‘Game of Thrones’ prime­time vi­o­lence

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

AS Game of Thrones re­cently swept the Em­mys to be­come the most awarded nar­ra­tive se­ries in his­tory, the TV world re­marked ap­prov­ingly that its ex­cep­tional pro­duc­tion val­ues were be­ing given due recog­ni­tion.

But crit­ics say its suc­cess is em­blem­atic of an in­creas­ingly dis­turb­ing predilec­tion in tele­vi­sion for in­tense vi­o­lence, with di­rec­tors swap­ping old-fash­ioned scares for the kind of gut-churn­ing gore once con­fined to R-rated movies.

Since its de­but in 2010, the fan­tasy epic – which has now hauled in 38 Em­mys in to­tal, in­clud­ing best drama for two years run­ning – has been the tar­get of criticism for sense­less vi­o­lence and, more con­tro­ver­sially, its per­va­sive use of rape as a dra­matic de­vice.

Over the years, the show has bru­talised women, killed children, de­picted graphic sex and had its char­ac­ters hacked, stabbed, flayed, poi­soned, de­cap­i­tated, burned alive, eye-gouged and evis­cer­ated – all in glo­ri­ous, close-up de­tail.

News mag­a­zine The At­lantic de­scribed the show’s ten­dency to “ramp up the sex, vi­o­lence and – es­pe­cially – sex­ual vi­o­lence” in Ge­orge RR Martin’s source nov­els as its defin­ing weak­ness.

Leigh Whan­nell, who cre­ated and starred in the Saw and In­sid­i­ous hor­ror fran­chises, said the creep of vi­o­lence into TV was the in­evitable re­sult of the small screen usurp­ing cinema as the go-to medium for qual­ity en­ter­tain­ment.

“As the broad­cast­ers open up, there’s places like Net­flix, Hulu and all these dif­fer­ent stream­ing ser­vices and more places to show ma­te­rial, the hunger for ma­te­rial is in­creas­ing,” he said.

“I think the rules of what you can and can’t show are widen­ing. A place like Net­flix can es­sen­tially show what­ever they want. They don’t have to stick to the rules of an ABC or a CBS.”

The blood and guts clearly isn’t a turn off for fans of Game of Thrones, which has grown its au­di­ence in the US – where it is shown on pre­mium ca­ble net­work HBO – to more than 25 mil­lion, and is break­ing records across the world.

Zom­bie thriller The Walk­ing Dead, mean­while, claims the high­est to­tal view­er­ship of any se­ries in ca­ble tele­vi­sion his­tory.

A host of other vi­o­lent ca­ble and satel­lite shows, from FX’s The Strain and Show­time’s Penny Dread­ful to Cine­max’s The Knick have all been rat­ings suc­cesses – de­spite the blood and guts.

And net­work shows like NBC’s Han­ni­bal demon­strate that vi­o­lence isn’t con­fined to ca­ble.

A 2013 study by the Par­ents Tele­vi­sion Coun­cil stated that “some of the most vi­o­lent TV14-rated shows on broad­cast TV have sim­i­lar lev­els and types of vi­o­lence as TV-MA-rated [Ma­ture Au­di­ence] ca­ble TV shows.”

“I’ve al­ways been of the view that if you don’t like it, don’t watch. If some­one doesn’t like Game of Thrones, they can switch off,” Whan­nell said.

There is some ev­i­dence of a cor­re­la­tion be­tween small-screen and real-life vi­o­lence, al­though proof of a causal link has al­ways been patchy.

Psy­chol­o­gists Ge­orge Com­stock and Hae­jung Paik an­a­lysed more than 200 stud­ies pub­lished be­tween 1957 and 1990, con­clud­ing that fic­tional vi­o­lence might have a short-term ef­fect on the mind­set of sus­cep­ti­ble view­ers.

Six Amer­i­can med­i­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions re­viewed the re­search in 2000 and is­sued a joint state­ment to Congress con­clud­ing that “view­ing en­ter­tain­ment vi­o­lence can lead to in­creases in ag­gres­sive at­ti­tudes, val­ues and be­hav­iour, par­tic­u­larly in children.”

Mike Flana­gan, the di­rec­tor of Uni­ver­sal’s up­com­ing hor­ror film Ouija: Ori­gin of Evil, said in­tense vi­o­lence, gore, tor­ture and rape have been much more ac­cepted on prime­time TV since the turn of the cen­tury.

“Our tol­er­ance has been chal­lenged and there’s only one di­rec­tion for those things to go. The more we see, and the more con­tent that is put out there in the mar­ket­place, the more grad­u­ally de­sen­si­tised we be­come,” he said.

“In or­der to get peo­ple’s at­ten­tion, there’s this grav­ity to­ward push­ing the en­ve­lope even fur­ther.”

But this isn’t nec­es­sar­ily a bad thing, he ar­gued, de­scrib­ing tele­vi­sion as a provider of a “safe space” in which peo­ple are able to re­flect on the darker side of hu­man na­ture.

“One of the pos­i­tives is that at least we get to ex­plore that side of our­selves in a rel­a­tively safe en­vi­ron­ment and in an en­vi­ron­ment where we can turn off the TV or where the lights come on af­ter the movie is over,” Flana­gan said.

Ac­tress and pro­ducer Naomi Gross­man, who starred in two sea­sons of FX’s Amer­i­can Hor­ror Story, mean­while said she wants to see “more sex and less vi­o­lence” on TV.

“I just think Amer­i­cans have it all screwed up, to be hon­est,” she said.

“It’s so strange to me that you can’t show a nip­ple, can’t show breast­feed­ing, yet you can see some­one’s neck get slashed.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Myanmar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.