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Massive "Game of Thones" Spoilers A-Head
June 14, 2012 6:30 AM   Subscribe

Game of Thrones creators issue semi-apology for depicting George W. Bush's head on a spike SPOILERS AHEAD Do not watch the embedded video on the linked page if you haven't seen Season 1. Needless to say, HBO are not amused. They have issued a rather strongly worded rebuke/apology.

If HBO canceled "Luck" because three horses died during production, how will this affect the future of "Game of Thrones", if this becomes a major news story this election season? Also, since the clip basically spoils Season One, have the producers alienated a major portion of their potential audience?
posted by Optamystic (146 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't know if I'd call it "alienated," really.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:33 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sorry, forgot to link to HBO's statement. Here it is.
posted by Optamystic at 6:34 AM on June 14, 2012


In other news, Dick Cheney's shotgun has been reforged into two smaller guns called "Chestblaster" and "Norquist's Pledge Keeper."
posted by R. Schlock at 6:34 AM on June 14, 2012 [48 favorites]


(And by the way, depicting a former, reviled president badly is not even close to killing three horses. Killing a hundred thousand Iraqis may be closer.)
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:34 AM on June 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


November is coming.
posted by R. Schlock at 6:35 AM on June 14, 2012 [52 favorites]


That's not depicting GWB's head on a spike. That's depicting a head on a spike using a head based on GWB's but not in any way you could recognize it, then mentioning that you did so. Nobody watching the show could possibly notice a resemblence. The whole story smacks of being manufactured for publicity.
posted by DU at 6:35 AM on June 14, 2012 [53 favorites]


If this ends up getting the show cancelled, then I will put these people down and poop in their beds.

Okay, maybe not, BUT THEY'LL DESERVE IT.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:35 AM on June 14, 2012


I thought the Republicans were distancing themselves from Dubya, anyway.
posted by stifford at 6:35 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Finally, proof that Bush was a Stark and his opponents were Lannisters.
posted by BobbyVan at 6:36 AM on June 14, 2012


I was thinking this was going to be the director or someone putting an easter egg into the shot, but as it is, it's much ado about nothing. It sounds worse than it is. The head is turned away from the camera and is not recognizable as GWB. If they hadn't said anything, no one would have noticed.
posted by cotterpin at 6:36 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is going to be a non-issue in a few weeks. People will get up in arms, and then something else will happen that will rally the troops to another cause.

I think the showrunners were right, though. They should have just never said anything about it. I understand the need to use whatever was laying around, especially for random body parts here and there. If they'd just shut up about it in the commentary, they'd have been fine.
posted by SNWidget at 6:36 AM on June 14, 2012


This may be the first time I've really wanted to hear a provocateurish "we're really sorry you got offended" apology.
"Americans of all political persuasions should stand up and demand that things like this should not continue. They should boycott watching this particular show ... It doesn't matter what their intent is. They didn't intend it to be political, but now that it is, they should remove it."
Oh my god go fuck yourself Brooklyn Republican party chairman Craig Eaton. Meanwhile, does no one remember the episode of the Simpsons when Reagan's head was on a spike in the wax museum?
posted by griphus at 6:36 AM on June 14, 2012 [18 favorites]


Hunt! This is what I get for posting via speech-to-text.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:36 AM on June 14, 2012


If that is George Bush's head, look at that hair! He must have been hiding in a spider hole since Obama got elected!
posted by Catblack at 6:42 AM on June 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


The whole story smacks of being manufactured for publicity.

Maybe, but not by HBO. The producers identified the head in the commentary track, and io9 broke the "news" yesterday. It's clear in the commentary that they were just using whatever heads they had lying around, and they specifically said: "It's not a choice, it's not a political statement. We just had to use whatever head we had around."

HBO basically had to respond when someone else made a stink about it, but I don't think it's going to have any long-term ramifications beyond instructions not to do anything that silly again. They were responding to someone else's story, not breaking it themselves.

If they hadn't said anything, no one would have noticed.

Exactly.

My question: what the devil was a replica of GWB's head doing on an HBO set in the first place? I mean, is that just one of the ones you get in the standard, el-cheapo "Bag o' Silicone Heads" these days?"
posted by valkyryn at 6:45 AM on June 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


I look forward to Shatner suing John Carpenter for using a Kirk mask in Halloween
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:45 AM on June 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


Anybody who takes this further than "this was a little bit of laziness by the props department" is a fucking idiot.

Of course, Americans have a proven history of electing fucking idiots, so who's to say how it all turns out?
posted by pompomtom at 6:47 AM on June 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't think anyone believes that the head was just lying around.
posted by Optamystic at 6:47 AM on June 14, 2012


Maybe, but not by HBO.

Then why not instead of a big explanation/apology just say "lol that's not Bush's head, dude was joking"? There's absolutely no way to prove that's GWB in that picture.
posted by DU at 6:50 AM on June 14, 2012


If anyone gets 'alienated' because they're spoiled for a season of TV that's been out for a year, based on a book that's been out much longer, then they have bigger problems to worry about. Some people need to get over themselves.
posted by The Thnikkaman at 6:51 AM on June 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


I just went downstairs and checked this week's sack of heads. Almost a third of them are Bushes. This checks out.
posted by bicyclefish at 6:52 AM on June 14, 2012 [51 favorites]


Anybody who takes this further than "this was a little bit of laziness by the props department" is a fucking idiot.

Ahem.

"We just had to use whatever head we had around," they say, as TV and movie sets are often plagued by mounds of discarded George W. Bush heads.

Really? "TV and movie sets are often plagued by mounds of discarded George W. Bush heads"? This as as idiotic a statement as I have ever read and I am only disappointed that I did not write it myself.
posted by three blind mice at 6:54 AM on June 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, yeah. You should have seen the first cut of Trouble With Tribbles.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:56 AM on June 14, 2012 [11 favorites]


Really? "TV and movie sets are often plagued by mounds of discarded George W. Bush heads"? This as as idiotic a statement as I have ever read and I am only disappointed that I did not write it myself.

Did you read the rest of the paragraph? That wasn't part of the actual quote, it was humor on the part of the AV Club writer:

"We just had to use whatever head we had around," they say, as TV and movie sets are often plagued by mounds of discarded George W. Bush heads. Indeed, it's typically the job of some poor production assistant to clear them away each morning lest they prevent the talent from exiting their trailers, sometimes by piling them into the shape of distant mountains in the background, say, or in the case of New Year's Eve, Robert De Niro.
posted by Roommate at 7:00 AM on June 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


what the devil was a replica of GWB's head doing on an HBO set in the first place?

My bet:

1. Rented in bulk, GWB is just one of many famous faces in the pile.
2. Some jokester put the GWB head on a spike.
3. Director saw this, knew it was a problem, and turned the head so as to be unrecognizable.
4. In the DVD commentary, they commented on it, because they had to fill the time and it's a little funny.
5. Controversy.

Group agents (like a film crew or production company) don't have to have coherent motivations, so in a sense this was both innocent and a joke.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:01 AM on June 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


What bugs me is that the people that are going to howl about this the loudest are also the first ones to whine about political correctness ruining everything.
posted by MegoSteve at 7:02 AM on June 14, 2012 [35 favorites]


This just gave me an idea. There's increasing agitation of people wanting HBO and similar to provide their content to customers who'd like to pay, but don't want to do so by the standard bundlefuckery that is cable television. Understandably, people would like to pay a la carte and get the content they want through their internet, because data's data. And cue arguments about whether the numbers support that, and how t hey could support that, etc.

And then I thought: kickstarter donation levels. How many people would like to donate a higher subscription cost, and be guaranteed a model of their very own head would be used in heads-on-pikes scenes in their favorite show? I'd be tempted! "Guys, check out episode 4! That camera pan over the wall of heads ten minutes in, that's my head in the fifth row, third from the left!"
posted by Drastic at 7:06 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Somewhere out there, there's a props department employee with a cell phone. And on that cell phone, there is a photograph of 6 people standing around this thing, all giving a big thumbs up.

Ladies and gentlemen, I salute you. I am sorry that someone carelessly spilled the beans.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:07 AM on June 14, 2012 [20 favorites]


I'd like to see that Bush head's birth certificate.
posted by Skygazer at 7:07 AM on June 14, 2012


On reflection, I find that I would be very very angry if this had been a Obama head.

In part, this is because violence depicted against GWB doesn't threaten ordinary white men, but violence depicted against Obama *does* threaten ordinary black men. I *don't* think Obama is under greater threat than Bush was, though; it's just different assholes are after him. But the history of lynchings and iconic photographs and lyric poetry of same puts a different spin on it.

So I can already see that this controversy is going to blow up bigger than a one day story.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:08 AM on June 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


That is obviously Will Ferrell pretending to be George Bush.

We are sorry this happened and will have it removed from any future DVD production.

This means my copy is more valuable. Yay!
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 7:08 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


The whole story smacks of being manufactured for publicity.

ORLY?!

That this isn't blatantly obvious is really, really depressing.
posted by odinsdream at 7:09 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


You think HBO wants this? Who is doing the manufacturing here?
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:11 AM on June 14, 2012


We are sorry this happened and will have it removed from any future DVD production.

I expect existing copies will sell out quickly once word gets out and they'll start to turn up on eBay at 2x-3x retail as "rare, uncut, recalled" editions.
posted by MegoSteve at 7:14 AM on June 14, 2012


HBO should look at the upside: this is certainly not going to harm their chances of selling the series in Iraq.
posted by Skeptic at 7:15 AM on June 14, 2012


What bugs me is that the people that are going to howl about this the loudest are also the first ones to whine about political correctness ruining everything.

You're probably right. I think any outrage over this would be silly and manufactured. But let's not pretend that Mefites would be so unfazed if it were Obama's head on that spike.

On preview, anotherpanacea anticipates this argument by suggesting that it's OK to depict violence against some people but not others... or to be a bit more charitable, it's worse to depict violence against minorities or historical victims of violence. My reaction would be that if you're going to strike such a righteous tone here, it might benefit your moral credibility to condemn all depictions of violence equally.
posted by BobbyVan at 7:15 AM on June 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


Anyhow, on a serious note, anything that feeds and gives credence to the GOTP and FOX manufactured myth of a vast librul media, is a gift to all those Right-wing fuckwads, who will run away with this and blow it up to sickening levels of horseshit. And you know what? This is a clear first amendment right, and it is what it is, and people should stand up to it.
posted by Skygazer at 7:21 AM on June 14, 2012


But let's not pretend that Mefites would be so unfazed if it were Obama's head on that spike.

Maybe, but with Obama there is the underlying history of atrocities committed against African-Americans in the US. I think there would be a lot less outrage from our side if it was Bill Clinton's head up there.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 7:24 AM on June 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


I don't think anyone believes that the head was just lying around.
posted by Optamystic at 8:47 AM on June 14


I see what you did there.
posted by goethean at 7:27 AM on June 14, 2012


Finally, proof that Bush was a Stark and his opponents were Lannisters.
posted by BobbyVan


Well, Tywin and Tyrion Lannister are the only people in any of the books who can rule worth a damn.
posted by COBRA! at 7:31 AM on June 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


Maybe, but with Obama there is the underlying history of atrocities committed against African-Americans in the US. I think there would be a lot less outrage from our side if it was Bill Clinton's head up there.

This is ridiculous. I accept that the producers & prop folks needed some heads, found one, put some long hair on it and used it. If the Starks had some dark skinned allies who were killed - fictionally - by the Lannisters, are you really suggesting that you'd be for-real angry if one of the heads they used was Obama's?
posted by BobbyVan at 7:34 AM on June 14, 2012


But let's not pretend that Mefites would be so unfazed if it were Obama's head on that spike.

No pretending: Anyone who would get upset by it being an Obama head is just as much an overreactionary childish twit as the people who are pretending to be upset about it being GWB. It was an arbitrary prop that was laying around. They needed a head, they had a head, they used the head. It is explicitly not a statement of any kind, as made doubly clear by the fact that there's no way for the audience to even know that it's any head in particular.
posted by IAmUnaware at 7:34 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


But let's not pretend that Mefites would be so unfazed if it were Obama's head on that spike.

As others have pointed out, there would be a significant race element were it Obama's head.

Do you suppose Mefites would be disgruntled if it were, say, Jimmy Carter's head? Or Bill Clinton's head? Or Joe Biden's head?


The fact that it's the (sort of) recognizable head of anyone who is not a character in the show makes it childish, but that's about all it is.
posted by slkinsey at 7:35 AM on June 14, 2012


My reaction would be that if you're going to strike such a righteous tone here, it might benefit your moral credibility to condemn all depictions of violence equally.

Why? Why can't I say: depicting violence against the first black president would be worse than depicting violence against the a random white president?
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:35 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, Tywin and Tyrion Lannister are the only people in any of the books who can rule worth a damn.

You know nothing, COBRA!.
posted by R. Schlock at 7:35 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Now this actually does raise an interesting question, which is : When they say the props department had to grab whatever was lying around... Lying around where? Does HBO share a props department with other companies, or do they share props and costumes between productions? Is this the secret to getting GoT to look so good on a limited budget? On the commentaries to the Val Lewton collection (great, great low-budget movies of the '40's) there's a lot of spotting costumes and set pieces that were being used for the studio's "A" pictures, which is how the B pictures could be made so cheaply. Is something similar at work at HBO?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:36 AM on June 14, 2012


are you really suggesting that you'd be for-real angry if one of the heads they used was Obama's?

While he was president, or three years after leaving the office? There's a big difference there I think. If it was after he left office I'd think it was hilarious. No harm, no foul...as I do with GWB, but I know it's going to be blown up into this epic deal and used to justify really shitty things on the Right. I'm sure Rush is doing a happy dance right now, cos he can point to this...
posted by Skygazer at 7:37 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


This was a dumb thing but I honestly believe there was no political intent here. CGI takes time and TV shows have deadlines.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:41 AM on June 14, 2012


Why? Why can't I say: depicting violence against the first black president would be worse than depicting violence against the a random white president?

Well, because they aren't depicting violence against any President. They're using a prop to portray a dead Stark. No one noticed when the show first aired... and the fact that the head was originally Bush's is only known because of the DVD commentary.

Besides, "random white" US presidents have been targets of violence throughout American history too, you know.
posted by BobbyVan at 7:41 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Alas, we don't live in this kind of world, but wouldn't it be awesome if GWB's comeback was to sue HBO for 1/6 of the SAG daily background rate?
posted by R. Schlock at 7:41 AM on June 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


I feel like this could easily be a Coke Zero viral campaign because the only response I can think of is "And...?"
posted by samsara at 7:44 AM on June 14, 2012


Well, if we're really going to overthink this plate of Bush-head beans, let's overthink it.

George W. Bush's head appears amid a small forest of heads on spikes, including Eddard Stark - the conscience of the first season, the only lord in all of King's Landing with the moral fortitude to stand on principle even if it means his head winds up on a spike. We must therefore assume that Bush's head was harvested in the Stark purge.

So George W. Bush is being depicted as an ally of the most admirable noble in the Seven Kingdoms. He's being depicted, moreover, as the sworn enemy and victim of a miserable sociopath of a king so loathed that there's a wildly popular YouTube clip of nothing but looped scenes of him being slapped.

George W. Bush - martyr in the massacre that claimed the Lord of Winterfell. This might be the most generous pop depiction of George W. Bush since he left office. His estate should be thanking the show.
posted by gompa at 7:45 AM on June 14, 2012 [44 favorites]


Besides, "random white" US presidents have been targets of violence throughout American history too, you know.

Well, look, no one has actually produced the Obama version of this image yet, although I don't doubt it will come quickly. Still, that's why I said that the primary concern is not violence against the president himself (Bush or Obama) but violence against people with the same skin color.

I wouldn't care if it was Clinton or FDR, or even Kennedy, Garfield, McKinley or Lincoln. Just Obama, because he's black and we live in a racist society.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:48 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't doubt it will come quickly.

No doubt. The way things are looking, TV and movie sets will soon to be plagued with the imminent arrival of discarded Obama heads.
posted by three blind mice at 7:50 AM on June 14, 2012


Brace yourself, the reverse racism arguments are coming.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:50 AM on June 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


For me, no apology is necessary.
posted by stormpooper at 7:53 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I just find it ridiculous and laughable that if Obama's head were somehow used on the spike and made to appear like some character on Game of Thrones, violence against blacks in the US would be "normalized." I'm dumbfounded that people think that we could combat racism in the US by censoring depictions of violence against dark-skinned people in fantasy worlds.
posted by BobbyVan at 8:01 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


ThatFuzzyBastard: "Now this actually does raise an interesting question, which is : When they say the props department had to grab whatever was lying around... Lying around where? Does HBO share a props department with other companies, or do they share props and costumes between productions?"

My assumption was that their effects company had the Bush head lying around from a previous project.
posted by brundlefly at 8:03 AM on June 14, 2012


If a spare Obama head was used to depict a white character, yeah, I think it'd be different and their explanation that it wasn't some kind of statement would be a lot harder to swallow. History of racial violence doesn't even have to come into it, though to ignore it in the hypothetical makes it not at all worth discussing.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:05 AM on June 14, 2012


As long as they don't go editing it to make it look like anyone other than W. shot first.
posted by The World Famous at 8:05 AM on June 14, 2012


As far as I'm concerned, any national politician's fake halloween-style mask/head on a pike as a one-off easter egg in a background shot where it needs a freeze frame and director's commentary to be noticed, and has no additional framing references, is a non-issue. He's not up there next to other neocons, historical baddies, or anything like that.

That said, they probably could have slapped a moustache on him. It wouldn't have been any less funny (more?) and the fig leaf would have cut off the artificial outrage.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:06 AM on June 14, 2012


snuffleupagus: "That said, they probably could have slapped a moustache on him. It wouldn't have been any less funny (more?) and the fig leaf would have cut off the artificial outrage."

Depends on the moustache.
posted by brundlefly at 8:11 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Does everyone here appreciate that this information is months old, and the controversy now is completely arbitrarily timed? I woke up to decapitated heads on MSNBC this morning, like, "why are they doing a segment about shit I read on a wiki a couple months ago?"

Blame Gawker. Just, for everything. Always.
posted by palidor at 8:12 AM on June 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, yeah...I don't know how I missed it, the first time I saw that episode...that is undeniably George W. Bush's trademark shock of crazy hair.
posted by littlejohnnyjewel at 8:13 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I came to post What Palidor said, I heard of this a good 4 months ago.
Probably via Gawker (i09), Blastr or Topless Robot, but it was right when the bleepin' DVD came out.

It was hilarious then, and it is fucking hilarious now in its Streisand Effecty way.
posted by Mezentian at 8:15 AM on June 14, 2012


But let's not pretend that Mefites would be so unfazed if it were Obama's head on that spike.

You know, up until about 10 minutes ago I would have dismissed this statement as wrong and kind of crazy. Go figure.
posted by Hoopo at 8:15 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Depends on the moustache.

Take your pick.

posted by snuffleupagus at 8:16 AM on June 14, 2012


...but violence depicted against Obama *does* threaten ordinary black men

As an extraordinary black man, I thumb my fried chicken at thee.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:17 AM on June 14, 2012 [13 favorites]


depicting a former, reviled president badly is not even close to killing three horses

To be entirely fair, "killing" is a strong word there. None of us know all the details, but the last one reared and fell on his own. Also, the amazing concern "we" seem to have for certain animals but not others is mind-boggling to me. (Can you tell I was a fan of Luck? And of horse racing?) And the animals weren't the only reason it was canceled. It wasn't doing so well.

but yeah ...


If HBO canceled "Luck" because three horses died during production, how will this affect the future of "Game of Thrones"

is a little much. This "scandal" is pretty trivial, and Luck wasn't anywhere near GoT-level popular. If 3 horses died on GoT, they would still be filming.

"We are sorry this happened and will have it removed from any future DVD production."

That's how it will affect the future of GoT. GWB's head will be out of most DVDs (making the originals much more valuable ... to the used DVD store before arbitrage occurs!)

Nobody watching the show could possibly notice a resemblence.

I am not bullshitting, but I noticed the resemblance on first watching.

Where is the "outrage" from anyone on this? Does the GOP even care? It's a non issue.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:17 AM on June 14, 2012


plagued by mounds of discarded George W. Bush heads.

Story of my life.

But let's not pretend that Mefites would be so unfazed if it were Obama's head on that spike.

Are you kidding? Metafilter wants his head on a spike.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:18 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dismembered Presidential Heads is my favorite thing about Futurama. I think it only adds to the quality of a show.
posted by jeffamaphone at 8:19 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


How does killing three horses compare to fucking up a pristine beach in Malta?

Or have folks forgotten that?
posted by Mezentian at 8:21 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Where is the "outrage" from anyone on this? Does the GOP even care? It's a non issue.

Ahem.
posted by Optamystic at 8:22 AM on June 14, 2012


Where is the "outrage" from anyone on this? Does the GOP even care? It's a non issue.

Do I really need to post links? Here's what 10 seconds on Google turned up.

Fury as HBO's Game of Thrones shows President George W. Bush's decapitated head impaled on a STAKE

Politicians call for boycott of Game Of Thrones over Bush prop

Libs Use Decapitated Bush Head in HBO Series “Game of Thrones”

Head On A Stick? How About A Foot Up Their Ass!

Rabble rabble!
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:24 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fury as HBO's Game of Thrones shows President George W. Bush's decapitated head impaled on a STAKE

Is this one of those "two countries separated by a common language" things where in British English "fury" means the equivalent of the American "dumbass shitfit"?
posted by griphus at 8:26 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's an article from February that includes a note about the head.

If the Republicans really wanted to make an issue out of this and "organize" a "boycott" of the show, they could have picked a better time than a week after the season ended.

Seriously, this is all Gawker's fault, for being terrible.
posted by palidor at 8:27 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


I guess I'd just say that there aren't that many black people in the GoT show. Showing a black person's head impaled is not too different an image than pictures of African-Americans being lynched.

Furthermore, having a mock-up of the head of the most powerful/influential African-American (perhaps even black man?) in history impaled seems to be a bigger deal to me than showing the head of any other president.

Would showing that "normalize" violence against African-Americans? I don't think so...that type of violence is already pretty normal. Would I think it was political? No, just thoughtless like so much that is racist is for us in the majority,
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 8:27 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


...plagued by mounds of discarded George W. Bush heads...

hmmm...as an art dept. person myself, i have to say this is probably true to a certain degree.
how to make a head on a spike (for cheap!):
you will need:
1 sharpened broomstick
1 latex halloween mask...the cheapest you can find...check the close-out bin
1 can spray foam insulation (to fill the head and look like guts)
an old wig
some paint
posted by sexyrobot at 8:30 AM on June 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


Is this one of those "two countries separated by a common language" things where in British English "fury" means the equivalent of the American "dumbass shitfit"?

No. They have dumbass shitfits in Britain, too.
posted by The World Famous at 8:32 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let us not forget some of the more conservative-leaning Americans got confused by Captain America not too long ago.

There's an industry of outrage here.
posted by Mezentian at 8:35 AM on June 14, 2012


If HBO canceled "Luck" because three horses died during production, how will this affect the future of "Game of Thrones",

It will not. Kind of a dumb comparison, actually.
posted by Justinian at 8:36 AM on June 14, 2012


I'd be mad about if it was a replica Obama head instead of Dubya's too, because that would open up a whole can of worms as to why a Summer Islander was serving in the guard of the Lord of Winterfell.
posted by Panjandrum at 8:37 AM on June 14, 2012 [10 favorites]


But let's not pretend that Mefites would be so unfazed if it were Obama's head on that spike.

Threats against Obama as president during his early period were 400 percent more than those against George W. Bush. (They even warrant their own Wikipedia page, whereas Bush has only one attempt mentioned in his regular bio.) The subtext is considerably different.

That said, using any public figure's image on Game of Thrones breaks the show's suspension of disbelief and should have been avoided. Anyone wanting that kind of allegory in their fantasy can stick to The Faerie Queene.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:39 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


George RR Martin has a lot of annoying writer's ticks, but the one where he feels the need to describe exactly how black every black character is may be the worst. Wait, no, "nuncle" is worse. But still.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:39 AM on June 14, 2012


"Nuncle" is the fedora of linguistic anachronisms.
posted by Panjandrum at 8:42 AM on June 14, 2012


It will not. Kind of a dumb comparison, actually.

HBO is owned by Time-Warner. Time-Warner does not like bad press.
posted by Optamystic at 8:43 AM on June 14, 2012


Want to take a bet? I'll give you 20-1 odds.

Luck was cancelled because it had terrible ratings and three horses died. Game of Thrones has very good ratings, is a media darling, and they used an unfortunate prop head. This is a tempest in a teapot. It means nothing in the short, medium, or long term.
posted by Justinian at 8:45 AM on June 14, 2012


Agree. The severed Bush head has no legs.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:47 AM on June 14, 2012 [14 favorites]


HBO is owned by Time-Warner. Time-Warner does not like bad press.

Outside of forcing someone important-sounding to apologize and maybe firing some poor P.A., Time-Warner isn't going to do shit about the multiple Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning show they renewed a little over a week into the second season premier.
posted by griphus at 8:49 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Agree. The severed Bush head has no legs.

My hat is off to you, sir.
posted by Justinian at 8:49 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Agree. The severed Bush head has no legs.

Now, if Rob Bottin had been doing the effects...
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:49 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


You may be right, but I've seen the GOP noise machine bloviate over dumber shit than this.
posted by Optamystic at 8:50 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, so anotherpanacea has it pretty much right, as far as I can imagine. They already had to spend a pretty penny of their budget on the heads for Ned and the Scepter. for the rest they would grab (and beg, borrow, steal) whatever ones they could. It would be far from surprising that a GWB head would be among the most common ones for a propsmaster or production coordinator to find.

If they hadn't mentioned it, this wouldn't be a thing. It's bizarre that it's a thing now, considering that this indeed came out months ago. But it won't affect the show at all - this is a massive hit water-cooler show, it will continue on.

As for if it were Obama's head, well, I think context would make all the difference. If the context were one of actual political statement, yeah, I'd care, and I'd care more about Obama's head than W's because I like Obama more than W and because the types of people who would make the joke about W are almost certainly just joking whereas the types who would make the joke about Obama might actually try to lynch him. But if it were in this context, with clearly no political statement being made and it's just a vaguely amusing easter egg, no. I don't think I'd give a damn.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:51 AM on June 14, 2012


Is anyone else secretly hoping GRRM has an epic fail and can't finish any more books so that the HBO guys are forced to do the ending for him? Because that's the only way I forsee ever getting anything like an ending.
posted by Justinian at 8:56 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Agree. The severed Bush head has no legs.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:47 AM on June 14 [+] [!]


I don't believe in you!
posted by Mezentian at 8:57 AM on June 14, 2012


Go back to the 2-part Sex and the City episode "Charlotte's Rampage" and you'll see where the head is from. (They should also have a leftover Trump head, but that would have been too obvious.)
posted by kurumi at 8:57 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


You may be right, but I've seen the GOP noise machine bloviate over dumber shit than this.

Oh, they'll make noise plenty, but Time Warner's media machine is more important to the politicians than the politicians are to Time Warner.
posted by griphus at 9:02 AM on June 14, 2012


How is the head (which no one would have known about if they hadn't mentioned it) more disrespectful than this?

Or am I expecting sense from Conservativeoutcry.net?
posted by Mezentian at 9:05 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Go back to the 2-part Sex and the City episode "Charlotte's Rampage" and you'll see where the head is from. (They should also have a leftover Trump head, but that would have been too obvious.)

...and Sarah Jessica Parker is holding a fundraiser for Obama and she is married to a rich New York Jew and looks like a horse which is almost bestiality and there's a ton of incest on the show and is friends with known gays which Santorum warned us about CAN'T YOU SEE THE PATTERNS, SHEEPLE?
posted by zombieflanders at 9:07 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is anyone else secretly hoping GRRM has an epic fail

Has? Had.

Wild Cards? How about The Armageddon Rag?

I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt for a while, feeling bad about his not-a-blog posts, and admonished by Gaiman, Scalzi and and I forget who else, but then when all the non-stop promotion of non-SOIAF crap was followed by the HBO deal, it became clear that he had totally jumped the Stark.

I haven't watched the HBO series yet--going to watch both seasons before the third airs--but I'm encouraged by how other fans of the books have reacted.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:15 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not even worth discussing any kind of Republican vs. Democrat angle to this. This is A Game of Dumbs, A Clash of Twats, A Storm of Stupids, etc.

I'm wondering about whoever mentioned it in the commentary though. Was it one of the showrunners? Because I bet they had a moment of doubt, thinking "maybe I shouldn't have revealed that information because it might bring unwanted political attention," but then left it in, and once the DVDs were released and the information got out there, any worries they had went away. Like, "well now it's out there, and no one cares, cool." And then they wake up today like "what the fuck Internet?"
posted by palidor at 9:16 AM on June 14, 2012


Ehh, who cares. Wake me up when Bush, Cheney and the rest of those war criminals (not forgetting the reverend Blair) are impaled and writhing on stakes in front of the White House.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:18 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Rag is an excellent horror novel. I suspect it failed in the marketplace because of timing. It was just too early for '60s nostalgia.
posted by Jestocost at 9:18 AM on June 14, 2012


Head On A Stick? How About A Foot Up Their Ass!

Hah! They have a website called "conservativeoutcry.net". And that's funny.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:19 AM on June 14, 2012


I guess I'd just say that there aren't that many black people in the GoT show. Showing a black person's head impaled is not too different an image than pictures of African-Americans being lynched.

There are, just not in Westeros, and certainly not in the Stark lands of the North, where it's not exactly warm or sunny, and there's no great need of melanin. The Starks are essentially more like the Norse, with dark hair.

On preview, Panjandrum beat me to it, but with better wording.

In non- GOT geekery, I really don't care about fake President's heads on spikes, any more than I care about President's faces on shooting range targets, or any other manufactured controversy. That said, I don't think that having black characters killed in fantasy universes is inherently problematic any more than having any other characters killed. (Except Syrio. Because we never see his body. A girl must dream.) Especially because if killing black characters is problematic, either we have magical unkillable black characters that are somehow othered by their invincibility, or we have no black characters at all.
posted by corb at 9:19 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


...impaled and writhing on stakes in front of the White House.

Vote Țepeș/Clinton in '16!
posted by griphus at 9:20 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Rag is an excellent horror novel. I suspect it failed in the marketplace because of timing. It was just too early for '60s nostalgia.

I hated it--HATED IT--and I found it when GRRM's site was flogging a trade paper reprinting during the wait for ADWD (I think.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:21 AM on June 14, 2012


I've loved everything GRRM has written (Beauty and the Beast excluded as I recall, but I will watch amny movie with Ron Pearlman in it, to my regret), although The Armageddon Rag is in my to read pile, but what's to hate about Wild Cards?

Not only did it feature lots of words NOT written by him, but it introduced a whole generation to serious superheros. And period sex. (I suspect that was not him).
posted by Mezentian at 9:27 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wild Cards simply failed to grab me, unlike the Rag. I can see how others would enjoy it. But at a certain point it became clear that GRRM was working on Wild Cards much more actively, or at least productively, than SOIAF. (And, as was pointed out, with others.) And I don't think Wild Cards has much appeal for most SOIAF fans. ADWD took a very long time. I'm not expecting things to improve with regard to the wait for the next book.

So, all I'm saying is that I think the "epic fail" to finish the series in a satisfying way has been written on the wall for a while, or more accurately has been unfolding in slow motion for a couple years already.

GRRM's annoyance, and other authors' criticisms about fan entitlement etc., are all valid—but given the wait for the last book, I've tempered my expectations.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:53 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


GRRM says in A RRetrospective that he's bad at finishing things.
All his major works? Unfinished.

When I read that I knew he would not finish A Song of Ice and Fire.
posted by Mezentian at 9:58 AM on June 14, 2012


Showing a black person's head impaled is not too different an image than pictures of African-Americans being lynched.

Other than the context being pretty clear that the 2 things are completely unrelated I suppose.
posted by Hoopo at 10:31 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


HBO is owned by Time-Warner. Time-Warner does not like bad press.

Then why do they allow HBO to constantly make themselves look out of touch with the HBO Go has to be part of a cable fiasco and cable is the only model, off the line is a fad nonsense?
posted by juiceCake at 10:33 AM on June 14, 2012


People actually watch those dvd commentaries?
Huh.
posted by empatterson at 10:34 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


sexyrobot: "hmmm...as an art dept. person myself, i have to say this is probably true to a certain degree.
how to make a head on a spike (for cheap!):
you will need:
1 sharpened broomstick
1 latex halloween mask...the cheapest you can find...check the close-out bin
1 can spray foam insulation (to fill the head and look like guts)
an old wig
some pain
"

So Art Department people, first up, we got NO problems with you using discount bargain bin face masks. This is a tempest in a teapot. You folks make magic on a shoestring budget, and thanks for doing so.

But that said, humans don't have "guts" in their necks or heads. In fact, it's much simpler than that. Bones, muscles, trachea. Just shove some shreds of red-dye covered cold cuts up in there!
posted by barnacles at 10:38 AM on June 14, 2012


Where is the "outrage" from anyone on this? Does the GOP even care? It's a non issue.

Do I really need to post links? Here's what 10 seconds on Google turned up.


Yes, but it's all SEO chum. They are just playing it because they have to. Nobody cares.

You may be right, but I've seen the GOP noise machine bloviate over dumber shit than this.

Yes, but this one is a LOSER. Everyone loves GoT, and nobody cares about GWB anymore. This "scandal" (or anything that brings up the memory of GWB) is a boon for the Democrats.

What bugs me is that the people that are going to howl about this the loudest are also the first ones to whine about political correctness ruining everything.

This too. I know that the GOP is all about empty shows of nationalistic pride, but there's also that lip service to "freedom" and ending the government "nanny state."

Anyway, I think it's a major loser, but it will be interesting to see how the bloviators bloviate. ... Wait a minute. No it won't!
posted by mrgrimm at 10:43 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Often plagued by mounds of discarded George W. Bush heads.
posted by LordSludge at 11:08 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


"On preview, anotherpanacea anticipates this argument by suggesting that it's OK to depict violence against some people but not others... or to be a bit more charitable, it's worse to depict violence against minorities or historical victims of violence. My reaction would be that if you're going to strike such a righteous tone here, it might benefit your moral credibility to condemn all depictions of violence equally."

My Christ, are conservatives constitutionally unable to resist a false equivalency? And then that you defend your nonsense in subsequent comments!
posted by klangklangston at 11:14 AM on June 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


Somwhere in Westeros, a village is missing its idiot.
posted by rdone at 11:26 AM on June 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


Goddammit! Let's just slow down here and think about this a little. There's nothing wrong with putting somebody's head on a stick. You just have to use a little common sense. For example, you can't put them in your freezer. That's really creepy.

Now, please pay attention:

It's okay to put heads on a stick unless they are black. You can't put a black guy's head on a stick until all racial prejudice against black people is eliminated.

The same goes for guys from the Middle East.

Or Vikings. I don't want to see any Viking heads on a stick until we clear all that shit up about them red-haired uncles--you know, how they all are assholes just because my red-haired uncle was an asshole.
posted by mule98J at 11:53 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree that we can discriminate against gingers. Except the ones in my family.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:00 PM on June 14, 2012


Bones, muscles, trachea. Just shove some shreds of red-dye covered cold cuts up in there!

Aaaand there goes my lunch.
posted by empatterson at 12:11 PM on June 14, 2012


What are you doing shoving your lunch up a latex mask?
posted by happyroach at 1:54 PM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


What are you doing shoving your lunch up a latex mask?

Best. Lunchbox. Evar.
posted by LordSludge at 2:33 PM on June 14, 2012


I think we should be the bigger folk and send a conciliatory gift to our more conservative brothers and sisters. Perhaps a hat...
posted by Sparx at 2:34 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do you suppose Mefites would be disgruntled if it were, say, Jimmy Carter's head? Or Bill Clinton's head? Or Joe Biden's head?

I love Joe Biden more than I have any right to. His tendency to say whatever the hell is on his mind at the time, while in a profession full of spin doctors and image consultants, just delights me. And if it were his head on a spike, I would think it was freaking hilarious. I so want Biden to publicly call on HBO to use his head next season. He can say it's in the interest of balance and fair play. God, I would love that.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:40 PM on June 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


They should have a fan contest where the winner gets their (prosthetic replica) head on a pike.
posted by LordSludge at 3:14 PM on June 14, 2012


You know nothing, COBRA!.

And knowledge is power.

So sorry.
posted by ersatz at 3:24 PM on June 14, 2012


And knowledge is power.

and knowing is half the battle!
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:42 PM on June 14, 2012


george bush dies in season one? I'm confused.
posted by scunning at 8:46 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


george bush dies in season one? I'm confused.

You see, it's a fantasy...
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:49 AM on June 15, 2012


Especially because if killing black characters is problematic, either we have magical unkillable black characters that are somehow othered by their invincibility, or we have no black characters at all.
posted by corb at 9:19 AM on June 14 [3 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]


Oh god, thank you Corb! It amazes/irritates-the-shit-out-of me to see so many people simultaneously demanding more representation of non-whites in fantasy worlds, then getting screamy when said non-white characters suffer, fail, or otherwise fail to be perfect, which is to say, succeed in being believable characters. These people don't seem to realize that *they* are the reason there are so few non-white, non-male characters in fantasy/sci-fi! Because any time the writers create a character, the discussion goes like this:

"Hey, this character isn't family to anyone else on the show---wouldn't it be great to make them darker-skinned than the rest of the palefaces on this show?"
"Yeah, that would be nice---it'd be cool to get another culture into this world."
"But wait... Aren't we setting up this character to betray our hero at the S2 climax?"
"Oh geez, that's right. If we do that, the online brigade is going to scream that we're portraying minorities negatively."
"Yeah, screw it, let's just make him white---there'll be no more than the usual complaints."
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:15 AM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Yeah, screw it, let's just make him white---there'll be no more than the usual complaints."

What about Xaro?

Your claim smells sorta like bullshit. More than half the villains on TV and the movies are dark skinned.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:59 PM on June 15, 2012


Heh, yesterday morning the season one finale was available on HBO OnDemand, but now it's not. Every episode from both seasons is available except for the one with the head. Coincidence?
posted by palidor at 3:14 PM on June 15, 2012


They pulled it? Jesus Christ. Capituating to a protest by idiots would be shitty enough, but capitulating to one that doesn't even actually exist yet is jaw dropping.
posted by Artw at 4:36 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think they're just digitally editing it to remove the head.
posted by Justinian at 4:51 PM on June 15, 2012


Well, at least we have the irony of what was ostensibly a cost-saving decision ending up likely to cost them more money in having to remove it.
posted by palidor at 4:56 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


'Game of Thrones' Bush head episode spiked from HBO Go, iTunes

They've also halted DVD shipments.
posted by homunculus at 4:50 PM on June 18, 2012


"Hey, this character isn't family to anyone else on the show---wouldn't it be great to make them darker-skinned than the rest of the palefaces on this show?"
"Yeah, that would be nice---it'd be cool to get another culture into this world."
"But wait... Aren't we setting up this character to betray our hero at the S2 climax?"
"Oh geez, that's right. If we do that, the online brigade is going to scream that we're portraying minorities negatively."
"Yeah, screw it, let's just make him white---there'll be no more than the usual complaints."


There's another pretty obvious solution to the false dilemma you've suggested: cast multiple non-white characters with a variety of roles. It's really not rocket science, and there are plenty of characters on the show whose physical appearance is unimportant to the plot.
posted by kagredon at 12:49 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's another pretty obvious solution to the false dilemma you've suggested: cast multiple non-white characters with a variety of roles. It's really not rocket science, and there are plenty of characters on the show whose physical appearance is unimportant to the plot.

First: yes, but everyone betrays someone sooner or later.

Secondly: There are almost no characters on the show / in the books whose physical appearance is unimportant to the plot, because GRRM is a little bit psychotic about details. You have to pay attention to "This dude has curly black hair and a scar", because sometime, two books later, there will be another mention of a dude with curly black hair, and if you haven't been paying attention, you have no idea they are the same. Or eye/hair color. Often eye/hair color is used to telegraph not just the region the person is from, but also their parentage.

In fact, a pretty major plot point centered around that exactly, [Spoiler] the fact that all of Robert's children had black hair and Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen did not.

There are no trivial characters in these books, and appearance is hugely important.

That said, HBO does seem to be severely cutting out a lot of the POC with speaking roles in the books. Some of this is because the books are incredibly complicated, and some of this may be for other reasons. They're eliminating a lot of characters, not just those, but those are in fact the obvious misses.
posted by corb at 8:08 PM on June 20, 2012


First: yes, but everyone betrays someone sooner or later.

Well, sure. But since everyone betrays someone, that doesn't tend to have much bearing on whether they're viewed as heroic or villainous. Tyrion's the most popular character on the show and [probable spoiler] Jaime's likely headed in that direction next season, after having pushed a child out a window in his first appearance.

Secondly: There are almost no characters on the show / in the books whose physical appearance is unimportant to the plot, because GRRM is a little bit psychotic about details. You have to pay attention to "This dude has curly black hair and a scar", because sometime, two books later, there will be another mention of a dude with curly black hair, and if you haven't been paying attention, you have no idea they are the same. Or eye/hair color. Often eye/hair color is used to telegraph not just the region the person is from, but also their parentage.

Of the characters that've been cast so far: Varys (who's not even from Westeros), Littlefinger, the Mormonts (arguably, they've already deviated significantly from the books by casting stone-cold fox Iain Glen as Jorah), Sam Tarly, the Bolton(s), Davos: does it change anything if these characters were played by POC? Sure, there needs to be consistency about the "look" of a given House/family, but the specific details of that look aren't always important.

Your point about little details is valid, but (a) GRRM is working with the showrunners, so I'd expect any plot-critical details will be maintained, (b) television being a visual medium, there's going to be some unavoidable loss of ambiguity when it comes to dudes with curly black hair and scars, (c) does it actually matter if, instead, it's a dude with curly black hair, dark skin, and a scar? Does it actually change the course of the story?

In fact, a pretty major plot point centered around that exactly, [Spoiler] the fact that all of Robert's children had black hair and Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen did not.

(total sidebar, but when I was reading the books, I initially pictured the Baratheons as being more olive-skinned/Mediterranean-looking, because Storm's End being relatively far south-east and coastal made me think of them as being fantasy-Greek or fantasy-Turkish. I just figured Robert was on the pale side.)

posted by kagredon at 9:41 AM on June 21, 2012


Ugh, massive italics fuck-up.
posted by kagredon at 9:41 AM on June 21, 2012


It's okay, I think I can figure it out! (also, I've done that)

does it change anything if these characters were played by POC? Sure, there needs to be consistency about the "look" of a given House/family, but the specific details of that look aren't always important.

Your point about little details is valid, but (a) GRRM is working with the showrunners, so I'd expect any plot-critical details will be maintained, (b) television being a visual medium, there's going to be some unavoidable loss of ambiguity when it comes to dudes with curly black hair and scars, (c) does it actually matter if, instead, it's a dude with curly black hair, dark skin, and a scar? Does it actually change the course of the story?


It does, but only because GRRM has made such a point about skin color being a signifier for country-of-origin. Which maybe was an idiotic thing to do (and god knows, I'm a little irritated at this point by wondering which skincolor/haircolor/eyecolor combination means which country and which secret character), but since it's done, it means Game of Thrones is one of the shows that really can't do that too much. Because, say, if someone has dark skin but says they're from Westeros, I then have to be all "Really? Are you really from Westeros? GRRM says only Summer Islanders have dark skin thus far. Is one of your parents from there? What does that mean for the story? Why are you there? What might your motivations be?"

Which, I think as I describe it, is also pretty shitty writing, to have everyone in every area be pretty much monochromatic. But it's not really fair to blame the show for it.
posted by corb at 4:41 PM on June 22, 2012






Jesus, what an idiot.

“And then we’ll blow ourselves up, and I’d be a hero,” Sendak continued.

“It would have been a very brave and wonderful thing,” said Sendak, who wrote the whimsical “Where the Wild Things Are.”


Imagine the repercussions if Bush had been assassinated by a US assassin. He would *still* be president somehow.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:50 PM on June 27, 2012




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