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5. What Harm Are ‘The Witcher’ and Other Shows Doing to Their People? | with Jason Morehead

OpusZine writer Jason Morehead helps us engage a sensitive topic: the challenges and exploitation of “mature” streaming fantasy dramas.
Fantastical Truth on Feb 18, 2020 · 2 comments

This time, we’re taking up another big theme: the challenges of “mature” fantasy action drama stories like The Witcher.

This fantasy drama arrived on Netflix just before Christmas 2019.

It’s the latest of several fantasy TV series which seem to be following in the footsteps of Game of Thrones.

Neither cohost (E. Stephen Burnett and Zackary Russell) has seen the show. So Stephen speaks with someone who has: Jason Morehead.

Jason says: “I simply don’t like trashing stuff. I always try to find a few good things about whatever I review…I’d much rather write about stuff I love, than trash stuff I hate.”

Still, there’s plenty to challenge about Netflix’s latest grim fantasy world.

Episode disclaimer

  • As you might have guessed from the title of Jason’s article, we talk about some mature topics.
  • If you are a younger listener, or a parent listening with kids, this episode may not be suitable for you.
  • Or, listen with your older kids or pre-teenage children. Use this opportunity to engage a discussion about this kind of story.
  • Because we’re going to see more of this “mature” fantasy on television. It sells. Is that a good thing?
The Witcher

Slogan fact-check: true. But do sexually explicit stories themselves create monsters?

Interview with Jason Morehead

We discuss feedback from Facebook commenter Jeremy B.:

I’m gonna have to disagree. Oh, I agree that there’s A LOT of sex and nudity — way more than I would be comfortable with in the real world — but the world of the Witcher is NOT the real world, and it’s not intended to be. Rather, it’s intended to be VERY different, and we’re not intended to be PARTY to that world but distant SPECTATORS to it. So while it all seems gratuitous to US, the question we need to be asking is, is it gratuitous to the characters that LIVE there? And in my opinion, no, it is not.

We discuss feedback from Facebook commenter Andy S.:

Spot on. I made it to the beginning of Episode 3 before I got creeped out by the ‘serious’ and ‘adult’ imagery. It looked less adult, and more like something I would’ve come up with when I was 14. I’m genuinely resentful of this idea that any story with swords also has to show female nudity. Yes, Game of Thrones was successful. So was The Lord of the Rings. Show some imagination.

We also explore these gritty, real facts about what it takes to make shows that feature private acts made public:

  • With comments that only talk about the story, we’re very much at risk of ignoring the very human factor that goes into the making of shows like this.
  • We explored this some in our last episode.
  • It’s coming more to light that (plot twist!) these visual stories don’t just grow on trees.
  • To show someone naked, you have to hire someone to get naked.
  • Often that someone is a woman.
  • This just keeps happening in these shows.
  • What’s also happening: actresses come forward, usually after they’ve left the show and/or they’re more established in their careers.
  • They say: You know what? That time I was on that show and acting in public what ought to be kept private? I don’t think I was actually okay with that.

More articles about this grim reality:

What do you think?

  • Did you at any point see “Game of Thrones” or this newer series, “The Witcher”?
  • What’s your take on these kinds of scenes?
  • What can Christians do in response to exploitative media?
  • Or maybe you have an argument about how it’s not exploitative?

Either way, we’d like to hear from you. Comment here.

And of course, subscribe to the Fantastical Truth podcast on any podcasting platform. Get new episodes every Tuesday.

On our next episode

Next time on Fantastical Truth, we’re asking: how did you first discover fantastical fiction?

We’d love to hear your origin story, which could include elements like:

  • How old were you?
  • How did you find the story?
  • What did you love about it?
  • What ideas really spoke to you?
  • Which characters draw you in?
  • What did you love about the world?
  • How do you feel about that story now?

Again: comment below, or use our form to send your story straight to Fantastical Truth.

Fantastical Truth
Fantastical Truth

Lorehaven explores fantastical stories for God's glory: fantasy, sci-fi, and beyond.

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    In the Fantastical Truth podcast from Lorehaven, hosts E. Stephen Burnett and Zackary Russell explore fantastical stories for God's glory and apply their wonders to the real world Jesus calls us to serve.
    1. […] This time on our Fantastical Truth podcast, we’re taking up another big theme: the challenges of “mature” fantasy action drama stories like The Witcher. […]

    2. Cap Stewart says:

      An excellent and nuanced conversation about a very important topic. Thanks for producing this episode!

    What say you?