Why do book Readers think “It’s not as bad as what happened in the books” is an excuse for violence?

After the Sansa wedding night episode I had friends on Facebook going crazy (along with a ton of other people throughout the Internets). They were done with Game of Thrones!  They were shocked and appalled that once again the show used rape to as a plot/character development device. On a particular thread a friend of mine had expressed her outrage at this and I had responded that, “It’s not near as bad as the stuff that happened to the woman he married in the books.” My comment triggered an angry response from another person who questioned why that was OK? Just because something is worse in the books that it was based on why is that an excuse for that action?

That got me thinking. Why did I think that excused what was shown for entertainment purposes? I finally came to the conclusion that I don’t think it being worse in the books is an excuse, but more that I came into the show informed as to what to expect. Also that reading about something happening isn’t the same as watching it played out in front of you.

I knew going into watch Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince that Snape would eventually kill Dumbledore. But reading it in the books and watching it on the big screen are two different things. In someways it was more emotional to actually see the look in Snape’s eyes and the corresponding look on Dumbledore’s face at the moment of death, but you also don’t get the whole thought process of each of the characters. You are relying on facial expressions instead of getting to hear an inner monologue or having the author explain a back story on the character.

So when Snape takes out his wand and kills off another main character I wasn’t shocked or emotionally crippled. I was when I read it the first time, but by the time the movie rolled out I was used to the idea. I knew it was coming so it didn’t pack the same emotional punch.

This is true for so many things in literature. There are things added and taken away by knowing what is coming and seeing it acted out on screen for the first time. Yeah you know that Mr. Darcy is going to fall for Elizabeth, but seeing Colin Firth say the words out loud brings a whole new emotion to the scene. Or a better example for me is you don’t really see how annoying Elizabeth’s mother is until you see her.

But why have I talked about Harry Potter and Austen when Game of Thrones was the culprit? Seeing emotions and knowing back stories is one thing, but this is rape that we’re talking about. Here’s where I come to my conclusion about why people use “it was worse in the books” as an excuse.

If they’ve read the books and then chose to watch the show they know what’s coming. They know (for the most part) who is going to be raped, tortured, enslaved, killed, stabbed at their wedding, etc. They’ve read it, accepted it and kept reading for one reason or another.

I’m sure there were readers along the way that said– wait– they just killed my favorite character– this series is depressing– I’m out!  Or I’m tired of the sex scenes that are written like a twelve year old’s fantasy– I’m out!  (Seriously– GRRM has words for female genitalia that make me want to vomit. He talks about sex like a pubescent boy). So many things happen in the series (and the show has left out a lot of disturbing crap) that would be horrific if they happened in real life that as a reader I skim those parts. Jaime and Cersei having sex again? Cool– I’ll just skip the in depth description of her “sex” and just remember that it happened. Theon getting flayed again? Alright– gross–but instead of reading the full description I’ll just skim over the super gross parts and realize that Reek has a fewer toes/fingers than he did before. Skimming is the only way I got through some of the parts of these books (and the only way I got through the Wheel of Time books after Robert Jordan lost his mind and until Brandon Sanderson took over).

I may not have read every single disgusting detail of the bad things that happened in this series, but I know what happened. I’ve already processed that Ramsey is the most disgusting person ever, I know that Cersei thinks she’s the smartest person in the world, and that Sansa is an idiot. Still I wouldn’t have wished Jeyne’s fate (the girl Ramsey married in the books that was pretending to be Arya) on anyone. That’s why book readers were upset that Sansa had returned to Winterfell. They knew that if she married The Bastard that things would not be pretty for her. I know people who just had seen the show were probably excited to see a Stark in Winterfell again, but believe me Sansa should have kept her butt in the Eyrie.

So do I think it’s OK that Sansa was raped? NO! But that was what she was doomed for the second Littlefinger took her there to marry Ramsey. If he had treated her like a lady that would have been completely out of character. He is insane and likes to inflict pain on everything and everyone he can. Obviously his wife would be subject to that as well.

What I am saying is reading about a horrible act and seeing a horrible act visually acted out is totally different. Knowing what is coming allows the reader to prepare themselves for what is to come (and even you non-readers– seriously what did you expect from Ramsey?).

So if seeing Sansa get raped makes you no longer want to watch Game of Thrones stop watching. I have family members that refuse to watch the show because they don’t want to relive everything that happens to these characters (as well as family members who have refused to watch or read because of what these books entail). I’ve left some shows mid series because I didn’t like the direction they went in. With everything else that has happened in the series though I question your surprise at this violence. Dany was raped in the first episode (which by the way didn’t happen in the books– Drogo was very kind to her and besides the fact that she was disgustingly young for him it was not violent like that), Ned was beheaded by a psycho with too much power, and Theon was brutally tortured. All of that plus everything else that I’ve left out should have clued you in that this wasn’t going to be a happy, peaceful show.

I don’t think that rape, torture, incest, or zombies are acceptable things, but as a reader I came into this show informed as to what I was going to see. If you don’t want to continue watching the show because of the horrible violence it shows, stop watching it, but don’t expect the show runners to make an insane torture loving character nice and sweet all of a sudden.

Game of Thrones: Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken. Another Wedding!

Weddings are such fun times in Westeros and Sansa’s wedding is included in that. First we will cover all the other plot movements though and then come back to Sansa.

Arya

Arya is still working on becoming A Faceless Man even though she still doesn’t quite know what that means. She’s cleaning dead bodies though and trying to figure out what they do with the bodies after. She’s also still learning how to lie. This lying game takes up a few chapters of the books and she has trouble with it. I think because she is so proud of who she is and what she’s done that she has issues denying that fact. She also gets a little child abuse going on, but that’s nothing compared to what she’s been through.

The thing they are leaving out though is that in the books her eyesight was taken from her briefly while she learned this lesson and she didn’t gain her eyesight back until she figured out who was hitting her. Which she found out by warging into a cat and looking through it’s eyes. I feel like her connection to her wolf and this ability aren’t being shown enough in the show and I feel like that’s an important character point. Arya is strong and part of her strength comes from her nightly hunts with her wolf. Nymeria rules the Riverlands and in part so does Arya.

Arya finally passes the test though, with a Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade type moment, and is taken to where they take the bodies. She gets to see a super creepy room with a ton of dead people’s faces and is told that she will get to be someone else. This part sounds nasty in the books and I assume it will be nasty in the show too.

Tyrion and Jorah

They are having a nice little hike across the world. Jorah is trying to hide his greyscale (which will surely kill him– and in the books it’s recommended that that part of your body is cut off– of course in the books he doesn’t get it, but Lord Connington does). Tyrion is doing an amazing job of getting on Jorah’s last nerve and manages to criticize Dany in a very logical fashion.

But my favorite part was when he accidentally told Mormont that his dad was not only dead, but had been murdered horrifically.

BTW your Dad is totes dead– it’s super sad. I’m glad you got to hear it from me.

Tyrion did manage to save his life and Jorah’s though and direct them in the way they were trying to go– the only down side? Now they are slaves. Yeah. . .

Petyr 

After obviously teleporting to King’s Landing he runs into Lancel on his way in and finds out some of the new lay of the land. Petyr then goes and plays Cersei to get exactly what he had wanted all along. If he gets his way he’s now set up to have Sansa and Winterfell. I can not stand Petyr, but I respect his cunning both in the books and on the show. He expertly works the people around him in such a way that they think they are using him.

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Everyone in Dorne

OK so everyone is mad still in Dorne that Oberyn is dead and Jaime is still trying to rescue Myrcella and the Sand Snakes are trying to kill her. So of course they all end up in the same place at the same time. This is very mixed up from the books, but so far I’m OK with it. That is as long as the Sand Snakes are imprisoned right now as well as Jaime and Co. I thought it showed great diplomacy and control that they were locked away until they were begging to do as the Prince of Dorne wished. There were a lot of good one liners in this sequence, but other than that I’m tired of this plot line as it sits.

Hey Dad. . . I mean Uncle Jaime.

Random side note: The Dornish people are what I imagined the Calormen looked like and dressed like in the Narnia Series. I keep expecting them to worship Tash. Or try to marry Queen Susan. Who kinda looks like Myrcella now that I mention it. . . .

The Highgarden Group

Margaery’s grandmother has swooped in to rescue Loras and it doesn’t go as expected. She has a nice exchange with Cersei in which she issues more insults than she receives and threatens to remove her assistance to the crown if Loras isn’t released. Cersei doesn’t take this seriously or deal with it well. She still thinks she’s in control of this situation.

Totally what she was writing.

Now that Grandma is in it’s time for Loras’ trial which doesn’t end well for the Queen or for Loras. Both of them swear under oath that Loras totes loves the ladies and then Loras’ latest boyfriend shows up and says that not only has he had sex with Loras, but Margaery walked in on them once.

His response to the accusations about him and Renly.

They are all then arrested and taken away. Margaery shouting for Tommen’s help the whole time and Tommen looking like a scared little boy while Cersei looks like a cat that just caught a mouse. I still can’t believe that Cersei doesn’t see this as troubling for Tommen’s authority.

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Sansa

Now we’re finally to the bride to be. She gets a nice hot bath by psycho girlfriend and then escorted to the wedding by Theon. I have to say I lost a little respect for Sansa when she didn’t offer Theon any help whatsoever. No matter what he did (or she thinks he did) he hasn’t deserved any of the stuff Ramsey has done to him.

Sansa now walks into this marriage with her eyes wide open as to what she is marrying. This is a departure from the books in that Ramsey married a fake Arya in the books and many people know that she isn’t really Arya. Ramsey does really horrible things to her and makes Theon help. So was I surprised that in the show Theon was made to watch? No not really. But I hate that Sansa after all of her character development allowed Ramsey to abuse her like that. The real Arya would have opened his guts for him and then killed Roose as well. There is a theory that Sansa will always be less than because of her lack of a wolf. It is thought that with the death of Lady that Sansa lost her compass and that’s why she’s so much weaker than everyone else.

I did love show Sansa for this:

It gives me hope that Sansa has finally realized that Tyrion wasn’t that bad and if it hadn’t been for Joffery it might have been a happy marriage. Yes he’s a dwarf and by that time he was not awesome looking, but he was better than any other option she’s been given yet.

Ramsey is by far the worst. If ever I wished that she was back in the Vale pretending to be Alayne Stone it’s now. Because no one deserves this.

So am I upset that Ramsey raped his wife? No. Am I upset that  Sansa is his wife? Yes.