Apologies for W’s Spiking on ‘Game of Thrones’ Don’t Jibe

The hubbub around the use of a model head that resembles George W.  Bush atop a spike in a Season 1 episode of HBO's popular series Game of Thrones should be playing itself out. With the news breaking June 13, and same-day apologies issued all around by HBO and Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, it should be time to move on—head in another direction, so to speak.

The showrunners mentioned the likeness in a DVD commentary, which touched off the viral story, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

But the two apologies are not in sync, and so the spiked head story continues to have life, if not legs. Here's HBO's apology: "We were deeply dismayed to see this 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."

From the tone of this apology, it seems as if the Game of Thrones production crew willfully and knowingly shot a scene with a model of Bush's severed head on a stick. "Unacceptable, disrespectful and in very bad taste" makes that pretty clear. And "inadvertent, careless mistake" muddies the picture.

Then, Benioff and Weiss, in a pair of statements, said: "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. 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."

The way the two showrunners describe it, the use of a head that looked like George W. Bush wasn't premeditated—it was inadvertent. In fact, from their apology you can't infer that the head shown was an actual replica of the former president's noggin.

The DVD boxed set commentary does slightly implicate Benioff and Weiss. "George Bush's head appears in a couple of beheading scenes. It's not a choice, it's not a political statement. We just had to use whatever head we had around," the two said on the DVD.

But their apology is clear—they are sorry for discussing it on the commentary track. They're sorry for opening their big mouths.

Instead of putting the story to rest, these conflicting apologies only bring up more questions—and perhaps hint at conflict between HBO and the makers of its hit series.

By Scott Van Camp: @svancamp01

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About Scott Van Camp

Scott Van Camp is editor of PR News, an executive-level, reader-supported publication that helps enhance the business impact of PR. Scott has a rich background in both journalism and PR/marketing. He has more than 15 years of experience as a writer/editor at various consumer and trade publications. Scott was with VNU Business Publications for five years, including stints as managing editor at IQ News and Technology Marketing magazines and senior editor at Brandweek. In the PR/marketing sphere, he has served as corporate communications manager at MarketBridge, a marketing and sales consultancy, and as editorial director for the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council. While at the Council, Scott led several high-profile marketing research projects. He has also operated his own communications and media consulting firm, SVC Communications.

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