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Rape on Television: Showrunners Call Increase in Sexual Violence ‘A Plague on the Industry’

The depiction of rape on shows including "Game of Thrones" has sparked a debate about using sexual assault for shock value.

Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark and Kit Harington as Jon Snow

HBO

The recent comments from “Last Tango In Paris” director Bernardo Bertolucci putting to rest a misunderstanding about whether a rape scene in the film was consensual have sparked a larger dialogue about the depiction of rape on TV.

READ MORE: ‘Elle’: Why Paul Verhoeven’s Rape Revenge Drama is Essential Viewing, Even for the Squeamish

“The Exorcist” creator Jeremy Slater recently told Variety that depicting sexual assault for shock value was “a plague on the industry.” Slater added that while reading more than 200 script submissions for his new show, he came to a startling discovery. “I would say out of those 200 scripts, there were probably 30 or 40 of them that opened with a rape or had a pretty savage rape at some point,” he told Variety.

HBO’s “Game Of Thrones” has attracted criticism for using rape as a device for shock value, specifically for showing it from the point of view of a male character who is forced to watch the assault.

“A guy actually came back at me and said ‘Fine, would you rather have seen [it from Sansa’s point of view]’?” a female writer recently told Variety. “I said yes, actually. If you’re going to do it, show it, and show it from the P.O.V. from the woman, and don’t use it as a way to motivate a male character.”

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