You think George W. Bush's head on a spike is the greatest "Game of Thrones" controversy to date? Clearly, you do not watch this show.
With news of the former president's decapitated cameo on the HBO fantasy series making the rounds today, it's easy to get caught up in the buzz and overlook all that has already occurred within the fictional realm of Westeros. Where "Lord of the Rings" traded in heroes and sorcerers and goblins and wyverns, "Thrones" devotes most of its energy to the brutality and sexual inappropriateness that comes with dictatorships posing as dynasties. No offense, Mr. President, but your severed head barely registers on the controversy meter for the residents of the Seven Kingdoms.
Keep reading for a taste of the greatest in-show "Game of Thrones" controversies to date.
Incest Is Best?
One of the most powerful romances on "Game of Thrones" is between twin siblings Jaime and Cersei Lannister. The former is a knight of the King's Guard (one of the highest positions a Westerosi warrior can hope to achieve), the latter is the Queen Regent of Westeros, and the product of their incest, Joffrey, is the nation's cruel king. That's not even mentioning the time that Yara Greyjoy tricked her estranged brother Theon into exploring her nether regions just for kicks, or the wildling Craster, who lives well north of the Wall with a colony of wives, all of whom are actually his daughters. What's one American leader's head on a spike when the people of Westeros are busy keeping their families from inbreeding?
It's All Bad Baby, Baby
One imagines that even President Bush would shrug off this latest controversy if he knew just how terribly the world of Westeros treated its youth. Forget the fact that Jaime pushed Bran Stark out of a window in the very first episode of the series, if you can. The season-two premiere upped that ante and then some by having an army of knights run around King's Landing murdering as many bastard children as possible, babies included, on direct orders from the king himself — on camera, no less. The subsequent two episodes similarly ended with the horrific slaying of infants and toddlers. George's prosthetic head is looking tamer by the minute, isn't it?
Did We Mention There's Sex?
Because there is. Lots and lots and lots of sex. Sometimes it's good old-fashioned lovemaking. More often (or at least more memorably), however, the "Thrones" sex scenes border on the loathsome, despicable and psychotic. Take King Joffrey, for example, once again.
In season two, two prostitutes are hired to help Joffrey release some sexual energy. What Joffrey has in mind is far different than what his uncle Tyrion hired them for: Instead of sleeping with the women, the boy-king instructs them to beat each other at full strength with an assortment of increasingly painful and creative objects. Beginning to see a pattern here? This guy makes Bush look like a saint.
No Head Left Behind
Again, if that shot of George W. Bush's severed head is what has you up in arms, you are not a regular "Game of Thrones" viewer. In that very same shot are the decapitated remains of Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North. Originally set up as the show's main character, Ned was beheaded on orders from the wicked Joffrey (You get it, right? This kid sucks!) in a sensational display of violence that shocked not just the onlookers in King's Landing, but every single "Thrones" viewer who hadn't read the books the series is based upon. On a show where even the protagonist can be killed — with one episode still remaining before the first season's conclusion, no less — there is not a single character living in Westeros, nor a viewer who visits the fictional realm on a weekly basis, who would be the least bit surprised to see a leader of men's head on a spike. That's not controversy: That's par for the course.
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