Spoilers for Game of Thrones... if the writers haven't already spoiled it enough.
Aside from being just
horribly and needlessly misogynistic (Moffat has nothing on this. Nothing.) and basically relying on the assumption that Jaime can be
redeemed despite being a rapist (presumably because Cersei is such a
b*tch that its okay to rape her), it also perfectly illustrates
something I was banging on about in a post about The Borgias a few years
It illustrates what happens when you purposefully remove
consistent moral thinking from narrative texts just for the show-offy
hell of it.
Now, I'm not a moralising finger-wagger (at least, I
try not to be because it's a deeply unattractive and narcissistic
trait) but I do believe that morality is a vital part of fiction. Not
in the sense that all stories should contain clear moral messages, or
avowedly support a certain moral position, or anything like that, but
rather in the sense that they should be aware that questions of justice
and injustice are built into storytelling, at least in the Western
tradition, and that it is literally impossible to tell a story in that
tradition without raising moral questions, whether one wants to or not.
Such narratives depend, for their interest, on our moral
engagement. (Would I do that? How would I respond to someone who did? That happened to me, I know how I felt. Would I react the way he did? Have I
ever done anything that bad/good? Would I have the courage to intervene? Does
anyone I know think like that? Etc.)
adaptors of GoT have committed to the Jaime-gets-redeemed arc that is
in the books. This clashes with their increasingly evident intent to
make the GoT universe as brazenly nasty and cruel and violent and
hateful and abusive as possible. I realise that its pretty nasty as GRRM wrote it, but the TV has repeatedly added to his nastiness quotient. The Jaime-redemption arc has now clashed with their rather
adolescent - but also, sadly, rather widespread - intent to make the
show into one without much of a moral compass, to show everyone as
radically morally inconsistent.
Now, on one level -
fine. People are not morally consistent. People all do bad things,
even broadly good people. And shitty people sometimes do good things,
etc etc etc. This is all obvious, or should be. And nobody wants
simplistic, moralistic storylines which give us clear goodies and
baddies and reassuringly makes the goodies perfect and the baddies
irredeemable, and comfortingly has the goodies resoundingly and
unambiguously triumphant. That sort of thing just makes for bad
stories, at any level.
But. But but butty but butty but but but. Butsworth. Buttington Buttarama.
is still such a thing as a yardstick to judge people by. It may be
fuzzy and subjective, but its there. Even in stories. Perhaps
especially in stories. It's easier to judge people in stories, and it always will be,
and you can't deny or efface that, any more than you can deny that
stories inherently raise questions of justice and injustice. Jaime is
in the process of being 'redeemed'. That's the whole point of him at
this stage. Despite being an awful person in many respects, he has
better traits which are in the process of being awoken and fostered.
Where does the rape fit into this? Nowhere. It obliviates it. It's in
there simply to shock - not in the simplictic sense (ie here's a
horrible scene of sexual violence - yeurch) but in the sense of showily
undermining our sense of the morality of the character, and thus of the
entire universe we're watching. It makes for great telly according to
the logic being employed (ie the war of all against all, conducted by
people who are all utter shits) but rubbishes the story. The great
shame about this lapse into moral illiteracy is that it makes the story less
Well no, the great shame is that
it once again puts loathsome misogyny on screen and bolsters rape
culture, for no reason at all. But the damage done to the story is a
part of it.