The Problem

HBO, a division of Time Warner, is an American premium cable television network that has consistently produced content which normalizes rape myths, sexual violence, and commercial sexual exploitation through with sexually exploitive depictions of sex and sexual violence. This has been displayed over the years through shows like Game of Thrones and The Deuce.

.@HBO stop producing shows like The Deuce that normalize #rapeculture, commercial sexual exploitation, and eroticizing sexual violence with gratuitous nudity. Click To Tweet

HBO is an American subscription-only, cable television network owned by Home Box Office, Inc., a division of Time Warner. As estimated by Nielsen in July 2015, approximately 30.9% of the 116.4 million U.S. homes with televisions receive HBO. Through its HBO NOW streaming service, its content can be streamed to mobile devises via broadband connections. Additionally, a deal with Amazon grants Amazon Prime members unlimited streaming access to past seasons of HBO programs, as well as select current series. Additionally, its channel HBO Zone airs movies and original programs aimed at young adults ages 18-34, and features pornographic movies. HBO Zone is also available via satellite to subscribers of the DISH Network.

Media—whether in the form of the written word, movies, television, or the visual arts, etc.— is a powerful driver of social norms. Unfortunately, HBO has a long history of using sexual exploitation and violence to entertain. HBO produces enthralling storylines, intermixed with highly sexualized and violent content, which presents the mix of sex and violence as mainstream entertainment.

Many shows on HBO, like The Deuce, Game of Thrones, and Westworld, have portrayed sexual violence alongside statements that the shows seek to expose or address these themes in a thoughtful manner. Unfortunately, by creating gratuitous sexual violence scenes that include nudity and drawn-out scenes HBO often produces content that puts the viewer in the position of a voyeur of sexual assault.

Sexual violence is not a topic for HBO to exploit for mere shock value or titillation. Sexual violence is a real social harm, with real (not fictional) victims, who bear the scars of their abuse for their entire lives.

.@HBO must portray sexual violence in a more responsible manner - so that it is not eroticizing or exploiting this real crime that harms so many in our #MeToo culture. Click To Tweet

Further, for years, HBO has normalized the sexual exploitation of prostitution and the pornography industry. 

HBO has employed prostitution as the context for scene after scene of nudity, sex, and exploitation. From parades of naked women on display for sexual sale, to the setting of casual dialogues, political intrigues, and orgies, brothels, pornography studios, and the naked women in them are the wallpaper of Game of Thrones, The Deuce and Westworld. Beyond the routine buying and selling of women (some of whom look like mere teenagers), the prostituted women in Game of Thrones and Westworld are subjected to sadistic violence, torture, and murder. Further, the show, Cathouse: The Series, is essentially an extended commercial promoting the real-life pimp Dennis Hof and his brothel. Women featured in the program are sexually objectified in the extreme, and are shown performing sex acts with a variety of sex buyers who visit the brothel.

When prostitution is normalized, it becomes more difficult for law enforcement to convict the sex traffickers, pimps, and sex buyers who are abusing women, men, and children. The Denver Police Department confirmed that when jury pools review cases of 17 or 25 year olds who have been exploited in prostitution or sex trafficking, the juries assume these victims are wholly autonomous and wealthy based on what they see in TV shows and movies.

HBO needs to take a stand against sexual exploitation by canceling The Deuce and changing production policies to no longer promote or normalize sexual violence.



WARNING: There are graphic descriptions in this section. Trigger warning.

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