THE GREAT SANSA DEBATE
ELIO AND LINDA
(NOTE WE ARE WORKING ON FIXING THE VIDEO FOR THIS)
I listened to both videos. Elio & Linda’s was not satisfactory for me because for me they did not really get to the meat of the issue, but more to fans’ reactions to what happened. The point for me is that the showrunners did this for a reason, but what is it? That Sansa always makes poor choices and has done so all her life? We get it already, without agreeing to marry a monster and then being raped by him a device to drive it home. I believe that a more subtle approach would have been much better. Going on from here, how will Sansa’s story now unfold? How will she cope as a rape victim? She has been irreparably damaged. Will she eventually marry Theon because they are both damaged and at least she will never have to have sex? It seems life really sucks for her but is this to carry on until her endgame? This is too depressing.
ANGRYGOTFAN made some good points. Sansa escaped the Lannisters. Yes, she did and I find this is an elevating accomplishment, only to have it be trashed by such a terrible thing as rape to happen to her. Another good point is that the show is only a series of moments and because of this some of the characters’ motivations have been altered from those in the books. Yes, and the show could have been better in so many ways. But to go dark during the rape scene would not be my choice for how to do this. Better to prevent the rape. Perhaps Theon could have stepped in to prevent it, only to then have to endure punishment by Ramsay for foiling him. For Theon’s arc it makes sense because it would have been step one in making amends to Sansa for killing her two brothers. He admitted to her that he did this and she believed it. A much more dramatic scene would have been Theon admitting to Sansa in front of Ramsay that he did not kill the boys after all. I am sure the showrunners will have him do this fairly soon anyway, because in order to get her away from Ramsay he will have to rescue her and why would she go with him if she still believes him to be the murderer of Bran and Rickon? Of course, Brienne and Pod could step in and take her away, leaving Theon behind to somehow escape alone or perhaps be rescued himself by Asha.
But all this is so ridiculous when all the showrunners had to do was follow the books more closely. Even if they had to cut characters and pare things down, they did not have to deviate in such terrible ways. I like what George wrote in his blog about the butterfly effect. Ain’t it the truth, George, ain’t it the truth.
I just want to say one thing, and that’s Sansa hasn’t really been able to make any choices in her life. She was told she was going to marry Joffrey. She was a little girl at the time so that was the fairy tale right? Her marrying a prince and becoming a princess and eventually a queen. Only Cersei knew she raised a monster. Her marriage with Ramsey was arranged by Littlefinger. She’s a pawn in Littlefingers game. I can see him marrying her eventually. She didn’t really have a choice to not marry Ramsey, they already knew she was there and the way Littlefinger explained the situation to her, there was really no other choice but to marry him. So to say she makes bad choices isn’t really what’s happened. Other people have made bad choices for her. She did make the choice to escape from Kings Landing, which in the show I thought was completely botched but shows that she’s not a silly little girl that a lot of people think her to be. And the marriage to Ramsey, the rape, and her being in the same situation as she was in King’s Landing, doesn’t make it seem like her character has grown up and learned anything.
Sansa saw her own father have his head chopped off by her betrothed. She then endured repeated, violent abuse from him, including having to feign enduring loyalty after the rest of her family was murdered in cold blood and in defiance of guest right. Ramsay’s sexual abuse was a terrible thing, but I’d argue it is far from the most likely event in the series to leave her “irreparably damaged”.
I find it interesting that you take issue with this being a deviation from the books, when in fact what happens in the books is far, far more terrible. Do you take issue because here it happened to Sansa specifically? If so, why? Because she is better-born than Jeyne Poole? Jeyne endured many of the same horrors sansa did, having her father murdered and supposedly being subjected to physical torture (hence the whip marks on her back) before being forced to marry Ramsay. What Ramsay did to her involved forcing Reek to take an active part in her rape, and allowing his freaking dogs to sexually abuse her for his amusement.
If you take this much issue with Sansa’s rape scene, do you REALLY think they had to “follow the books more closely”? If so, I believe you’re misremembering the books.
>”How will she cope as a rape victim? She has been irreparably damaged.”
No no no and NO! The idea that being raped has irreparably “soiled” Sansa is another myth to be exploded. Sansa can triumph over this – Todd Akin and his ilk would call her permanently damaged as a result of this but by not allowing her spirit to be permanently damaged she winds up with a much more interesting and moving arc. And especially if she winds up in a position of leadership. The whole point of this thing is that the little people are getting murdered, raped and tortured as a daily routine and the nobles don’t care. For Sansa to experience this is a parallel to Jon experiencing life as a wildling, Jaime experiencing not being able to fight and so on. The actress who played Sansa this season was thrilled with her arc and I think we’ll see why. It’s just a shame that the rest of the show (other than Arya) is such a pathetic joke.
Thank you. As someone who has actually lived through this sort of thing, I find it disturbing that people assume that being raped makes one a weak character somehow.
I don’t mean to be glib but if they had done it the way you suggested with Miranda being brutalised would you be posting a video with links to help sites for people who have had family members raped and murdered?
Nobody wanted this to happen to Sansa, book readers doubly so. Rape is a brutal and horrifying crime in any world and unfortunately in the GOT world rape,torture,murder,slavery,social and sexual inequality are terrible realities that ALL of the characters face.
Sansa is a favourite of mine also and i screamed at the screen along with everyone with an ounce of humanity for her to be saved.
I do agree that she is one of the strongest characters mentally, but i think you are way way off the mark suggesting that she is some kind of major player YET. Putting on a black dress and dying your hair is a start but she is still learning.
They mirrored her with Arya this episode- she has learned to lie just like Arya does but she is still an inexperienced young virgin girl way over her head with a monstrous psycho like Ramsay.
They portray her as making this choice to marry and she knows she will have to make this sacrifice and endure sexual relations with a partner she does not love as so many female characters in that world have.
This concept doesn’t come across well in the show and is alien to our society of gender equality.
They stated early on that Sansa was going through this to extract some form of revenge. I am hoping she will be the one to save Theon and with Brienne’s help finish off either Roose or Ramsay.
If she doesn’t then it is just serving Theon’s story and not her own which WOULD be wrong so I am waiting with baited breath hoping she truly is unbowed unbent unbroken.
GRRM has stated many times we CARE and fear for these characters because nobody is safe.
We appreciate the show stopping villainy of characters like Joffrey but then cry out when favourite characters like Sansa suffer .
Take away the consequences and its a very different show.
My issue is that if D&D can drastically alter a character’s storyline from the book that anything is game for being altered. Nothing is set in concrete. Elio and Linda’s argument saying that because Sansa was in Winterfell she MUST be Jeyne Poole. I disagree completely. There could have been just as much of an altered storyline of her not being raped. Why was the rape the ‘set in concrete’ circumstance? Having Brienne so close, she could have interveined before the rape occured. Why anyone believes that just because Sansa was in Winterfell and married Ramsey that THE RAPE MUST OCCUR confounds me. This whole storyline could have been eliminated entirely as a matter of fact. Just having the threat of Stannis and Roose going to battle over Winterfell would have been enough to move the overall story further. D&D could have just as easily invented other circumstances for Theon to get out of WF. My point is that D&D have changed the story to serve their purposes (in many aspects other than just Sansa’s) and being faithful to this specific event of GRRM’S creation is ludicrous.
As far as whether it was Jeyne or Sansa being raped? My only argument is that Jeyne Poole character from the fruition was to act as a fake Stark to fool the Northern families into fealty to the Bolton’s. Sansa had her own story to tell. And rape, no matter who it happens to is inexcusable.
Yeah I don’t agree with the Elio and Linda’s reasoning here. I understand that they’re fans of George and have followed the books for years, so I think they feel (if not, I apologize) threatened that all this sexism criticism is going to spring back at George, especially with the upcoming Cersei’s walk scene. So they’re holding the way the narrative was set-up as responsible.
But I really agree with your first alternative to how it could have went down. People will point to it’s implausibility wrt Sansa’s character but I call bs on that. Everyone’s characterization is all over the place by now, being increasingly apparent since S3.
I mean, they refused to build up Sansa’s character until her escape from King’s Landing, then “empowered” her overnight with complete dark makeover. If Cogman’s “This is a hardened woman making a choice” (which is a load of bs btw) comment rings true, then Sansa should be exactly what they made her into: A woman with a different mentality and behaviour than the innocent Sansa.
After Myranda tells her cheerful little story, she expects him to be rough and assesses the situation from his behaviour quickly and decide to play along with it: refuse to be humiliated.
If anything is possible, this is possible too. If there have been so egregious changes in the overall story this could have been one too. But they chose to have it be rape for Theon’s sake. Because we had to see Theon’s crying face as it happened.
“rape” seems to be the word people are choosing. Sansa said “yes”, I will marry you. “yes” I will submit to you. It was her choice to do this. And Ramsey (for the moment) treated her better than most of his “girls”. I could have done without Theon watching, but hey, I’m not writing the show. While I feel sorry for her…..it could have been so much worse! In the middle ages, this was how most arranged marriages were……
Oh come on! You really think she gave her consent here? She was forced into this situation. So what, the end game is she got what she agreed to?
LIttlefinger gave her an out…..before they got to winterfell. She agreed to go on, instead of going back to the vale. we all deal with the consequences of our actions….for better or worse. However, I am hoping that this is the catalyst that will make Sansa take the reins.
I don’t know if what I say will make much sense, but I liked your video more than Elio & Linda’s. This is what I came up with after agreeing with pretty much everything you said/suggested:
It could be said that both Sansa Stark & Jeyne Poole started out at the same point way back in the first book/episode. They were best friends, naive young girls with big dreams. They’ve both been through a lot as their stories developed, which brought out the fact that they really weren’t that similar, since they react differently to the horrors they must endure.
Without disregarding the traumatic situations Jeyne has lived, I believe that it can be argued that Sansa is stronger than Jeyne, for different reasons. Sure, she has had “allies” of sorts (Sandor, Tyrion, Dontos, LF), and has political value, besides the fact that being a Stark counts for some sort of inner strength, and Jeyne doesn’t’ have any of these.
Anyways, the show decided that Sansa should fill in Jeyne’s shoes, without taking into account all that she has learned throughout the years. They don’t care about really having her character development making sense, or they would have kept her in the Vale and written up her storyline there.
They didn’t go down that road, and despite the fact that my next suggestion isn’t one I like one bit, I agree with you that the producers/writers could’ve gone down the Darth Sansa all the way storyline. It wouldn’t be the character we love, but at least it would show some sort of respect towards the Sansa they’ve created.
This is what I mean: Had they shown Sansa taking the trouble to investigate with servants about the man she was going to marry, & with what Myranda told Sansa during the bath scene, Sansa could’ve realized that she should pretend to like Ramsay’s sadistic sexual acts. She would shock Ramsay and maybe he could start seeing her as a partner, rather than as a toy.
One could argue that makes her Ramsay’s puppet, having to always do the things he suggests and stuff, but at least as you mentioned regarding her deciding to marry him, it would be her choice to do that.
By the preview of next week’s episode, it looks like Sansa will react the same way Jeyne did in the books. This is totally a natural aftermath for someone who has suffered being raped. As to the following episode, I think Ramsay will have her locked up most of the time, and sure, it fits with the Sansa from the previous episode. Since the showrunners really want to show Reek’s storyline, it wouldn’t surprise me…
Still, had they filmed the Darth Sansa plot, despite the fact that it would complicate the script for them since it would have to be more about Sansa’s agency and less about Theon’s redemption, I think that what they ought to have done was to show a Sansa who is pretending isn’t affected by what happened to her. After all, this is how she survived in King’s Landing. And while she pleases Ramsay, who allows her more liberties with time (like walking around the castle unprotected), she could be attempting to manipulate Theon and some servants to become her allies.
If they show her lighting up a candle in a tower for help, it would be similar to the “princess trapped in a tower plot, waiting to be rescued”. That fits the Sansa of the first two books, not the Sansa thought she was saving herself by risking all those secret trips to the godswood to meet with Ser Dontos.
An in any case, why would she trust what that woman told her about help coming if she lit up a candle? The show isn’t showing consistency when it comes to Sansa’s development as a character. They forced her into Jeyne’s shoes, but when they wish for her to act like Sansa, and then they throw in a line or two that sort of seems like her (referring to the preview scene where Sansa is talking to Theon). But if she really was like Jeyne, then she shouldn’t believe for a second that a candle will solve her problems. In the books Jeyne believes that any sort of help is actually Ramsay playing with her, testing her, so what stops the Sansa in the preview from believing that as well?
Sorry for the long rant. By the way, cheers on having Sandor being your favorite character! He is my second favorite ;D
Jenni, I mean no offense, but exactly how was their video unsatisfactory? It seems by your response it’s unsatisfactory simply because you’re in disagreement with the scene happening, not because of any true objections to what Elio and Linda stated.
Not to mention your comment about following the books more closely, it makes no sense. Were they to follow more closely we’d have had Theon raping Jeyne orally at Ramsay’s command, as well as her getting fucked by dogs. Did you read the books? All things considered in my opinion the show is far more G-rated than the book counterpart. Unless your objection is it happening to Sansa, in-which case I find your objection(s) quite superficial.
Only that they didn’t really get into the meat of the issue with the episode as far as their own feelings go. If I have time to listen to it again I could take notes and then analyze how I felt E & L’s video didn’t satisfy me. While I feel the showrunners can do whatever they want to George’s story because I presume they paid him handsomely to do so, it doesn’t mean that the show watchers wouldn’t have done it differently and in the same time constraints. Let’s face it, if 10,000 of us got a chance to adapt the books into a miniseries there would be 10,000 different versions. Personally, I would have left out the made-up characters who weren’t in the books as well as the gratuitous brothel scenes, had more in-depth scenes with more of the book characters, and if I had to leave out a ruling family almost completely it would have been the Martells and not the Greyjoys. And I would have used Jeyne Poole instead of Sansa and kept to Sansa’s actual storyline. Yes, I have read all the books four times each except for the first one which I read only once because it is so simple compared to the others. Book Five is my favourite so far. Things can be written in books that don’t have as much impact as visual things seen on the screen and the fact Sansa was raped was hard to take. Poor Jeyne Poole, but the impact was less reading about her rape than it was seeing Sansa raped because Sansa is a main character in whom we are more invested than we were in poor Jeyne. The biggest issue with me though, is that where is Sansa going from here? One cannot just snap back into one’s normal self after being raped. How is she ever going to have a normal life from here on in? Or maybe her life is to end soon anyway. Who knows? As far as Sansa’s choices earlier in life, I can give a few samples. She chose to learn how to do needlepoint, Arya didn’t. She chose to lie about the skirmish between Arya and Joffrey and got Micah, Arya’s friend, killed as a result. She chose to moon over knights like Loras when she could have been learning to sword fight like Arya. She could have chosen to throw herself in front of Ilyn Payne when he was about to chop her father’s head off. She could have gone with Sandor Clegane when he offered to take her away. One choice after the other, they all seem to have been the wrong ones. Oh sorry, I just realized it wasn’t you who criticized me for agreeing that Sansa made poor choices. Okay, I’m done.
Not wanting to sound pedantic, but wasn’t Sansa being physically restrained when Ser Ilyn chopped off her father’s head?
I’ve watched both videos.
I see a big part of this issue as this: Those who are upset with this scene are measuring the actions of these characters against today’s society and moires. Yes, if this happened to a woman in this day and age, if this were a real life event in the news… it would be a crime. BUT, this is a work of fiction, set in a world very different yet similar historically to our concept of “reality”.
I’ll be totally honest with all of you. When I first began the series, I had to put the book down for a few days after Ned’s death. The after reading the Red Wedding, I walked away for 3 months. I too had trouble meshing the horrors of this cruel world with what I innately felt to right and wrong. To grow attached to characters and feel such agony when something happened to them… my poor husband listened to my rants, having no idea the vast scope of emotion this story covered. I put it down, but I could not stop thinking about it.
To read the books, and really soak in all that Martin has created, I cleared my mind of all my preconceived ideas of what is “normal and acceptable” in modern day society and our culture; for days I wouldn’t read anything online, watch the news or let anyone mess with my “blank” mind. Then I picked the book back up and I was there… I was in Martins world. In the world of GoT, everything Martin wrote, made perfect sense. It fits so tightly, it’s so finely woven that each reading you find another nuance… a little something you missed….
My point, Martin wants you think about all of this! Conversation is how change can come about. Women are raped everyday… all around the world. Take all this indignation and apply it towards making changes in their human conditions. YOU make a difference.
I find that I agree with Elio & Linda. We need to see where they will take this storyline. Sansa was there… it had to happen. I’m sure in the next few shows we will come to understand why. I don’t see Sansa as a victim in this. She made the choice to go to Winterfell, she chose to marry Ramsey, and she knew one way or another that the marriage would be consummated. She never said “no”. She did not fight him. What makes the scene uncomfortable for me is the added humiliation of Sansa by making Theon watch (and the mental anguish inflicted on Theon). I think Sansa will be the Phoenix rising from the ashes…. with each event in her life, she has grown stronger. Ramsey’s cruelty towards Sansa would certainly bring the North to her aide and move the storyline in the direction Martin intended.
Elio & Linda, and AngryGoTFan…. this was a great idea!!!! You all did a great job. Thank you!
So I had a really long comment that went point by point of why I disagree with Elio and Linda and think that they missed the point. However, it got eaten by the internet gods so I’ll post this bit of it instead, since it goes into why I think their main reason for being ok with the change is wrong.
As far as Sansa = Jeyne, this is untrue. Jeyne was not quite a peasant girl, but was also not a noble, nor a Stark. While I definitely don’t condone Ramsay’s treatment of her, his approach was compliance through torture. The Bolton’s needed her just long enough for Reek as Theon to proclaim her as Arya, present herself as Arya without calling herself Jeyne, marry Ramsay, and that’s it. Don’t forget Ramsay’s first wife. He wed her, bed her, then locked her in a tower with no food. She ate her own fingers, and she died. Everyone acknowledged that what Ramsay did to her was horrible, but that the marriage was apparently legitimate. This would have been the same with Jeyne as Arya. Sansa, on the other hand, is an actual Stark. She doesn’t need to be tortured into obedience and assume a different identity in order for their plan to work. Roose also seems to want her treated well, not just for the marriage to be seen as legitimate, but for the Northerners to accept them as the Wardens in the North. This implies long-term safety for Sansa, not just consumation of the marriage.
I have a longer post on reddit that discusses what I think could have happened instead. It would have, in my opinion, kept the agency and redemption arcs of the characters in tact while staying within the established personalities of the characters involved. Feel free to have a look.
I see a lot of comments stating they simply disagree with Elio and Linda, but not providing any actual arguments against their statements point by point (as needed per their/your disagreements). If you want to disagree to disagree, that’s perfectly fine, but we’re not talking about anything at that point, you’re just voicing your opinion/gut reaction.
Secondly Sansa isn’t Jeyne in the sense that she has all of her qualities, simply that her story is being merged and condensed with Sansa’s. For all intents and purposes, she is Jeyne in the show. I have to take it you’re only opposed to this on a book adaption level because you don’t seem to discourage the act of sexual assault and rape, rather the fact it’s happening to Sansa. If that’s the case I don’t think the closing on Theon should matter much to you, would you have preferred to see the act being done to Sansa? You seem to be concerned with how they focused on Theon so that indicates that it’s an issue of actual content of the scene, and like I state below, where was the outrage prior to this scene? Can’t pick and choose, it’s either wrong or not, can’t be ok sometimes and not others. As much as the show is a fantasy show, it’s depicting the brutality of humanity that still exists to this day, let alone in the time period it’s attempt to represent. Let’s not forget what we’re watching and reading.
I’m finding myself more put-off by what I feel is slightly feigned outrage than the actual act itself. Where were the pitchforks when Dany was crying while Drogo bent her over and consummated their marriage in Season 1? The sexual arousal and castration of Theon? Hell people had no problem with Margery fucking Tommen. Was it because he is a male and it’s simply ok to have that relationship even though he is that young?
C’mon people, at least be consistent if you’re going to have this much of an issue with it. Even in that case I still think it’s your personal taste and perhaps the show/books aren’t for you, but at least I could take your argument seriously. People are all over the place with where and what is causing their outrage. Condemn it all, or none.
First I’ll go through your points, one by one so we can have an actual disagreement rather than saying nothing, as you put it. As I stated, I did have a point by point refutation, but I opted not to retype the whole thing because I frankly didn’t want to watch their video again. I’ll go through and list the issues I had with their points after I deal with yours.
Sansa is not the same character as Jeyne. Clearly their story lines are being merged. I have an issue with that merging in the first place, and I also think that due to the fact that female characters aren’t interchangeable, I believe that Sansa as Jeyne could have and should have had a different story arc than book Jeyne. Of course this point is referencing the books, I wouldn’t be talking about Jeyne otherwise. However, being opposed to a change from the books does not also preclude me from having other issues with the scene, as you seem to imply. I take issue with Sansa not being given her own story line and instead having her story be excluded in order to make Theon’s more interesting. I disagree with D&D that her Vale story line was uninteresting and that she needed to be raped in order to have people enjoy it. And I also don’t think it’s good writing to focus on a male character and essentially make the rape about him instead of dealing with the character that had been raped. No, I would not have preferred to see it done to Sansa and it isn’t a fair assumption that it has to either focus on him or her. I don’t think she should have been raped at all.
Regarding the outrage prior to this scene. You don’t know me so you’ve had no access to my previous outrage. It’s rather disingenuous of you to assume that I and others weren’t bothered by other scenes merely because we are discussing the most recent thing to appear. I was just as maddened by Dany’s rape and by Cersei’s rape. I witnessed quite a bit of outrage on social media when both of those things occurred. I’m surprised you missed it, to be honest. I thought the scenes of Theon’s torture were extremely excessive, but I’ve enjoyed other aspects of the show and continued watching due to those other aspects. However the culmination of all of those previous things that I didn’t like have led me to rethink my decision to watch the show. Regarding whether or not I can pick and choose what bothers me and what doesn’t… I can, actually. Context and the way things are dealt with, whether or not they do anything to enhance the characterization or are narratively necessary to move the story forward all matter in what I find outrageous. What it doesn’t do is change whether or not I find the acts heinous, terrible, horrible, etc. I find what happened to Jeyne and Theon in the books to be truly horrible things. I find what happened to Robb to be abhorrent. I also understand the narrative necessity within the books and sometimes the show. If I had not read the books, I would still find what happened to Sansa to be terrible and poor writing. It’s similar to how Tara was treated in the first few seasons of True Blood. She was constantly a victim and a punching bag. She wasn’t allowed any real character growth. I found it in poor taste and bad writing then, and I feel the same about Sansa’s situation now.
I like Margaery, I preferred her book story line where Tommen was not old enough to consummate the marriage. Tommen in the show, however, is more than happy to consummate the marriage so I don’t see that as rape, he was aged up in order for it to be more palatable. That being said, it still makes me uncomfortable to essentially see a grown woman sleeping with a teenage boy and manipulating him so clearly.
I don’t believe that rape and sexual abuse shouldn’t be used in media and art, but I do think that they should be used with care and this show has a history of not following through well enough for my tastes. It’s a cumulative effect rather than a rage-quit after one poorly written scene. I believe that while some of Martin’s scenes are much more graphic and heinous, they are also usually used to better effect than what the show has done thus far.
Onto the video critique.
Shock Value – I don’t believe it’s ONLY for shock value, but that is part of it. No matter how the show follows up with new episodes, part of the point of that scene was to shock viewers. This can be seen in how it was used to end the episode with no follow up whatsoever. Perhaps they’ll follow it up with a good story line involving what Sansa goes through, but due to their history of dealing with rape on this show, I’m not that hopeful. Also, since I believe that Jeyne is different from Sansa, saying that because it happened to one then it has to happen to the other just doesn’t hold water for me.
Not Sansa – I haven’t had the complaint that it shouldn’t be Sansa because SANSA. I felt tons of sympathy for Jeyne, and I believe that had they included her or a random Northern girl instead of Sansa, that the audience would have also seen it as a heinous act.
Regression of Sansa – I covered much of this earlier in my thread so I’ll only cover the new stuff. I do believe it regresses her into a victim. While she’s learning from Littlefinger and manipulating who he wants her to, that doesn’t take away from the fact that she IS learning. To me, this implies that she will be facing future adversities from a position of power, or at least not from victimization. I think it’s an important distinction and while it does include a bit of assumption on my part, I’m ok with that.
It’s all about Theon – I’ve already given my thoughts on this earlier. I disagree with Linda that it’s a mistake to view it as making the scene about Theon. Instead, I think it is a different, but just as valid interpretation as what she gives.
Plot Device – They missed the point of this argument for me. When I see people saying it is a plot device, the complaint that I see is that it doesn’t bring us any new information about the characters involved. Sansa’s life is currently terrible, Theon has been and is still being tortured, Ramsay is a terrible terrible person. It was more necessary in the books because we had very little knowledge of Ramsay until this point. The show has made a point of focusing on Ramsay’s sadistic nature and therefore the scene is no longer necessary. Also, as far as it being ok for GRRM so it must be ok for D&D, that would hold true if the adaptation had been word for word and scene for scene. It hasn’t been (nor should it have been), and therefore what is necessary or useful in one narrative doesn’t mean it is useful and necessary in a new one.
Also, I’m not attempting to tell anyone else how to feel or that they’re wrong for being ok with this scene. I’m explaining my feelings, what I disagree with regarding interpretations, and leaving it at that. Don’t tell me how I should or shouldn’t feel.
Surely if you felt just as strongly about those prior scenes you can point me to some post you made on reddit/twitter/etc., that is even remotely similar to the outrage you’ve shown towards this scene. I’d be happy were my comment and thoughts on your feelings proved to be wrong, but I feel like you’re just saying so at this point to deflect the truth of the matter, and that is even if you didn’t exactly ignore or have positive feeling towards them, it certainly didn’t warrant or invoke this kind of response.
I mean it sounds like you’ve read the books, yet I assume you have zero issue continue reading, no? Have you completely abandoned the series only after the Sansa scene? The original Jeyne events weren’t enough to make you outright stop, the prior rapes and torture? If not, why? Again it was quite worse, so if your objection is content and the sexual abuse why continue to this point as it is? I’d say you’re asking for it, because even if they didn’t merge Sansa and decided to have Jeyne, they’re adapting the books. They cannot fit everything in, but they’re still ADAPTING the story, they’re not making shit up just to make it up for the most part, they’re putting pieces in place so they can end George’s story the same way it is in the books. Were they to gloss over the torture of Jeyne completely I would think it disingenuous and pandering to be quite honest. I am not watching a Disney fantasy, part of the appeal of the series is even though it’s a fantasy series, it’s also founded in the horrors and atrocities of the real world. Nobody enjoyed the scene, that’s the point. It wasn’t meant to be enjoyable.
On your response to the Shock Value: I’m sorry unless Ramsay’s rape was completely made up (and to be honest, I find Sansa’s scene(s) much less rape-esque than Jeyne’s, afterall Sansa made the CHOICE to go to Winterfell EXPLICITLY for the marriage, Littlefinger gave her an opportunity to turn around, Jeyne was offered no such kindness manipulative or not) I cannot classify it as being for shock value purely. Yes it was for shock value, TV shows in-general are trying to illicit emotions. It was only for shock value insofar as the rest of the “unspeakable events” in the show/books are meant for shock value. This wasn’t malicious, or even made up, it’s simply another merging of stories to put characters into places they need to be for the end game, while also adapting the story to work with those changes. Had Sansa gone and they hadn’t consummated the marriage the show would be far less realistic than the Sand Snakes fighting.
On your response to it’s all about Theon: I don’t see how we can even suggest this unless we’re also willing to suggest the same about the book. Why not give Jeyne POV’s to explore her rape and brutal sexual assaults, why Theon/Reek chapters? Theon, Theon, Theon. I think the scene was about 3 people, and it wasn’t all about Theon, the filming of his reaction was the best decision they could of made in my opinion. Those that disagree will probably just say not to show anything, but again I feel that is far too disingenuous.
On your response to plot device: Again you’re giving GRRM a pass. It’s either right or wrong, you can’t keep saying you’re outraged that it took place, but turn around and say well I was only outraged at this point because I just figured they’d write out the exact same thing you’re accusing the show runners of, focusing more on characters we already have information about. This isn’t a roller coaster, things in life don’t generally flip on a dime, they change gradually, since we know all these things have happened to these characters should we simply never show them unless the exact opposite of what has happened is happening? A person who lives a shit life cannot continue to live a shit life? I don’t get it, are we reading the same series of books and story? They are condensing and moving things around as to adapt as much of George’s story as possibly now to fit how many seasons they want to finish in, they aren’t completely making the story up until the ending, yes they’re shifting things around, but even the changes are still things that happened in the book. Does Jorah have to have Greyscale? I mean come on.
Lastly, I’m not telling you how to feel. I’m simply stating your critiques don’t hold much water in my opinion outside of appeals to emotion. Like I said, I don’t think a single of sound mind person watched that scene and was happy about it, or did not care. It was a disgusting horror of a scene, but not something I think is out of place for the show or the book, nor do I think gratuitous. If you’re this sensitive to these issues, like I said I don’t know how you’ve gotten this far into the series. Surely people can agree and disagree on anything they choose, but you reasoning is flawed, I figured the comments were to continue the discussion, not to just echo outrage or agreement.
Either you don’t understand or you’re purposefully ignoring parts of what I’m saying. Either way, I’m not going to continue banging my head against the wall trying to get you to understand. Nor am I going to waste my time proving to you that I was outraged by previous events. If you come at it from the point of view that I’m lying to you unless I can prove otherwise, continuing this discussion is just a waste of my time.
It’s not about you lying in and of itself, it’s about me attempting to see if you’re being consistent with your own views. You can dislike anything you want, I have no right to suggest otherwise, but just say you disliked it because you don’t like it. The arguments you’re making for why it shouldn’t have taken place, and why you’re still continuing to watch even though you knew even worse events could be coming is baffling to me.
If you don’t like it, you don’t like it, but the reasoning you’re using to justify why it shouldn’t have been shown is too flawed to ignore.
I’ve read & watched the discussions surrounding the last episode of GOT. I’ve also read the entire written series three times through. While at first, I had lots of disagreements with the screen writers who adapted ASoIF for HBO, I’ve changed my attitude. The diversions of the literary stories from the HBO series has come to provide me with twice the opportunity to enjoy/react/explore Westeros and all the characters. I understand that the plot turning to once again cast Sansa Stark as a victim is a surprise, and the violence was brutal. Rape is not a subject to touch on lightly and it was handled with devastating ugliness and violence. But I felt the scene worked to explore the extent of the destruction of Theon more than simply a gratuitous act of violence against Sansa. To see an adult man stand tormented but harmless to intercede while a woman he grew up with as a child and cared for is brutalized by a madman, reveals how utterly powerless Theon has become as nothing else could. It also points out what a monster Petyr Baelish is, having used her so poorly to further his own agenda. For me, it also puts Sansa into position to begin to learn how to extract her own vengeance, so I can look forward to where this heads. I don’t think that there is any point to second-guessing the writers. We all have to wait and see and endure all the nastiness that will doubtlessly surface again and again until the series ends. Winter is almost here. When it comes, the dying will begin in earnest.
“I DONT THINK THERE IS ANY POINT TO SECOND-GUESS THE WRITERS”
Walter, I agree that it was used to explore the extent of the destruction of Theon, but that is as problem, in my opinion. They made the rape of her character about him. They lost the agency and growth of Sansa Stark from pawn into player, in order to highlight Reek’s redemption. I find that extremely bothersome.
Freyya — I don’t see that Reek will be redeemed in this version. I think the screen writers are doing two things here: the final destruction of Theon and the establishment of the fact that Sansa has to learn (agreed that it’s in a terrible way) that NOONE can be trusted. No one. Her salvation will be carried out, if at all, through her own hands. In this way, I think the screenwriters are giving us a possibility that one of the Stark girls will regain something of her power. As much as I truly love the Arya character, I don’t think she has much of a future in Westeros. But, hey, now I’ve only got the HBO GOT for my ASoIF fix, so I’ve gotta stay hopeful that it’s going somewhere I haven’t already seen/read.
I think people are looking at the show’s portrayal of Winterfell backwards. It’s unbelievably bad, but for not for the reasons you’re giving. The problem is not that they’ve brought Sansa to Winterfell – it’s that they failed to bring Mance, the Freys and the Manderlys, rushed the Iron Bank’s support of Stannis, omitted the Crofter’s Village intrigue, etc.
I agree entirely with Elio’s and Linda’s takes on Sansa – in fact, I would go so far as to say that substituting Sansa for Jeyne might actually work, as I believe the changes to Arya and Sandor have worked. But those are the ONLY two show changes that have a chance of working (with the possible exception of giving Robb an onscreen love interest and a point of view so that his parallel to Ned could be more painful). Everything else they’ve done has been criminally incompetent – especially to Varys, Jaime and Tyrion.
As for your proposed non-rape rewrite of the scene – yes, they could have written it that way – and GRRM is indeed writing Sansa’s character that way in the Vale – but this is Ramsay Bolton – even if Sansa had tried to go willingly into the marriage as you propose, it wouldn’t have worked. The larger plot is that Littlefinger arranges for an innocent female to be delivered under false pretenses to the Boltons and then finds ways to sabotage them and turn the ensuing chaos to his advantage – just as he did with the murders of Jon Arryn and Joffrey – leaving out the identity switch doesn’t change the fact that Littlefinger is playing many moves ahead and screwing anyone and everyone to create chaos. This doesn’t work with your scenario. The rape of whomever is Ramsay’s wife is just as important as the Red Wedding and Ned’s death to the plot – it hurts, but it’s centrally important. Think ahead – if Ramsay doesn’t rape Sansa, why must Sansa and Theon escape? Why is Brienne in the North? If Sansa charms and seduces Ramsay like she does Harry the Heir … it just doesn’t work.
Furthermore, getting raped on her marriage night is 100% consistent with the arc of book-Sansa. The essence of Sansa’s arc is the deconstruction of romantic myths just as Ned’s, Robb’s and Jaime’s are the deconstruction of the myth of “honor”. Sansa starts out like the Princess Bride – believing in every aspect of chivalry – and piece by piece GRRM destroys her ideals in the most painful ways imaginable. That’s why this is one of the very few changes that the showruiners have tried that might have worked had they not ruined it by destroying the OTHER side of Northern plot, i.e., Mance, the Manderlys, Stannis, the Freys, Asha, Rickon, Wex, Davos, et al.
I think those who can’t accept this scene are themselves suffering from a romantic myth – that the lead female must remain “pure” and virginal until her Prince Charming carries her over the threshold. GRRM already toed the romantic line by having Tyrion do the right thing and not take Sansa’s virginity even when she was reluctantly willing to part with it – and by arranging events so that Joffrey died before he could rape her. This rape explodes yet another element of the fairy tale princess myth – the pure virgin we’ve been counting on to win in the end is now a rape victim – but she can win anyway – find another story where that happens. Can’t you see the power of a rape victim NOT being destroyed by the rape and triumphing in spite of it? If and when Sansa does emerge from this and triumph it will make her arc have been even more powerful – more original – and vastly more realistic.
Wait … Sansa was involved in the murder of a king at his wedding?? She was a witness but had no agency in that. I agree that the show has gone way off the rails, but not in this scene. The “way forward” is that Sansa got raped, she’s mad as hell, she’s going to escape with Theon and Brienne, and Ramsay is almost undoubtedly going to die in a horrible way, made more satisfying by this scene just as Joffrey’s death was made more satisfying by … well, everything he ever did or said. Ramsay probably won’t die at Sansa’s hands just as Joffrey wasn’t killed by any of our PoV characters – it’s too neat for GRRM’s style.
Another important parallel. GRRM takes a character and strips him or her of something central. Jaime loses his sword hand; Ned loses his honor as he falsely confesses before his death. Robb loses his honor by having sex out of wedlock. Theon loses his genitals. And Sansa loses her virginity and fairytale princess arc. As much as I hate this show I think the arcs of the Stark sisters might be the only things they get right in the end. They’ve destroyed Jaime, Varys, Tyrion, and Dany. If there’s any redemption for these shameless hacks … nah … there’s no redemption.
Medieval marriages between high born were not matters of love and consent. Brutal old men, survivors of many battles, married young guaranteed virgins with the object of procreation, not love and not happiness. First nights were sometimes observed, but observation or not the young girl did not say no and the soldier noble was unlikely to take his time. Blood on the sheets was a mark of success of the Union. So if a character is a bad guy you would expect tears. All things written or shown in a work of fiction are meant to move us. If you expect happily ever after you are watching the wrong program and reading the wrong books. When I re watch episode nine season one I still hope Ned is saved in the end.
Once Sansa went north to marry Ramsey we faced two outcomes. The first, that I was screaming for was fan fiction: Sansa pulls out a knife from her wrist ties, Reek makes the save, Brienne fresh from the Winterfel Hilton makes the save, or Ramsey is so amazed by Sansa’s beauty and innocence that he reforms, etc. The other was a brutal deflowering plus cruel humiliation. We got this artfully done with Reek serving as our horrified stand in. I hated it, but the scene was powerful and internally consistent with the story so far.
Applying modern morality to a period fantasy will lead you to tears or Disney fiction. Does the show routinely shock and horrify us on purpose? Duh, yes. Tired of Internet crusades built on soap boxes constructed of emotional final straws. I was more offended by the bad set up and execution of the sand snakes scenes. However the Sansa scene will be in my head for a long time and I still want a fan fiction save, but impressed the show did not give me what I wanted.
So. What would have been the effect if the audience sees Sansa in bed being helped by the old woman trying to staunch the blood on her thighs as a result of the (unseen) rape. Perhaps with Theon on the floor weeping and in anguish.
Ramsay is then with Myranda etc etc.
We all know what happened and what will continue to happen to Sansa. To show that scene that way was cheap, tawdry sensationalism.
Add in the dopey Dorne dreck and I can only say “Good Night and Good Luck”. We’re not watching this crap anymore.
Dude, you have no idea what this is doing for Sansa’s arc, because you haven’t seen where this leads to. You jumped the gun, wait for a few more episodes.
“Sometimes butterflies turn into Dragons”. Those are the words of Martin himself about Sansa being raped by Ramsay. If George doesn’t like what’s happening then I don’t like what’s happening. Sansa represents something in the story. There is a symbolic meaning there that the showrunners obviously don’t understand.
Kinda like how they think Need stands for revenge.
Im sorry but I agree with elio and linda.
To put it bluntly. This episode truly show’s how many of you live the life. Well if it’s not happening to me or anyone I know I don’t care. If you have watched every episode in the series and made it this far to complain. That is how it shows this happend in the first episode to danny. That was full frontal rape. But you kept watching…. you didn’t know danny then and didn’t care. You were shocked turnd off didn’t like it whatevere you kept watching. Now it’s happening to a character your invested in your alot more upset and vocal about your feelings. This was toned down ALOT from the books. Dany wasn’t raped at all in the books she was the instigator… im not gunna lie I didn’t like it I wasn’t supposed to. But its happend and even with the horrid dorne story no greyjoys dead barristan ect ect…. it’s still one of the best shows out. Ill just keep watching for now and hope harry is a better man.
Plot Device argument: I think most people are concerned about it being “Rape as a Plot Device”, not anything is and can be a plot device. Rape in a work of art is an issue that must be handled delicately and considerately, not just thrown in for shock value (which I won’t get into, since Freyya explained it very well in her post.)
In which case, as a lot people are shouting about it, I have no faith in the writers to handle this well. Yes, the fact that it will move Theon’s storyline is a valid (and problematic) point, but other than that, the highest probability is that it will be used for cheap drama in the next few episodes, then Sansa’ storyline will “get back on track”. Now I don’t need to tell you how offensive this is. Rape is an act that has consequences that do not fade easily and shortly, it can even take years for the trauma to wear off.
So what will happen then, will Sansa swear off any sexuality because she’s traumatized? That would make sense, but then it would not. Because Sansa the character did not need this. That’s what we’ve all been saying. She’s been traumatized already, and this is a complete regression of her character as well as adding more trauma.
Will she forget about this next season, if not this one? Will she laugh again, and even flirt with characters? This is a sexist way too, as it trivializes the consequences of rape. It implies that “Sansa was strong enough” that this did not break her, as it did Jeyne. Is this not a disservice to Jeyne the character then?
Any way you cut it, this is a shitcake, pardon the analogy.
This is so accurate and well worded – thanks!
There are bits of truth in both responses.
1. SHEN ANGRY is correct. Dave and Dan and Cogman aka BWC Inc, used this particular scene and scenario for shock value. They aren’t concerned with developing her character. The scene that shows this is the Myranda hair washing scene. The scene is very symbolic for what was about to happen. Sansa had darkened her hair, changed her tone and dress to go undercover and to show her growth. That she isn’t a little naive girl anymore, she’s not going to be, “Scared little rich girl in the tower” from season 2. Well when Myranda washed her hair and it went back to that auburn color, that was it. Sansa was going to be a victim again, as BWC Inc. intended.
Was it necessary for her character to develop? NO! Was it done to shock audiences and piss off book readers? YES, was it done to create buzz and anticipation over the next episode? YES! Was it done so that Theon and Sansa can show their growth? We shall see . . . . .
2. ELIO and LINDA are correct. GRRM writes stuff like this all the time and we don’t know if Sansa will be assaulted in the books. Sansa has more troubles coming, Elio and Linda are close to GRRM and know that there may be some sexual situations heading her way. Yes fans are idealistic in thinking that, “Sansa is a player to pawn.” But that may not be her case, as GRRM says, “No one is safe” in this series, she may die in TWOW or ADOS. As Shen Angry said, she’s his second favorite character, he is biased.
I think Sansa and Bran are boring and could do without them … they are my least favorite POVs along with Arianne Martell.
GRRM is writing about how awful war is, and how the satanic pursuit of power in this world destroys the world and even those who have it.
It would be unauthentic for BWC Inc. NOT to do the same. Again, I wish Ramsay would have shown genius evil side and not a cartoonish Law and Order: SVU villian side. But that is just me . . .
Also, the scene was about Theon and Sansa suffering, they both suffered in that scene. Ramsay victimized both of them, as monsters like Ramsay do.
I think what everyone agrees with, E&L included, is that the original sin was deciding to have Sansa marry Ramsey.
Any world in which Sansa marries Ramsey is a world where Sansa will be cruelly victimized, sexually or otherwise. If D&D didn’t write it that way, it would strain credulity.
D&D wrote Sansa marrying Ramsey knowing that they’d have to write Ramsey doing horrible things to her, including rape. That’s really the problem. I think E&L would agree with that.
I think E&L’s broader point regarding everyone’s reaction to the rape scene is that many are saying that (a) rape, in it of itself, is a third rail and shouldn’t be used in ficton or (b) are beininconsistent about their indignation of rape in fiction (Jeyne v. Sansa)
I appreciate your video retort more than you know. That episode left me shaking, crying, and it triggered my PTSD. Yes, you may wonder why after all this time, a rape survivor would watch a show like GOT.
It wasn’t easy at first. I went into season one not knowing anything about the books, and so I watch the first episode. Seeing Dany get raped on her wedding night turned be off from the show for entire year. But then I saw her dragon redemption arc and I thought let’s give this a chance again. I am also a big fan of Pern, and though my disappointment with the fact that this book series has never became a TV nor movie series, I decided to watch game of thrones instead. It seemed like a different show, albeit more violent.
It’s took me a while before I realized, that women were just never going to get the upper hand on the show. And the shows that I choose to watch it is important for me to see strong women.
The characters that I’ve come to watch, have become very interesting to me but one thing I am noticing is that in particular with the female characters, whenever one seems to grow and become in a position where she may be in power, it seems the creators have to knock her back. Dany this season is reduced to a blundering a leader, not even in charge of her dragons anymore, entering a marriage of convenience, or she could’ve ruled. Arya is walking a confusing path, Cersei is headed for a fall, but it is the continued degradation I am most at issue with.
Sansa’s rape just was the last straw for me. I can’t tell you what it does to me to read comments that state that Sansa gave her consent, that it wasn’t really rape, she said yes, she didn’t say no. On the night when it happened to me, the same things were said to me by the police interviewing me, or shall I say accusing me. These are things that get thrown in your face when you report it. So when I read things like this, I believe that the show in the way it is is reinforcing rape culture. It is hardening the hearts of people who watch the show to things that happened to others in real life and that is just unacceptable.
The difference between Sansa and Jeyne being raped is that in Jeyne’s case, it is a minor storyline used to prop up our knowledge of Ramsay’s lack of limits when it comes to this kind of cruel depravity. Sansa is a major character, so rape is becoming used as a plot device (if they will show the consequences, as they should), which reinforces the damaging, harmful trope of women’s growing through being abused and violated by men. This is why, while it’s ok for George to use it, it is not ok for the show to use it.
I agree with both in that — the main problem is that Sansa should have never gone to Winterfell. It goes against the story. It doesn’t make sense and leaves many plot holes:
1) Why would Baelish leave his ward (The Lord of the Vale) his one source of power at the moment, unattended? In the novel there is much concern about the lords in the Vale trying to grab this power and Sansa is set up to marry the little Lord’s heir. The boy is is ill and frail, what happens if something happens to him? Baelish loses the Vale.
2) Why does Sansa need to go to Winterfell now? Why not wait until Stannis arrives and see the outcome of this? And then appear with the true heir to Winterfell…
3) it’s a huge risk to have Sansa there now. A battle is coming. This is acknowledged. How would Baelish know that Sansa wouldn’t be killed or held hostage by the Boltons? How would he be assured he would get her back?
4) E&L admit this makes Baelish look dumb. Baelish is a lot of things, but he is not dumb. His scheming has layers upon layers and backup plans in them. He does not make snap decisions like this without being informed. It goes against his character. That and risking Sansa in this. While we do not know his true intentions, I believe it’s safe to say that he would not want to risk losing her politically (if not personally, and there’s a strong case for that as well). It is true that now he is set up and sanctioned by the crown to join this battle and it seems either way he is assured control of Winterfell and if this is his long con with Sansa, then that is achieved. But there are so many other ways to do this and GRRM has it mapped out in the novels. This seems an uncalculated risk he would not take and is a stretch to believe — just because the showrunners had Baelish iterate that he doesn’t know much about Ramsey. That’s not how he works.
Woof: I totally agree with you. Well stated.
While I would have ended the scene about a minute earlier (at the “watch her become a woman,” fade to black), something really important has come out of this for my own personal life. It made me realize that what happened to me several years ago actually was rape. I was given the illusion that I could say no, when actually, the only choice was to say yes so I at least could feel like I had control over the situation. (The details are disturbingly like this scene. It was my first time. He invited his friends over and “forgot to lock the door” so they would walk in on us. They hung out afterwards in the living room while I was crying in the bathroom.) It’s been bothering me, really bothering me, for years, and I could never quite explain why. People would say, “Well, you said yes, didn’t you,” and I couldn’t really argue.
I understand why people are disturbed. It’s disturbing. It was a disturbing scene. And I feel bad if it somehow caught people off-guard or unprepared. But I felt…well, empowered is not the right word. I certainly don’t feel better about myself. But I feel…like it wasn’t entirely my fault, what happened with this guy I was with. I feel like it’s okay to say “this happened and I was not okay with it.” I feel like I can finally own this part of my life and start to work through how it’s fucked up all my relationships since then. All because I saw myself in some fictional television characters. And while I understand some people jumping ship at this point (that’s your right, that’s anyone’s right), I’ll keep watching.
Elio’s and Linda’s arguments are a confusing mix of justifications based on both the books and the GOT tv series. I am only familiar with the tv series. It is my belief that the tv series should be able to stand-alone. Wading through Elio’s and Linda’s circular arguments it appears that their main argument is that it should not have been written that Sansa ends up in Winterfell. However, once the choice was made by producer/writer Bryan Cogman to place Sansa there then Ramsey had to rape Sansa for the sake of being true to the story and characters (i.e.: it would have been out of character for Ramsey not to rape Sansa).
E&L said they thought much twisting of the story had to be done and Littlefinger had to act quite stupidly in order to get Sansa to Winterfell. Now that Sansa is there for her not to suffer rape they feel would have been “very false to the novels, to that character, to how George writes these things” since George doesn’t shy away from writing about the brutal rape of girls. E&L feel that “authors have a right to depict these things, to criticise an author for simply including such material in their work we feel is entirely wrong, it’s all about how they do it.”
“It’s all about how they do it”
At this point for E&L’s argument to be valid they would have shown how Bryan, Dave and Dan portrayed Ramsey raping Sansa “in the proper way”. E&L did not present such an argument all we are told is to wait and see how the story unfolds in future episodes and that previews “look like” the rape will have a meaningful impact on both Sansa and Theon.
It is not valid to argue that after much twisting of the story and writing Littlefinger out of character (i.e.: he acts stupidly taking Sansa to Winterfell) that the GOT writers must now not twist the story and must write Ramses true to his character (i.e.: we already know that he’s a brutal sadist so he must stay in character and therefore must rape Sansa).
Sexual assault is very sadly an all too common occurrence in our rape culture society. The depiction of graphic sexual violence in media is also sadly all too common. I agree that in certain, very rare, instances writers may depict sexual violence but it cannot be gratuitous, lazy plot development used as a rape-as-plot-device in order to advance male protagonists’ story-lines.
Elio’s and Linda’s arguments against the criticisms:
1) The Rape is only for shock value critique:
I argue that the rape should not have been shown because it was not depicted responsibly and that the way it was shown was for shock value. The rape was for shock value because it was shown at the very close of the episode a “ta-da!” moment designed to shock and upset viewers and to create buzz for the show. For the rape to have been depicted in a sensitive manner it should have been shown very early in the episode with the rest of the episode devoted to the start of the exploration of the ramifications of the sexual assault on Sansa. Showing the brutal rape of a young woman and then cutting to credits is not only designed to shock it is irresponsible. It is irresponsible because as AngryGOTFan mentioned in his video many viewers have been personally affected by the ramifications of sexual assault in real life. I don’t know anyone who has been flayed, or been pushed down a moon door or had their head crushed like a grape by a giant man but I do know people who are survivors of sexual assault.
2) This can’t happen to Sansa critique:
As I mentioned I think the tv series should stand on its own so I wouldn’t make this argument.
3) This regresses Sansa to a victim again:
E&L’s argument to this again mixes the book and tv series however E&L’s argument appears to be that Sansa is not a “player” but rather “Littlefinger’s puppet” and again that we as viewers “need to wait and see if she will remain victimized forever and ever”. This argument misses the point and also belittles the ramifications of sexual assault.
Rape as used in fiction is a “Special Kind of Evil” trope (see: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RapeIsASpecialKindOfEvil). Bryan, Dave and Dan have not only victimized Sansa again but they have done so in an especially heinous way. Sansa will be dealing with the ramifications “forever and ever” (and so will Bryan, Dave and Dan).
I agree that Sansa is not a player. Sansa is an inexperienced girl/young woman and going goth didn’t change anything but her external appearance. Sansa has no agency and has made no choices of her own free will. Sansa is Littlefinger’s puppet who has been abandoned to a sadist. That’s another issue with this storyline which ties into the next critique that it’s all about Theon.
4) It’s all about Theon
Here I total disagree with E&L’s argument which I find contradictory and actually inadvertently supports the critique. E&L refer to the book again and say in the book the scene is from Theon’s POV. E&L say that in the tv show when they cut to Theon’s face “people make the mistake of reading this as making it all about Theon. I think it is a short-hand to show the pain of two of Ramsey’s sexual abuse victims.” and “It’s doing them a disservice to not imagine he’s feeling for Sansa in this situation”.
Exactly, showing Theon’s face is showing HIS feelings and not Sansa’s.
Again, forgetting the book. The tv show scene cutting to Theon’s pained face does literally take the focus off of Sansa and places it on Theon. Theon should not be the focus of the scene. As viewers, we do not need to be reminded of Theon’s pain at the hands of Ramsey we already know this in excruciating detail we don’t need yet another “short-hand” scene. E&L argue that the scene cut to Theon’s face because “in part I think because they were concerned that actually showing Sansa’s face would be too hard for anyone to stomach having that on screen”. Again that supports the “it’s all about Theon” critique. Theon is a secondary victim in this scene and Sansa is the primary victim. If producers/directors/writers are going to show rape then they have a responsibility to also include the impact on the victim. If Bryan, Dave and Dan are going to write a rape scene of a girl/young woman being raped then show the WOMAN.
E&L are correct; showing the anguished face of a young woman portrayed by a 19-year-old actress would have been very disturbing to viewers. Make the scene about the woman not about a male witness. Bryan, Dave and Dan did make it about Theon because we viewers couldn’t take it being all about Sansa. It’s okay to show rape but not its full impact on the woman? Theon was made the proxy of Sansa’s pain but it’s a cop out because it’s Sansa’s pain to bear.
5) Rape is used just as a plot device.
E&L say “I don’t think this is fair. Jamie having his hand cut off. Theon being tortured and castrated is a plot device. It’s all about how you use it …”
Then very disappointingly E&L go on to justify and dismiss Jamie raping Cersei as an unintentional “failure of directing and editing.” However in this scene Ramsey raping Sansa “they treat it very seriously with the right decorum and weight dismissing it as a plot device is dismissing any action as a plot device. It’s just not a good argument. If it’s okay for George to use it, it has to be okay for David and Dan to use it”.
And thus we come to the end of E&L’s circular fallacious arguments:
My Question E&L: I’m still waiting to know HOW are Bryan, David and Dan treating the scene with the “right decorum and weight”?
The argument that “if it’s okay for George to use it, it’s okay for Dave and Dan” is simply false. One has nothing to do with the other. Why is it okay? E&L you still haven’t made an argument.
Finally, the E&L argument: “I don’t think this is fair. Jamie having his hand cut off. Theon being tortured and castrated is a plot device. It’s all about how you use it …” “dismissing it as a plot device is dismissing any action as a plot device.”
Again, this is a fallacious argument. Saying that x is a weak plot device does not mean that y and z are also weak plot devices.
Here’s my argument why the rape is a gratuitous and lazy plot device. When Jamie lost his hand, it was about HIM. When Theon was tortured and castrated it was all about HIM. However, when the rape of a young woman is used as a plot device it not all about HER. It is about advancing Littlefinger’s, Theon’s and Ramsey’s storylines. It is gratuitous because as a viewer I still know nothing about what Sansa wants. What does she want? What is she trying to achieve? What is her story other than being a victim? Littlefinger brought Sansa to Winterfell. It is Littlefinger who wants to rule the North. It is Ramsey who wants to rule the North and torture people in his spare time. Theon is lost for now with PTSD. I have no doubt that HIS storyline will be propelled forward by the rape of Sansa. But what about Sansa?!
I still know NOTHING about Sansa and what she wants. I didn’t need to see her become a victim YET again to know that all Sansa wants is not to be a victim any longer, beyond that I know nothing about her aspirations.
I appreciate the tone of your video and especially your awareness that sexual assault support may be needed by some viewers.
I was with you up until you proposed your alternatives to Ramsey raping Sansa. Your proposal that Sansa choose to go along is at risk of a “not if they enjoyed it” rationalization (see: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/NotIfTheyEnjoyedItRationalization). Sansa has zero agency. Sansa didn’t choose to go to Winterfell, Littlefinger took her there and then standing on top of a hill said “by the way, this is what I think you should do”. Sansa has had no real choice in what happens to her thus she cannot consent. Without consent all sexual activity is assault. I would propose to you that your option is actually worse because at least in this very violent depiction of rape (more?) viewers will recognize it as rape. However, if Sansa was using her “feminine wiles” and “manipulating” Ramsey in either of the alternate ways you proposed many more viewers would fail to recognize and understand that she is being coerced, that she is merely surviving and is no less a victim than if she repeatedly suffers the violent rape that was depicted.
(As I think you understand) this is not just about a show set in isolation but a fiction set in a male dominated entertainment industry set within a rape culture society. Men writing, directing and producing depictions of women as perpetual victims. Rape scenes that “aren’t really rape” and where the focus is on a male spectator rather than the actual female victim, rape scenes for the sake of shock. The one thing that I agree with Elio and Linda on is that rape may be addressed in fiction if it is done responsibly. However, there is no feasible way to depict rape in a responsible manner in a huge ensemble, multi-story fiction.
Thank you all for sharing your thoughts I think discussions of this kind are important.
You object that Sansa could have gone in willingly and “seduced” Ramsay, but Cogman’s point was that she had gone in willingly: Ramsay just wasn’t satisfied with taking “yes” for an answer.
I finally got a chance to listen to both videos. As I followed your discussion with Elio on Twitter, I knew much of both perspectives. Giddy does a great point by point analysis. I’ll just add my own thoughts.
Both sides agree that the show storyline is problematic: making Sansa marry Ramsay is just bad screenwriting and an awful vision for the show.
I see Elio and Linda’s point about emotional investment as they try to stay true to what GRRM is trying to achieve with the whole Ramsay character. And yes, she is to some degree, Littlefinger’s puppet–I would have used the word “dependent”, as I don’t see Sansa as ignorant of Littlefinger intentions. She is biding her time, and watching out for Robert, who may very well be in danger from his stepfather. Sansa will protect Robert because she has a kind heart, he is her blood, and she cares about justice. This is book Sansa. I respect that Elio and Linda care about GRRM’s feel of the novel in the series. We all probably agree on that.
Series Sansa is one of the few characters the series hasn’t ruined up until Season 5, Episode 6. Jaime’s character was ruined through that ridiculous rape/not rape/ let’s forget it happened of Cersei, plus Cerise’s character suffered as well by acting as though nothing had happened. I never have cared for how the series developed Cersei; she has been redeemed solely through Lena Headley’s good acting, but acting is not enough. Making characters do actions that are directly in opposition to who they are will kill the story. What will happen to Sansa’s character now that the series imposed the Jeyne Poole storyline onto her character? Will she no longer resonate with us as Sansa, but become some D and D character creation, like a Ros who suffered terribly thanks to series Littlefinger?
So I ultimately have to agree with AngryGoT fan. Rape is too often used when writers paint themselves in the corner. Yes, Ramsay raped Jeyne. Yes, Theon was a participant to her pain. As a book reader, I was profoundly upset for her. Theon’s attempt to redeem himself is far more full because he chooses someone that really didn’t matter to him. I can see how saving Sansa may been seen as repayment for betraying Robb and taking over Winterfell, but it feels cheap and pandering the the viewer. Are tv viewers so dumb that they need the blood connection (Stark) to surrogate connection (Theon as surrogate brother to Robb)? Would they not be moved by Reek/Theon discovering himself and someone else like him who suffered at the hands of Ramsay? That isn’t enough?
If the answer is no, then we see why this series is a failure. It cannot capture the books. Occasionally, it does get it right: Ned’s death, Jaime’s relationship with Brienne, Ayra as a natural born killer. But D & D made a decision to create adaption, then moved into invention. They know they cannot capture the books. So they try for book emotion. Again, it worked occasionally as with the Red Wedding and Theon’s torture. But generally, it is bad, from killing Jojen Reed to show us the enormity of Bran’s risk, to showing Brienne fight the Hound (that was really dreadful), to making Cersei more sympathetic by having Joffery order the deaths of Robert’s bastards, so that we hate Joffery even more.
In some ways, season 4 was worse than this season as it predicted the abuses of Season 5, but that is another discussion. Suffice to say that we will see more sensationalism at the price of character and plot. I respect Elio and Linda tremendously, and I appreciate that they discussed this matter with obvious respect for the original source. I think we all love the books and I hope that can be our rallying point whenever we agree to disagree about the Game of Thrones series mishaps.
Aside from being a rape scene that anyone, as a same human being, would hate, I don’t think it was unnecessary. Except from the evil Sansa scene, going down the stairs in the Eerie (THAT scene was a real mistake), Sansa has been behaving as LF’s puppet. All her attitudes and decisions comply with her being just a scared girl looking for a safe place. Why did she not go with Briene? Well, 1) she doesn’t know her, 2) it is kind of strange to see a lady warrior, adn 3) LF has been protecting her. The show’s decision to turn Sansa into Jeyne is stupid, but still, in the show it is LF the one who convinces her to claim her home (it is not her who is deciding), once again stating that SHE IS NOT A PLAYER; her attitudes actually are rather childish. And finally, the rape (taking Jeyne’s story) had to occur, and taking into account the preview of the next episode, it will be this act the one which will set Sansa onto player mode (look for the scene where she is talking to Theon; for the first time taking charge).
In our world, marriage is not consent. In Westeros is absolutely is. Do you honestly think that the Boltons would not agree to this marriage if it would not result in an heir?!? If a wife wasn’t expected to consummate the wedding, what is the point of the bedding ceremony? Do they strip off the couple’s clothes and drag them naked to the bedchamber so that they can play cyvasse? For her to not consummate the marriage would be an insult to him, his family and the gods.
If you’re going to argue that they did this scene for shock value, are you willing to make the same argument against George. Because his scene is much more violent, and much more shocking. It’s not like the created this scene out of nowhere. It’s basically the same as in the books, but with one character substituted, and frankly, MUCH, MUCH more toned down.
The idea that she could have manipulated Ramsey at this moment is absurd. Once they decided to substitute Sansa into Jayne’s place, this was the ONLY inevitable end to that night. He is a monster. There was no other resolution to this scene that would have even remotely rung true to the character.
Also, I think it’s ridiculous to blame Sansa for her rape. She DID make the decision to get married. Littlefinger gave her the option to turn around on the horses. And she chose to continue. She was even warned by Miranda immediately beforehand, though we’re not sure if she believed her. And she chose to continue. She walked into that room, expecting to have sex. Of course, she didn’t expect to be brutalized. But I don’t think she expected it to be fun either. This was her choice. THAT was her agency. To take that from her is victim-blaming.
To say that this makes her a victim again is to blame her for the rape. To say that this ruins her as a character is to say that women cannot recover from rape and become stronger. It’s pretty clearly a vital part of her character arc this season, as I think we’ll see Sunday night.
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