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Game of Thrones Episode 2.04: Your Money’s Worth of S&M and Torture

Does HBO feel obligated to reach a new level of degradation with each show?

Dave Swindle


April 23, 2012 - 8:11 am

Last week at his Spengler blog here at PJM David Goldman commented on the discussion of Barack Obama’s time eating dog meat while growing up in the third world:

Globalization — which ultimately is a good thing — may be unspeakably destructive for traditional societies in its path. Tens of millions of people are forcibly torn out of their roots. In Thailand, farmers become construction workers in the big cities, and the girls they would have married in their villages become prostitutes. Education and income and health all improve, on average, but the disruption of lives produces immeasurable hurt.

We laugh about it, but people in some Third World countries eat dog meat because they are poor — not only so poor that they will consume almost any source of protein, but so poor that they cannot afford to enjoy the natural bond between human and canine that began almost 15,000 years ago. For a billion or so people, life is a daily struggle to survive. People who are that poor also sell their daughters into prostitution. Female flesh is almost as cheap as dog meat in parts of the Third World, and for the same reason.

It used to be that Americans watched TV fantasies and dramas to escape the world’s most painful evils. Now we’re so comfortable that we need to dive into them head first for entertainment. Screen Rant sanitized their description of my least favorite scene in the new episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones last night,  a stomach-turning depiction of Marquis de Sade-style sexualized torture from the young totalitarian King Joffrey:

Speaking of the poster boy against inbreeding, Joffrey has taken to punishing Sansa (Sophie Turner) for her brother’s victories in battle, having his betrothed beaten for little more than his own pleasure. Thankfully, Tyrion steps in, refers to his nephew as a half-wit and eloquently demonstrates the difference between educating someone and threatening to end their life. For her part, Sansa seems to be one of few in King’s Landing capable of learning any sort of lesson that may ensure a longer life. When Tyrion offers her an out she brushes it aside, professing loyalty to Joffrey.

Curious as to how Joffrey could have turned into such a – well, let’s just say, sadist – Tyrion and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) come to the conclusion that it must be teenage hormones and decide to send two prostitutes to his bedchamber, as a little belated nameday gift. Unfortunately, King Joffrey only likes seeing pain inflicted on others. This time, however, Joffrey knows that his actions will also serve as a message to his uncle.

Other horrific acts last night included multiple torture sequences reminiscent of Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho. Jailers strapped a basket with a starved rat onto a man’s chest and then set a fire, prompting the poor creature to turn to the prisoner’s soft flesh as the only exit.

Memo to HBO and Game of Thrones writers: disgust is not excitement.

David Swindle is the associate editor of PJ Media. He writes and edits articles and blog posts on politics, news, culture, religion, and entertainment. He edits the PJ Lifestyle section and the PJ columnists. Contact him at DaveSwindlePJM @ and follow him on Twitter @DaveSwindle. He has worked full-time as a writer, editor, blogger, and New Media troublemaker since 2009, at PJ Media since 2011. He graduated with a degree in English (creative writing emphasis) and political science from Ball State University in 2006. Previously he's also worked as a freelance writer for The Indianapolis Star and the film critic for He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their Siberian Husky puppy Maura.
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