Sansa Stark Rape Outcry Caused ‘Game Of Thrones’ Creators To ‘Change A Couple Of Things’

Last season, Game of Thrones creators learned an important lesson about just how much their fans would endure. The rape of Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) crossed a line, and longtime fans of the series, which is adapted from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series, were very vocal in their disapproval of the rape scene. Followers of the HBO series will be pleased to learn that the Game of Thrones creators were listening.

Sansa Stark’s Rape Inspires Communication With Game Of Thrones Creators

Sansa Stark, Sophie Turner
Public outcry has changed how 'Game of Thrones' handles sensitive issues. Image via HBO.

The scene in question revolved around the brutal rape of Sansa Stark on her wedding night and, as if that weren’t bad enough, poor Sansa was assaulted in this manner by her own newlywed husband. When reactions to this began flooding the news and Game of Thrones’ own social media pages, George R.R. Martin was among the first to defend this story twist, even though a Sansa Stark rape is nowhere to be found in the A Song of Ice and Fire books.

Meanwhile, Senator Claire McCaskill sided with the army of upset Game of Thrones fans.

“OK, I’m done Game of Thrones. Water Garden, stupid. Gratuitous rape scene disgusting and unacceptable. It was a rocky ride that just ended.”

Jeremy Podeswa, who is directing the first two episodes of Season 6, reveals that, whether or not it seemed like it, the Game of Thrones creators were listening to the fan feedback. There may not have been any official statements made, but the people’s voices were definitely heard.

The Changes Caused By Sansa Stark’s Rape

Podeswa wants to assure fans that Game of Thrones creators Dan Weiss and David Benioff were involved in a group discussion with the show’s creative team and that everyone in that meeting was “responsive” to the issues discussed. As a result of those ongoing meetings, Podeswa remarked that “a couple of things changed” as a direct result.

“The show depicts a brutal world where horrible things happen,” the Game of Thrones director said. “They did not want to be too overly influenced by that (criticism) but they did absorb and take it in and it did influence them in a way.”

Martin’s response to the criticism that Game of Thrones and the A Song of Ice and Fire books are all gratuitously violent, particularly towards women, is very similar to Podeswa’s statement. The author says it was always his intention to create a fantasy world, but one based on the historical Middle Ages and not on a Disney fairytale.

“Just because you put in dragons doesn’t mean you can put in anything you want… If you’re going to do [a fantasy element], it’s best to only do one of them, or a few,” says Martin. “I wanted my books to be strongly grounded in history and to show what medieval society was like, and I was also reacting to a lot of fantasy fiction.”

Podeswa, who also directed the Sansa rape episode, said that everyone knew beforehand that the scene would be difficult for the audience. He says that the issue wasn’t really with the execution of it because not much is seen and it was handled as delicately as possible. Rather, Podeswa explains, the majority of the criticism stemmed from the notion of the rape, the mere fact that it occurred at all.

At the time the episode aired, Jeremy said he was very open to discussing violence on television and its use as a narrative tool. The director acknowledged that it can be taken too far at times.

While Podeswa knew the scene would be hard to watch, he says he never expected a discussion of it in Congress.

[Image by HBO]