Last Sunday's Game of Thrones episode portrayed one of the most gut-wrenching scenes from the books. People who hadn't read the books had understandably strong reactions:
Via Sullivan come two more-considered reactions to the scene, and to the series' portrayal of violence in general. First, from Alyssa Rosenberg:
[T]he attack on Talisa seemed to stand out for some viewers even in this context as uniquely stomach-churning, evidence that the show is participating in some of its characters disgusting enjoyment of violence against women.
Though Talisa’s murder is unspeakably cruel, it didn’t read that way to me. Rather, the decision to kill her by killing her fetus made, within the astonishingly cold-blooded context of the Red Wedding, a great deal of sense. A comprehensive attempt to make the Starks extinct would include an attack on everyone in their family line, born and unborn. And as an attempt to make Robb Stark feel unspeakable emotional pain before his physical death, an attack on his wife and his unborn child that he has to witness while he is physically incapacitated is a twistedly brilliant thing to do. As Talisa died and Robb held her, the focus was on their faces, and their shared pain, just as they’d shared joyful glances during Edmure’s wedding vows, and flirted during the banquet. Our sympathies and focus were on them, rather than on a pornographic contemplation of the violence to which they’d been subjected.
But Talisa is part of a larger tradition of television women who die during childbirth, or are subjected to terrible violence during pregnancy or labor...
Meanwhile, Rowan Kaiser thinks GoT indicts patriarchies in general:
In the world of Westeros, Robb's innate goodness was at odds with his job title. As heir to Winterfell, and then as King IN The North, he had obligations that had to be fulfilled, which included marrying for strategic gain—obligations that he didn’t keep. Marrying Talisa Maegyr instead of Roslyn Frey wasn’t his only shirked responsibility. His inability to maintain relations among his vassals led directly to his death as well, in large part because he was unable to punish his mother after she worked against him. So Robb didn't just die because he'd married for love; he also died because he'd been kind to his mother. Both of those actions seem like they should be no-brainers, but because of the world he was in, they combined to ruin the hero.
The chief weapon of the patriarchy in maintaining and destroying its men is the drive for honor. The most surprising development of the second season was the elevation of Theon Greyjoy, the Stark family ward, into a major character and villain. Theon was the only son of a rebellious father, who journeyed to visit that father as another rebellion was brewing. Theon was forced to choose between his actual life with friends and lovers among the Starks, and his imagined life with honor and pride as a Greyjoy. Theon chooses honor, which takes him down a path of betrayal and child-murder.
I'm interested to hear whether Anita Sarkeesian agrees. (More on Sarkessian in a later post.)
Then there's this blather:
The appeal of the series seems bound up in the senseless violence and amoral machinations — not to mention the free-wheeling sex — that the writers use to dramatize this brutish world of shifting alliances and dalliances.
That, in turn, has prompted intense debates about whether Christians should watch "Games of Thrones" at all, or whether the show's only possible virtue is depicting how the world would look if Christ had never been born — or what it could look like if Christianity disappeared tomorrow.
Right. Christianity would have made Westeros a peaceful place, just like it made Europe an Eden in the middle ages.