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Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld

HBO Defends 'Westworld's' Use of Sexual Violence in the Pilot

HaydnSpurrell HaydnSpurrell HBO is under fire for its latest drama, Westworld, which debuts on October 2, and which in its first episode features a scene that implies a lifelike female android (Evan Rachel Wood) is raped by an older man (Ed Harris).

This follows Game of Thrones in the same vein, which has particularly in recent years come under heat for its use of sexual violence as a narrative element. HBO president Casey Bloys attempted to defend the show by pointing out that the violence is not restricted to its female characters.

"I can tell you the violence, it's not just specific to women. It's indiscriminate. Plenty of men are killed as well." This is a pretty poor way of brushing the dust off of the issue. Showrunner Lisa Joy had a better response.

"When we were tackling a project about a park with a premise where you can do whatever you want, whatever you desire without impunity or consequence, it seemed like the issue had to be addressed," she said.

"Westworld is an examination of human nature, the best parts of human nature — paternal love, romantic love, finding oneself — but also the basest parts of human nature — violence and sexual violence.

"Violence and sexual violence have been a fact of human history since the beginning. There's something about us — thankfully not the majority of us — but there are people who have engaged in violence and who are victims of violence.

"In addressing it, there's a lot of thinking that goes into it. Sexual violence is an issue we take seriously; it's extraordinarily disturbing and horrifying. And in its portrayal, we endeavored for it to not be about the fetishization of those acts.

"It's about exploring the crime, establishing the crime and the torment of the characters within this story and exploring their stories hopefully with dignity and depth. And that's what we endeavored to do."


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