HBO Exec Defends Sex And Violence In ‘Game Of Thrones’

Michael Lombardo, HBO president of programming, has recently come out and defended the television series Game Of Thrones and its use of sex and violence.

Game Of Thrones is no stranger to the occasional (read: prevalent) bout of good old-fashioned sex, violence, and nudity–and often even at the same time. Yet last season, Game Of Thrones audiences were treated to something a bit more controversial than the average scene, as it involved the rape of a character. While this wasn’t the first shocking thing to grace the screen, it appears to have been a catalyst for further controversy for the show, for months after the internet blew up over this deviation from the book, Michael Lombardo, president of programming at HBO, saw fit to respond to those who believe the scene to be gratuitous, The Guardian reports:

I appreciate there was some controversy and it generated a conversation about what consensual sex is and isn’t. People responsible for programming have two responsibilities. To be responsible, not to have sex and violence that’s gratuitous. That is certainly not who we are. At the same time we don’t want to be a censor that inhibits the authentic organic creative process by policing how many breasts should be on a show.

Another sticking point to Game Of Thrones fans was that the rape scene is one that did not exist explicitly in the novel. In response to this, Game Of Thrones author George R.R. Martin stated on his blog that the scene “was always meant to be disturbing, but I do regret if it has disturbed people for the wrong reasons.”

Apart from the specific shocking scene, Lombardo also discussed the use of sex and violence in the rest of the show as well.

I don’t think [graphic scenes] have ever been without any purpose. Dan [Weiss] and Dave [Benioff] are two very sober, thoughtful men. They have books as a map. Which involve wars, violence, sex. We have certainly not given them an edict or a note that they need to tone down the sexual content in the show.

Lombardo does have one thing correct: sex has definitely had its purpose in Game Of Thrones, as noted in 2011 by blogger and critic Myles McNutt. In a fantastical world, sex and violence are grounded things for the audience to latch onto as the writers pepper exposition throughout, unbeknownst to the viewer. It is what critics now call “sexposition,” and it has been a staple of Game Of Thrones throughout its run. By either shock value or general engrossment through sexposition, one could argue that all the sex and violence is even responsible for the series’ popularity.

Thoughts on this? Is the sex and violence in Game Of Thrones simply too much, and did the rape scene last season simply push it over the edge? Was Lombardo right to respond to this?

[Image Credit: HBO]