If you’re a Game of Thrones fan and you haven’t yet seen Monday night’s episode ‘Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken’ then be warned, I am going to spoil the shit out of the episode for you if you continue, but unlike most spoiler warnings, you may actually be thankful I gave you the heads up about the abominable shit that went down.
I haven’t been enjoying season five of GoT. This is in large part due to the introduction of a sycophantic cult, a queen-mother intent on cutting her nose off to spite her daughter-in-law and the credulity of the show’s audience, a ball of tangled plot-points with no end in sight, and the increased screen-time given to one sack of absolute human waste known as Ramsay Bolton.
Ramsay, as you know if you watch the show, is a man who enjoys the simple pleasures in life; torture, murder, and the occasional flaying of a man while still alive. Ramsay is a sexually violent misanthrope who, for some reason – most definitely the aforementioned cluster-fuck of boring plot threads – the writers behind GoT seem intent on pulling more and more into the spotlight.
In this week’s episode Ramsay raped his new bride Sansa Stark while the man he had castrated and mentally and emotionally destroyed watched on.
What was even more fucked up about the scene was that Sansa’s rape was cheapened to a mere plot point by the filmmakers’ decision to move away from her pained expression to that of Theon Greyjoy as he watched on, reducing Sansa to nothing more than a prop in her own rape scene, just a pawn in Ramsay’s ongoing taunting of Theon.
To call this gratuitous is not enough – popped eyeballs in a fight to the death is gratuitous – this was torture porn at its most basic, and the fine people at HBO are expecting you to tune in same time next week and find out how many more times Sansa has been raped by her monster of a husband: the only thing you can do to send out a clear message that this kind of garbage is unacceptable is to quit Game of Thrones, as I have decided to.
Television shows, like anything, do not exist inside a vacuum, and in the year that Rosie Batty was named Australian of the year, in an environment where the majority of politicians pay lip service to domestic violence against women, and in a country where nearly half a million women have reported being physically or sexually assaulted in the last twelve months this kind of insensitive material is giving Australians the wrong message about sexual assault and domestic violence.
Internationally, the problem of sexual assault and violence against women is even worse than it is in Australia.
Many media pundits have already come out condemning the flaccid writing being peddled by the GoT scribes and the reactionary comments I have seen beneath these stories have been along two defined lines of thought a) Why are they not writing outraged articles about women suffering in the real world? or b) Who cares it’s just a story.
To question a) I say, yes, you’re absolutely right, media organisations spend far too much time talking about inane news items like television shows and not enough time is dedicated to important issues like domestic violence against women, but this is a method media organisations can utilise to get some of the disengaged members of society engaged and actively participating in the discussion. GoT has a huge fan-base, and if any of that large number can be engaged then some good can be made out of this episode, and I am all for it.
As for b) well, you really don’t have anything to back up your claim that it was ‘all for the sake of a good story’. Season five has been a water-treading turd of a season and the writers behind this atrocious episode have obviously subscribed to the view that if you chuck a rape scene in at the end of the show it will give the ratings a good bump. Well, I don’t bloody think so, let’s give them the opposite, a ratings slide.
Sure, if you quit it probably won’t stop the juggernaut that is Game of Thrones from making squillions, but at least by refusing to watch you can have a handy little icebreaker for future conversations with fans with which you can engage them and talk about the real world issue of domestic violence.
Words by Liam Kinkead.