We Need To Talk About Game Of Thrones' Penis Moment

Trolled by genitalia

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Ever since a young Daenerys Targaryen stepped naked out of scolding hot bath in season one episode one, people have been fretting about Game Of Thrones and its relationship with nudity.

In fact the first thing you probably ever heard about the show - the likely reason you took the plunge in the first place - was that is was a veritable jamboree of flesh, basically a dragon sex orgy which, of course, is in principle no bad thing. The problem is that it was only ever the women who had to take part.

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While the male characters in the show could be as fat, wizened or ugly as the Gods allowed, the significant - and let's face it, most of the minor - female characters were all beautiful and most, at some point or another, naked.

So far so the last 30 years of popular entertainment. But as the show steadily grew from cultural curiosity to the biggest show in the history of the known universe, the clamour for eye-candy equality got louder, the disparity more galling and irresponsible.

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Yet still, one shot of Daario Naharis's bum and a couple of writhing scenes with Sir Loras and his latest conquest aside, male nudity remained fleeting and in stubbornly short supply. And while the female characters have gradually grown stronger and more complex as Game Of Thrones has evolved, the tit count stayed high and it became clear this wasn't enough to settle what was essentially a mathematical issue.

What the show needed was the only thing that could balance out the dozens of gratuitously bared breasts and bums. The only thing that could let us forget about the niggling, 'mild misogyny' thing and get on with enjoying the show. The only thing that could put things right.

Game Of Thrones needed a penis. 

A proper, full, lingering shot of a penis. Not one not half covered or barely glimpsed or attached to a simple giant. A penis as bare as the lady bits we see in almost every episode.

Last night, six seasons in, we got one. Arya, running a reccy on her latest assassination target, went backstage at a theatre in a scene that opened on a close up of a not particularly impressive male member attached to a character who promptly complained about being beset by genital warts (were the warts visible? I can't say because I flinched at the word like poor old Oberyn's head had just been popped again).

The message seemed fairly clear: oh, you want a PENIS do you? Well take THIS. Suffice to say, most people anticipating GoT's first dong would have expected it to come attached to one of the many muscle-clad warriors in - I don't know - a sex scene. Not a man-child who is meant to look a bit like Prince Joffrey inspecting himself for an STI while Richard E Grant takes off some makeup.

We were, in other words, trolled. The fact the camera then panned out to show another character – female, beautiful – standing topless only undermined the message. Female nudity: good, male nudity: bad.

On the one hand this is quite a funny move from David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. And who knows, maybe they will be some sexier male nudity later in the season when Daario or Jon or one of the other hunks finally goes full frontal and gives viewers the penis they deserve. It would seem only fair.

But one thing it does show is a slightly worrying trend that has been there throughout this otherwise excellent season, of Game Of Thrones becoming gradually more self-referential.

I'm thinking of the two mentions of Jon being grumpy, first by the former Lord Commander himself when reminiscing with Sansa then again last night when Brienne made the same observation (again to Sansa). Jon being sulky git has been a joke / criticism of the character since season one (see the excellent comedy sketch 'Jon Snow comes to a dinner party') but hasn't, until now, been remarked upon in the script.

Equally it is hard to read the penis moment as anything other than a response to endless external chatter about the show, a meta-moment that has the unpleasant effect of momentarily shattering the fourth wall. The more the show tries to cleverly reference what the world at large is saying about it, the less powerful it is as escapism.

It's what did it for the Simpsons, another TV show that became such a ubiquitous and widely discussed cultural reference point it imploded under the pressure and became an ironic, self-aware mess.

It's far too early to accuse Game Of Thrones of the same mistake, but with such a well-loved show it's worth spotting these things and nipping them in the bud early. It's been too good a ride to see things ruined by dick jokes.