Entertainment
Cast member Lena Headey poses at the premiere for the third season of the television series "Game of Thrones" in Hollywood, California March 18, 2013. The third season debuts on HBO on March 31. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni  (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT) - RTR3F6B4 Cast member Lena Headey poses at the premiere for the third season of the television series "Game of Thrones" in Hollywood, California March 18, 2013. The third season debuts on HBO on March 31. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT) - RTR3F6B4  

Game of Thrones: ‘Torture porn’ — or a worthwhile lesson?

Photo of Matt K. Lewis
Matt K. Lewis
Senior Contributor
  • See All Articles
  • Send Email
  • Subscribe to RSS
  • Follow on Twitter
  • Bio

      Matt K. Lewis

      Matt K. Lewis is a senior contributor to The Daily Caller, and a contributing editor for The Week. He is a respected commentator on politics and cultural issues, and has been cited by major publications such as The Washington Post and The New York Times. Matt is from Myersville, MD and currently resides in Alexandria, VA. Follow Matt K. Lewis on Twitter <a>@mattklewis</a>.

Talk about a war on women.

Rape is a recurring thing in HBO’s Game of Thrones – and the New York Times is on it!:

From its very beginnings, “Game of Thrones” has been riddled with sexual brutality. The franchise, which started as a series of fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin about a bleak, feudal world, has at various times included a warrior king who claims his child bride on their wedding night, and the gang rape of a young woman by “half a hundred shouting men behind a tanner’s shop.”

I won’t even get into the debate over consent – and the serious discussions over whether or not one fictional rape was merely “rape-rape.” But it is curious that this HBO show — which is ostensibly a favorite among liberal elites — seems to represent a world diametrically opposed to everything liberals champion.

Might there be some latent psychological reasons for this? The Federalist’s Robert Tracinski posited this theory back in April:

[W]hy does this grim pantheon of anti-heroes seem to be the particular favorite of the left-leaning intellectual elite?

 

After all, doesn’t “Game of Thrones” devote itself to portraying everything they are against? They demand gun control and zero-tolerance policies for 8-year-olds with Pop-Tart weaponry, and they impose priggish speech codes to guard against the most imperceptible “microagressions.” Then they tune in on Sunday nights for an orgy of crude sexism and blood-spattered killing.

 

Is modern liberalism merely seeking release for its repressed inner self? Or perhaps they watch “Game of Thrones” to reinforce their implicit view of humanity.

Ultimately, I’m less concerned about hypocrisy than about whether or not these shows are a net positive or a net negative for society (a topic Will Rahn and I recently wrestled with concerning Breaking Bad and other well-produced, if utterly violent, television shows).

And in this regard, I can see it both ways. On the negative side, one does wonder about devoting so much screen time to things which, to put it mildly, aren’t terribly edifying.

Whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable … doesn’t get green-lighted by HBO!

On the other hand, maybe these shows do serve an unintentionally salutary function, by allowing us to live out our bacchanalian fantasies vicariously — by tapping into our repressed barbaric urges on Sunday nights, so they won’t come out on Monday mornings …

Or maybe, just maybe, Game of Thrones is subtly fulfilling another worthy service: Reminding liberal elites that the relatively sanitized world we have created is tenuous — that there are always barbarians at the gates hoping to murder you, enslave your children, and (yes) rape your women. That we live in a fallen world, and that human nature, if left unchecked, is barbaric. And, by extension, that preserving liberal democracy and western culture is a full-time endeavor — and a difficult one, at that. That are not predestined to live in freedom — much less have the luxury of spending countless hours watching fairy tales about comely young women.

This may seem obvious, but I suspect it isn’t. After all, from the comfort one’s loft in Tribeca — or townhouse in Georgetown — it can be easy to forget that nature is still “red in tooth and claw.” Maybe it is healthy to be reminded of this from time to time?

Say what you will about the violence and sex, Game of Thrones sure as hell does that.