Warning: This post contains Game of Thrones Spoilers. Specifically relating to penises.
Today I have recovered a little from the trauma of watching S6, ep 6 of Game of Thrones enough to write about cocks, naturally. Specifically, this cock:
This is the penis of one of the street actors who recreate the death of King Robert on stage while Arya watches in horror. Backstage, we see him, pants around ankles, checking his penis and proclaiming that there are definitely warts on it. The camera gave us this close up which, as the Independent points out, served no narrative purpose.
[It] essentially seemed like the director was just throwing in a “see, we will show male nudity, and did you really want to see that?”
The article discusses Emilia Clarke’s previous call for more full frontal male nudity:
“There’s plenty of female nudity [on Game of Thrones], myself included, and I feel like… I think we should get some equal male nudity and female nudity,” she told Conan O’Brien on his chat show. “I think it is a discussion that should be had.”
Somewhat shyly, she concluded: “Free the penis.”
In commentary on the web I’ve seen plenty of men saying “There you go girls, nice bit of dong for you at last,” along with various protestations of horror.
I want to come in and say that no, a brief close-up of a flaccid cock on an unknown actor accompanied by talk of genital warts is not “freeing the penis”. And that this one random shot in no way means that Game of Thrones has anything like nudity equality.
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The Telegraph says the scene was a “cop out” and points out that “there appears to be a golden rule when it comes to genitals on television. Women’s are sexy; men’s are funny. To see a penis in a sexual – or even just sexy – context on television is a rare thing indeed.”
There have been penises on Game of Thrones before. Here, let me spend a long time finding them and gathering them all here oh wait I’m done.
We’ve had this guy (Munro Graham), flashing his cock at Cersei during her naked walk of shame, shouting “I’m a Lannister, suck me off!”
He was recruited via this leaked casting email that asked for someone willing to flash their genitalia, requiring that said bits could not have “abnormalities or piercings” while reassuring the potential actor that there “will not be close ups of genitalia.”
There’s also talk of an extremely brief flash of Theon Greyjoy’s wang early in the series but I can’t remember it. This is the best pic I could find.
EDIT: I was wrong, Violet Blue’s amazing Tiny Nibbles blog had the all-important Theon penis pic in her post Let’s Remember All That Hot Game of Thrones Sex. I’m going to use one pic from that post but I recommend checking out the other screenshots there.
So – aside from Season 1 Theon – I think it’s fair to say that we are still a long way from nudity equality in Game of Thrones. And the first three images show us that even when we do get full frontal male nudity it’s presented in an extremely unsexy way. Compare this to the multiple times we’ve seen full-frontal female nudity, typically shot with an admiring gaze, the camera angles carefully chosen to accentuate the appeal of the actresses on display.
The show’s inability to embrace the female gaze has been thoroughly critiqued in a fabulous 2015 article by Melissa Leon called Game Of Thrones Peen Problem.
When in Westeros, viewers understand they are subject to graphic depictions of rape, torture, dismemberment, eye-gouging and more beheadings than anyone can keep track of anymore. Sex (minus dicks) generally gets the same treatment: If a character wanders into a brothel, expect to see several pairs of naked breasts, butts, maybe a vagina, a generous amount of side-labia and, occasionally, two prostitutes fingering each other.
But the minute a character finds him or herself in a situation where a bare penis comes into play, the camera abruptly becomes a prude. Better not to look, it seems to say. This might actually be too much for you. This side-stepping feels a little condescending (Believe it or not, HBO, a few of us have seen real penises before and lived to tell the tale.) It’s not like the FCC can say anything about it; its powers extend only to programming transmitted via public channels (i.e., not cable). Isn’t this show known for confronting the ugliest of taboos? Why are penises beyond that?
The article lists the numerous occasions where we’ve had nude guys on screen but the penis is off-limits. The best we can get from our actors are beautifully lit butt shots. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course, and I’ll take what I can get. But still, like any red-blooded feminist pornographer, I’m always up for a glimpse of cock.
There are practical issues to be considered, I understand. One is censorship and the generally accepted rule that showing an erect penis turns film into pornography (unless it’s an art film and doesn’t show sex as pleasurable in any way). The other problem is that getting any guy to be erect on film is a challenge, porn or not. And I don’t think HBO employs fluffers.
Still, there was no reason why we couldn’t have seen Robb Stark’s cock here:
Or Khal Drogo’s schlong here:
Or Lorus’ weiner here:
Or Daario’s pork sword here:
Or even Jon Snow’s glorious, much-longed-for, beautifully resurrected and Christ-like member here:
Or… er, excuse me. I have to just, er… leave my computer for a little bit.
Anyway, Refinery 29 has also made the point today that we’re still not getting good, female gaze nudity in our favourite show. And at least Emilia Clarke is continuing to rattle her libidinous saber about it:
“I want to see Daenerys and her three dragons share the throne,” Clarke added. “And bring back all the pretty boys, get them to take their trousers down, and be like, ‘I’m now the queen of everything! I’d like close-ups of all the boys’ penises, please.'” (Link)
By the way, if you want to spend 16 minutes looking at every single nude scene in the history of Game of Thrones, it’s here. You’re welcome.