Liar’s depiction of rape isn’t just insensitive, it’s reckless

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Viewers were invited to doubt Laura’s testimony – drawing focus to her drinking, suggesting that she had past form for false rape accusations. It’s interesting to note, in fact, that in Metro’s review of the first episode, the majority of the comments were in support of Andrew. It wasn’t until the end of the third episode that Liar unequivocally revealed that Andrew had spiked Laura’s drink; that’s half the length of the series predicated on doubting a woman’s account of sexual assault.

Rather than examining the attitudes that lead to people doubting women when they speak out about sexual assault, Liar was advancing them – perpetuating a stereotype that is in many ways genuinely quite harmful. Across recent weeks, the revelation about Harvey Weinstein’s actions has been followed by many women speaking out about their own experiences with sexual assault, and the doubts they faced afterwards. A popular television programmes that invites its five million viewers to think a woman is lying about being raped feeds into the same culture that lets that happen.

A piece about a series that made me quite angry, given that it dealt so poorly with its subject matter.

This article got a lot of traction, actually; it was cited by the BBC in this piece about the series. I don’t think there was enough writing done about Liar that held it account for this, so I’m glad I wrote this piece.

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Why I don’t watch Game of Thrones and I never will

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Game Of Thrones is one of the most popular television series around – a genuine, proper, global phenomenon. When people describe the golden age of television, Game Of Thrones is one of the hallowed offerings placed alongside the likes of Breaking Bad, Mad Men or The Wire. People build their lives around this programme in a way they do with few others – it doesn’t just command a loyal cult following, but a real populist significance too.

I don’t watch Game Of Thrones, though. I never will.

So, a couple of things are going on here.

The above article is not, admittedly, especially good. The main part of my objection to Game of Thrones was, basically, that as I understood it the show had a lot of issues to do with its female characters, chiefly in terms of an overreliance on rape as a plot device. For a couple of reasons, I ended up a little unwilling to actually address that directly, largely talking around the point for five hundred words and leaving it at that. As a result, it’s a bit weak, but also bungles the point entirely – I end up putting “there’s nearly 60 hours of it” on par with “it has massive ethical failings that I would find offensive to watch”, which is, you know, not true, no matter how terrible my attention span is.

The other thing is that, actually, about six months after writing this – probably not even that – I did actually end up watching all of Game of Thrones across the span of two or three weeks. Oops.

I will, I imagine, end up writing about it at some point (I actually took notes while watching it, with the intention of putting together a “117 notes, thoughts and observations I had while watching every episode of Game of Thrones for the first time” type piece, until I realised that brevity is my enemy and that would end up somewhere far in excess of ten thousand words, the sort of length reserved for emails to Alexis rather than Yahoo blog posts I’m paid a pittance for) so I’ll hold off on giving you my full thoughts on the show now. Suffice to say, while it does actually have some good things going for it, pretty much every critique I’d heard vis a vis gender and race and so on was pretty much on the money.

So, even though I’m now more inclined to appreciate the things it does well, I’ve now got a much fuller understanding of the things it does poorly. (Things which, frankly, it is not criticised for even nearly enough.)

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