If you are watching “Game of Thrones,” you are watching porn.

The hit HBO series Game of Thrones has won 26 Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Drama Series in 2015, and has 18.6 million people watching each episode, an HBO record.  That’s roughly the same population as America’s third most populated state, New York.  That’s a lot of people.  That’s a lot of cultural influence.

What draws people to Game of Thrones?  Certainly the artistry, the plot, the characters, the intrigue, the battles, the dragons, and, of course, the excessive and gratuitous nude sex scenes (including a graphic, lengthy rape scene that made news earlier this year).

Much like the Fifty Shades of Grey book and movie phenomenon, it brings up the age old question, “When it comes to sex and nudity, where is the line drawn between art and pornography?”

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Porn or Art: Where is the line?

What makes a porno movie a “porno” and what makes Game of Thrones a record-shattering, Emmy-winning icon of popular culture? They both have plots. They both have lots of sex. I suppose the difference is Game of Thrones has more plot to it than it does sex, so it’s considered a drama and not a porno, whereas a porno has more sex than plot. And I suppose one would say the purpose of Game of Thrones is art, while the purpose of a porno is sex. Though that’s a very subjective statement that many in the porn industry would refute, at the end of the day, both purposes are money, but that’s another story.

Would the population of the entire state of New York openly admit to watching pornos, loving pornos, discussing pornos at the water cooler at work and discussing the plots of their pornos on their Facebook feeds? Obviously not.

At the end of the day, what is porn? Do you just know it when you see it? If so, what is it you are seeing when you know it?  For my personal thought life, I’d argue that the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition is porn. For most, if they found that their kids were looking up online videos or photos of naked people having sex (whether acting or actually having it) and/or photos of naked women where they know their kid’s mind is doing the rest, they’d call it porn.

If someone cropped out one of the graphic sex scenes from Game of Thrones and put that single scene online, by itself apart from any of the plot and intrigue, and your teenage son downloaded it, would you call it porn?

Yes, you would. So why is it that when we dress these scenes up with HBO glitz and glamour that all of a sudden they are socially acceptable? Is it because we actually love porn, but don’t want to admit that publicly?  We don’t want to surf the dirty websites, but if we can get our porn via HBO (all on Netflix and/or Amazon Prime now, by the way), it’s like having our cake and eating it too. Porn without the social stigma. Porn that your spouse actually lets you watch. Porn you can rationalize.

How we deceive ourselves

We are really good at deceiving ourselves and typically jump at any opportunity to do so.  What’s so sad and ironic about Game of Thrones is that even though the actresses are much better paid, Emmy-awarded and more famous than the women in “pornos,” they are still just human beings and the emotional effect on them is the same.  Most of them will never admit this, but the truth remains.

What’s so ironic and sad is that every once in a while, one of these A-list actresses does admit the disgust she feels about being in these sex scenes, but our culture’s insatiable addiction to porn and entertainment are always too much to consider changing how sex is portrayed.

Earlier this year, GQ and Esquire Magazine’s 2015 “Sexiest Woman Alive” Emilia Clarke made news when she told the Daily Mail she “can’t stand” the sex scenes she’s in on Game of Thrones.

The Daily Mail article by Sebastian Shakespeare reports, Emilia, who plays the exiled princess Daenerys Targaryen, refused to appear in any more topless shots in the drama two years ago, according to her co-star Oona Chaplin, who disclosed that Emilia had told program bosses she ‘wanted to be known for my acting, not my breasts.’”

There’s obviously a lot of hypocrisy by Ms. Clarke in these quotes.  I don’t use the “h-word” as a personal judgment toward Clarke but to again bring out the point that our entire culture wants the best of both worlds when it comes to sex.  Being naked on screen is what made Clarke famous and is much of the reason why the show is so popular.  It’s very double-minded.

If you want to get to the truth of how things are really perceived, you need to look no further than the wonderful world of website comments.  One such comment in the Emilia Clarke article said, We don’t watch you for your acting, love.” This is what’s really happening when these Hollywood actresses think they are being artistic on-screen with their bodies.

What they are really doing is creating a sexual bond with millions of men, just like Genesis 2:24 and 1 Corinthians 6:16 tell us takes place during sex: The two will become one flesh.”  In Matthew 5:28, Jesus tells us that to think about having sex with someone who isn’t your spouse is the same on the heart-level as actually doing it, so we shouldn’t be surprised by such responses.

Like a one-night stand, you have millions of men only interested in Clarke for her body.  The announcement by Clarke that she will no longer be exposing hers is the same as the one-night stand being over. You can dress these episodes up with as much “art” as you want, but they are always going to just be a naked body to most of the men watching them.

Porn or Human Dignity

And if you think you can somehow filter out the porn and only take in the art, you are deceived and double-minded as well.  Porn does what porn does: as soon as it enters the scene, it removes all dignity and humanity.  All that is left is body parts and the consuming of other humans.  You can’t keep someone’s dignity once you have already devoured it. 

You don’t get porn and human dignity; you get porn or human dignity.

Choose wisely.