I’m not much for watching telly, so it took me seven years to finally decide to see what the Game of Thrones buzz was all about. It’s a good drama. Gripping, Complex. Addictive. But what troubles me is how incest is being mainstreamed by this popular program. When Episode 1 of Season 1 showed Khaleesi’s brother, Viserys, undressing and fondling her, a powerful message of grooming to young girls worldwide, then I begin to look on this show with a critical eye.
Unfortunately, incest is not merely incidental to GoT. It’s a major theme throughout, a theme we see gaining power and popularity in society as a whole. As The Atlantic wrote, ‘Game of Thrones is a show that has depicted slaughtered children, and sexual violence, and martial violence, and torture both psychological and physical; it is a show that, often, looks at conventional notions of morality and scoffs at their quaintness.’
In March, South African billionaire and engineer, Elon Musk, made headlines again for all the wrong reasons. His father, Errol Musk, announced that he was the proud father of an ‘exquisite’ 10-month-old son he fathered with his own step-daughter. He was the only father she ever knew but that did not stop them from becoming sexually involved.
Are they genetically related? No. Is it incest anyways? Absolutely, as far as Elon Musk is concerned.
Even Elon Musk, himself no stranger to professional controversy, has termed his father ‘evil’. According to the DailyMail, ‘The 72 year old was branded ‘evil’ and ‘a terrible human being’ by the Tesla Motors chief, who said his father had done ‘almost every evil thing you can possibly think of’.’
Unfortunately, Elon Musk’s attitude toward his father’s behavior, in which I totally concur, is not necessarily mirrored by mainstream culture. A controversial American YouTuber posted videos of himself asking ‘the man on the street’ if incest between a father and daughter would be acceptable to them if both were of the age of consent, in their right minds and the sex act was entirely consensual.
Most of the interviewees verbally approved of incest under these terms, although their facial expressions belied their politically correct words.
While GoT seems intent on mainstreaming and romanticizing incest, the reality is ugly. I should know. My husband, Rhys’, family is rife with incest. As I wrote in my blog posting No More Incest, ‘An incestuous family is a family that cannot look each other in the eye.’
Rhys’ paedophile grandfather raped his daughter. She then raped her nephew, Rhys, when he was only four. Rhys ex-girlfriend bedded her ‘stepson,’ Rhys’ young son. Their acts destroyed the family which, for all intents and purposes, exists only ‘on paper’.
I went on to write, ‘Incest as the setting for pornography has exploded according to Rhys, who like many rape victims, finds the virtual world of sexuality safer than real-life sex. ‘It’s shocking,’ Rhys commented disgustedly one night, ‘there never used to be so much incest porn listed on Pornhub. I’ll never watch it. I hate it. The categories are seemingly endless. Step-mother / step- son. Step-father / step-daughter. Step-brother / step-sister. Brother / sister. Father / daughter. Mother / son.’
When will the incest stop?
If Game of Thrones is informing our culture, the answer is never. I already mentioned Viserys molesting Khaleesi. That was mild compared to Cersei Lannister’s long-standing affair with her twin brother, Jaime Lannister and passing off their children as the royal heirs of her husband, Robert Baratheon. The grisly character Craster it is said, ‘marries his daughters, and they give him more daughters, and on and on it goes.’ The theme of incest reached its crescendo with the final and long-hinted hook-up between John Snow and his aunt, Daenerys Targaryen.
Incest isn’t a joke. It isn’t funny. It isn’t glamorous. It definitely isn’t sexy. It is the stuff that lands perpetrators in gaol and their victims in a therapist’s offices. It leads to shattered relationships, drug abuse, alcoholism and worse, not to mention the potential genetic abnormalities experiences by children of incest.
The Jeremy Kyle Show has taught us that incest isn’t cool, so I look with alarm on George R. R. Martin for so glorifying and mainstreaming incest in his writing that inspired Game of Thrones.
Incest: It’s never okay.