If you want to catch George W. Bush on a bad hair day, check out his head, mounted on a spike, in a split-second scene during the first season of Game of Thrones.
As we all await the economic speech slated for an afternoon delivery by President Obama – it will be analyzed here tomorrow – surely we can spare a few serio-comic moments for the digital furor du jour, the news that an HBO production team dressed the prosthetic presidential countenance with a Rock of Ages hairdo and impaled it atop a wall at the castle of bratty King Joffrey.Suffice it to say that this stunning revelation will do nothing to staunch the conservative paranoia about Hollywood.See it for yourself: In episode 10, Joffrey beckons his reluctant mistress, Sansa Stark, to view the severed head of her father, Ned…and it turns out (at roughly 1:09 of the clip) that the famously pursed Bush lips and jutting chin are clearly visible on the beheaded character two spikes away. It’s likely that no viewer would have noticed such a thing – I sure didn’t, when I watched the scene last year – but the executive producers took care of that issue, by pointing it out in the commentary track on the season one DVD.”George Bush’s head appears in a couple beheading scenes,” said David Benioff and D.B Weiss. “It’s not a choice. It’s not a political statement. It’s just we had to use whatever heads we had around.” And we only know that they said this because, yesterday, a DVD viewer posted the remark on Reddit.com, a social media site. Which means that, within a span of seconds, the item began to metastasize and people started going berserk. A London tabloid website quoted Craig Eaton, a New York Republican leader, who insisted that “Americans of all political persuasions should boycott watching this particular show.” Some anonymous commenter declared on an LA website, “Wave bye-bye to half your audience. I tune in to Game of Thrones to forget about politics, not to be reminded of Hollywood’s college sophomore marxism.” Meanwhile, some guy on my Twitter feed naturally dubbed the scandal “Bushheadgate,” because, after all, anything errant in our political or entertainment culture (such as the careless use of Bush’s head) warrants equivalence with the war on democracy waged during Watergate.It takes so little to whip people up these days; the folks at HBO sought last night to hose people down with the ritual apologia. From the network: “We were deeply dismayed to see this (Bush head) and find it unacceptable, disrespectful and in very bad taste. 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.” (Wait, what about HBO GO and the other on-demand services?)From Benioff and Weiss: “We use a lot of prosthetic body parts on the show: heads, arms, etc. 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….We meant no disrespect to the former president and apologize if anything we said or did suggested otherwise.”Those apologies should be sufficient. What the scandalized folks fail to understand is that, dramatically speaking, Bush’s head on a spike is actually a compliment to Bush. Those of us who watch the series know this to be true. All the heads on that wall were formerly attached to good guys; Joffrey, the psychopathic boy king, is such a bad guy that when two prostitutes show up to service him, he instead commands them to beat each other up.By definition, furors du jour burn out quickly anyway. And there’s really no way for anti-Hollywood Republicans to sustain this scandal by insisting, in the spirit of fairness, that Barack Obama’s prosthetic head be added to Joffrey’s collection in season three. That would be dramatically incorrect, because, so far as I can tell, there are no black people in King’s Landing.——-Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1