The HBO session at the Television Critics Association did not go well. TV culture critics hounded HBO president of programming Casey Bloys with questions regarding the network’s portrayal of gendered violence, particularly the rape of women. Shows like Game of Thrones regularly use such elements to create a gritty world and as a result are dogged by accusations of sexism.
So when writer Melanie McFarland asked whether we’ll see more rapes of men to balance out the gendered violence, Bloys responded, saying: “I take your point—so far there aren’t any male rapes…. [I]s it something we think about, yeah.”
“I think the criticism is valid, you know,” he continued. “So I think it’s something that people take into account.”
The criticism came after the critics were incensed from seeing a screener of the upcoming show Westworld, where the opening shot is of a dead naked woman robot.
But to say that HBO lacks gendered violence against men requires a pretty short memory. The series Oz was chalked full of male rape. And Theon’s castration in Game of Thrones is a particularly unsettling example of gendered violence.
It’s also hard to argue that society takes sexual violence against men seriously. Remember when The Talk had a good hearty laugh about a man getting his penis cut of by his wife? Or all the prison rape jokes whenever someone despised gets thrown in jail? When male sexual violence is played for laughs, it’s hard to believe that adding male rape will solve HBO’s image problem.
At least we can look forward to Game of Thrones being somehow even more uncomfortable to watch with our parents.