Monday, April 30, 2012

Sexy Times in Game of Thrones

I'm back kids. I know...long time no post, right? At least it feels that way. It's been a busy two weeks for me recently. I'm still trying to gauge how much of my personal life I want to share on here since I also want the Freeze Ray to appear at least semi professional so I'm not really going to get into what I've been doing. Anyway it's not like it's amazing stuff. Nice stuff, maybe but nice doesn't always make for interesting posts...anyway I figure I owe you guys something.

Wrapped up disc five of Game of Thrones last night, finishing off season one. It was a birthday gift from my father. Great series and I'm eager to jump into the second season. But I'm not going to dig in and do a full on review this time around. When I got it in my head to do the Freeze Ray I knew I wanted to do something more issue focused than just straight up reviews, something to (hopefully) give my blog it's own stamp. Otherwise I just fade into the background noise of the internet.

So lets talk about an issue that jumped right out at me when I popped in the first disk...Sexual Content.I know Game of Thrones is HBO so nudity and sexy times are pretty much par for the course.That's kind of what I want to talk about. Most of you probably already know this but HBO is a private service. You have to pay to watch HBO shows on your television, unlike broadcast television which is paid for by advertisers but delivered to the public for free. Since it's not public, HBO shows aren't under the same content restrictions as most television and aren't as heavily censored. Recently HBO has done a great job of working this into it's brand identity. HBO is known for two things. Smart, well written television and blatant sexual content. I'm not saying that this is some terrible thing, that HBO is eroding American values or anything. Sex and intelligent television aren't mutually exclusive. But one does automatically lead to the other either, which is the connection I think HBOs marketing department and a whole lot of art majors want to make. I'm biased, I know, and I'm pretty prudish on a lot of subjects but don't worry this won't be long rant about how the show needs to change in order to appeal only to me.I just want to explore this issue and talk about how I feel on it.  At best I find myself tuning out most of the adult scenes and at worst I skip right through them. I just don't see what they contribute to the story. We live in an age of laptops and wireless internet. If I wanted porn I could watch porn. I didn't pay over twenty dollars for a full season of Game of Thrones because I wanted to watch twenty minutes of nude shots and fake boning. I bought Game of Thrones because I wanted a good story. The gratuitous scenes just take me out of the narrative and make me roll my eyes, no matter how hot Lena Headey or Emilia Clark are.
    I'm not saying sex can't contribute to a story. Romance is a major part of every story and even if  we choose to acknowledge it or not someone's sex life can have something to say about their character or personality. Let's contrast the sex scenes in Game of Thrones with those in another HBO series I'm watching at the moment called The Wire just to give you an idea of what I'm talking about. I'm going just off the top of my head but most of the sex scenes in the Wire involve a certain Detective Jimmy McNaulty, a few of Lieutenant Daniels and his girlfriend who works as a prosecutor in the DA's office, one of Detective Kima Griggs and her lesbian lover and a few spread out all around, usually between gangsters and either a hooker or a stripper. The sense with Mcnaulty help give us a sense of his character. They show us that Jimmy may be a good detective but he's pretty much incapable of being responsible in any other aspect of his life. He's an alcholic, he cheats on his wife, he's borderline neglectful of his kids, and all he really wants to do is prove he's smarter than everyone else. Throughout the course of the series Mcnaulty goes through a character arc where we see him hit his lowest point and then slowly try to change and work his way back up. Any scene where he scores is usually just a one night stand where he humps away at some woman like a horny goat. The scene with Detective Daniels and the prosecutor is part of a fairly well developed relationship and the scene between Kima and her lover is part of a subplot where we see Kima having second thoughts about adopting a child with her current girlfriend. Eventually, due to Mcnaulty's bad influence, she cheats on her girlfriend with another woman and the relationship falls apart.
    In Game of Thrones the only really plot relevant relationships I can think of are between Daenerys Targeryan and Kal Droga and between Circe Lannister and her brother. Both are kind of weird because one involves Daenerys being, as I interpreted it, raped by her arranged husband and eventually "learning to enjoy it" and falling in love with him. The other is about incest. Still the scenes with Daenerys and Droga help establish her journey as she slowly realizes her own potential and becomes a more intelligent and proactive leader through her husbands position, eventually taking over for him after his death. Meanwhile Circe's Lannister's plot to kill her husband, King Robert, and put her bastard son on the throne provide the major conflict for most of the series. There are a few other examples of sex being integrated well into the storyline but for the most the series just inserts nameless naked prostitutes into the background of a scene while two main characters talk about the actual plot.
    I noticed that while the first two episodes delivered the sex and nude scenes hot and heavy, after that the series pulled back a bit and seemed to just be trying to hit it's adult content quota. Part of it is the whole marketing thing. Smart and edgy is HBO's brand label. It's how they differentiate themselves from their competitors and so every show they put out has to conform to that HBO brand. Otherwise, I guess people will get confused and think that since there are no boobs they're not actually watching HBO and start changing the channel.
    The other side, of course, is the book. I've never read any of the George R.R Martins books that this series was based on but I understand that the sexual content was a major selling point in that series as well. Some people love that kind of thing. Personally I'll be sticking with the Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan.

I have a little more to say but I'll leave it for another post. As always I'd love to hear what you guys thought of the article or of the series. Do you think the sex adds to your viewing pleasure or detracts from it?       

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