It was meant to provide a little chuckle in the Season 1 DVD commentary of "Game of Thrones," but instead, it has produced an apology from both the producers of the hit HBO series and the cable channel it appears on.
Soon after the death of a major character toward the end of Season 1, Jack Gleeson's King Joffrey takes his bride-to-be Sansa (Sophie Turner) out to see a number of heads on stakes. One of the heads, according to the producers, looked a lot like President George W. Bush -- because it was a fake head made in the likeness of the 43rd President.
"George Bush's head appears in a couple of beheading scenes," showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss said during the commentary. "It's not a choice, it's not a political statement. We just had to use whatever head we had around."
But less than a day after the image started making its way around the Internet, both the production team of Benioff and Weiss as well as HBO apologized for using the likeness of the former president in such a violent way.
"We use a lot of prothetic body parts on the show: heads, arms, etc.," Benioff and Weiss said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "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."
"We were deeply dismayed to see this and find it unacceptable, disrespectful and in very bad taste," HBO said. "We made this clear to the executive producers of the series who apologized immediately for this inadvertent careless mistake. We are sorry this happened and will have it removed from any future DVD production."
This is not the first time Bush was portrayed in the entertainment industry as lacking life. British filmmaker Gabriel Range directed the 2006 film "Death of a President," that created a fictional story around the assassination of George W. Bush in Chicago. It was shot on a budget of $2 million, but made less than $1 million at the box office.
Making death threats to the President is a Class D felony, but making threats against the President is actually quite common. Bush himself was said to receive about 3,000 such threats a year, while his successor Barack Obama has about 12,000 a year.
However, using bulk body parts in the likeness of a President would almost definitely not constitute any kind of threat. Even "Death of a President," which was talking about a fictional assassination in the near future (two years later), would be protected under creative clauses as exploring hypotheticals and using real life historical figures in fictional stories.
"Game of Thrones" recently completed airing its second season on HBO, pulling in record viewership. It was recently nominated for nine Airlock Alpha Portal Awards, including Best Series/Television, which it won last year.
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