On Sept. 14 multiple entertainment news sources reported that Emilia Clarke, the actress most known for her role as Daenerys Targaryen on HBO’s Game of Thrones, said she disliked the gratuitous nudity on the show. Clarke stated she “can’t stand” the copious amounts of sex scenes used to attract (some) viewers that have made the show one of the most talked about on television. Reactions to Clarke’s comments have been varied. They range from people who support her for speaking out about the industry’s obsession with making young women take their clothes off, to those who believe she should not be criticizing the show that made her famous. And let’s not forget those who lamented the fact she was “denying” the full frontal shots of her.
Now, I absolutely love Game of Thrones. I’ve read all the books, seen every episode and even gotten the Targaryen sigil tattooed on my back. However that’s not going to stop me from criticizing the way women are portrayed on the television show. In the five seasons it’s been on the air, the show runners have altered scenes of consensual sex in the books to be rape on the screen, they go out of their way to have women remove their clothes, and they’ve included entire scenes of sexual violence that do not happen at all in the books on which they are based.
So I applaud the Mother of Dragons for what she said. She has also allegedly stated (according to her cast mate Oona Chaplin) that she wishes to be known for her acting and not for her breasts. She has more than proved she does not need to bare her breasts to be remembered. Hell, her role as Daenerys has earned her two Emmy nominations.
So when I see people complaining on Facebook or article comment sections that she should not “bite the hand that feeds her” or that they have been waiting to see her boobs again, it pisses me off. Clarke and other actresses should not be expected to take their clothes off, and people should definitely not be complaining when they say that’s what they want. The fact this is the reaction of people on the internet is just a reminder of how much women in popular culture are primarily valued for their bodies and sex appeal, rather than for being talented and practicing their craft.
While it’s true Game of Thrones has lessened their reliance on sex scenes, they still find ways to sneak in unnecessary shots of women’s breasts. I have great doubts that Clarke’s comments will do anything to change the way the show will handle sex scenes, much less how the industry treats actresses. Even larger names than her, such as Patricia Arquette and Reese Witherspoon, have tried before to speak out on women’s treatment in the entertainment industry to no avail. Nevertheless, to hear her say something that reflects on the wildly successful show that helped raise her to prominence is refreshing, especially in regards to such a sexually explicit show.