Natalie Dormer has been facing backlash for her marriage and sexual relationship with a young boy. This is particularly appalling, since Dormer does not actually have a relationship with an underage child. In Game of Thrones, she portrays the character of Margaery Tyrell, a young woman with an eye for political power, who marries the young king after his father’s death — and for some reason, it seems some viewers feel that Dormer should be held responsible for her character’s actions.
As this goes, it should be understood that the characters in Game of Thrones exist in a fantasy universe — there are dragons, frozen corpses rise from the ground and walk, and a child with damaged legs is able to travel through the minds of animals. It isn’t just these magical details that set this world apart from ours (at least, our modern society) though. Characters behave in a number of ways that may or may not have been accepted in past societies in the real world, but are certainly not today. Marrying an underage child — something still not unheard of in the real world today, in some cultures — is only a part of it.
Natalie Dormer’s character marries a young boy, Tommen, who, as king, is expected to have a wife. Meanwhile, another character chops a child into pieces for touching Tommen’s brother Joffrey with a sword — in a duel Joffrey insisted upon. Another character performs mass murder as punishment for breaking an engagement vow. Another kills a man by pouring molten metal over his head. Yet another pushes a child from a high window with intent to kill him — for no more crime than accidentally witnessing a sexual tryst.
Yet, Rory McCann, Jason Momoa, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, however, aren’t facing the backlash for their respective characters’ actions — perhaps because we recognize that there is no real murder taking place, only a fictional show. Natalie Dormer does not seem to have the same benefit of the doubt, though. Further, Jason Mamoa isn’t being held responsible for the rape that his character committed early in the show, with an underage female character — again, presumably because people recognized fiction, even with Emilia Clarke’s character in tears and showing (fictional) fear.
Unlike his character, Tommen, who is 12, Dormer’s co-star, Dean Charles Chapman is 17. An actual relationship between him and Dormer would be outside legal and moral bounds in much of the real world (though 19 days after Natalie Dormer’s statement, below, and five months after the airing of the episode in question, he will be of age to have a relationship with any adult, in any state, and marry if he pleases). A relationship between Dormer and the young Tommen, would, of course, be more widely frowned upon, but since Tommen is a fictional character, the relevant relationship would be not with actress Dormer, but fictional character Margaery — whose age isn’t explicitly stated in the show, but in the beginning of the book series, according to Bustle, is 16. Of course, some time passes between Margaery’s introduction and her marriage to Tommen, and the young ages, and the age difference, are still cringe-worthy to modern real-world sensibilities.
However, there is a massive difference between discomfort with Margaery and Tommen’s arranged political relationship, and censure of Natalie Dormer for that relationship. She spoke to Gossip Cop on Wednesday to respond to accusations of supporting sexual relationships with minors.
“I want to set the record straight: It is completely false and profoundly [irresponsible] of anyone to imply that I condone, in any shape or form, sex with a minor. That is child abuse. A serious criminal act, that is completely abhorrent to me.”
As for Dormer’s co-star, Chapman told MTV that the couple’s bedroom scene was a bit uncomfortable to him, but let’s be honest here. If the 17-year-old has been watching the show he’s starring in, Natalie Dormer isn’t the first of his co-stars he’s seen less than fully clothed.
Sex with a minor who cannot legally consent is a criminal, abusive act. Acting on the same set with a person only weeks short of adulthood is not. A pretend relationship, portrayed as part of a fictional story, with no actual sexual contact, is within legal bounds. Natalie Dormer’s statement makes it clear that for her, it is also within moral bounds, while an actual sexual relationship with a minor is not.
[Photo by: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]