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The viewers have spoken, and the creators of Game of Thrones are, apparently, listening. You may remember there was quite a backlash last May over a scene in which newly married Sansa is raped by her husband Ramsay while his servant Reek (formerly Theon Greyjoy) is forced to watch. Many viewers felt that the scene, which diverged from the book’s plotline, was unnecessary.

Jeremy Podeswa, director of episodes five and six of the fifth season of Game of Thrones as well as the first two segments of season six, told Fox Studios Australia that the show’s creators Dan Weiss and David Benioff “were responsive to the discussion, and there were a couple of things that changed as a result.” Understandably, Podeswa did not specify what those changes entailed.

“It is important that (the producers) not self-censor,” he went on to say. “The show depicts a brutal world where horrible things happen. 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.”

I have to say, I’m almost as torn about this as I am about Game of Thrones in general. On the one hand, I am glad that that the show’s creators will think twice before including such scenes in the future. I don’t think there isn’t a place for the topics of rape, sex, or violence in TV or cinema, but I do think that what we choose to fill our minds with matters. The show Game of Thrones is certainly not without merit, but it contains a lot of unnecessarily sexual and violent stuff that I don’t think is having a positive effect on viewers. So I’d certainly feel better about watching it if it included less of it.

On the other hand, this “change” sounds to me like more of the same from Thrones—following the current of what the public wants to retain viewers. When I wrote about the infamous scene last May, I said, “When it comes down to it, the scene did not feel like a carefully considered moment of character or plot development but rather the exploitation of a horrific act for the sake of views and ratings.” Regardless of whether Sansa’s rape was unnecessary, the fact is that Game of Thrones is absolutely chock-full of gratuitous violence and sex. And I think that’s the case precisely because its writers, directors, and producers know that sex (and violence) sells. Games of Thrones has built an empire on “giving the people what they want.” In that sense, this development is nothing new.

Photo Credit: HBO