After a long hiatus while my writing muse went into hiding, last night’s episode of Game of Thrones has revived my inspiration to write about TV again. Unfortunately, it is for an extremely negative reason.
In “Breaking of Chains”, Jaime Lannister became a rapist and I’m not alright with that. This isn’t the first time that Game of Thrones has turned a consensual sex scene from the Song of Ice and Fire series into a rape scene. It is made all the more unfortunate by the fact that the director doesn’t seem to think it was a rape scene or at least not entirely one. Sonia Saraiya at The AV Club has already written a fantastic article about this problem that I highly recommend, but it has been bothering me so I thought I’d chime in as well.
I understand that people have different interpretations of media. I recognize that people won’t always see a certain scene or a character in the same way that I do. What I don’t understand is how a scene in which a character is explicitly rejecting the sex being forced upon her the entire way through can be seen as consensual in any way. There was no moment in that scene where I felt Cersei was turned on and desiring Jaime. If this was not intended to be a rape then I place the blame on the writers and directors for not recognizing how it would come across to what appears to be a sizable part of the audience. It was a bad choice.
In A Storm of Swords, this scene was still creepy and conveyed how screwed up the relationship between Jaime and Cersei is but it did so while being consensual. It’s not normal to have sex with your brother in the equivalent of a church next to your son’s body. Their relationship is already unhealthy and destructive to both of them and it could have been conveyed on screen without making it rape. The separation between them was shown in “Two Swords” during their conversation. This sex could have been an expression of their grief or Cersei recognizing that she still wants Jaime. But it wasn’t. This was an act on anger. Jaime recognizes his love for his sister then punishes her for being a “hateful woman”. In that moment, what little agency Cersei has was taken away and Jaime’s road to redemption just became a lot more complicated.
While it wouldn’t solve the underlying problem of adding extra rape to an already cruel universe, I wish I understood why this change was made. What extra bit of character information were they trying to convey about either Jaime or Cersei? As far I can tell, we’ve just added more tragedy to Cersei’s life and destroyed Jaime’s characterization. The pointlessness of the act is truly bothering me. I don’t feel that this change added anything to either character’s story or gave us new information of Westerosi society as a whole and therefore, it was unnecessary.
I would also like to know if this will ever be addressed again. Will Jaime feel guilty about raping his sister? Will this be worked into Cersei’s future arc? This isn’t an act that can be forgotten about. It’s not something that can be glossed over. If it is, I don’t really know how I can continue to enjoy the show or Jaime as a show character. It crossed a line that really did not need to be crossed and today all I’m left with is disappointment and anger.