Getting lost in fictional worlds created by George R.R. Martin, as we are wont to do around here, can often lead to sobering reminders that it is all just make-believe, and there are more pressing issues worth considering. Indeed, such epiphanies seem to arrive whenever somebody chats with former Game of Thrones cast member Jack Gleeson, who is never one to be distracted by the genre’s magical trappings.
The young performer may always be best known in pop culture for playing the unbelievably vile—and just as shockingly entertaining—King Joffrey Baratheon. In fact, he’s already announced his potential retirement from acting as he pursues a more high-minded learning in his studies of philosophy, theology, and anthropology at Trinity College. So of course when asked about the recent and not unjustified criticism about Game of Thrones’ often brutal depiction of sexual violence against women, he offers a thoughtful reaction.
“It’s a tricky thing when you are representing misogyny in that way because I wouldn’t say the show ever implicitly condones misogyny or any kind of violence towards women,” Gleeson told The Daily Beast. “But, perhaps, it’s still unfair or unjust to represent it even if the gloss on the representation is a negative one.”
Raising the honest question of whether even horrific depictions of sexual violence still might have a subtext of exploitation, Gleeson also continued his answer with the admission that he can never fully know the gravity of the subject of which he speaks.
“Obviously as a 23-year-old man, I can never put myself into the mindset of a woman who has been sexually assaulted… there’s a chance [such a scene] engages some kind of empathy but it is a gray area. It might be very traumatic and stressful to watch those scenes.”
But intriguingly, Gleeson has not actually watched the scenes in question. In fact, he hasn’t watched Game of Thrones other than a few stray clips since leaving the series.
“You know the willing suspension of disbelief, it’s kind of hard to suspend, because you kind of know that the sets aren’t really real, and you kind of know that the actors aren’t really the characters,” Gleeson explained.
However, Gleeson is certainly up for the possibility of more male nudity on the series to even out the level of female objectification.
“I have heard that there is male nudity—so I think that is one good thing, to not just objectify women but also objectify the beauty of the male genitalia! We’re all objects together.”
You can read the rest of the insightful interview here.