Concerning the pornography in Game of Thrones

There was really only one reason why I hadn't started watching Game of Thrones until now, and it also happens to be the same reason why anyone with a healthy amount of modesty wouldn't tell anyone he's seen it.  The show's full of porn. 

There's absolutely nothing in the show thus far to suggest that the author – or maybe it's the director – has what would be considered by any well-adjusted person a healthy sexuality.  I've seen plenty of prostitution and adultery and incest and rape and homosexuality in the show, in varying forms and colors; not more than one act, if I remember correctly, excepting a couple of rapes, has thus far been committed by a husband and a wife.  There are children in the show itself – people in the show – which implies that husbands and wives have at some point had sex.  The sight of it?  Last thing on the director's mind.

We can be thankful it was left out of the equation altogether.  The last thing this show needs is more sex – not only because there's only an hour of show time and a lot of great storyline to cram through, but also because the excessive pornography makes Game of Thrones too uncomfortable to watch next to someone like your wife.  HBO tried marital intercourse with its series on John Adams, a phenomenal show, but apparently nobody in charge asked himself whether anyone really wanted to see John Adams – or Paul Giamatti, whichever is worse to imagine – in that position. 

The point of the matter is that whatever happened to HBO between John Adams and Game of Thrones, someone decided not only that marital sex is unworthy of broadcasting (something we agree about), but that the only kind of sex that's exciting is the kind you're not supposed to have (about which we do not).  The uncomfortable truth is that if anything is exciting in film, it's porn, and if anything is boring on television, it's everyone behaving well.  So HBO took what was exciting on both counts and ruined what would otherwise have been a perfect television show.

Herein lies the dangers of entertainment: you can make a loveable character like Tyrion the dwarf, whose virtues are married to what would otherwise be intolerable vices, just like you can inundate anyone with delusions of pleasure and leave out all the consequences.  Never have I seen prostitution portrayed so enticingly as in Game of Thrones.  Nobody involved in the production, first of all, showed how the prostitutes ended up in the brothels, and nobody shows what happens to them after they age – or even most usually the bad things that happen to them when they're there.  Nobody shows a whore's family, that she's someone's daughter, or sister, or mother.  It's all a game, represented in such a way as to interest the audience, without giving any John (or a Tyrion, in this case) a disease, or turning anyone into an actual prostitute. 

Aside from the people in Game of Thrones you never see even talking about sex, who are generally the good people who are happily married, there's one person who's so well-adjusted that he's given up on promiscuity before he had the chance to start (at least at this point in the first season) – the bastard Jon Snow.  Snow was born to Lord Stark during an extended military campaign, which is forgivable considering the circumstances, and nobody except Lord Stark knows his mother.  That's what keeps Snow away from the prostitutes altogether: he does the most honorable thing a humiliated bastard child could possibly do, by refusing to put another child in the same position his father put him in – a position that is the principal point of all his frustrations, all his loneliness, all his advocacy for the estranged.  He's sexually wise because, aside from personal experience, there are really two ways anyone becomes wise.  The first is by paying attention to the lifestyles and habits of good men, and the second is by paying attention to the suffering caused by bad behavior.  I once knew a gay man who knew so many gay men who caught diseases and died that he became a kind of street prophet screaming against hookup culture.  Jon Snow stands taller than nearly everyone else on sexual matters, because he knows what sex leads to.  It leads to children.

We are led to wish there were more men like him.  Aside from a few sensible people (myself as a youth excluded), my generation of Millennials lives to tear walls down, especially the ones built for sex.  But the wisest thing that any of us can do, when encountering a wall, and especially before tearing it down, is to ask why it was built.  Castles are tributes to human rapacity, not to elegance or simple skill in architecture.  A wall is a declaration of fear, whether unnecessary or well-founded.  We should never trust the demolition crew to give an honest explanation – especially when they're on the outside; we should always ask the builders or their best advocates, because they hold the reason for the wall's existence.  We should see who was hurt before it was built, or if there's something that could be ruined without it.  In these days, a person who's been poorly parented (which is most Americans) will hear the reasons against a social norm before he hears the reasons for it.  But as Solomon said, the first to present his case seems right, until another comes forward and questions him.

By the time my children grow up, their generation may have become so frustrated by the consequences of a life without walls that they will begin building them again, just like my ancestors did – and their ancestors rebuilt broken walls before them, and their ancestors rebuilt before them.  Life is the passing of will from one person to another, and each of us, if he is not making himself better, will be making himself worse – few of us, if any, can maintain exactly what we were left with.  And even supposing a person isn't convinced that Jonah was swallowed by a fish, and a donkey talked to Baalam, one thing about the Bible remains true as the existence of your nose: that demons fall only from heaven, and mankind was exiled only from the Garden of Eden.  Even if we make everything perfect and build all the walls we should, someone will become unhappy with happiness and try to tear them down.  This is our lot: always looking beyond what we have.  The best we can do, even if we've already rebuilt the Garden and climbed Jacob's ladder into the heavens, is to be thankful for what we already have, or what we may morally get.  We have to teach one another again that it takes just as much virtue and willpower to content yourself with the limits of goodness as it takes to reach them. 

Game of Thrones is perverted because someone decided that being happily married wasn't enough.  It is our job to prove that it is.

Jeremy Egerer is the editor of the philosophical websites Letters to Hannah and American Clarity. American Clarity welcomes friend requests on Facebook.