Author George R.R. Martin, whose books are the basis of the HBO hit "Game of Thrones," was among those sounding off about the latest in a series of controversies involving the fantasy series. For anyone following the series on DVR, or who otherwise may not have already seen Sunday's episode, this is your spoiler alert.
"Lately, every week seems to bring a new 'Game of Thrones' controversy, and true to form Sunday's episode, 'Breaker of Chains,' included a plot twist that has ignited a firestorm of debate online," the L.A. Times' Show Tracker reports. "In the scene in question, Cersei is grieving over the dead body of her son, King Joffrey, when Jaime, her brother/former lover/Joffrey's father, brutally forces himself on her. 'You're a hateful woman,' he says, as she repeatedly begs him to stop. 'Why have the gods made me love a hateful woman?' The scene stands out as perhaps the most shocking, taboo-breaking ever on a series that has already depicted a pregnant woman being stabbed to death in the stomach."
Online backlash has been intense, with critics of the scene lashing out at showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff for altering the source material in Martin's book " A Storm of Swords."
"Though Martin is known for inflicting untold brutality on his characters, in his version the sex between Jaime and Cersei, though incestuous and highly inappropriate given the context, appears to be consensual," the Times notes. The report notes that critics "have argued that the showrunners are simply using Cersei's assault as 'a shock tactic' and a cheap prop that contributes to rape culture."
The author addressed the controversy Monday on his blog. "Though he did not specifically defend the changes made in the series, he points out that the original scene from 'A Storm of Swords' was told only from Jaime's point of view, perhaps making it less straightforward than some have suggested," the story reports.
Martin reportedly wrote: "The reader is inside [Jaime's] head, hearing his thoughts. On the TV show, the camera is necessarily external. You don't know what anyone is thinking or feeling, just what they are saying and doing."
The report notes that showrunner Weiss has addressed gender issues on the show, saying: "The world of the show may not have a tremendous amount of respect for what the women of the show are capable of, but the show itself does.”
The Times report adds: "But at the A.V. Club, Sonya Saraiya points out that the Jaime-Cersei scene is not the first rape invented for the show — that Khal Drogo's rape of Daenerys in the series pilot is clearly consensual in Martin's book. She argues that '"Game Of Thrones" is falling into the same trap that so much television does — exploitation for shock value. And, in particular, the exploitation of women’s bodies.'"
Not everyone involved with the show is in full agreement that a rape even took place in Sunday's episode.
The Times reports: "Director Alex Graves told both Vulture and HitFix that Jaime and Cersei's encounter was 'consensual by the end.' And when asked in an interview with The Daily Beast whether Jaime's actions constituted rape, actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau said, 'Yes, and no.'"
Coster-Waldau added: "I think that, for some people, it’s just going to look like rape. The intention is that it’s not just that; it’s about two people who’ve had this connection for so many years, and much of it is physical, and much of it has had to be kept secret, and this is almost the last thing left now. It’s him trying to force her back and make him whole again because of his stupid hand.”