Censored versions of Game of Thrones

My 9-year-old daughter is an avid World of Warcraft player, and enjoys reading Dungeons and Dragons manuals (We are joining a twice-monthly game that my friend is setting up). So it's no surprise that whenever she hears my wife and I discuss Game of Thrones (which we do a lot), her ears perk up. She wants to know everything about Arya Stark, the young female sword fighter. She begs us to let her watch the show. I wish she could watch it, too, but I don't want her to see the sex and nudity scenes. (I don't really mind her seeing the violent scenes.)

Out of curiosity, I searched Google for "censored game of thrones" and discovered that there are quite a few versions of Game of Thrones in which the sex and nudity scenes have been removed. The first search result is for censored GoT seasons 1 and 2 on the Pirate Bay. The person who uploaded them wrote:

Yep, you read it right. This is Game of Thrones censored. What does this mean?

-All of the nudity has been removed, some extreme swearing removed, and some other small things.

Don't worry, it has been done in a way that that will preserve the story. If a sex scene had anything important to the story in the dialogue, the dialogue was preserved without the nudity.

Why would someone want this?

-You don't want to watch a show with borderline pornography.

-You've seen it, but want to watch it with family, or a friend who would disapprove of the nudity and sex.


I have not downloaded it these, even though I'm a paying HBO subscriber. I wish HBO would release a nudity-free version. I'd buy it in a minute.

UPDATE: My friend Peter Bebergal (author of the terrific book Too Much to Dream: A Psychedelic American Boyhood) emailed me about this post. He wrote:

Just looking at the comments on your Games of Thrones post. I kind of wish we were having the Gweek chat after this.

But yes, it's a complicated issue and I appreciate you being honest about it. I lean towards your feelings and I think it does have a lot to do with what is easily perceived as fantasy (outlandish violence) and what is easily perceived as not (rape, sexual bargaining, sexual power and abuse, etc.)

Well said, Peter. This is why I feel the way I do about the violence vs sex and nudity in GoT.


  1. “I don’t want her to see the sex and nudity scenes. (I don’t really mind her seeing the violent scenes.)”

    Ah, America. You are *so* cute.

      1. Ditto!

        “…but I don’t want her to see the sex and nudity scenes. (I don’t really mind her seeing the violent scenes.)”

        That right there *is* America, folks!

        1. No, that right there is PART of America.  We are not a very homogeneous country.  Not ethnically, not religiously, not politically.

          Trying to characterize all of America by the actions of one subset is always going to produce a false result.

          1. You’re right it is *part* of America, but it is also regrettably the dominant paradigm, and anyone who argues differently is ignoring a lot of evidence.

            America, and to a lesser extent the UK, is unique in its double-standard of sexuality vs. violence in media and can be seen in literally every facet of life. The FCC’s regulation of “obscenity” is just one example of this contradiction: http://www.fcc.gov/guides/obscenity-indecency-and-profanity

            The word “violence” doesn’t even appear on the page. Why? Because in America, to the majority of people, sex is more damaging to youth than violence.

          2. oh ffs, nobody claimed that every single American is afraid of sexuality and nudity. One might be tempted to investigate the words “caricature” and “rhetoric”.

            In my experience, Mark’s ludicrous puritanical values are representative of the vast majority of Americans (over 3/4 of them, I’d wager). I have hope that his progeny’s generation will learn to be less hypocritically brassbound.

        2. That right there is the poisonous influence of the right-wing religious fucks running the MPAA.

          I defy anyone to watch This Film Has Not Been Rated and view a statement like

          I don’t want her to see the sex and nudity scenes. (I don’t really mind her seeing the violent scenes.)

          …in the same way ever again.

      1. Probably less seeing a boob or butt than the fully nude scenes of wenches getting vigorously banged from behind, rape etc.etc. There’s stuff in there that would actually be porno if the penetration wasn’t simulated.

        I’m not defending the notion that violence is wholesome, just sayin’…it’s probably more about the hardcore sex than being prudish about nudity.

        1. “There’s stuff in there that would actually be porno if the penetration wasn’t simulated.”
          You mean if the penetration wasn’t implied?
          Being prudish about sex (not just nudity) and not graphic violence (and lots of other forms of nastiness) seems just as weird, frankly.  And it’s true that in some of the scenes in this series – the “sex” is actually violence.  But the violence is also violence. And there are fully clothed scenes that are at least as unpleasant (in terms of sexual violence) as the nude scenes.  So it’s not like excising the nudity does much to make it more kid-friendly.

          1. I don’t think not wanting to show a child gritty sometimes rapey, abusive and exploitative sex is the same as being a “prude”. You guys are too funny…

            As I took pains to say already: I don’t favor the “graphic” violence over the sex either. I knew that would just be ignored though….sigh.

            Also, I call bullshit on all the internet bravado in these comments. If it all really is just natural “sex” than show your kids some gnarly rough anal porn unless you’re a prude…

          2. Right on! Just watch GoT’s sex scenes with your children without all the rest of it! Better yet, take your child with you to a BDSM meetup where some of the participants engage in rape fantasies! Encourage the child to watch some blood play!

            I really don’t mind Mark’s stance if he genuinely thinks his child can handle martial violence but not sexual violence. I think he’s likely underestimating the child, but it’s ultimately his call (who else knows his child better than he?).

            If a parent has the fortitude to explain graphic martial violence in the context of GoT’s fiction, then it’s not much of a leap to do the same for sex, rape, nudity, cheating, torture, lying, stealing, bribery, extortion, etc.

            The main problem I have with puritanical attitudes toward sexuality and body image is that making these topics taboo is obviously counterproductive (there aren’t many motivators stronger than a guardian telling you “no” with wishy-washy reasoning). People like Mark are undoubtedly well-intentioned, but there’s that saying about the road to hell…

          1. Well gee, I don’t know…. You were “clever”and careful to deliberately leave out the context or circumstances of either “penetration”…..

            Nice false choice though bro….

      2. Is it really asking too much that our children should be able to enjoy a show whose central plots revolve around rape, incest, murder, prostitution, slavery and brutal violence without exposing them to a glimpse of exposed human skin? 

      3. Yeah, I get that as a quote-unquote thing, that was an easy one to roll your eyes at.  Obviously sex is good and kids should be able to be exposed to it.  Except that in this case, you are not looking at fun consensual sex; it is overwhelmingly graphic rape scenes, which may not be something a 9 year old girl is ready to internalize. 
        I am a fan of the show & have watched all the episodes so far, and have only seen one or two sex acts which are definitely not rape, and a number of scenes which are debatable (is prostitution paid rape? How do you explain one prostitute beating the tar out of another against either of their wills in order to avoid being killed on the spot? Is the man with the crossbow the rapist, or is the prostitute doing the hitting also raping? What about when her family sells her into a forced marriage with a man who pushes her down and fucks her while she cries and finally one day she ‘decides’ to start fucking him more sensually, so that maybe the violence of the rapes will diminish?)  And are you really ready to try to keep a little kid focused so you can dialog about how in real life, it’s not normal to fall madly in love with the rapist who you’ve been trafficked to?If these issues are so difficult to manage for adult viewers, who see rape and can only go all ooogly-eyed over the boobz, how much complex processing of the scenes can you demand from  a little kid?  People deserve to get the basics of how pleasurable enthusiastically consensual sex can be (read The Pervocracy.blogspot.com  if you need a primer in enthusiastic consent) before starting to lay into them with such unvaried violence against women.  On another note: Am I the only one who really wants to see Catelyn Stark get something going with Brienne? 

        1. My 7 year old thinks GOT is boring, too much talking, not enough “snow zombies” 

          Yes, yes, you are the only one.

    1. Yeah, this was really disappointing to read.  Speaking as an american, we’re not *all* completely screwed up and backwards like this.

      “I can describe an axe entering a human skull in great explicit detail and no one will blink twice at it. I provide a similar description, just as detailed, of a penis entering a vagina, and I get letters about it and people swearing off. To my mind this is kind of frustrating, it’s madness. Ultimately, in the history of [the] world, penises entering vaginas have given a lot of people a lot of pleasure; axes entering skulls, well, not so much.”
      ― George R.R. Martin

      1. I love this quote so much. It’s embarrassing and disappointing to hear people act like sex is somehow more damaging or corrupting (or whatever) than violence – statements to that effect always sound like they belong in the mouths of certain Simpsons characters. I really would not have expected to see it here.

        1. Except that on GoT, sex IS violence.  Try showing us scenes in which the penis entering the vagina causes pleasure for the owner of the vagina, just a couple of times already, and then we can bag up the people who are still complaining.    

          1. Indeed, using that quote is hilariously disingenuous. Like all the sex is loving and consensual, a beautiful act of nature… Give me a break. It is not kids stuff, especially if you haven’t talked to your kids about rape, exploitation etc etc. which you will need to do ASAP if you show them this…haha.

          2. You mean like when the soon-to-be Mother of Dragons told the Khal that she would look upon his eyes this time in bed, as she smiled?  You mean like when Cersei took in Winterfell Jaime because she wanted him?

        2. It’s embarrassing and disappointing to hear people act like sex is somehow more damaging or corrupting (or whatever) than violence…

          Maybe Mark is like me — I’ve personally seen a whole lot more families damaged by indiscriminate sexual activity than by indiscriminate violence. Folks for whom that is not the case may have a hard time understanding his perspective.

    2. My parents felt the same way, and as a child I got to see all sorts of neat stuff like the “Heavy Metal” movie. The graphic sex didn’t quite warp my mind as it did make me profoundly uncomfortable at the time. 

      The discomfort level wasn’t terribly severe, but something I would think about hard before putting another little human through. 

      1. I think it depends on the kid. I saw a lot as a kid too, but it just made me into a film fan, no lasting effects that I can tell. My daughter (7) watches about whatever she wants. I have to say she self selects quite well. About the only things I have done is discourage her when she wants to see a hard core horror movie in the theater (I think the effect of the theater is much more visceral than at home) and to watch Face Off with her so she gets a good grounding in how these images are made and that they are not real. 
        She is not really interested in or freaked out by sex/nudity as it has always been an open topic in our household. 
        I realize this probably would not hold for all kids but I like to think that with movies like Army of Darkness and The Meaning of Life listed as some of her favorites we are doing alright :)

    3. I agree, but to be fair Game of Tthone is not the perfect example for this, because it’s not just sex, it’s often rape, prostitution, etc… which are concepts too complicated to handle for children. Gore is ugly but it’s simple..

      1. Too complicated?  She’s not 3 years old, and those aren’t particularly difficult concepts.  They’re bad yes, but so is killing the king so you can take his place. 

        1. Except that the kings don’t almost exclusively get killed and replaced numerous times every episode, while you never see one enjoying power even for a little.  But the rape is nearly without exception.  So, in what may be the kids’ first experiences with filmed sex, you’d have to then get into how ‘but in real life, sex isn’t this at all’.  

    4. Well, my American mother, for one, always said she didn’t mind me or my brother seeing the sexy parts of movies, it was the violence she worried about.

      1. Weekend at Bernie’s

        Makes Game of Throne’s violence look like child’s play. I’ve always wondered how it was pitched. “Now wait a second, they do what with their boss’s corpse, and for how long?!”

    5. What’s wrong with a nice scene of two people physically showing their love for each other?

      What? That doesn’t happen in Game of Thrones (except for siblings) ?

      1. Yes, I’ve only seen the first season, but I was going to say that the only “wholesome” love scene was among the siblings, and even then it was more alluded to than graphically shown. The rest was raunchy shit, which I like! But perhaps not for children…..

      2. There are a few other examples. The gay would-be-king and his lover, that one Stark kid who falls for a nurse, Tyrion and the prostitute who finally wins his heart…

        1. Ooh, you’re right about the king and his lover, I’d forgotten that one. The nurse, yes. Prostitution is tricky and I still have a hankering that she must be other than who she says she is. Though they are cute together. That’s the whole infuriating thing with GoT-there’s so much good, visionary stuff in there-what with the gays, the transvestites or genderqueers, the fact that they show a little person having a relationship (should be more explicit, though) and all, only to then ‘reward’ the audience with high levels of the standard ‘bitches ain’t nothing but hos and tricks bit’ nearly every time that a regular cis-woman is involved.

    6.  I’ve heard this more than once myself. And now that I’m a Dad I kind of lean that way too. To be honest, I’m not sure exactly why. Could it be that none of us can imagine our children killing or dismembering another human but at the same time we are positive they’ll eventually have sex and we don’t want to rush it?

    7.  The idea some folks think that kids would be more traumatized at seeing some r rated sex scenes than seeing somebody being decapitated and having their head displayed on a pike is just sooo strange to me.

      I suspect it has more to do with the parents feeling awkward about revealing the secrets of their progeny’s creation to their progeny.

      1. Maybe it’d be worth thinking about. Certainly you would find yourself a bit off-put by another parent of a daughter telling you, “I’m not really OK with her using a soldering iron or power drill (I don’t mind her wearing makeup and shoes, though).” Right? And now you’re thinking “but that’s ridiculous, why would anyone say that?” Well,that’s the way most of the commenters here are feeling about what you just said.

        1. Shoes are a bad example.  My daughter has been wearing shoes since she started walking, shortly before her first birthday, but at two, she doesn’t yet have the strength, coordination, or judgement to use a power drill or a soldering iron.  Her brother didn’t either, at that age.

      2. I understand you as a parent wanting to share the experience with your daughter, but the fact that it makes you so uncomfortable that IF even watching it together makes you cringe then that should say that it is you and not her that’s isn’t ready to watch the show together.

        What I am trying to say is wait until you feel comfortable watching it with her.

        Also, you never mentioned the novels. Would her reading it on paper (or pixel) be acceptable for you? GRRM describes the sex, but it’s not especially graphic (at least not to my jaded adult sensibilities). That way, she can follow along while letting the stuff that’s over her head go whoosh over her head.

      3. Interesting how that happens in our culture. When it comes down to it, we really DON’T know why we’re so afraid of showing sexual scenes to our kids. I remember being a kid and wondering why my parents would shield my eyes during sex scenes. They were ok with letting me watch Jurassic Park, though. It kind of led to some mental issues where I’d be afraid of sexuality, because I associated it with “bad stuff”, until my teens. Couple that with raging hormones, and yup, I was one confused teen.

        1. “Interesting how that happens in our culture. When it comes down to it, we really DON’T know why we’re so afraid of showing sexual scenes to our kids.”

          Puritanism.  Not kidding in the least, not poking fun at religion, just telling it how it is.  Biblical references are very strict about how you should shun anything sexual outside of fornication with your spouse for the purposes of procreation, but, in the Old Testament at least, violence is more acceptable.

          1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Puritans were not nearly as repressive about sexuality as the 19th and 20th century Anglo-americans. One might say that they were religiously “uptight”, but what we term “puritanism” really is a product of the Victorian era, and industrialization. Rigid strictures on public sexuality, homosexuality, etc. came after  the Puritans’ time. In this sense, they were more tolerant than contemporary American society. In fact, pillory by the enlightened denizens of the internet — which is pillory not just in one town, but everywhere, for all time — is extraordinarily vicious. Better to be drawn and quartered, no?

          2. I grew up in Puritan territory (literally a mile from where the families of the victims of the Salem witch trials were resettled.) They were much more repressive about sexuality than the Victorians. Deviation from the strictest moral codes earned the death penalty. The Victorian era was rather wildly sexual; you had to make a public spectacle of yourself to get arrested for it.

      4. Perhaps because violence is so prevalent in American media that there is no point shielding her from it in this one instance, whereas sex and nudity are sufficiently rare that this might be the only thing she currently wants to watch that would expose her to them in that detail?

          1. Perhaps; but I was deliberately avoiding any kind of value judgements on his personal decision; I was just postulating an argument from utility.

      5. You know, I am proud of you for posting this on the tubes. There have been times that I have been tempted to post something that I know will be controversial, because I am looking for some different points of view to push me to a decision about the issue. Then I remember that these are the Internets, and reconsider. The Internets are not for expanding and exchanging ideas, the Internets are for harsh criticism snap judgments; even on an “enlightened” site like boing boing.

      6. Let me suggest a hypothesis:

        The sex bothers you more because the chance of your daughter, in the future, encountering a situation in which she will be pressured / persuaded into doing something sexual is much higher than the chance that she will be influenced into using a weapon.

        The sex/violence TV split isn’t as simple as it sounds, nor as driven by those odd American attitudes we like to make fun of. Normalising violence is a more serious issue.  But sex is a more common one.

        (That said, Game of Thrones is a horrible example, since it does the worst possible thing by normalising sex-as-violence.)

      7. Good answer. My wife kicks me whenever the TV gets too violent or too sexy. I don’t get it. Is Big Bang Theory really too much for a 16 year old?

  2. The messed up culture we find ourselves in, once again conscisely summarized iby one of my favorite sites, albeit inadvertently so this time.  Sex and nudity is wrong but horrific violence is OK? Yes America is truly “cute” in horribly sad dysfunctional way….

  3. “but I don’t want her to see the sex and nudity scenes. (I don’t really mind her seeing the violent scenes.)” Grr. This infuriates me. Why do we, as parents balk at our children seeing something normal and human that *everyone* does, including us, ourselves, as parents, as a healthy expression of love and affection, but then allow them to freely watch depictions of despicable acts that are only carried out by the worst of criminals and in the most atrocious war situations?

    1. Armchair psycho-analyzing here, but maybe it’s precisely because his daughter will one day be having sex, and most likely not engaging in violent behavior, that he’s uncomfortable with it.

    2. Have you seen the sex scenes in GOT? Not a whole lot of it is a “healthy expression of love and affection”. That said.. still better than cutting heads off. Fear neither. It’s just a show, Not for someone too young but that’s rather obvious. Make em wait, damn it. I had to.

      1. Why better than cutting heads off?  Why?  Would you rather be killed on the spot, or trafficked and raped repeatedly?  I think every man calls it their own way on that one, buddy. 

        1. I think you asked and answered your own question since you certainly weren’t responding to anything I said. I was referring to brothel action.. not gang rapes and human trafficking.

          This site is your “buddy”. http://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/

          1. orly?  Says ‘brothel action’ has nothing to do with human trafficking.  Then links to Logical Fallacies website.  Facepalm.   

    3. Not having seen the series myself, I can’t say – are the specific sex scenes in Game of Thrones actually depicting anything like a healthy expression of love and affection?

      My daughter isn’t quite 3, so I can’t say for sure how I’ll feel in six years, but I expect I’d be fine with her seeing sex scenes depicted as expressions of love, but much less so with stuff that’s obviously fan service for horny male teenagers that fosters unhealthy dynamics of female subservience, disempowerment, and objectification.

  4. I third the question about why violence is so much better than sex?

    Surely as a parent you want to spare her violence, but wish her good sex? Of course, neither at age 9!

    1.  I love reading Boing Boing comments sections.  Everyone says what I’m thinking and there are so rarely inflammatory trolls; you are all wonderful.  This is what the Internet ought to be.

    2. Since no one else seems to be pointing this out, I will, just for the sake of the discussion.

      You don’t have to choose between violence and sex.  You can have violent sex.


    1.  I believe a 15 min version of just such a thing was posted on the Huffington Post last spring.  I don’t know why, but it existed…

    1. And then what would you use to illustrate what you’ve just taught them about sex?  Seriously-tell us what scene you would use as a model for your daughter’s future sex life?  

  5. As a parent, I’d much prefer my child see sex and nudity than violence.  The fact that much of the US public sees things otherwise completely baffles me.

  6. I don’t watch it because of the violence, especially the bad people getting away with violence upon innocent people, I wouldn’t let children watch any of it, it’s not for children.

    1. Yeah, it’s an epic, and marvelous world but it’s full of injustice, not something for a kid to watch, specially with the bad people getting away. Not the idyllic LOTR kind of stuff.

      1. Idyllic is not really the word I would use. There is a lot more violence in LOTR than GOT, it is just more cartoony and unrealistic. Then it really comes down to which would be more damaging, cartoonish violence without consequence or realistic violence?

  7. indeed. If you’re going to watch Game of Thrones with your kids, why leave out something that is so clearly an integral part of the piece?  Why is violence so much easier to deal with from a parental perspective than sex?  Is the Lannister incest so much harder to discuss than seeing Ned get his head lopped off?
    Further proof that, in conservative America, sex discussions occur (if they ever do) when the parents are ready, not the kids.

    1. I’ve only seen the first season of Game of Thrones (read all the books), but I didn’t think most of the sex and nudity was all that integral to the plot.
      There were several scenes that I thought were sprinkled in to justify putting it on HBO instead of USA or FX.
      That said, my 11-year-old daughter won’t be watching it until high school at the earliest.

      1.  Agreed.  I recall a scene in Season 1 in which Littlefinger held a conversation with someone.  A couple of topless prostitutes were wandering around in the background as window dressing, seemingly just because HBO could, not being answerable to either the FCC or the MPAA.  “Hey! Look! We’re HBO! We can show this!” It’s not that I’m offended by the skin or worried about the possible harm that a bare breast might cause to children (who are, after all, the foremost beneficiaries of breasts), rather that I’m bothered by the gratuitous pandering.

    2. In general you might have had a point, but when talking about Game of Thrones that’s not so.  Most of the sex in GoT (the series) is (a) not required by the plot at all (or even present in the book), and (b) vicious, violent, misogynistic, or all three.  HBO was trying way too hard.

      Even as an adult, it would be better TV without most of it.  However much I may enjoy breasts.

      1. sure but it’s -there- now, so why censor it?  later on your kid is going to resent you for it.  why even expose the kid to the show if you have to censor it?  why not wait until the parent is comfortable?  which may never occur, of course.  leaving the kid to discover the material on their own.

  8. Games Of thrones has sex scenes?
    damn, must rewatch… 

    side note: Damn BB, why do i need to allow every tracker in the universe to post here?ghostery finds 45 (!) trackers

  9. Have her stick with the Chronicles of Narnia then.  They are all full of violence, tons of killing, but no icky, scary sex.  Nope, just death.  

    I find this attitude among many people, so often Christians, so bizarre.  Someone getting their head chopped off  is a-ok, but a bit of nipple, that’s just going to warp the poor child’s fragile, little mind.  

      1. I watched the second one, but I don’t remember all the details, but I do think the bad guys had darker skin.  The thing I noticed about that movie was that it contained a lot of human on human violence, where the first one was almost all fantasy creatures and animals.  I just kept thinking to myself “How is this a good, positive Christian message?”  

  10. I love the series, in part because I accept that it is a completely different art form than the book, and adjust expectations accordingly.

    I have no issue with relevant nudity — story-related or character-driven.  Game of Thrones seems to stray a bit too often into mere sexposition.  “This is kind of a boring speech by Littlefinger.  Let’s put some girl on girl behind it.”

    That doesn’t offend me, exactly.  Though I feel I’m being pandered to, and it takes me out of the story.  

    1.  Wow.  I made almost the exact same comment, regarding what I suspect is the same scene, in reply to an earlier comment.  The big difference is that I saw the skin not as a way of compensating for boring dialogue but as a way of showing off HBOs ability to ignore both the FCC and the MPAA, which I’m sure they see as a major selling point.

  11. Even more humorous is this comment from George R. R. Martin, the author of Game of Thrones: 

    “It’s a sad commentary on American morals that the sex is the thing that people object to. I find that sad, but it is true. I can describe an axe entering a person’s skull and no one objects, but if I describe a penis entering a vagina, there’s an outcry.”

    And people wonder why there’s so much violence in the US.

  12. …or she could just read the books.  There’s violence and nudity and sex and swearing in there, but it fits in to the story a lot better than on TV where the boobies seem more prurient.

    1. Books seem more “self censoring” than visual media. I remember Neil Gaiman defending a scene in Stardust that got it banned from a school library. He pointed out that the scene was only “explicit” if you have had sex and knew what was being described – there was no detail of the mechanics (or even the body parts) involved. The GoT books are more explicit than that, of course, but still, I’d rather have my kids reading it than seeing it (sex or violence).

  13. Mark, I’m honestly really surprised. I’m not going to jump down your throat about “being American” — because, y’know, I’m pretty sure you are, and we are all products of our cultures. But please consider why you’d be okay having a 9-yr-old watch a horse being beheaded, with gushing, spouting, blood (just a single example I can remember easily), but not okay with her seeing nude adults. I agree that the sex in GoT is pretty extreme, and I honestly don’t know if I’d be okay as a parent watching it with a kid that age. It would depend on the kid, for certain. But I’d personally be a lot better able to explain about adults having sex than I would about the extraordinary levels of violence. (And I’m a FAN of the show!)

  14. I just wish HBO wouldn’t add to the torture and rapeyness of an already torturey, rapey book. GRRMartin did a good job of balancing the horror of the villains and environment with the humanity of the characters and the sensibilities of the readers. HBO seems to see torture and coercive/violent sex as another opportunity to make the show edgy and sexy. That makes my skin crawl. Not just depicting torture and rape, but trying to make them edgy/sexy.

    I am puzzled by why the sex is bad but the violence is ok… For me, it’s the sexy violence and the violent sex that’s bad, whereas sadly necessary violence and consensual sex are absolutely fine, as long as the kid isn’t having nightmares over it.

  15. As an American parent, I will admit to the same hypocrisy. The only two things I can say in defence of the viewpoint is that, first, violence isn’t a normal, everyday thing (at least for most of us) and sword and fantasy type violence is even further removed. I steered my kids away from blood, guts, and gore type violence (of which GoT has too much of for most children), but definitely away from more “realistic” violence – guns, torture, abuse, etc. Secondly, sex is all wonderful, and beautiful, and natural, yes, but it *is* adult subject matter (for some suitable definition of “adult”) and, again, fun, loving portrayals of sex are different from rape, incest, and prostitution. I never had much problems with my kids seeing nudity or even non-explicit portrayals of sex in appropriate situations. It’s easier (and more comfortable) to explain happy, loving sex than it is to discuss why Jaime and Cersei are going at it even though they are brother and sister.

    1. I think you hit the nail on the head. 
      It’s not just about “sex” vs “violence.” It’s extreme sex in scenarios beyond the comprehension of a young child, whereas medieval swordplay falls into a realm of fantasy that doesn’t necessarily ground it in 2013 reality. 
      If I were watching a rom-com with my (hypothetical) child, and girl meets boy and they fall in love and have sex, I wouldn’t be as concerned with my kid seing it, because that’s sort of what happens and is the type of sex kids ought to be learning about. Incest and rape and all that, I don’t think a nine-year-old should be seeing that stuff yet.

    2. For the record, the violence in the GoT series would have been over the line as far as my kids were concerned, even with the sex censored. They are now in late teens and early twenties and both enjoy the show and have read the books (or are in the process of doing do).

  16. How about we don’t censor things? That’s an incredibly bad idea. It destroys the art (by removing scenes the artists intended), and it’s just generally squicky and dishonest.
    Since when did BoingBoing become pro-censorship? That’s sort of terrifying.

    1.  I guess a counterpoint here is that censorship is about restriction of speech. But was Game of Thrones, either the TV show or the book, really something ‘spoken’ from the creators to a nine year-old girl? I doubt it. I have the strong suspicion that HBO and/or GRRM would be rather disturbed at the idea of the uneditted GoT being shown to this person, and did not envision it in the creation of their work.

      So, the argument would be that censorship here is not interfering in the communication of the vision of the creator to the target audience. It is instead creating a transformed derivative, that can reach a new audience it was not intended for. In that specific context, maybe it’s legitimate.

    2. This is kind of funny considering the way the sex scenes are often cynically, and awkwardly crammed into the existing storyline on GoT, as if they were just handed a quota to make by execs….

      Still love the show though! 

        1. I was bummed when the dj “censored” a song the other night by only playing the funky drum break….

          1. Way to overly-simplify. This and remixing have absolutely nothing in common. It’s censorship. Plain and simple. Remixing creates something new (and adds its own elements), and this censored-Game-of-Thrones nonsense is simply censorship. It excises bits of a dramatic presentation for the sake of someone’s sensibilities.

          2. It’s cutting out the part of the song that the dj doesn’t like or find useful, just as djs cut songs short on the radio that sometimes have long or wanky endings. While I think Mark should just not show GoT to his kid period, making a copy minus the sex scenes is far from censorship. Now if the government or some kind of political body forced them to cut it out you might have a better point. As it is, it just sounds hysterical. 

          3. I just had a “Howard Johnson is right” Blazing Saddles moment here.  Anyway, Navin Johnson, I think Corey Johnson is right, insofar as what censorship is.  This isn’t, of course, state-sponsored censorship, but it is, in fact, “deleting as objectionable” certain material from the show, and that meets Merriam-Webster’s definition of censorship.  Though maybe “bowdlerize” would be a better term than “censor,” what happens when you remove “objectionable” material is not “far from censorship.”  It doesn’t have to be an act of the state, merely an act of someone controlling what the audience sees (in this case, a parent controlling what his daughter sees).

            That said, I agree that (if my opinion were to have any bearing on Mark’s parental decision making, which it necessarily shouldn’t) the soundest approach should be just not to let her watch Game of Thrones until she’s old enough to digest all its content.  This is a show whose TV-MA rating is justifiably warranted for sex and violence (though most of all for its sexual violence, IMHO).

            I’m always opposed to bowdlerization.  I oppose removing the “n-word” from Huckleberry Finn, and I disapprove of the guy in Salt Lake City who used to edit the naughty bits out of popular movies so he could rent them to his Mormon clients who, like Mark, wanted to enjoy certain artifacts of popular culture without exposing themselves (or in Mark’s case, his young daughter) to the potentially damaging material.

            My parents made their share of mistakes, but I’ve never thought I could improve on their approach when it came to this stuff.  They allowed me to watch anything they thought I could handle, disallowed material that was obviously beyond my maturity level, and for anything that fell in a gray area in between, they watched it with me and talked with me at length about it.

            Though my mother has an embarrassingly large collection of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books, she never believed in editing my cultural intake for content.  Curating to an extent, yes.  Bowdlerizing, no.

  17. Most everything I was going to add has been said, but I recently made the decision to stop letting my 12 year old son stop playing violent video games. Mainly because I listen to him while he’s playing and he becomes kind of a scary, mean little person. I want him to think about what he’s engaging in and how it’s making him interact with the people he’s playing with. I would be totally okay if he saw some skin occasionally. I’m not talking about pornography. I am a visual artist and paint life models and I know he sees my art around the house and at my studio and I can say for sure it doesn’t affect his personality. 

    1. I’ve never really bought the “violent games cause violence” argument, but I’m also sure that on some level the things you spend time around affect your personality a bit. I play a number of violent games despite being vegetarian, conscientious objector, anti-death-penalty, etc., and I certainly take on a bit of a persona while playing. If you had never met me before, and just heard an audio track of my commentary while playing, you’d probably recommend me for institutionalization. That said, I think one of the hallmarks of a “mature” mind (for some definition of “mature”) is the ability to entertain certain points of view without adopting them, either in acting, make-believe, playing the “devils advocate” in an argument, etc., and I don’t think my video game persona bleeds over into my daily life. Certainly a younger mind may be more subject to some of that bleed-over effect until the mind gets enough practice keeping those thoughts and behaviors separate.

      1. I agree with you for us as grownups where we’ve had a chance to develop a “moral” code of sorts, but he’s still so young that I worry that he’s developing one based on the warped code in the games. I’ve noticed a serious difference in his overall personality since he stopped playing them at home (about 8 months ago). He’s still kind of an asshole when he’s playing minecraft with his friends, but it feels more like game smack-talk now and not the “I’m going to kill you” anger that i was perceiving.

    2. Dealing with the same issue here. The level of meanspiritedness, smacktalk, desensitization to real pain (especially torture and violence against woman), bloodlust packaged in a very robust and engaging visual form, and overally crappy “screw you, I’m the man” attitude built up while playing these games and watching stuff like GoT is telling.  Not a scientific observation but life WAS better before the game designers took over kid culture. I’d much rather my kid read, Cracked and Mad and think subversively, or have to acdtually think while playing D&D, then be a mindless consumer of this epoch’s gladiator bloodlust. We’re in the first era of a very disturbing trend

      1. Ah yes the golden age of innocent children where they worked in sweat shops and women and minorities could not vote.

  18. I kind of agree with Mark on the violence part. The “epic” style of violence that includes axes and swords (but not guns or torture) seems a level removed from reality, which is why I approve of Lord of the Rings movies but not The Sopranos for my kids (under 9) – even though the body count in LOTR is much, much higher. (Even so, they don’t watch these films unattended and we do talk about them)

        1. Nudity is not prostitution, incest and rape.

          It means that the human body is shown without clothes.

          (Oxford Dictionary: nude – wearing no clothes)

          1. Yes, thank you, I am aware. No need for smarmy dictionary references. However, non-consensual nudity is also a thing, and one which tends to tie into such things as rape.

            Honestly, I’m confused. Are we arguing? Disagreeing? I can’t even tell what the semantics-niggling is over.

          2. I actually looked it up to see whether there is a tertiary meaning to nudity which implies sexuality, exploitation or non-consensuality.

            Indeed, there is non-consensual nudity in GoT.

            But a lot of the nudity shown is circumstantial or part of the intimacy of a loving relationship

          3. You’re trying to suggest that people object to showing it to children because there’s simply “nudity” in it, instead of the reality which is graphic and often violent/non consensual sex. It’s beyond dishonest.

          4. I do understand why people would want a version without non-consensual sex, explicit sex and violence and torture.

            I find it strange that people have an issue with nudity, intimacy and consensual (yet not explicit) sex.

        1. Two examples of consensual nudity:

          Daenerys standing up from the ashes of Drogo’s funeral (she went into the fire intentionally, to wake the dragons)

          All shower scenes, including those of the black brothers on the wall

          Some examples of consensual sex:

          Jamie and Cersei (it is consensual incest)

          Rob and Cersei

          Cersei and her cousin

          The gay romance (who was that, Renly?)

          Cathelyn and Ned Stark

          The Imp and his happy hooker

          Theon Greyjoy and the captain’s daughter

          Theon Greyjoy and the girl from the village

          Theon Greyjoy and his sister

          Stannis and Melisandre

          Daenerys and Drogo (she gets on top and eventually they have a loving relationship. In the books he is *relatively* courteous even before that)

          Some of the prostitution (according to the books many prostitutes come from a culture which worships a god of love)

          An example of violence with nudity but no sexual acts:

          Joffrey abuses a prostitute violently but does not have sex with her.

          I had a hard time finding consensual disembowelings ;)

          By the way, nobody here complains about the paedophilia! (Crasters’ daughters/wives, Lord Frey’s wives, Daenerys is supposed to be about 13 years old, etc.) Guess that’s fine then as long as there’s no nudity or explicit sex scenes…


          1. But I think you’re on to something important here.  Evidently, in the books the sexual violence wasn’t at the same level as the TV show.  I read on a post here, for instance that Daenerys and Drogo developed a rapport in the book before going to bed-in the show he came and pushed her down crying and fucked her against her will.  She was there, after all, because her brother who sold her into the arranged marriage threatened to have her gang raped if she didn’t go along. 

            Daenerys finally getting on top was one of the most perverse (but, like, in a bad way) things I’ve ever seen.  She is getting raped by one man over and over, crying every time, in order to escape being gang raped at her brother’s orders.  Gristly.  Then, she talks to a really messed-up in the head human trafficking victim who somehow has been being sold to clients since she was a child yet got to her late 20’s with a bright friendly smile and no crippling diseases in a time before antibiotics, but, well, fantasy show and all that.  When discussing a life of slavery where whoever pays gets to rape her, since she was a little kid, she is so brain-warped that she actually says that while it’s not always an easy life, at least she gets to meet interesting men.  I shit you not. This person is the best Daenerys can do for advice in her sex trafficking situation, so she actually takes the decision to try to give her rapist more pleasure.  And, on the show, it works and she falls in love with him.  The cherry on top of the banana split is when Drogo is going to invade that village, and is riling up his men saying that he’s going to burn the houses and rape the women, and Daenerys is all goo-goo eyed with aroused delight hearing that he’ll be now raping other women, too.  And one of the women he has raped doesn’t do a good enough job saving his life so Daenerys hersef burns her alive. Bizarre.  

            Ooh, but, yes, not accounting for the above, she was an agent of her own free will there. 

          2. Daenerys imposes her will upon Drogo when she teaches him how to make love gently. They start to respect each other and call each other ‘Moon of My Life’ and ‘My Sun and Stars’. Daenerys imposes her will upon the Dothrakis and stops their sacking and especially the raping.

            The healer woman – saved from slavery and/or death by Daenerys’interventions – killed Daenerys’ unborn son by witchcraft, without revealing to Daenerys that she would take another life to extend Drogo’s.

            I’d bet the backstory of Daenerys’ chamber maid is still present in the censored version, by the way.

  19. I never understood the problem with seeing naked people…
    Don’t US-american kids see their parents naked????
    What’s the problem with seeing other people naked?

    1. It’s funny how many people keep saying “naked” or “boobs” instead of “random prostitutes bent over being rammed from behind” which is a bit more accurate…..

      You all have either never seen the show or are being ridiculous and dishonest.

  20. Plenty has been said about the violence/sex disparity here, but one scene stands out for me as something I probably would want to shield a youngster from that contains both nudity and violence…

    Spoiler alert:

    The scene where Jeoffrey is forcing the prostitute to savagely beat the other prostitute at crossbow-point was seriously disturbing – more so to me than anything else depicted, sex or violence-wise in the whole show. It contained nearly all of my triggers for strong discomfort. Of course that is the point – Jeoffrey is a sadistic fuck and that scene drives it home in a way no other does, but I’d be uncertain about showing it to, well, almost anyone.

  21. Just curious: How did you go about stopping your boy from playing violent games? What was his reaction to your prohibition like? 

    edit: this is meant in reply to drono

    1. He’s not a fan of the choice and I’m sure he still plays them at friend’s houses, but I won’t let him have them at our house and I want him to know why I don’t want him to. I do let him play minecraft which has violence, but I’ve felt there’s a difference between fighting monsters and the kind of violence in some of these other games he was playing. I want him to think about the choices he’s making in the game environment and seeing him mindlessly rob & kill people in the games made me concerned about him becoming too desensitized in real life. 

      1. I can appreciate that but if it were me I would be sure to indicate that it is his behavior that is the issue. I am sure he can find all the same studies we can that call BS on violent video games directly causing violence. If he were acting the same way while watching a football game I would say that I would have the same reaction. “That kind of behavior is not appropriate in any setting and I worry about you being able to control your emotions. Until you can show me you can act in a mature manner I am going to take away access to what I perceive as the trigger.”

  22. No offense, Mark, but maybe you should just move to Utah where your children will be “safe”.

  23. Not a parent. But I can’t imagine in anyone’s mind why they would subject a child to the death-by-molten-gold. That haunts me still as a visceral, brutal way to die. Wouldn’t want to be exposed to that. 

    I watched Terminator 2 and Akira before I was 10. I seriously think it is why I have a deep rooted fear of nuclear annihilation. It just seemed so real…so inevitable…

    Somethings just aren’t meant for young minds. Give em a couple years surely?

    However, kudos on getting the kids onto Fantasy. Best way to grow a fertile, imaginative mind. At least it makes country walks and hiking trips something magical…

  24. Can’t blame Mark for not wanting his daughter to see the sex scenes in GoT — not exactly uplifting and wholesome depictions of human sexuality. While GoT’s violence would be a bit much for my similarly aged kids, they’d definitely be able to process fake fighting scenes easier than very real nudity scenes.

    1. I don’t see how that follows. The fighting is no more fake than the sex. Both are simulated. The nudity is real, sure, but would a kid who has trouble processing fake rape be better able to process fake disembowelment?

      If so, that right there is a cultural problem. Kids have been mock-fighting as play for as long as there have been kids (puppies and kittens do it too). I played War with my buddies in a vacant lot near my house in the early 80s, complete with cap guns. Sometimes we had mock swordfights with sticks. We pretended to chop off arms and legs and heads, sure. But none of us back then had ever seen anything that looked like a realistic representation of such bloodshed and mayhem. We knew what sex was too (most of us by that point), but most of us hadn’t actually seen a realistic sex act. The first time we saw a beheading or a disembowelment in a movie, it affected us greatly… and eventually we grew desensitized to it. Jesus, that still goes on. The violent zombie-kills in the first season of Walking Dead used to make me wince, whereas now they make me giggle with delight. I’ve simply gotten used to seeing that level of splattered viscera on basic cable, but a couple of years ago it was surprising.

      I just don’t think our culture is altogether healthy if we’re so reluctant to show sex and nudity to our kids, and yet so utterly blase about extreme violence. (Not just gunshots and explosions, but beheadings and disembowelments and being torn limb from limb.)

      I do not conflate generic “sex and nudity” with the violent sex shown on Game of Thrones. Really, I don’t. I don’t think any of GOT’s content is particularly fitting for kids. I’ve resisted showing Star Wars to my kindergarten-age daughter, not because of the violence, but simply because I want her to be able to understand the political significance of the Rebellion against the Empire. Contextual understanding is a hugely important part of growth, and I don’t believe in bypassing it just to access the cool fantasy elements.

  25. I have always found it curious when parents (at least in the US, and yep- I’m an American) view sex as taboo and violence as a run-of-the-mill occurrence.

    I have 4 kids and have tried to expose them to as much as possible and take every opportunity to talk to them, letting them know I am a safe and honest source of information.  In my experience (yours may vary) I find when you are honest with your kids about sex, drugs, alcohol, violence etc. they come to you with questions and are much more inclined to discuss it openly.
    Your kids will have sex and experiment with ways to alter their consciousness.  I would much rather be the one to help inform them about these topics rather than their peers who are also finding their way.  Why not start the conversations and build trust early? 

  26. Some of the sex in GoT is hardly tender lovemaking, so on one hand I understand. But I think it is a slippery slope to start showing edited content to kids. Maybe just accept that it isn’t time for a kid to watch adult content?

    I will also throw my hat in the ring of it being strange that brutal violence is acceptable vs sex. Sure, the sex is pretty messed up, but the dark stuff that sticks with me from GoT is absolutely the violence. Even thinking about Ned’s fate still gives me a shiver.

  27. Mark, that opinion is shamefully backwards. You should think over just what kind of worldview you want to give your daughter.

  28. Would the aversion to the sex scenes be as strong if this were a son we are talking about? Or would a mother treat the subject matter differently?

    I have this sneaking suspicion that it may play a part, and that the discomfort of watching sex scenes is greatly increased by this being a dad and precious little daughter… 

    But on the whole I can say that neither my daughter nor my son are going to watch GoT before the age of ten, no matter what editing is done. The violence is brutal and horrifying, and the sex isn’t always of the pretty kind. Just as well to let kids watch more “high fantasy” style stuff like LOTR. 
    Don’t forget how twisted the violence in the series is; it is pretty nasty in parts. Swordfighting and adventure is well and good, but GoT regularly crosses the line into gaphic horror and brutality. Watch it with her when she’s old enough (based on your judgment and considering the sex, the incest, the torture, the violence, the heads on spikes..all of it).

  29. Wow, before reading the comments I hadn’t realized that the sex in Game of Thrones was all consensual, equal-opportunity and educational… 

    If it were sex-positive, I’d have no problem with my kid seeing the nudity. But a lot of the sex in GoT really is just violence as well but without any sense of honour, glory and purpose.

    ETA: To clarify, because the knee-jerking is such that it’s a can-can lineup in here: I don’t even personally like the extreme violence in GoT. I just don’t think Mark is totally nuts for being especially squicked by borderline rape scenes. He’s not censoring flower hippie love-fests here!

    1. It’s a good thing the violence is all consensual. It’s nice to see a violence-positive TV show, all full of honor, glory, and purpose.

      I have to ask this, I don’t mean to be condescending, really, I just want to know: do you know ANYTHING about Game of Thrones? Honor? Glory? Are we really talking about Game of Thrones? The only ones who seem to have an ounce of honor are the Starks, and…oh, crap, I’m getting close to dropping a spoiler or two.

      1. Violence is SUPPOSED to be bad OR a necessary evil. Sex is not supposed to be evil and violent (or there is no good excuse for it to be so, ever*). When violence is portrayed as brutal, there is no weird subtext there (it’s all in the motive and the delivery). Some fantasy hero fighting in a war and killing people is probably wanting peace but her does what he has to do to survive. He’s a hero for making that sacrifice, in most stories anyways.

        However, sex portrayed as exploitative and/or coercive, (especially in a rather glamorous way) is confusing and ambiguous. It’s supposed to be something that everybody wants and seeks out yet it often ends up being very negative/damaging/shameful for one of the parties involved (pretty consistently the woman in GoT).

        What I’m saying is that I don’t think Mark thinks that violence > sex, as many are piling up on him for. I think he meant that he’s more bothered by his kid witnessing graphic, coercive sex (especially directed most often at her own gender) than fantasy knights bashing each other’s heads in. I for one don’t think he’s a hypocrite- or messed up- for it.

        I won’t bother to dig into the psychology of this for you, but as a woman, I do enjoy watching some epic battle scenes a LOT more than scenes of nude women being used up. If you think I’m some horrible weirdo, so be it. BTW I wouldn’t want to see scenes of men being stripped, raped and humiliated either. I’d much rather see them fight and stand their ground (OR scenes where everybody’s having loving, great sex, why not?). THAT’s what I mean by glory and honour.

        1. I was under the impression that the censorship being discussed here isn’t specific to coerced/violent sex or nudity.

          For example, if the scene where (spoiler) whats-her-name-with-blonde-hair* bares herself to the world covered in only ashes and dragon hatchlings is censored but the one where badass-woman-knight* shoves a sword up a rapist’s groin isn’t, then this is clearly more about prudishness than avoiding the glorification of sexual violence.

          *OK, I’m not the best with names.

          1. That’s a great point and I agree with that.

            I just can’t think of many such scenes among all the smutty scenes in GoT, so I assumed that Mark probably was making his decision based on the most general tone (not sex-positive/equal). I could be wrong, of course.

            If he wants to censor that scene… then add me to the crowd screaming MARK YOU SHAMEFUL BASTARD!!!1!!!!

          2. I don’t think Mark is a “shameful bastard” but if he’s more comfortable letting his daughter watch scenes of graphic violence/torture etc. than of non-violent/non-coerced nudity then we probably have different approaches to parenting.

            Personally, I just think that whole show is pretty age-inappropriate. But my kids are still a lot younger than his, so maybe I’ll change my mind in a few years.

      1. Remove all the violence/war/battles for some character’s perceived honour and glory in fantasy and you don’t have many stories left.

        If you’re against any and all violence in stories, that’s fine and a totally different issue. I’m arguing it’s not a huge cognitive dissonance for someone to be okay with some amount of fantasy violence but draw the line at sexual exploitation paired with violence.

        BTW I’m French. There was no shortage of portrayals of casual nudity and sexuality when I grew up. We don’t censor nipples… or much anything. I just don’t think censoring GoT’s sex scenes is nearly as puritanical and unwarranted as censoring, say, a shower scene, Janet Jackson’s tit or a few seconds of happy lovemaking.

  30. For the idea that regular, loving sex is OK, but incest and rape is not because of the sick motivation, no matter how fantastical death by sword or molten gold is, it’s all rooted in very real twisted emotions like vengeance and hatred. Quick example: A dog is slaughtered while on leash for little reason beyond petty revenge for a boy who wounded another for pride and a power trip.

    Honestly, I wasn’t crazy about how gratuitous the nudity got in HBO’s GoT, but I think I’m glad now if it’s the only thing that deters parents from letting their young children watch it. 

  31. My son self-censors.  He’s not comfortable seeing nudity, so he covers his eyes when it comes on.  He tells me he’s going to try to make himself look at it more when he’s 14.  This is the opposite of my experience, but what the hell.

    I think sex and nudity are wonderful things, but I think most of the sex in GoT (and Boardwalk Empire) is the very definition of “gratuitous.”

  32. my parents wouldn’t let me read stephen king novels. did it stop me? no. they also censored me from watching a lot “monster movies” when i was a kid like friday the 13th and nightmare on elm st. did it affect me? well, i really like those movies now as an adult and i like lots of horror movies! did they turn me into a deviant? no. however, as a parent myself, i would never allow my daughter to watch GoT (edited or not) because of the violence and certainly the nudity. reading it however is a different matter and i would be more lenient of her reading them. i’ve read them and seen the show. there is a huge difference. the show is filled to the brim with what i could call “viewership incentives”. honestly, if the show were the books verbatim they’d be boring as shit to watch. back to the issue though, if you’re uncomfortable with it then don’t do it. your house, your rules.

  33. Honestly, however censored, I think Game of Thrones is pretty horrifying, plot wise, to subject a child to. It’s like D&D in that it’s fantasy, for sure, but the storyline is deeply dark and also densely political, and it’s filled with incredibly horrible people, and good people dying in nasty ways. It is not child-friendly, and not just in terms of isolated scenes of content, but in terms of the entire premise.

    I think much preferable is to just make up your own story, and call it Game of Thrones.

  34. Take out Jamie and Cersei going at it and you remove the scene that motivates the entire freaking story. Not to mention all the other important scenes where the story is advanced while there happens to be some sex going on.

    If people think their kids are too young to understand GoT sex scenes (or, more precisely, if it’s too much work to have to explain the scenes to them), stick Harry Potter or something in the DVD player.

    1. Yeah, it seems like that would be a pretty confusing story to follow. At the end of the first episode you’d just be left asking “why the heck did Jamie just push that kid out a window?”

  35. As a parent of similar-aged children, I applaud your willingness to discuss your parenting choices. Likewise, as a parent I prefer that people not tell me how to raise my kids and I therefore try not to tell anyone else how to raise theirs.

    We haven’t watched GoT – my wife/the kids’ mom tried reading a couple of the books and put them down mostly because they were too grim and she didn’t think anyone in the series was worth reading about. But we also have similar issues and often have to make snap judgments about what we expose our kids to.  I tend to listen to NPR news in the car and when I’m driving the kids home and there’s a story on about something like the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal… well, it’s not an easy call to make.

    As one of the commenters said, it’s a lot about what the parent AND the child are ready for.

    1. I would say the parent had better be ready BEFORE the kid is, that is your job. The kids will let you know when they are ready if you keep pestering them from a very early age.

  36. Its odd that people think that their 9 year old has not seen the most depraved stuff imaginable via the internet.  Though their kid may not have specifically been out looking for sex, they do have friends who likely have older siblings… Just think about all the crap your friends send you… now subtract the filter of “I really have to keep this job, so I will only send stuff that I dont think will immediately get me fired”.

    Thats probably what you 9 year old has seen…

    Plus too… there is nothing in game of thrones that you will not see in the news over a one year period.

    browser –> News site –> Crime

  37. As the parent of a ten year old girl I understand it can be uncomfortable to show anything with sexual content to your kid mostly because off the odd things they eagerly pick up and all the time you have to spend explaining things. Not just that but having a kid too knowledgeable about sex can get you worse than just kicked out of the neighborhood playgroup.

    But wow is this some violent content! Medieval violence and cruelty. It’s effect at a minimum is to keep your kid up at night with a case of the hebbi jebbi’s. It’s effect at maximum would be to desensitize your daughter to violence and perhaps turn the empathy circuits off. Honestly I don’t think a 9-year-old would sit through one show but you might want to rethink sharing this one.

  38. I was going to make a comment on the backwards statement in the piece, but it seems like most people here have already slapped Mark around a bit for it. Good on you folks.

  39. It’s almost as if Mark thinks he knows his daughter better than the internet does and he’s better equipped to filter (sorry, I mean CENSOR!) the media she consumes.

    I know — crazy talk.

    1. No one is demanding that his child watch a porno, they just think the sentiment is disgusting (I want my young child to be able to watch lots of gruesome murders, and also be as uncomfortable as possible with sex), and that maybe he should just leave someone else’s art the hell alone.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if Martin wanted the explict scenes in there specifically to keep kids away from the gore.

      1. they just think the sentiment is disgusting (I want my young child to be able to watch lots of gruesome murders, and also be as uncomfortable as possible with sex)

        So, you actually think that’s his position? Really??

        1. Hey, I’m an American too, and I’ve got all the same hangups.  I’d be way more comfortable sitting next to a kid watching someone get their head chopped off than watching people having sex.  Hell, I’d have a way easier time answering their questions.  Anyone raised in this country pretty much has a Master’s degree in violence, and I feel like basically the opposite of an expert when it comes to sex.

          Doesn’t make it right.

    2. I’m equally frustrated with some of these comments. He’s talking about HIS parenting choices, not advocating or arguing that we all should make similar moves in regards to our kids entertainment… If people think that the sort of sex and violence in GOT is something they can discuss and explain to pre-teens, please! But I wonder how many of the people commenting are parents themselves (I will point out that some have noted they are themselves parents, but those seem far less outraged at Mark’s decision, even if they disagree)? 

      I wouldn’t go for getting it in a bowlderized form (and I do think using “censored” in this case is a bit much – it’s not like this is the only version available! The show is certainly not censored, in that sense), but we’ve had similar concerns over Torchwood, which my kid would like to see (as it’s part of the Doctor Who Universe). I know my kid’s reaction to even kissing or implied sex, so I can’t imagine her feeling comfortable with the sexually charged escapades of Captain Jack outside what she’s already seen on Doctor Who (pansexual flirting, essentially) – plus, the violence there is much more than in other Doctor Who universe shows. I’m sure soon enough she’ll be ready for the program and she can watch it then. But we wouldn’t feel comfortable, and frankly, neither would she. But that’s our family and we wouldn’t assume we know the inside of other families to dictate what is and isn’t proper entertainment.

      1. It’s almost as if he shared something on a public website which allows comments, and people had the audacity to share their opinions.

        I see there’s been an edit by Mark, from which I’ll quote:

        ” lean towards your feelings and I think it does have a lot to do with what is easily perceived as fantasy (outlandish violence) and what is easily perceived as not (rape, sexual bargaining, sexual power and abuse, etc.)” The violence I’ve seen on the show doesn’t strike me as fantasy.  It strikes me as something you can do with brute force and an antique weapon.  I’m uncomfortable with both.  I mean…we see these debates played out on BoingBoing about how only a buffoon would consider owning certain types of weapons as a right, that viewing repeated images of objectification and misogyny of course desensitize people to this and only a buffoon would miss that misogyny in media drives misogyny in real life…yet only a fool would believe that violence in media would desensitize anyone to violence in real life.  Considering how many times I got busted in the kneecaps with blunt objects when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon was on the air, or from my own childhood how many times I got whacked with a treebranch “lightsaber”, I humbly disagree.Sure, we adults can watch GoT without deciding to cut someone’s limbs or head off, or play Team Fortress 2 without deciding to set someone on fire, but kids are impressionable.

  40. This is one of the worst things I have ever read on Boing Boing.  Not only is it foolish for all the reasons stated above, it tries to claim the moral high ground for itself.  

    “I have not downloaded it these, even though I’m a paying HBO subscriber. I wish HBO would release a nudity-free version. I’d buy it in a minute.”

    What a lot of nonsense.  Artists seldom bowdlerize their own work this way.  Corporations?  Never.  

    1. I don’t really want to disagree, but artists AND corporations bowdlerize their own work all the time, especially when television legislation is involved. I think the easiest examples to find online would be all the “european satellite”-edits of Buffy the Vampire slayer that were made to fit the British broadcasting rules about what you can’t show before 21:00 o’clock. Essentialy all the gore and nudity were edited out and the preceding images were stretched into slow-mo to fill out the gap. The result  was such a weird, dissasociative effect that eventually Joss Wheadon even parodied it in a few dream sequences in the actual uncensored show.

  41. Americans are terrified to see our own anatomy, unless, of course, it’s the insides, splattered and strung everywhere.

    if a kid can process watching a life being ended, i think they can handle seeing how they’re started, too. Even if it’s indelicate.


  42. “I don’t want her to see the sex and nudity scenes. (I don’t really mind her seeing the violent scenes.)”

    WTF………. Agree with statements above. America what a shame what a shame!!

    1. And after we said all this, along came the brigade pointing out that there’s rape on the show, so of course we’re defending the rape.  Oh, and the violence is “fantasy”.

      Ugh.  Just…ugh.  

  43. The US is fine with witnessing death on screen, but not the creation of life. Not something that happens on the other side of the wall from their bedroom while they sleep. Not something that brings their parents together. That’s literally what the author of this article is saying. 
    I’m glad I’m not the only one who considers creating life, love, families and pleasure a good thing. 
    At age 9, I would not let my (potential) daughter see Game of Thrones – but it has nothing to do with nudity and everything to do with the overall plot/content/death/war/rape/ graphics bloodshed etc. 
    It’s a teen/adult show/story. Keep it that way. I adore this show. In fact, it’s the ONLY show on current TV that I think is worth anything. On top of that, I think it’s spectacular. But it’s not for kids. Give her until she’s 12 and her own body can make kids. That’s when she should be allowed to watch Game of Thrones – the entirety of it. Also keep in mind that some kids naturally mature faster than others. Some 12 year old girls might not be ready. Others might be. The youngest parents were 8 and 9 respectively. Sex is something you should be speaking to your children about very early on. It’s sad how many are left clueless, confused and feeling alone about what is only natural.
    If Mark feels like his 9 year old daughter can handle the horrible events, cruelty, deaths, torture, etc that Game of Thrones has to offer (which is a fantastic show for doing so!), but she can’t see OTHER FEMALES like her show some skin…
    I honestly think she might grow up with the notion that killing people is better than her body which is some horrid thing to cover up. It’s worse than death. =/ I don’t recall many penises on the show, but I do recall a lot of breasts. Makes me wonder if Mark allowed his wife to breastfeed his daughter or if he didn’t want her passing through a vagina at her birth. What happened between those moments and 9 years later that make it alright for a child to be around ‘nude’ anatomy but … later on not? 9 is still an age when they listen to parents. Why wait until they are too old to care what you say? By 13 they will know all about sex, might have had sex… and here you are finally sitting down and explaining to them what a condom is while they roll their eyes inwardly at you because someone else has already made up their minds about what they are going to do… or have already done.

    Recap: She’s female. Even if you take it off the TV, she can just take her clothes off and stare in the mirror. The logic in the ‘censored’ version simply removing unclothed female skin while she HAS female skin = ?

  44. …I think it does have a lot to do with what is easily perceived as fantasy (outlandish violence) and what is easily perceived as not (rape, sexual bargaining, sexual power and abuse, etc.)

    Personally I find a scene depicting babies being murdered both more disturbing and less fantastical than a scene such as “nude redhead gives birth to a smoke demon.”

    1. Odd that you’d choose a scene of birth to represent questionable sexual acts. I know you went with it because you were comparing the realism of baby murder to the fantastical. But I think you missed the target there.

      1. If conceiving and birthing a demon child for the sole purpose of sending it on a one-way trip to murder a family member isn’t a “questionable sexual act” then I’m not sure what is.

  45. You know, I was just thinking.

    At first I thought it had to do with the fact that sex can be imitated by a child, whereas violence can’t…but then I realize that was the stupidest thought I ever had. Of course a child could imitate a violent act just as easily as a sex act. Why wouldn’t they?

    But then I thought…wait…why WOULD they?

    Both sex and violence are things we don’t want children reenacting or processing as things they are capable of doing. At least not at that age.

    BUT: Sex is often portrayed as desired acts; something adults can do, will do and want to do. Violence is usually a negative act.

    Thus, children may see sex as more okay that violence. Perhaps that is why we often say “violence is okay, sex is not” when it comes to children. because violence is a bad thing; but sex isn’t.

    (As for the kind of sex portrayed on GoT, I’m not touching THAT aspect with a fifty foot pole).

  46. Mark, I am disappoint.

    Unless this post is missing a trollface.jpg at the end, I really don’t see the point of letting your children consume material that is simply not age-appropriate, regardless of how much nudity or rape you censor: the entire premise of the series is how low people will go in order to rule, committing the most atrocious violence and the most vicious acts. Would you show them Clockwork Orange?

  47. Aside from all the violence, that show had way too much gratuitous boob in it.
    But then again, that can be said of ALOT of Hbo’s original programming.

  48. You have a lot of years left with your daughter, what’s the rush?  You don’t have to fit all of culture in as quickly as possible…

    My wife and I very frequently have conversations about “When can the kids watch this?”  I mean, being 40-something I have an entire lifetime of awesome things that I know are awesome, most of which are entirely inappropriate for my kids’ maturity level.  That being said, there is plenty of cool stuff that was written/sung/filmed during the course of human history that IS appropriate for where your kids are at emotionally.  Seek those things out instead… When she’s ready, you can both watch the unedited GoT together and be able to have a rational conversation about it instead of the horror of trying to explain the unexplainable to a kid who doesn’t have enough life experience under her belt to process what’s going on…

    1. I never got to see the faces-melting-off climax of Raiders of the Lost Ark until I was in middle school because my parents were afraid it would give me nightmares. Looking back, I can’t say the wait really robbed me of anything.

  49. One point that every one is missing is the response from Peter:

    “But yes, it’s a complicated issue and I appreciate you being honest about it. I lean towards your feelings and I think it does have a lot to do with what is easily perceived as fantasy (outlandish violence) and what is easily perceived as not (rape, sexual bargaining, sexual power and abuse, etc.)”—–

    The problem is that actually the “outlandish violence” which Peter thinks is “easily perceived as fantasy” is, terrifyingly, as real as the rape etc. which is easily experienced as “not fantasy”.   But when it is government sanctioned violence (i.e. the extraordinary renditions, the Gitmo torture, the drone strikes),  our government tries to hide it.  So we don’t realize the tremendous violence being done to others and think that all the violence done in our name is clean and sterile and necessary.  Maybe your child should see the videos of all of the torture perpetrated by US agents or people working on their behalf – I wonder if that would be easily perceived as fantasy? I think we have just as much “outlandish violence” going on right now in the real world as is shown in GOT (just see syria today).  Not to mention the violence perpetrated by police officers in our own cities – shooting dogs, stopping and frisking and assaulting NYC youth, wrong house drug raids, etc.  Perhaps more outlandish – unless you think that the drone strikes are completely normal.  So the the problem is not that we want to shelter children from the real world as they grow up (i.e. what mark feels is impossible, given the sex on the tv) but that we are sheltering ourselves from the real violence committed in our names right now.

    1. You have never seen the show. Funny all the outraged commenters who have obviously no idea what the sex scenes on the show are like.

      1. Reading comprehension fail.  The outrage has to do with (imho) the notion that the violence is OK for a 9-year-old.  People losing limbs, heads, bowels, etc.  Yeah, that’s “fantasy”.  Uh-huh.  Sure.  If that’s fantasy, so is the rape. I mean, hey, they’re both fake, right?

        1. Really?  You really think that there would be this level of commenter outrage in a story that said “I think violence is OK for a 9-year old to watch on TV”?  Your higher reading comprehension skills lead you to interpret all these comments as outraged at the violence?  

        2. “sex is good and violence bad”

          “Reading comprehension fail.”

          On your part, absolutely. Neither in this case are suitable for a child, really. The OP is one of many outraged people posting here who don’t even know that much of the sex depicted is actually very graphic, abusive and otherwise unhealthy. It’s the same binary narrative that’s been repeated throughout this thread: “Heeeey man, sex is natural, violence is worse.. Americans are sooo uptight” all the while not knowing the rapey violent nature of much of what’s taking place.

          Uh-huh.  Sure.  If that’s fantasy, so is the rape. I mean, hey, they’re both fake, right?

          Indeed, and neither are probably suitable for a young child. Mark’s mistake imho is in considering showing the show to a child at all. They can wait. The themes and graphic depictions of abuse, violence and sex, often all wrapped up in one, are way too adult for a 9 year old.

          I thank god that most of the bloviating dum dums in this thread don’t have children. I don’t believe that any one of these posters would be responsible enough to discuss healthy sexual relationships vs. abuse and exploitation if they’re this immature and stubborn about believing that kids need to be exposed to everything.

  50. Instead of searching for a “kid-safe version” of a show that’s purely for adults, just say “it’s not for kids” and then have her watch one of the billions of shows that are made for kids or kids-friendly.  That’s at least 90% of the shows on TV. 

    1. Aren’t you worried that only exposing your children to religious material will limit their horizons?

      1. Well, if they start worshipping the sun, they have the entire breadth of the sky as well as the horizon. And only 7 words that cannot be said. 

  51. I don’t think the anti-sex (for lack of a better descriptor) commenters are really anti-sex. It’s the portrayal of sex that is the issue. The vast majority of sex scenes in GoT can be described as man fucking woman. ie. the man is the one with all the power, the woman is either their because she is forced, or she is there because she is being paid (or they just put the man as the dominator because the audience wants it that way, I don’t know). It’s not the sex that is offensive it is that characterization of the woman’s part in it.
    My 13 year old daughter would love the show but I don’t like her watching programs where men treat women like objects, particularly in a very sexually graphic way. The scenes in which the couple (be it a man and a woman or two of the same sex) are equals in the act I actually would not have a problem with my daughter watching.

    1. I appreciate that the specific kind of sex here might turn many of the commenters off more than just sex itself, but the social dymanics are essentially the same with or without the boobies, so I don’t think that’s a meaningful rationalization for a censored version.

      Maybe it’s okay that some things are not for kids.

  52. It’s like I always say: Only the most disturbed and broken of children will grow up to participate in acts of a sexual nature, but virtually every well adjusted human being will commit multiple gruesome acts of violence over the course of their lives. So it just makes sense that we protect our children from nipples and moaning.

    Or maybe not?

  53. Well said, Peter. This is why I feel the way I do about the violence vs sex and nudity in GoT.

    If someone else has to figure it out what you’re thinking for you, then it’s either a neurosis or a rationalization.

    I would happily cling to this rationalization!  It would easily assuage my own discomforts!  But rationally I don’t think it stands up.

    Someone earlier put it best: if she can read it, then maybe she’s ready to watch it.  I don’t think that’s a trivial point: the distance provided by reading versus watching is very useful in being able to process otherwise overly intense scenarios.  I was about her age when my father gave me the Illiad and the Odyssey, with all the viscera-pulling and rape and plunder — although Homer, the prude, kept most of the sex between the lines.  I suppose, blind, he never knew if there were any kids in the audience.

  54. The solution here seems simple. Wait util your daughter is old enough to read the books, and in the meantime, keep the GoT chatter to a minimum in front of her so she doesn’t feel left out.  There are plenty of kid-friendly fantasy books and shows that she can enjoy! 

  55. This so Americana, violence is ok but sex needs to be censored. When will be the day that violence in all forms will be condemned?

  56. Please – just don’t let your daughter watch the show. If you have to censor anything, you and your wife should censor yourselves and stop talking about GoT in her presence.

    I know you’ve gotten bagged endlessly in the comments so far, and from your edit I know your intrinsic stance isn’t likely to change, so please just listen: you are doing far more to pervert your daughter’s development by handing her censored material than just outright banning what you’re uncomfortable with. She’s likely a very smart girl, and she will realize what was left in for her enjoyment, and what was kept out, and along with that realization she’ll associate your endorsement of one and criticism of the other.

    Just.. don’t. Please. Be the prudish parent changing the channel, embrace it, but don’t do it half assed. The wishy-washy method you’ve described here is just going to send a very confusing, and likely far more damaging, message.

  57. I have to agree with Mark here.  Much of the nudity & sex in the show are gratuitous.  The story could be told without the levels seen in the show.

    My daughters are teens (17 & 14), and they have seen plenty of onscreen nudity in movies without a lot of drama.  But I think they are just of the age to be able to separate the concepts of sex, fantasy, rape, incest, reality and other adult themes.  Much younger than that and it can be confusing and scary because there is no context.  Violence is a easier concept that children deal with much earlier in life than sex.

    Every child is different and can understand/handle things differently.  Parents are the right ones to judge this, not you, internet commenter.  It is not as simple as “If you don’t let your children watch everything, you are a ludicrous purtian.” That idea is not supported in any culture.

    Conflating not wanting pre-teens and tweens to watch the gratuitous nudity and sex with puritanism is simply not called for.  If you don’t want others telling you how to raise your kids, then politely STFU.  But by all means, rage against your keyboards and flame away. 

  58. Hmmm. I wouldn’t really want my kid to watch it if she was still nine like, but then again, we watched Rome together when she was about nine, and that’s fairly explicit in places. Mind you, Rome’s also really, really good, and if you as me, GOT is a bit shit. I gave up after a couple of episodes, it just didn’t hold my attention. Now, if HBO filmed them some Joe Abercrombie, I’d be all over that shit like white on rice…

  59. Show her and give her the remote control…

    You will probably discover that she fast-forwards over the naughty bits because they’re boring.

  60. At nine I would prefer my son would learn about sword fighting in the SCA style, Love in the Courtly manor and Sex as something done by parents in a closed room with the kid on the other side of the door, down the hall, and in bed fast asleep.  At 14- 16- 18- 21 – 33 -45 -87 or  -102 years old he can find out about sex the other way.  At 9 nudity is the lack of clothes on the way to the shower, or just out of bed, or in the locker room at the pool. 

  61. The thing I wonder when reading this general sort of hysteria is which families joke about sex.

    My parents, despite being fairly conservative, weren’t very worried about what went into my eyeballs and not terribly full of taboos, and my churchgoing mother was the first to titter loudly at smutty innuendo. I still got the cringes at seeing sex onscreen with them around, though.

    I remember other families being far more bawdy than my own and finding it quite obviously more comfortable and approachable than my own family’s slightly strained atmosphere.

    Do any parents here make dirty jokes with their kids around? Seems to me that if you can all laugh about something then it’s going to be easier to deal with.

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