When most people think of the beautiful Emilia Clarke, they’ll remember her career-defining turn as the dragon-riding Daenerys Targaryen in the landmark HBO fantasy show Game of Thrones.
She played a central character in the series, and her distinctive look of long white-blond hair and dark eyebrows made her one of the most recognizable faces in pop culture today. So, when a male CEO recently decided to take a jab at the actress’ looks, people were understandably taken aback.
‘The Short, Dumpy Girl Walking Into The Fire’
On Wednesday, eager audiences gathered for the Australian premiere of House of the Dragon, the long-awaited prequel series to Game of Thrones. At the event, Foxtel CEO Patrick Delany described his first impression of the original series.
Coming into the show later in its run, Delany recalled not knowing much about the story. Like many, Delany had only seen snippets of Emilia Clarke’s character walking into flames only to emerge with three baby dragons. It was a pivotal scene containing plot development that would go on to characterize the entire show’s run. But Delany managed to condense the moment into a single crude sentence.
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“I was like, ‘What’s this show with the short, dumpy girl walking into the fire?’” Delaney remarked.
According to attendees, the comment wasn’t well received. What was clearly intended to be a joke was met with silence due to its cruel underlying insult towards Clarke.
“It felt like he was expecting us to laugh along but people in the room were obviously shocked by it,” one audience member said. “There was a bit of a gasp,” recalled another.
A Half-Hearted Apology
After receiving backlash for his comment, a Foxtel Group spokesperson issued a sort of non-apology on his behalf.
“The aim was to convey that for him, Games of Thrones was something very different for television in 2011 and that Emilia Clarke went from relatively unknown to one of the most recognized and most-loved actors in television and film,” they said. “On behalf of Mr. Delany, the Foxtel Group apologizes if his remarks were misunderstood and caused any offense.”
These are the kinds of apologies we’ve grown used to in this modern day of social media: non-remorseful statements simply meant to deflect any blame.
A Sign Of The Times
But Foxtel’s excuse doesn’t really ring true. There were countless other ways the CEO could have expressed this notion that didn’t involve commenting on her body. And for Clarke, a professional actress who was required to film multiple nude scenes throughout her tenure on Game of Thrones, his comment just feels icky.
While Hollywood has undoubtedly improved its treatment of women over the years, the fact that Delany felt comfortable enough to make this kind of joke is extremely telling.
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Thankfully, everyone immediately called the CEO out and rushed to support Clarke. But sooner or later, men are going to have to learn that women’s bodies aren’t open for suggestions—they aren’t objects to be criticized and commented on. We hope times are changing, but there’s still a long way to go.