“We use a lot of prosthetic body parts on the show: heads, arms, etc. We can’t afford to have these all made from scratch, especially in scenes where we need a lot of them, so we rent them in bulk. After the scene was already shot, someone pointed out that one of the heads looked like George W. Bush. In the DVD commentary, we mentioned this, though we should not have. We meant no disrespect to the former President and apologize if anything we said or did suggested otherwise.”
—– David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the producers of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” explaining how a replica of former President George W. Bush’s head came to be placed on a pike in one episode. HBO had previously apologized for the display as “in very bad taste.”
I detest public lies that the liars know nobody in their right mind will believe, as they are insulting, dishonest (obviously) and degrade the culture by sending the message that lying is just a game., and being a liar is nothing to be ashamed of. I also detest fake forced apologies, in which individuals have been ordered by some authority to issue mea culpas or else, and the result is apologies so insincere that they border on parody.
This statement by the producers of “Game of Thrones,” then, is especially objectionable, because it meets both criteria.
Criticism, satire and humor regarding any U.S. President, living or dead, is fair, ethical and within the realm of the freedom of expression that makes America great. Incivility, disrespect, denigration, hate and incitements to violence directed against any President, living or dead, is wrong. However any of these men performed in office, whether their policies were popular or not and whatever the consequences, good or bad, of their decisions were, every one of them was a patriot and a public servant who made significant sacrifices to attempt to meet the challenges of the most difficult job in the nation, and to do what he thought was in the best interests of the nation. Eight of the 44—that’s 18%—were shot at. Five of the 44—-11%—were shot, and four of them died. The acceptance of the responsibility of the President is itself an act of courage. Evoking the intentional killing of a U.S. President in any context is irresponsible, and to mock a former and living President in the manner of barbarians and terrorists of other lands, to treat him as the terrorists treated Nick Berg, is as offensive an act of disrespect as I can imagine.
It is obvious what happened here. A bunch of Hollywood snots decided that it would be funny, as well as pleasing to all “right thinking” viewers, to express contempt for President Bush in this way, and everyone on the set had a good laugh about it, because they have no respect for public servants who don’t cater to their biases, because they are hateful hypocrites (they would regard an Obama head as racist and unthinkable, of course), and because they are arrested adolescents. Then, once the indignation expressed to HBO became a threat to the bottom line, the cable honchos issued a demand for an apology.
Benioff and Weiss, if they had any integrity, would have admitted that the insult was intentional, apologized, and agreed that it was in poor taste and disrespectful. They didn’t have the courage or the decency to do that, however, so they compounded the insult with a classic “wink, wink” insincere, Class 10 apology employing a blatantly ridiculous explanation, just in case any of their pals and fellow George Bush-haters missed the point: “Oops! We got caught!”
Fortunately I don’t watch “Game of Thrones,” so I don’t have to stop.
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