George R.R. Martin on ‘Game of Thrones’ and Sexual Violence
The fantasy series “Game of Thrones” has set off a wide-ranging debate about rape, and whether this popular franchise — which includes best-selling novels, a hit HBO television adaptation, a line of comic books and more — trivializes sexual violence with its frequent and often graphic depictions.
奇幻电视剧《权力的游戏》(Game of Thrones)引发了关于强奸的广泛讨论，以及《冰与火之歌》这个热门系列——包括畅销小说、HBO频道热门改编电视剧和一系列漫画书等——是否通过频繁的、往往非常露骨的描绘令性暴力变得好像小事一桩。
George R. R. Martin, whose “Song of Ice and Fire” novels are the foundation of the “Game of Thrones” series, answered email questions from The New York Times about why his books contain scenes of sexual brutality, and responded to some of the criticism that these moments have elicited. These are his responses in their entirety.
乔治·R·R·马丁(George R. R. Martin)的《冰与火之歌》(Song of Ice and Fire)系列小说是《权力的游戏》的基础。他通过邮件回答了《纽约时报》的提问，关于他的书中为何有性暴力场面，并对当下的批评做出了回应。下面是他的完整回复。
Q. Why have you included incidents of rape or sexual violence in your “Song of Ice and Fire” novels? What larger themes are you trying to bring out with these scenes?
A. An artist has an obligation to tell the truth. My novels are epic fantasy, but they are inspired by and grounded in history. Rape and sexual violence have been a part of every war ever fought, from the ancient Sumerians to our present day. To omit them from a narrative centered on war and power would have been fundamentally false and dishonest, and would have undermined one of the themes of the books: that the true horrors of human history derive not from orcs and Dark Lords, but from ourselves. We are the monsters. (And the heroes too). Each of us has within himself the capacity for great good, and great evil.
Q. Some critics of the books have said that even if such scenes are meant to illustrate that the world of Westeros is often a dark and depraved place, there is an overreliance on these moments over the course of the novels, and at a certain point they are no longer shocking and become titillating. How do you respond to this criticism?
A. I have to take issue with the notion that Westeros is a “dark and depraved place.” It’s not the Disneyland Middle Ages, no, and that was quite deliberate … but it is no darker nor more depraved than our own world. History is written in blood. The atrocities in “A Song of Ice and Fire,” sexual and otherwise, pale in comparison to what can be found in any good history book.
As for the criticism that some of the scenes of sexual violence are titillating, to me that says more about these critics than about my books. Maybe they found certain scenes titillating. Most of my readers, I suspect, read them as intended.
I will say that my philosophy as a writer, since the very start of my career, has been one of “show, don’t tell.” Whatever might be happening in my books, I try to put the reader into the middle of it, rather than summarizing the action. That requires vivid sensory detail. I don’t want distance, I want to put you there. When the scene in question is a sex scene, some readers find that intensely uncomfortable… and that’s ten times as true for scenes of sexual violence.
But that is as it should be. Certain scenes are meant to be uncomfortable, disturbing, hard to read.
Q. As your novels have been adapted for TV, comic books and other visual media, do you think these scenes of sexual violence that you described in oblique and indirect ways are becoming more explicit and more shocking? Is that a potential problem?
A. The graphic novels and television programs are in the hands of others, who make their own artistic choices as to what sort of approach will work best in their respective mediums.