Game of Thrones fans were shocked by Jaime Lannister’s behavior in the most recent installment of the wildly popular HBO series. Though not the most likeable character, Jaime was making strides in improving his approach to life, particularly after his time of imprisonment with the Starks and especially with his deepening relationship with Brienne. So, what got into his head to cause him to essentially rape his sister/lover Cersei? Perhaps the question should be, what got into the heads of the writers responsible for the show? Sadly, the rape scene only serves to weaken the story of Game of Thrones.
As supporters of the books have been arguing for some time now, the changes made to the story by the series’ producers, only seem to be adding sex and shock value, not substance and nuance. Ultimately, this tactic will disenfranchise the people who have been fans of the books from the beginning.
Once again, George R.R. Martin, the author of the book series on which Game of Thrones is based, has been forced to defend himself against an onslaught of misinformed viewers. He has been flooded with messages from angry fans of the show who want to know why Jaime raped Cersei. However, Martin did not write the scene that way. In Storm of Swords, Book Three of A Song of Ice and Fire, Jaime and Cersei certainly do have sexual relations in the crypt where their deceased son is being kept. However, Cersei is into it. Indeed, at first she makes a feeble attempt to fight him off, but this is after she has already kissed him. Her main concern seems to be the location of their lovemaking. On a subtle level, that scenario is even more disturbing than the one depicted in the show.
This is not the first time the HBO production has “enhanced” the original story with explicit sexual trappings. Renly Baratheon and Loras Tyrell’s relationship in the show is a fabrication seemingly for the purpose of titillation. Yes, both men are likely homosexual in the books, but this is merely hinted at and not a major point of characterization. Also, early in the series, Peter “Littlefinger” Baelish performs a monologue that is upstaged by the lusty moans of one of his whores being “played with” by another of his whores. Again, an addition that does not appear in the books and only provides sexual fodder for the Game of Thrones ratings, like the rape of Cersei, and weakens the original storyline.
Some may say that this is to be expected from a series on the often controversial cable channel. However, is the controversy the explicit sex or the fact that the producers have warped the original story and characters in a way that is becoming offensive to not only fans of the books, but those who have only watched the show? If the books were sexually explicit, then indeed the show should be as well. This is not the case. Even the minor addition of some sexual content is acceptable, it is a TV show after all; everyone expects to see some bare breasts. What is leaving such a bad taste in the mouths of the viewers is the shocking events, episode after episode, that leave them with a pit in their stomachs. If the show continues this way, they could begin losing their audience.
The books written by Martin, starting in 1996, are an entertaining journey to places that provide the reader with a fantastical vision of grandeur, mystery, heritage and history. The characters provide a wide panoply of kindness, pathos, beauty, cruelty, heroism and villainy. In the future, creative license aside, the producers of Games of Thrones ought to heed the audience’s reaction to Jaime raping Cersei and use their moves wisely in order to avoid weakening the story even further.
Commentary by Stacy Lamy