George R.R. Martin Responds To That Controversial Game of Thrones Scene

Illustration for article titled George R.R. Martin Responds To That Controversial Game of Thrones Scene

Last night, the television adaptation of Game of Thrones changed an already disturbing scene from the books into an even upsetting moment on screen. And now, book author George R.R. Martin is weighing in. Read his response. Warning: Spoilers ahead!

In a post on his personal blog about an upcoming event GRRM stepped into his own comments to address the multiple emails he had received about the rape scene between Jaime and Cersei next to Joffrey's tomb, which is way more ambiguously nonconsensual in the book:

Re: Jaime's changes in Breaker of Chains

This is off topic here. This is the section for comments about Junot Diaz and Anne Perry and the Cocteau's author program.

Since a lot of people have been emailing me about this, however, I will reply... but please, take any further discussion of the show to one of the myriad on-line forums devoted to that. I do not want long detailed dissections and debates about the TV series here on my blog.

As for your question... I think the "butterfly effect" that I have spoken of so often was at work here. In the novels, Jaime is not present at Joffrey's death, and indeed, Cersei has been fearful that he is dead himself, that she has lost both the son and the father/ lover/ brother. And then suddenly Jaime is there before her. Maimed and changed, but Jaime nonetheless. Though the time and place is wildly inappropriate and Cersei is fearful of discovery, she is as hungry for him as he is for her.

The whole dynamic is different in the show, where Jaime has been back for weeks at the least, maybe longer, and he and Cersei have been in each other's company on numerous occasions, often quarreling. The setting is the same, but neither character is in the same place as in the books, which may be why Dan & David played the sept out differently. But that's just my surmise; we never discussed this scene, to the best of my recollection.

Also, I was writing the scene from Jaime's POV, so the reader is inside his head, hearing his thoughts. On the TV show, the camera is necessarily external. You don't know what anyone is thinking or feeling, just what they are saying and doing.

If the show had retained some of Cersei's dialogue from the books, it might have left a somewhat different impression — but that dialogue was very much shaped by the circumstances of the books, delivered by a woman who is seeing her lover again for the first time after a long while apart during which she feared he was dead. I am not sure it would have worked with the new timeline.

That's really all I can say on this issue. The scene was always intended to be disturbing... but I do regret if it has disturbed people for the wrong reasons.

Now, if you please, I'd appreciate it if we could get back to Junot Diaz and Anne Perry and the subjects of the original post.


You can read the original text from the book that GRRM is referencing over at Jezebel (along with the additional changed-to-rape scene from Drogo and Daenery's wedding night).

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I suppose, out of all the atrocities we see committed on screen, the one most people have actually survived is sexual assault — so when a rape appears in a piece of pop culture it tends to be a lightning rod unlike anything else.

Dude gets his dick chopped off. Fine. A young woman is torn apart by dogs. Fine. A young boy is told his dead parents are about to be cannibalized. Fine.

But rape — rape has this visceral charge because so many people are dealing with the aftermath of it.

There are no right and wrong answers here. I want to side with the freedom of artists who feel that this was something they needed to do with the character and maybe even something they didn't quite get right while directing the scene, so I immediately become uncomfortable when people tend to try to police artistic content they do not care for. On the other hand, I do understand, for many, matters of sexual assault are a really deep wound and, if it is portrayed on the screen, they want it to be done so within certain parameters of acceptability.