In keeping with the surreal life I lead, my husband ran across this column in his morning “catch up with the rest of the world” minute. Oooohhhh! A crossover moment between my Catholic world and my interest in politics. Yeah, I know it wasn’t a political piece, but it kind of makes me giddy to see my pseudonym in a mainstream political publication. So sue me. That said, it was a rehash of what I already argued against, so it was a tad bit disappointing. It’s like people see the topic and never bother to read. And, since he didn’t bother to throw me a link, I have no idea which one of my articles he was addressing (If It Quacks Like a Duck, It’s Porn! Or Game of Rationalizations), but if had to guess, I would say it was the first one. Judging by his excuses, he obviously missed the latter.
(note the link to the article)
August 6, 2017, 12:19 am
Why so much Catholic objection to such a popular show?”
Why thanks for asking! Hmmm… I’d first have to go with it’s the fact that it’s the attempt to mainstream porn. For me, I’d totally expect this from the secular world, but Catholics? Really?!? That’s where it gets annoying for me.
We’re three weeks into Season Seven of Game of Thrones, and a significant portion of the Catholic blogosphere has made its opinion known: it doesn’t like the show. I mean, these bloggers really don’t like the show. If anyone has used the word “hate,” I’ve missed it. But some of the bloggers I’ve read are undeniably playing footsie with the concept.
Well, to make things clearer for you, I have great contempt for sin (even though I fall for it quite often) and I really hate the fact that I’m reasonably sure this show makes Satan giddy (if Satan could be so). I’m also reasonably sure that it makes Satan downright gleeful that some Catholics have become apologists for it. And before anyone throws out this lame accusation, no, I’m not judging anyone or their immortal soul. I’m judging Game of Thrones and the act of watching it.
The One Mad Mom blogger, in an “I’m-mad’as-hell” piece, insists the show is porn. Plain and simple. And she adds, “I’ve really just become sick of the kitschy Catholics trying to rationalize this one away.” Honestly, I don’t know what a “kitschy Catholic” is, particularly in relation to GoT, but it’s her blog, she gets to say whatever she likes.
Yes, yes, I do. Little does he know, many of my posts are like that. As far as “kitschy Catholics” go, hmmm… let’s see. What’s a great way to illustrate this? They’re kind of like the characters found in John Hughes movies who are on the edge of the popular group in high school, trying desperately to be social relevant, and who are failing quite miserably and look ridiculous. That said, I’m now finding these types in my adult world.
Early on in the show’s run, all the way back in 2013, the author of the Australian blog, Being Catholic, objected to GoT because “its depictions of sexuality and human intimacy do not conform to the truth of human sexuality as an exclusive gift by which spouses make a mutual self-donative gift of love in harmony with the self-giving essence of the Trinity.” A trifle theological, and we can discuss whether one makes one’s viewing choices based on a program’s theological content, but again, his blog, his choice.
Whoa, buddy! Let’s not gloss over this one. In my previous two posts on this (I actually thought I was done on this subject, but it just keeps popping up like a bad penny or Fr. James Martin, SJ – take your pick), I totally and utterly failed to cite the Catechism on this. Why? I didn’t remember so pointed a citation on the topic, but in reading a reader’s comments, there it was. Duh! Thanks, reader. Right there in black and white under “Offenses against chastity”, it says (please note it’s the definition put forth by the Catholic Church, not me):
2354 Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials. (emphasis mine)
Now, I’m sure some are screaming “Lewis! Tolkien!” right about now. Please notice the word immerse. We are a LOTR-loving family. Narnia was a place we visited often in our imagination, but neither of these two authors, nor the other classic authors he’s going to cite further down, used explicit sexual imagery, which has a whole other effect on the brain. Science! It’s a beautiful thing.
But wait! It gets better. This passage gives a nice little cross-reference to paragraph 2523. That said, I don’t think that was complete enough context so might I point you to this?
- THE BATTLE FOR PURITY
2520 Baptism confers on its recipient the grace of purification from all sins. But the baptized must continue to struggle against concupiscence of the flesh and disordered desires. With God’s grace he will prevail
– by the virtue and gift of chastity, for chastity lets us love with upright and undivided heart;
– by purity of intention which consists in seeking the true end of man: with simplicity of vision, the baptized person seeks to find and to fulfill God’s will in everything;313
– by purity of vision, external and internal; by discipline of feelings and imagination; by refusing all complicity in impure thoughts that incline us to turn aside from the path of God’s commandments: “Appearance arouses yearning in fools”;314
– by prayer:
I thought that continence arose from one’s own powers, which I did not recognize in myself. I was foolish enough not to know . . . that no one can be continent unless you grant it. For you would surely have granted it if my inner groaning had reached your ears and I with firm faith had cast my cares on you.315
2521 Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity.
2522 Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the definitive giving and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled. Modesty is decency. It inspires one’s choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet.”
2523 There is a modesty of the feelings as well as of the body. It protests, for example, against the voyeuristic explorations of the human body in certain advertisements, or against the solicitations of certain media that go too far in the exhibition of intimate things. Modesty inspires a way of life which makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies.
How many of you people used the phrase “over the top” or “explicit” and then went on to say it was still a great story with moral values? Too many! More often than not, some of you preferred to act like these were “no big deal, people simply wrapped up in a sheet, hardly noticed them” sex scenes. Uh, uh. Nice try. For those who are wondering what it’s all about, or maybe you’re a priest who’s been asked by your penitent if they can watch Game of Thrones, these are graphic depictions of rape, sex in public, incest, and sodomy. This ain’t your 1970s rated “R” movie. Like he said, short and simple, it’s porn.
On to the rest:
2524 The forms taken by modesty vary from one culture to another. Everywhere, however, modesty exists as an intuition of the spiritual dignity proper to man. It is born with the awakening consciousness of being a subject. Teaching modesty to children and adolescents means awakening in them respect for the human person.”
This one reminds me of some reader who rationalized that, “Times have changed! There was a period where even ankles weren’t to be seen!”, as if this has anything to do with GoT. Anyways, some are going to cling to this citation and make the same argument. Good luck with that.
2525 Christian purity requires a purification of the social climate. It requires of the communications media that their presentations show concern for respect and restraint. Purity of heart brings freedom from widespread eroticism and avoids entertainment inclined to voyeurism and illusion.
2526 So called moral permissiveness rests on an erroneous conception of human freedom; the necessary precondition for the development of true freedom is to let oneself be educated in the moral law. Those in charge of education can reasonably be expected to give young people instruction respectful of the truth, the qualities of the heart, and the moral and spiritual dignity of man.”
And this, my friend, is why there’s so much objection to Game of Thrones. We ALL should object to it. Make no mistake, the moral permissiveness of Catholics has been one of the biggest downfalls of our culture.
“2527 “The Good News of Christ continually renews the life and culture of fallen man; it combats and removes the error and evil which flow from the ever-present attraction of sin. It never ceases to purify and elevate the morality of peoples. It takes the spiritual qualities and endowments of every age and nation, and with supernatural riches it causes them to blossom, as it were, from within; it fortifies, completes, and restores them in Christ.”316
Exactly! Are we trying to renew the life and culture of fallen man or are we just getting down in the gutter with them? Are we trying to make morality blossom? I mean, I’m just wondering how someone, say, prays their Rosary with the family and then toddles off to watch Game of Thrones? I mean, there’s a huge dichotomy between the two activities and it’s weird. Compartmentalizing Catholicism might be the problem and is likely a topic for another post. “I’m Catholic over here but I just like a good, sexy story over here.” Where’s the blossoming, fortifying and restoring? I think we’re supposed to be looking for a “purification of the social climate” not embracing the crud on HBO
Again, as the Pascal quote given in Game of Rationalizations goes:
Pascal wrote of Montaigne: “His book not intended to lead men to piety, was not obliged to do so; but one is always obliged not to turn men away from the good.”
That’s what’s happening here. If you think you can watch these uber explicit sex simulations (all there but the reality) and not have it seep into your life, your marriage, your relationships, you’d be crazy. Isn’t that kind of what you’d tell the peeps that frequent porn hub? Why is the scenario different for you? “Because it’s only 5 minutes of the show and not in all of the episodes.” Please. Wake up.
And then there’s the kids. My gosh! What’s going to be left for them to watch when you don’t balk at seemingly anything anymore.
Meanwhile, this past week, a nun who writes a media blog with the memorable name of Hell Burns, expands the definition of porn to include graphic violence. She deplores “the egregious, graphic desecration of the human body — the sacred image of God — in visual storytelling today.” GoT has some nasty graphic violence — there’s no denying that. But in terms of the acts of violence depicted in the series, I think egregious is the wrong word.
OK, I’m not a GoT watcher. Thankfully, when I sent out a query, I got about 50 “Don’t watch it!” responses. Thanks, Facebook! I’m not exactly sure what Sr. Burns meant. I don’t have the same problem with explicit violence as explicit sex, because, again, it doesn’t have the same effect on the brain. Lord of the Rings, Braveheart, a thousand war movies, they don’t bother me. But I’ve got to wonder how a graphic rape scene isn’t egregious? I can’t help but think the some might have a problem with that being shown for entertainment – especially the ones who have lived it. Bravo, HBO! Bravo!
“Screaming “Porn!” is exactly like screaming “Racist!” It slams the breaks on any discussion. And it is unanswerable, aside from the “Is not!” “Is, too!” debate typical of a second-grade schoolyard. It’s a rhetorical cheap shot.
Really? Exactly??? I think we have a different definition. Sometimes racists are racists, my friend. And porn is porn. “Screaming” is a bit of a hyperbole. It’s a simple statement of fact (definition straight out of the Catechism) and what’s the latest saying on that? Facts don’t care about your feelings. (I have been so waiting to use that one!) “You’re mean!” is the rhetorical shot and, quite frankly, a liberal tactic I wouldn’t expect to see out of this publication. Can we cease with playing the martyr card? It’s a TV show for goodness’ sake.
That said, let me ’fess up: I like Game of Thrones. I mean, I really like Game of Thrones.
Wait, how could I have possibly figured this out? Sigh.
It is ridiculously well-written (I have never attempted to write dialogue, and now, after watching six and a half seasons of GoT, I’ll never try). The acting is stellar. Love the twists and turns of the plot. Okay, the scenes of Arya in the temple of the Many-faced God were dull, surpassed only by her brother Bran’s transformation into the Three-Eyed Raven — when those scenes pop up, I head to the kitchen to make a sandwich; I do not hit the Pause button on the remote. Character development is strong, although we could talk about this season’s inexplicable makeover of Sansa from pathetic perpetual victim to decisive, politically savvy virago. How did that happen?
And this is pretty much how I know that he didn’t read blog post #2 on GoT. Porn is still porn no matter how artistically it’s done, how short the porn scenes are, how good the story line is, etc., etc., etc., and etc. If it “consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. It is pornography. And besides the fact that “civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials,” Catholics shouldn’t be watching it while waiting for them to do so! This is the point!
GoT is said to be the most popular program worldwide. HBO broadcasts it in 173 countries. Yet, in spite of such easy accessibility, for the past five years GoT has stood at the top of the charts as the most pirated show ever.
Which led GQ to ask, “Is Game of Thrones More Popular Than Porn?” The answer is, “Yes!” According to GQ, Pornhub, which I am led to believe is a popular adult entertainment site, saw it’s viewership drop by 4.5 percent during the premiere a few weeks back of Episode 1 of Season Seven. It was worse last year when the finale of Season Six aired — Pornhub’s traffic plummeted by 5.2 percent. I expect for some of our blogging friends that statistic is an “Ah ha! I told you so!” moment. I have no stats to back this up, but my hunch is people who watch porn probably watch other things as well. Maybe I’m being Jesuitical, but if GoT lures them away from Pornhub for an hour, isn’t that a step in the right direction?
Let’s see, they leave 60 minutes of porn for 5 minutes of it and a story line. Great step. I would have gone with spending time with friends or walking the dog as a good first step. That’s just me. Sigh. LOVE the term Jesuitical though!
Actually, it was just more confirmation of what we already knew to be true. People like watching porn. If it’s got a good story line to go with it, all the better. Seriously, if I was a porn fiend, I’d be a lot happier to see it mainstreamed. I wouldn’t feel like a creeper if my friends watched it too. Wish apparently granted for some.
Is there nudity in GoT? Yes, but not much. Is there violence? Oh, hell yeah. Is there sex? Yup — ranging from praiseworthy down to cringeworthy. So, truly, I do understand why some Catholic bloggers are offended by GoT. But I think it is a mistake to view the series through a Catholic lens.
My husband read me this comment as I was driving one of my kids around. I thought I misunderstood. Uh, we’re Catholic. Shouldn’t we be viewing EVERYTHING through a Catholic lens? Or are we just supposed to put aside the Catholic lens when it comes to pornography? Look again at my Pascal quote. Art need not be God oriented, but should it cause us to sin? I think this is the part where people who haven’t read much of the commentary on GoT are going to start bringing up DaVinci, Michaelangelo, classic authors, etc.
The society in GoT is not Catholic. It is a pagan world — granted, it’s an imaginary pagan world, but it is most decidedly a pagan one. Nonetheless, the script does not hold up the most cruel, the most depraved characters as the ones to admire. Even in pagan Westeros — as there were in pagan Greece and Rome — there are some characters who are noble, or complicated, or at the very least works-in-progress.
Oh, yeah, that’s what all of our complaints are about. GoT is not a Catholic world and the characters have issues. Really, look at all the ink I’ve spilled on the flawed heroes. Oh, wait, I haven’t. Nice try at the smoke and mirrors, though. Are we to make the assume that you are making the argument that it’s OK to watch porn as long as it’s in a mythic, non-Catholic, pagan world? Because that’s what the GoT dissenters have been talking about- porn. Not sure what conversation you’ve been having.
Speaking of ancient Greece, Greek mythology is as gruesome as any episode of GoT. Slaughter on an epic scale. Fathers devouring their children. Children mudering their parents. Incestuous gods. Adulterous royals. Randy centaurs. You name it.
Annnnndddddd???? Here it comes, right?! The argument made by GoT apologists, an argument shredded already by many a blogger is coming your way.
This observation is unlikely to win me friends in certain circles, but nudity and graphic violence have been known to appear in religious art. Covering the entire wall above the high altar of the Sistine Chapel is Michelangelo’s huge fresco of the Last Judgment. All the figures in the painting are nude with one exception — the Blessed Virgin Mary is fully clothed. Then there’s St. Sebastian, always depicted as nearly naked and shot through with arrows. And paintings of the mutilation of St. Agatha or of St. Bartholomew being flayed alive I find disturbing. Finally, for inventive sadism, it’s hard to surpass medieval depictions of tormented souls in Hell.
Bam! There it is. The lamest argument ever which has been used by GoT apologist after GoT apologist. None of us are shredding our clothes over Michelangelo’s David. It would be soooooo nice if people stopped trying to paint Catholics who think that GoT contains pornography as some prudish Pollyannas who can’t even stand the thought of a naked body. Geez. Get over it.
The Song of Bernadette and The Bells of St. Mary’s and The Keys of the Kingdom are uplifting, well-written well-acted, and well-produced. I love watching them, but not all the time.
And? Who does? Again, we love TV and we love going to the movies (although good ones are getting harder and harder to find). We do not live in a bunker or blush when we see an elbow. This line of argument is getting kind of, how should I say, cultish.
My problem with the critiques of GoT from some of my fellow Catholics comes down to this: once we start measuring a book, a painting, a screenplay by the standards of a specific moral theology — any faith’s moral theology — we’re not sliding down a slippery slope, we’ve walked off the edge of a cliff.
Uh, not so much. I’m not going to answer for any other standard than the Catholic Faith, which is Truth. Not measuring things by that is diving head long off the cliff. Does everything we read have to agree with the Catholic faith? Of course not. Know thy enemy and all. That said, it should be measured by the Church’s standards and when something so obviously fulfills the definition of pornography given in the Catechism, one might just want to skip it.
Kiss an awful lot of Shakespeare good-bye. Expunge “The Miller’s Tale” from the complete works of Chaucer. Toss Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina into the dumpster. And brace yourself, because Psycho and Jaws are in serious trouble. Which is why in his preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde — Catholicism’s most famous last-minute, deathbed, better-late-than-never convert — said, “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all.” I think Wilde’s principle applies whether we’re talking about books or an HBO series.
You are having trouble with the definition of pornography set forth in the Catechism. How about giving it just one last read? Does that apply to Shakespeare, Chaucer, Madam Bovary, Anna Karenina, Jaws, Psycho, or the Picture of Dorian Gray? I must have missed it. We grow weary from the apples and oranges comparisons. No more fruit salad, please. Let me help. Game of Thrones isn’t The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Oh, well, it’s his article, his choice.