About “Walks of Shame”

Cersei Lannister is recognized as one of the cruelest villains in Game of Thrones. It is important to remember that, in this universe, not even the good guys are 100% good, so it is important to place her among the bad guys.

It is true that Cersei has few qualities in the field of ethics, at least that’s how she was constructed in the book and in the series: an elitist, ambitious, cruel, vindictive, and adulterous woman, and everything gets worse because her lover and partner is her twin brother, Jaime. He is the biological father of her children, the same ones that she goes to great lengths to keep on the Iron Throne. That’s right, in a universe of double standards, we wanted Rhaenyra to marry her uncle, Daemon Targaryen, and fight over her children born to another lover, but we were offended by Cersei Lannister.

Indirectly, Cersei returned to global discussions when BBC presenter Jeremy Clarkson gave a column lambasting Meghan Markle and – in his words – “dreaming of the day when she [Meghan] parades naked through the streets of every town in Great Britain while the crowd shouts, ‘Shame on you!’ and throws pieces of excrement at her”. GOT fans know exactly what scene he was alluding to and it’s incredibly violent, as it was on the show. No one, after seeing it, left this scene unscathed. EVERYONE felt for Cersei. Let’s understand what the presenter suggested.

How Cersei fell victim to her own coup

Astute in politics, even if despised by her father and, well, ALL men, Cersei learned early on where men went wrong. The ‘good guy’ of the story, Ned Stark, gets proof that King Robert Baratheon’s children are bastards. As an ethical man, Ned does not use the information to humiliate the Queen. After all, he was a witness that – in addition to being embarrassed daily by her disgusting husband, who openly preferred prostitutes to her – Robert physically assaulted her too, so Ned approaches Cersei to warn her that he will tell the King the truth, which will certainly awaken his wrath. Ned hopes to give Cersei a chance to get away, he tells her. She laughs and warns Ned that he made a big mistake by being “correct” with her. “In Game of Thrones, either you win or you die”, she warns. In the following episode, the King is poisoned and dies, with Ned Stark being beheaded afterward. Cersei was the better player.

From there, Cersei’s life didn’t get better. Her irascible and hateful son, Joffrey, needed to marry and the chosen one was the equally cunning Margaery Tyrell. Worse still, even Queen, Cersei had to “obey” men and would be forced to marry again. How to solve the equation?

Cersei brought Religion into the fray, knowing the Tyrells had secrets that would doom them in the eyes of the Faith of the Seven. Sure enough, she delivers them into a series of traps and they are “arrested” and put on trial. However, she was being watched herself, and one of the most delicious and terrifying moments of the series is when Cersei is captured by religious extremists. The only way out was to “confess her secrets”. However, if she assumed that she was her brother’s lover, she would lose everything. She assumes “part” of her sins. The punishment? Go through the Walk of Shame.

The walk wasn’t anything. The queen’s hair is shaved off, she is exposed before the entire population of King’s Landing, her sins are announced and she, naked, has to walk barefoot through the streets, in front of her subjects, while a fair with a bell screams: shame, shame, shame. In less than a few minutes, the population spat, cursed, and threw feces at the Queen. Cersei endured it all without being able to respond, stop, or get help. It was never the same again. Is anyone to blame?

After the public humiliation, Cersei returned to the Castle but was often mistreated by everyone she despised. The walk of shame was just the first step that her enemies took for granted. Of course, because to make matters worse, the walk just preceded a public trial for which she would have to justify herself again to everyone, who knows what the sentence would be. Obviously, with trauma, she refused to submit, with one of the best and most classic of the entire franchise, in which she warns that she would choose violence as a response. We’ll come back to that.

Do you know what’s worse? In the Middle Ages, the Walk of Shame was an accepted method of punishment. Breathe. It’s scarier than that.

Jane Shore: the humiliated lover and true victim of history

As we know, Game of Thrones is inspired by the War of the Roses period and George R.R. Martin adapted Jane Shore‘s terrifying story for Cersei Lannister.

Elizabeth ‘Jane’ Shore, who was known as one of the smartest and most beautiful women in the kingdom, was a lady-in-waiting to the Queen, Elizabeth Woodville, and the mistress of King Edward IV. After Edward’s death in 1843, Jane became the mistress of both Thomas Gray (1st Marquess of Dorset) and William Hastings (1st Baron Hastings). The political repercussions of these relationships were negative and decisive for her.

Because of her position close to the two enemies of Richard III, who wanted the crown, she was seen as a serious threat to his plans. Richard accused Jane of conspiracy and committing sorcery and witchcraft. Not much proof was needed with these severe accusations and Jane was arrested and sentenced to one of the worst penances: a walk through London wearing only thin white underwear while the crowd ‘embarrassed’ her with name-calling, feces, and other humiliations. After all? Prison.

Images, plays, and poems were written about this infamous moment of abuse against an innocent woman. Jane managed to survive prison, got married, and had children, but her story has never been forgotten. According to George R.R. Martin, Jane Shore‘s punishment applied to Cersei because, in his words, “it was directed at women to break their pride, and Cersei is defined by her pride.”


Behind the Scenes of Recording and Cersei’s Game Changer

In Game of Thrones, Cersei’s walk of shame was longed for by fans who had read the book and saw this violence as justified in the face of her evil deeds. It was built to underscore that negative intensity, as showrunner David Benioff recalled at the time. “It’s supposed to be like a scene from a nightmare. And the nightmare is that you’re walking around naked in front of a city of people. It’s a common anxiety dream to be naked in front of people,” he said. “It’s much more horrible because they completely dehumanized you, without your clothes you have nothing to hide,” he commented.

After having to adapt the scene – which broke Croatian rules (the recordings were in Dubrovnik) against public nudity – the producers learned that actress Lena Headey refused to record without clothes. The problem for her was not the nudity but the psychological impact of the scene. “I am a very emotional actress. To do my job, I allow myself to be very vulnerable. Things really affect me,” she explained. “The idea of ​​being naked for three days and trying to contain the scene the way it was going to be… I think that would make me really angry. I didn’t want to get angry. I don’t think Cersei would be angry.”

Lena was replaced by a body double who shot the sequence alongside her (and the CGI stitched the footage together) but connected with Cersei’s pain. “It wasn’t hard when people were yelling at you and you look like shit and you’re being humiliated as fuck. I did what I thought she would do emotionally,” she mentioned about the villain’s tears.

Bennioff commented something relevant to the discussion still today about the scene: “You viscerally feel the horror of that moment. And once you’re inside a character’s skin, it’s really hard to hate them.” As I mentioned, Cersei was broken and beaten spiritually, bent on revenge. And revenge is powerful. She literally blows up all her enemies waiting to come back to condemn her and ends up taking the throne for herself.

I’ll say it again: she blows everything up and takes the throne for herself.

So, six years after Game of Thrones ended and almost 540 years after Jane Shore went through it, how can a man still want that for a woman? It’s not funny, it doesn’t fit. And if it was to support the Royal Family, would Jeremy Clarkson think twice about the misogynistic, violent, and abusive comment he made about Meghan Markle would he be prophesying something similar? Whatever the alternative, it was a Shame, Shame, SHAME.

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