Goodbye HBO Now

HBO Now

I really enjoyed my trial subscription of HBO Now. Yes, that is past tense. We cut the cord a long time ago so it was really nice to finally get an opportunity to watch Game of Thrones, Last Week with John Oliver, and the rest. Here’s the problem: since we have Netflix and Hulu, the only thing we have time for on HBO is Game of Thrones and John Oliver and for that we pay double what we pay for Netflix, which has essentially an unlimited supply of movies.

Last episode (as I write this, not as you read it), Game of Thrones once again used rape as a lazy plot device. /sigh. Controversy generates numbers and free advertising and polarizes viewers.

I may be in my 50s but I am still a teenage boy at heart. I enjoy the gratuitous nudity in Game of Thrones and elsewhere. I also enjoy Game of Thrones gritty realism in terms of violence.

Enjoying those is somewhat titillating but I don’t enjoy rape scenes at all. Rape should never be trivialized. It is not that the subject is taboo or sacrosanct. Murder may seem a much worse crime than rape but that is not the way I see it. Statistically speaking, you are very unlikely to know someone who was murdered. You absolutely know many people who have been sexually assaulted, even if they don’t discuss it with you.

The most misogynistic part of this is that the character was raped so that Theon can get on with his storyline. The rape of a well-known and somewhat main female character was a catalyst, a plot device to spur a male character on.

With Peter Jackson’s Tolkien series over, Game of Thrones had a monopoly on the fantasy genre but just because you are the only game in town does not mean we have to play along.

So Game of Thrones will no longer be served at court. We will catch clips of John Oliver on YouTube. Goodbye HBO Now. While it is not likely to have any impact in this case, always vote with your dollars. Never support, financially or otherwise, a harmful cause.

Rape is the New Black & The Invisible War

I occasionally use Spoiler Weekly – I mean Entertainment Weekly – as a jumping off point for various topics. Unfortunately this time they have written about something I had intended to write about, making my point(s) moot. My wife and I have been horrified – okay, more irritated than horrified – to find television shows and movies just throwing rape in willy-nilly as shorthand for women in trouble, brutality, et cetera. I was going to call the column “Rape is the New Black”. EW called their column “TV’s Tiresome Assault on Women”.

Sexual assault is all too prevalent in society and no one wants to talk about it. While anecdotes are not evidence, most women I’ve talked to about it have experienced it at some point. It is horrifying, life-changing, and all too difficult to move on from.

The Invisible War

 

The Invisible War (2012) – Not rated

The Invisible War exposes a rape epidemic in the armed forces, investigating the institutions that perpetuate it as well as its personal consequences.”

Last year, The Invisible War was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Documentary (Searching for Sugar Man won). Netflix had (and still has) it on streaming as they do with tons of documentaries so my wife and I watched it. It took us five tries on successive days to slog through this painful, though well-made, documentary.

While The Invisible War “has been credited with both persuading more women to come forward to report abuse and with forcing the military to deal more openly with the problem.” (New York Times), very little has actually been done. I am not a political activist and generally try to stay away from polarizing political topics but I find it shameful that the Military Justice Improvement Act was filibustered (and on the very same day that the Army’s prosecutor in charge of sexual prosecutors was suspended for an alleged sexual assault). Is that the definition of cognitive dissonance?

Please accept my apologies as I had not intended for this column to get political. My complaint for this column was meant to be the cavalier use of rape to further plotlines. Rape, as an unfortunate part of the human condition, does have a place in storytelling.

SPOILERS AHEAD

……

……

There is a, to my mind, well-handled subplot in House of Cards addressing this, which is obviously drawn from The Invisible War. Rape occurs frequently in the background and once in the foreground of 300: Rise of an Empire. Unnecessary, in my mind, sexual assault subplots were introduced in Scandal and Downton Abbey – just to name the two most recent shows. If you need more examples, try: Sons of Anarchy, Mad Men, Private Practice, Law & Order SVU, 90210, American Horror Story, Reign, The Fosters, Ringer, Veronica Mars, The Americans, Bates Motel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Oz, The Shield, Nip/Tuck, The Sopranos, Chicago Fire.

My wife and I are tired of rape being used simply to advance the plot or to show that villains are villains. I suppose it is better than the days of the soap opera where the heroine would be raped, impregnated, then fall in love with her rapist and marry him. Stop using rape as shorthand.

Anyway /rantmodeoff.