‘Game of Thrones’: Porn or Not Porn? We Report, You Decide

‘Game of Thrones’: Porn or Not Porn? We Report, You Decide July 22, 2017

Game of ThronesTo watch or not to watch “Game of Thrones,” that is the question, and there are wildly different answers among people of faith.

I’ve seen some episodes, and it’s not my cup of tea. As I wrote back in 2011, after watching the first few episodes:

“Game of Thrones” reminds me of the second “Star Wars” trilogy, in which the Hero’s Journey was set aside in favor of a complicated tale of political maneuvering and power plays.

I haven’t figured out if “Thrones” has a larger theme — such as Frank Herbert’s fascination with ecology, which underpins the political machinations in the “Dune” books — or if it’s an allegory for something else. So far, it doesn’t seem so. It just seems like characters moving in a landscape, maneuvering for power.

I’m just not sure if I care who wins or loses.

I’ve seen episodes since — including the recent season premiere — and while I continue to be impressed with the production values, I still don’t care. But I know plenty of people who are deeply invested, and that includes at least one priest and some other very devout Catholics. Recently, there has been a spate of articles decrying the show’s liberal doses of violence, nudity, sex (including apparently many rapes) and rather one-sided portrayal of religion as being just about power.

That was expressed here by one of my co-workers, who worries that for many secular viewers, “GoT” may be providing the wrong answers.

It is interesting to note that a show so popular is asking some of the big questions of life and ones that are very theological. Where interest needs to meet action is that we must take the challenge of getting to know our faith so we understand the answers to such questions and can give a better response than Beric’s, whose only reply to Clegane is “You’re right. I don’t know. I guess the Lord isn’t done with me yet.”

We need theses answers for ourselves… and just in case one of our friends, family or acquaintances happens to be one of those millions of viewers, especially if Game of Thrones is one of the only ways they encounter religion at all.

His reaction was mild compared to some. Here’s a sampling of some other views:

From CovenantEyes.com:

If someone cropped out one of the graphic sex scenes from Game of Thrones and put that single scene online, by itself apart from any of the plot and intrigue, and your teenage son downloaded it, would you call it porn?

Yes, you would. So why is it that when we dress these scenes up with HBO glitz and glamour that all of a sudden they are socially acceptable? Is it because we actually love porn, but don’t want to admit that publicly?  We don’t want to surf the dirty websites, but if we can get our porn via HBO (all on Netflix and/or Amazon Prime now, by the way), it’s like having our cake and eating it too. Porn without the social stigma. Porn that your spouse actually lets you watch. Porn you can rationalize.

From DailyWire.com:

Take the latest craze in pop culture Game of Thrones for example, a nihilistic, overproduced Skinemax soft core porn dressed up in Tolkien fantasy drag, whose dialog and sumptuous production values tickle our senses just enough to distract us from its cold black heart. If Tolkien saw Middle-earth as analogous to modern times, then GOT is Grima Wormtongue; the ugly, jealous servant colluding with Saruman to corrupt the good King Theoden through lies and deceit. To watch GOT is to watch cruel-minded adults smear blood on the walls of a children’s playroom.

Despite all the sex, despite all the nudity, despite that Pornhub experiences a lull in traffic on nights GOT airs, often I hear my religious conservative friends go on ad nauseam about why it’s God’s greatest gift to television, and how I’m a loser if I don’t black out my schedule for the next week to binge-watch all six seasons. Not once, however, have they not included this nifty little qualifier: “The sex and nudity are difficult at first, but you’ll learn to look past that.”

And from TheWeek.com:

I used to watch Game of Thrones. Then I realized it was endangering my immortal soul.

Game of Thrones is unquestionably the most acclaimed and beloved show on television. But HBO’s hit fantasy series, which returns for a seventh season this Sunday, is not a drama for adults. It’s not even a soap opera. It is ultra-violent wizard porn — and boring ultra-violent wizard porn at that. Two decades ago, watching it would have gotten you shoved into a locker.

But, there are dissenting voices. From the Suspended in Her Jar blog at Patheos.com:

I will close with two caveats: first, no, it is not a show for everyone. Not everyone finds catharsis in stories of darkness and violence, but some of us do. Some simply find these representations disturbing. And obviously, it is not for children….but, then, neither is wine. And just as wine could be dangerous for some, so could depictions of graphic violence be harmful both for those inclined to perpetrate such acts, and those who have been victims of them. Second, I agree with some critics that the showrunners sometimes go too far. Storytellers have to tread with care on many issues, especially in depictions of sex and violence, and not everyone always gets it right. Especially when money is at stake. Especially when rape culture is so, disturbingly, normative.

The books, as we always say, are better – in this regard and in others.

But fundamentally, I believe, the story unfolding in Game of Thrones is profoundly moral, and – at a time of global unrest when we look on helpless at the suffering of the most vulnerable – very timely.

As I said, I don’t have a direwolf in this fight. I’m a firm believer in artistic freedom, and pay-cable channel HBO can offer its subscribers whatever it wants. I may not consider “Game of Thrones” to be anywhere near the equal of crime-and-punishment dramas “The Sopranos” or “The Wire” — shows that had more than their share of sex, violence and bad language — but it is half a tick above the pulpy vampire tale “True Blood.”

Ultimately, the world is full of beauty and full of dreck — even beautifully produced dreck. As adults, we have to decide what we consume and why, because, just like the food we eat and what we drink, it becomes part of us.

Image: Courtesy HBO

Don’t miss a thing: head over to my other home, as Social Media Manager at Family Theater Productions; and check out FTP’s Faith & Family Media Blog.

 

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