You're talking on the show and series as a whole. I'm expressly talking about only the Joffrey sceptre scene. Using sexual violence as a storytelling tool for another character entirely is what I take issue with and what I consider normalizing. Not examining sexual violence, or exploring the realities of it in a medieval (or even contemporary) setting. It's not too different to me from a show or movie using a woman's rape as motivation or character exploration for a male character. It's fridging the girlfriend to give the hero reason to fight. That is not saying anything about the violence itself, it's not saying anything even slightly meaningful about a reality for women. It is saying something about our society, but not what it thinks it's saying.
Well, I think context matters, so I don't see any way to separate the two (at least vis a vis normalizing versus othering). But the more I think about it the more I think I'm just not sold on the idea of normalization in the way that you think about it. I can see that there's something dehumanizing about treating women going through such horrific experiences so instrumentally, but the step past that toward normalization doesn't feel quite right to me.
Let me see if I've got the logical chain right. It goes from dehumanization of these female characters --> dehumanization of women more generally --> not just the show but also viewers dehumanize women? I guess if there's empirical evidence about how this impacts the real world, I'd be open to that, but the theory isn't compelling on its own to me.
That's a pretty tenuous foundation to rationalize the choices made in that scene.
Critique accepted. That line of thinking has a lot more to do with the broader theme and very little to do with that scene in specific.
And again, that's part of the normalization of it, making it so extreme that it's no longer tied to current reality and thus something that can be brushed aside if you're bothered by it. This doesn't really happen, it's just a TV show, you're oversensitive, this is how women were treated but it's not how they're treated now so just shut up and enjoy the show, etc.
So, am I hearing that othering and normalizing can occur simultaneously? The audience seems like the normalizers in this example rather than the show, and I suspect those same audience members would be doing the same thing even if the show put the experiences of the women front and center. So where's the agency here? I guess it's always shared between show and audience (or author and audience), but this seems awfully circular.
Look, there are shitloads of realistic, facts-of-medieval-life things that are mentioned repeatedly in the books that get zero or next to zero airtime on the show... So when nudity and brutality towards women IS included and frequently at such length (and disparity, since the only male nudity we've gotten is Hodor and Theon, and Hodor's was mostly for comic effect, and there are plenty of places where casual non-sexual female/male nudity would make sense but we never get it), it's entirely fair to question why, why these things, and when it's ADDED outside the source material it's even more fair and really quite necessary. That's a question that has less to do with the world GRRM's created or the world the show presents than the world we all live in that the show happens to be a part of.
It's certainly entirely fair to question why, and I'd go a step further to say that it's important to do so and that your approach is sophisticated and interesting. I also think you're wrong, but you've definitely got me thinking.
Are they mutually exclusive? I think both are happening.
I'm on the fence about this. On the one hand, that could be the point that the author and showrunners are ultimately making but I think it also might be a convenient defense for gratuitous violence, especially against women. I will say I didn't feel that they eroticized the scene - it started down that path and then turned very quickly into something truly horrible - but I'm not sure it was necessary or at least the length of the scene was necessary. Last season the violence seemed a little more plot relevant. Like I said, it may be that future episodes change my mind.
I think the result is likely to be somewhere in between. I don't think she'll be pure titillation again, but I don't think her life is about to get any easier. Book spoilers:
If (soon) we are shown Roz herself becoming a more complex and interesting character as the result of her traumatic experiences (and Daisy too, if she survived), then there might be a defense for the show saying the abuse scene was necessary. If (soon) they trot out Roz and/or Daisy simply to abuse and shit upon them once again without developing them as characters, I'd say it's pure exploitation.
ETA Spoiler tags not working, but I was discussing Chataya/Alayaya. Maybe where I was going with that is obvious to readers?
Edited by Darryl Zero, May 3, 2012 @ 6:41 PM.