“I don’t want to say [being groped] comes with the territory, but, you know, people are crazy about it,” said the GOT star.
Game of Thrones star Daniel Portman – who plays Podrick Payne in HBO’s fantasy series – has spoken out about being sexually assaulted by fans of the show.
“I’ve been grabbed by so many… like the amount of like older, older women who are very…” he told Esquire, while making a grabbing gesture.
“I don’t want to say [being groped] comes with the territory, but, you know, people are crazy about it. It’s certainly not cool.”
Portman went on to reference the fact that, in the third season of GOT, his character was revealed to have slept with several King’s Landing prostitutes – only to have his payment refused due to his extraordinary skills in the bedroom.
“In this day and age you’d think that people would be able to separate reality from fiction,” he said.
“[But] what can you do? You know? Obviously tell them not to do it. It hasn’t happened for a while.”
Portman’s words echo those of fellow Game of Thrones star Kit Harington, who plays Jon Snow/Aegon Targaryen in the series. “[T]here’s a sexism that happens towards men…as well,” the actor said, although the resulting backlash saw him later amend his comments in an interview with The Guardian.
“Sexism against men is not something I should have really said,” he said. “I think what I meant was, being objectified. At that time, I did feel objectified.”
Harington continued: “I do think men can get objectified. I do feel I have been objectified in the past, sexually as well, in pieces that have been written about me… Has that made me feel uncomfortable in the past? Yes. Do I think my position is the same as a woman’s in society? No. They’re very different things, and I should have separated them. I was wrong.”
Portman is not the first celebrity to have been groped by fans – far from it, in fact. As noted by Hanniyah Angus in an essay for Medium, obsessive fans have existed for a very long time – such as “during the Roman reign, where people collected gladiators’ sweat out of admiration; or the Victorian era, when hordes of fans forced author Arthur Conan Doyle to revive his star character, Sherlock Holmes”.
In the age of social media, though, fans are able to feel closer than ever to the subject of their affection – and many feel as if they ‘own’ them (or are ‘owed’ attention by them) in some way, shape or form. This was made all too evident in 2017, when Harry Styles was groped whilst performing at the We Can Survive concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Styles quickly walked away and continued singing, protectively covering his groin area when he came close to fans in the front row again.
Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard has similarly been subjected to unwanted attention from his fans, so much so that he has been forced to tweet a plea to fans asking them not to “harass” him and his co-stars,.
In the post, which has since been ‘liked’ some 350,000 times, the young actor wrote that while he doesn’t want to “ex-communicate” people who love the show, “anyone who calls themselves a ‘fan’ and actively goes after someone for literally acting and doing their job is ridiculous.”
Last year, Taylor Swift won a landmark sexual assault case against DJ David Mueller after he groped her during a fan meet ‘n’ greet in 2013.
“Right as the moment came for us to pose for the photo, he took his hand and put it up my dress and grabbed onto my ass cheek and no matter how much I scooted over, it was still there,” Swift said in a videotaped deposition.
“It was completely intentional, I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life.”
It goes without saying that we, as fans, are never entitled to touch an artist’s body without their consent – to do so is a form of sexual assault. By telling artists not to overreact when some stranger grabs at them, we are telling them that their feelings are not as important as that of the person who has assaulted them. By telling them that they should “enjoy the attention”, we’re teaching them that the sole purpose of their existence is to titillate and tease their fans. And, by telling them it’s “just one of those things”, we’re assaulting them all over again.
Essentially, actors and musicians may achieve god-like status thanks to their position in the public eye, but they’re human beings, and they deserve to be treated with the same respect you’d show anyone else. So keep your hands to your fucking selves when you meet them IRL, OK?