but I think they're almost exclusively meant to be victims. They may be characters, but they are victims first. And I'm just tired of watching this show fetishize rape and sexual violence and female bodies over and over and over and over. There's a point at which something can be too dark. Last night, GoT crossed the line. I just don't have the emotional energy to put up with it anymore.