Terry Pratchett. 1948 – 2015

He+has+alzheimers_be078b_4825974

When I was 14 part of my English  GCSE was an oral presentation of my own devising. The title I came up with was “Discworld is a superior to Lord of the Rings”. Bare in mind this was 2003; peter Jackson was finishing up the trilogy and there was influx of people to Tolkien fandom and my teacher at the time had been a fan of middle earth since she had been a child. The presentation itself was an explanation of why Terry Pratchett’s charters are more believable and well-rounded, siting the fact that the people of Gondor are weirdly accepting of some random hobo claiming to be the true-born king. Particularly because wandering around the Forrest with a sword isn’t an activity that qualifies you to run a country.  I got the only A I every got for English for this academic nerd rage, which is something I’ve always been proud of. I tell this story to try to explain why it is that this morning, when I found out Terry Pratchett had died; I cried for losing someone I’ve never physically met.

I’ve been a fan of Terry Pratchett since I was eight, when Channel 4 broadcast cartoon versions of Wyrd Sisters and Soul Music, (by the way if you’ve never heard of these two cartoons stop reading this and follow the links provided, you wont be disappointed) on seeing my enjoyment my big sister lent me her copy of Mort which is the first book I can remember reading all the way through and enjoying. As a Dyslexic person, reading fiction has always been hard for me, Pratchett’s writings are the sole exception to this rule, whilst almost every other book is somewhat of a challenge for me, his style as well as his compelling narratives were what made it easy for me to fall in love with reading and storytelling; I have the same feelings about Sam Vimes, The Librarian and Granny Weatherwax that other people of my generation have for Harry, Ron & Hermione. Discworld Novels provided me with a way to cope with being a weird, awkward teenager who felt very disjointed from the rest of the world by providing me with stories about people who didn’t fit their pre-ordained narratives.

It’s hard to explain exactly why Terry Pratchett’s is such a formative element of my childhood, a good place to start is this quote from ‘Hogfather‘;

This is very similar to the suggestion put forward by the Quirmian philosopher Ventre, who said, “Possibly the gods exist, and possibly they do not. So why not believe in them in any case? If it’s all true you’ll go to a lovely place when you die, and if it isn’t then you’ve lost nothing, right?” When he died he woke up in a circle of gods holding nasty-looking sticks and one of them said, “We’re going to show you what we think of Mr Clever Dick in these parts…’

Someone took a paragraph in a YA novel parodying Christmas to explain the premise of, and then the fundamental flaw in Pascal’s wager. That’s why Terry Pratchett is an Amazing author. His novels are at a fundamental level social commentary. They discuss; racism, community policing, feminism, economics, industrialization, class warfare, LGBT rights, Fat shaming, nationalism, Darwinian evolution, football, art, theater, folk memory, diplomacy, governmental corruption, privatization, religion, orientalism, science and a host of metaphysical and philosophical concepts; and they do it all in a pre-modern fantasy land populated by wizards, witches, Dwarfs, Trolls, Vampires and Werewolfs. Terry Pratchett didn’t just introduce me to reading he introduced me to life. He taught me skepticism of ideas whilst simultaneously empathy towards other cultures and peoples. The fantasy genre was ruined for me by Terry Pratchett because my attempts to branch into Middle Earth or Narnia always ran up against one-dimensional villains with little motivation beyond being evil fighting equally flat heroes hellbent on doing nothing other than being good – this is something that doesn’t stand up very well to complexities of Lord Vetinari or Death.

The dude with the scythe, not the concept.

The dude with the scythe, not the condition.

I wouldn’t say Terry Pratchett is the reason I write, he is however the reason I write the way I write. I wish I could say another author has had anything close to the impact on me that Sir Terry has, but that just wouldn’t be true; I’ve tried to love other writers  as much to be more rounded – George Orwell got close but never quite took the number one spot. The best part of being this in love with Discworld novels and the host of other Pratchett writings, is that as I grew up I discovered that I hadn’t’ been alone, friendships have been secured and I’ve bonded with so many strangers over our mutual love of Ahnk-Morpork. Terry Pratchett didn’t just give me a fun fantasy world to camp out in every so often, he gave me an identity as well as a groundwork to craft my own ideas about the world and he did it by making the ordinary profound and the fantastical relatable. For this I will be forever grateful.

Advertisements

Louis Theroux is a bland, Insulting joke of a journalist. “Law and Disorder in Philadelphia” is a terrible documentary.

So for those who are uninitiated, Louis Theroux is one of the many private school, Oxbridge educated white dudes who have dominated British public life forever. In Louis’ case; he has taken it upon himself to wonder around the world pointing at things. I’ve always been annoyed by the popularity of Mr Theroux’s assent to position of BBC staple documentary making, I’ve always really hated that his method of asking inane questions to people with very clearly stated world view; be it asking people hanging out in a swastika draped garage if they consider themselves Nazis (spoiler; they do), Asking White segregationists if they think racism is strange (you will be supprised to find out they don’t) or asking members of the Westrbo Baptist Church if they think homophobia has a place in Christianity (shocker; they do), Louis Theroux has boiled down awkward redundancy to an art form.

The apparent idea is that Louis is showing parts of the world that we don’t really see, this is somewhat true when he visits places like Californian prisons, or even pseudo-hospitals that are in fact prisons. This tends to mean that the style of looking at people who are not white middle class and English whilst they say all manner of non white middle class English stuff is not nearly as grinding because very few documentary makers actually enter these places, this don’t make those documentaries good, just less redundant than they might be, establishing the existence of such places for hopefully more competent people to come a investigate a particular part of the world.

“Law and Disorder in Philadelphia”, arguably the first documentary in which Louis is trying to drop the whole “wacky” bullshit he made his name in during my childhood and teenage years, this makes the whole experience jarring as whilst he seems to have dropped the overt stupidity at the level of playing jaunty music whilst meeting white separatists he hasn’t stopped the general gawping and stupid questions, making the whole endeavor feel like a bad joke at the expense of Philadelphia’s population.

Untitled

Totally not hardware porn.

It’s pretty annoying that this is the entire documentary is an advert for the Philadelphia police department; the fact that this entire documentary comes, care of the permission of the Police department is abundantly clear from the very clearly set up shots of the drug cops posing with their hardware to to the completely unquestioning acceptance Louis gives to police officer’s views on why the social problems that plague Philadelphia, never asking them if they feel they play a factor in the cycle of poverty, drugs and violence, allowing a relatively complex issue of the world of inner city violence into one of honorable cops fighting to save  the inexplicably violent inner cities of America. This is particularly jarring considering the city’s history of police brutality, and street harassment. Louis’ failure to question the officers featured in the documentary beyond how hard they find tussling with hardened criminals, never wondering why the police might be hated in Philadelphia, beyond the fact that poor black people are just like children. In fact I would like to quickly consider the last clip I’ve just linked; Louis, having watched the police chase down and arrest a young man and having a entire block of people express anger about the fact that as a community have no agency or redress in what is at the end of the day; a highly policed area, Louis begins the questioning thus;

when you’re mopping up the bad guys, how do you make sure you don’t alienate the good guys?

firstly that’s a stupid question, it’s based on the Idea that policing a modern inner-city with many layers of socio-economic factors that have driven poor, mostly people of color into the least well maintained and most brutalized parts of the developed world can have anything so simplistic as “good” and “bad” guys. This boils the question down to LaPierre levels of idiocy. not only to be dragged down further by the frankly telling awnser Louis gets;

The good guys aren’t here. The good guys are the ones who went back into the house when they were told… The ones who want to start trouble are the one’s mouthing off on the corner… They grey area guy ain’t here either. He’s back in his his house too when he was told the second time. These are the people you’ve gotta tell five, six, seven times to get off the corner and they don’t want to do it, so they get locked up

There are several places to go with that statement, why, for instance, are you equating vocal opposition to the police a sign of criminal behaviour? Do you think that for a public servant you are taking a weirdly controlling attitude to people who ultimately pay your salary? You seem to be talking about them as though they are rowdy children, do you think that effects the way you interact with them? and so on, my reaction would not be to cut away to finding a dead homeless person we can all stare at, minimizing the anger people feel in certain neighborhoods in certain parts of America into just a silly thing that silly people say because they’re not grown ups. It should also be noted that this is the one and only time in the entire hour long documentary that we see people who are not involved in the drug war in any capacity but also living in the  area. Respect for the subject/people involved would surely dictate that Louis follows up with these people, possibly when they’re not having an highly charged altercation with the police? Possibly so as not to depict the citizens of north Philadelphia as incoherent crazy people. Or not, I’m sure that would mess with the narrative we’re trying to construct here.

I just want to put two images side by side for comparison.

Untitled

To the left is a picture of Louis Theroux standing in between Israeli boarder security and Palestinian protesters, you will note that said Israeli police have automatic rifles. To the right is the same Journalist walking up to a group of unarmed teenagers hanging outside a corner store in north Philadelphia. I don’t want to get too defensive of the Kensington area but I do currently have a day job in the area this documentary is filmed in, and despite the fact that I get offered heroin on a daily basis, north Philadelphia isn’t anywhere close to as violent or dangerous as the West Bank. It is particularly not dangerous for foreign journalists, particularly when they’re being escorted by uniformed police. The entire visual of a posh English guy wondering around the 6th most populous city in America in a bullet proof vest is ridiculous, and only adds to the Idea that Kensington is a war-torn hellscape populated by drug addled maniacs against which all methods are justified, so we better not question the methods of our boys in blue.

My anger around this documentary is something that’s been stewing with me for a while. I think it’s because as much as I try to forget the fact, Louis Theroux is one of the BBC’s primary documentary makers and this documentary is the only one about Philadelphia that I’m aware of to play in the U.K. in recent years. British people don’t generally know anything about the City in which I live beyond Boxing, A.I.D.s and that Will Smith was born and raised here, so for a lot of people in the country of my birth this is their modern reference point for how people in Philadelphia live their lives. This city isn’t perfect, It is rough around the edges and in some places dangerous, but no more than any other city and the people who live here are about as weird/violent/crazy/high as people are generally and they don’t deserve to be displayed as unfathomably violent, drug addled and incoherent.

This is a much better essay on inner-city life in America than anything Louis could come up with

 


A Dialogue of Ice and Fire. My Experiences watching Game of Thrones. Part 3

Game-Of-Thrones-Cover-HD

This is the third and probably last installment of an email based interview regarding my feelings and thoughts on HBO’s “Game of Thrones” for a University project, the previous two parts can be found here and here if you are so inclined to find out how I feel about Peter Dinklage’s face or fantasy camera filters.  

Q: What are your thoughts, if any, about the marketing behind the show?

A: I can only really speak to the direct marketing around the third season as I can’t really remember when I first heard about Game of Thrones; it sort of feels like it just faded into the zeitgeist through the internet. Until I actually started watching the TV show, my entire experience of it was various blog articles and memes which have permeated the internet. I have no idea what marketing was like around the world or even in most of the USA but Philadelphia had large billboards proclaiming showing the shadows of dragons flying over a grey sea which was kind of exciting, but I think the marketing I came into contact with most frequently and was most interested by was the marketing done on the internet. I feel HBO probably decided that because people had made that many memes up on their own they decided to get into the game and get people to make memes they designed which brings me to my favorite pastime of last year: Making house sigils.

I think the idea to get people to spend hours coming up with attempts at witty parodies of house sigils is probably my favorite thing a corporate entity has done in a while with the possible exception of 2K commissioning a second expansion to Civilization 5. I obviously first tried to make my family crest and then began to make ones for an Anarchist great house or made up houses or cross fandom enjoyment. Weirdly though this was actually a little more fun than watching the actual T.V. series, but this might be because by the time the third series I had actually read past the third book so that was probably just me. That said, I can’t overestimate how much fun making sigils is.

Making these is far to much fun

Making these is far to much fun

Q: Do you have any experience of or thoughts about the fan culture which has grown up around Game of Thrones?

A: Right so, I think the fact that the twentysomethings who really like Game of Thrones were pre-teens when the Lord of the Rings franchise first hit cinema screens. There’s a really interesting undercurrent throughout the entire Game of Thrones series which sort of shows a loss of innocence about gallantry and the moral integrity of authority figures LOTR is sort of based on. For instance, Aragon is entirely morally upstanding and it all works out well for him, he gets to be king, he gets the girl, and all he had to do was fight some evil dudes as opposed to Robb Stark who gets betrayed by his followers and murdered despite winning all his battles against the clearly morally bankrupt Lannisters, who, far from evil are also empathized with.

The generation that was introduced to the black and white morality of the just fighting the unjust depicted in LoTR came of age during a war that not only be shown to be a sham, but also descended into bloody chaos. This era was topped off by a profound and all encompassing economic collapse resulting in all the sincere promises we were given to us growing up have turned to dust whilst we as a generation are branded as feckless and entitled without being given any opportunities to improve ourselves. In the backdrop of this environment it’s pretty understandable that the hard, cynical and earthy world of Game of Thrones is cathartic to our generation in a weird sort of way.   

For this comparison Imagine Weddings as a decent livelihood, and Robb Stark as the millennial answer to Aragon

For this comparison imagine Weddings as a decent livelihood, and Robb Stark as the millennial answer to Aragon.

This is not to discount the fact that Game of Thrones is a really good story with really engaging characters. Happily, this series has also not fallen into the unpleasant trap of large numbers of fans missing the point of the show and falling in love with the worst characters for the worst reasons in the way Breaking Bad and Mad Men have.  This said there is a disappointing trend where a large number of fans have seen the story as one of good v evil with the Starks being noble despite fundamentally being feudal lords who by definition are dicks and having underlings who skin people alive without ever having thought much about it until said sadists turn around and betray them, though I think this is more to do with a need to simplify the plot in people’s minds. I do however enjoy the cornucopia of parody videos there are available on youtube. My favorite probably was being Game of Thrones Wish-fulfillment which  which is beautifully juvenile, but has since been topped by BadLipReading’s Medieval Fun time world. In terms of other fandoms, GoT seems less intense than others – this despite the fact that fandoms are all intertwined, but that’s my poorly informed opinion based on all the people I know who like the series and the kinds of fan art that goes on.

Also just as an unrelated side note I didn’t get to mention before:

Fuck Bran, fuck Hodor, fuck the stupid dreams about the three eyed crow and everyone involved in that stupid fucking storyline, especially the kid from Love Actually who seems to be the driving force behind Bran continuing.

There isn't one specific reason I hate Jojen Reed. I just really hope he dies soon
It might be interesting that Jojen Reed is probably the only character in this entire franchise I actively hate, I don’t know I’m blinded by hoping he dies soon. 

A Dialogue of Ice and Fire. My Experiences watching Game of Thrones. Part 2

Okay so this is the continuation of an email based interview my friend is having with me about my experiences and feelings about watching the HBO show “Game of Thrones”

Q: You mentioned that you streamed the show online. Could you tell me about your experience of doing that and why you chose this method?

A: Well firstly I don’t have a TV, this makes watching anything at time of broadcast difficult, I’ve also spent the last few years with shaky job security, so paying the monthly fee to have HBO on demand would be impractical as well as irresponsibly decadent. Weirdly in a lot of cases free streaming is a lot more efficient than the kind of streaming you pay for. Not that is directly related to Game of Thrones, but at the moment I’m Downloading episodes of Star Trek; The Next Generation, because Netflix is actually slower than getting it from an illegal sight. But yeah I think it’s interesting that even though it’s been nearly a decade since corporate entities first started monetizing downloading it’s still less efficient than some teenagers in a basement.

Much like sex; It's easier and more satisfying when you don't pay for it

Much like sex; It’s easier and more satisfying when you don’t pay for it

Q: What did you think of the production of the show (things like music, sets, costumes, hair and makeup etc)?

A: As I said before my expectations of the show were relatively low, coloured as they were by the pretty bad stuff I’d enjoyed earlier in the decade. My assumptions therefore were that this was going to be lazily cobbled together medievalish stuff…. Like dudes in “tunics” made of nylon on cardboard sets. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the real life cities they used for settings and the actual chainmail etc etc. I weirdly liked that they chose some of the darkest people to play the three blondest characters in the series, this feels like the producers were almost daring to see how well they could conceal hair and eye colour. A thing I feel pedantic about is the hand of the king’s Broach which isn’t supposed to be a broach; it’s supposed to be a necklace. On the surface there is no difference that matters but there are several points during the books where the fact that it’s a necklace is a really meaningful motif. It’s a thing that annoys me because there isn’t any reason other than cutting out some fun layers to the plot. I do however appreciate that the vibrant colours that all the soldiers are supposed to wear crossed over into the T.V. show. I like the Iron throne even though it is actually a lot smaller than it is in the books. (It’s supposed to about as half as tall as the hall, requiring steps to get to the actual seat) The CGI is pretty spot on which I guess in 2013 says more about the amount of money HBO was prepared to spend on it than anything else but it’s still nice to see some Fantasy having some well-done graphics for a change.

I also enjoy that there seems to have been an effort to make Westeros seem, not just large, but also epic; it’s really just the amount of people they use as extras and the fact that they use places like Moroccan Castles as locations that makes the whole thing seem awesome.

But really though. Not even a little not actually blond

But really though. Not even a little not actually blond

Q: You discussed the actress who plays Shae. I wondered if you had any thoughts about the other actors in the show?

 A: Okay off the bat It’s necessary to talk about accents of Westeros; I think it’s interesting that despite being feudal aristocracy the Starks use a northern accent even though It’s unlikely that the lords of the manor would talk anything like the working classes they ruled over. I get that it can be argued that it’s a motif separating the Starks out from the rest of the national elite, but that only really makes sense if it’s consistent; Why do only the two eldest children share Ned’s accent, whilst the four youngest talk like southeren lordlings? Surely it would make more sense to have all the Starks using an aristocratic accent – we know Sean can pull one off – as one of the themes I feel are really prevalent in A song of ice and fire is the pointlessness of poor men dying for the ambitions of the rich. This is something which is insanely undermined by making the new king in the north use a working class accent which isn’t even what Richard Madden actually sounds like.

Whilst I’m on the mismatching of Accents it makes literally no sense that Robert and Stannis Baratheon have Northern Accents firstly they come from the Stormlands which are well to the south of Kings landing so having the same accent as Northmen seems kind of silly. It also doesn’t make sense because their youngest brother, Renly, has a southern accent. I’m not sure what this is supposed to convey, the only explanation i can come up with is that a northern accent would be too manly for the gay character; something which is alluded too in the books in a really satisfyingly squeamish way on the part of the characters (you know like medieval Europeans would be about queer people) and ruined in the Show by first just showing you that Renly is sleeping with Ser Loras and then presenting us with a lot of  heavy handed discusstions about the ways in which Renly was a “Degenerate“.

More specifically; Peter Dinklage is far too good looking to play Tyrion. The point of Tyrion is that he’s supposed to be super ugly, by being just a normal looking person who happens to have Achondroplasia, makes all the comments about him being grotesque and malformed just seem like people have a problem with short people. As an extra weird thing Tyrion’s “Scar” is supposed to tear half his nose off making him even uglier and an even more terrible prospect for Sansa; The fact that they don’t do this to Tryion’s face just makes the whole thing confusing which is irritating because other than how he looks Dinklage is really good at playing Tryion. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is really good at playing Jamie Lannister as he’s really got the whole teasing out of the inherent sincerity and goodness of Jamie slowly over three series. He’s also exactly the kind of far too good looking Nordic type who should play Jamie; I actually think he’s tied with Gwendoline Christie for the most appropriately cast actor in the series.

The Show has a weird relationship with people of colour with very few – If any – positive aspects. Firstly all the black people in the books are either taken out completely or replaced by a white character; probably the most glaring example of this is Jalabhar Xho, who is part of the court at King’s Landing and plays various minor rolls throughout the story. It’s glaring because it would be incredibly be easy to have him in the Show and would require maybe two minutes of dialogue explaining his status as an exile prince. The worst example of this is the fact that the character of Alayaya is replaced by that of Ros; a character I – as previously mentioned – genuinely hate; she only really serves to show some pubes, have some girl-on-girl action so we don’t get bored when Petyr Baelish is explaining his motivations and replace one of the few black characters in this series by being mistaken for Shae and held hostage. I think the whitewashing of Alayaya is particularly terrible because she’s one of the early vehicles for us learning about the Summer Islands and it’s culture – Which is a society made up of black people to the south of Westeros. In a genre so devoid of characters who aren’t northern European looking men, it’s a pretty unpleasant thing to effectively cut out almost all mention to the one group of non-white people in this world who aren’t slavers or primitive.  Also the two black actors in the T.V. show (Lucian Msamati and Nonso Anozie) portray men who are actually supposed to have an eastern Mediterranean look, not that that annoys me a lot, it’s just that it contributes to the irritating trend in fantasy that all non-white skin is more or less interchangeable.

Casting is messed up is all I’m sayin’

I would like to apologize to Esmé Bianco for being slightly annoyed that her burlesque talents were used for evil by writers.

I would like to apologize to Esmé Bianco for being annoyed that her burlesque talents were used by the writers for evil.

Q: What impact do you think Game of Thrones being made by HBO had on the show?

 A: I’m in two minds. There is the obvious fact that the earthy language, sex and violence wouldn’t fly on channels that aren’t pay per view, lending the producers a level of creative freedom that doesn’t exist on network channels. However HBO is an irritatingly hard thing to legally access which has contributed to Game of Thrones being the most pirated show in 2013. I also think the format of HBO is somewhat constricting as each book in A Song of Ice and Fire is around a thousand pages long whereas HBO generally produces thirteen episodes a season at one hour each, this means that not only is the plot simplified it’s also badly organised as sometimes it’s necessary to focus on a small cluster of characters verses some others; something that doesn’t lend itself to one hour units. Since watching the fourth series of “Arrested Development” I think the show would have been significantly improved if it had been made for Netflix  or something similar, as the format allows for things like episodes that wouldn’t be enslaved to schedules and could be as long or short as they need, diving into a lot more back stories etc etc, something I sort of hope is the future for TV.


A Dialogue of Ice and Fire. My Experiences watching Game of Thrones. Part 1

A few weeks ago a friend of mine asked me to take part in an email based interview based around my experience and feelings regarding HBO’s Game of thrones, as part of research for a University Thesis.  After realizing that my answer to the first question was quite a long essay I decided to post it as Blogging is fun. Enjoy;

Q: In as much depth as possible, can you tell me about your experience of watching Game of Thrones?

A: Okay so I first watched GOT streamed from freetv.com, about halfway through the second season was airing. I did to pass the hours by whilst I was job searching because I had run out of things to watch on Netflix. I wanted to see what all this fuss was about and Kayla, who managed to read the entire published editions of a Song of Ice and Fire, told me I needed to read them – something I thought watching the TV show would be an adequate sub for.

My first impressions was colored by the kind of D&D, Lord of the rings-esque mini-series that where knocking around in the late 1990s-early 2000s (Dinotopia, Gormangast, etc) as well as the Sky Adaptations of Terry Pratchett books that were popular a few years ago This is primarily because it mixes a weird mix of semi computer generated environments and oddly intense lighting that I suppose is to be the sun but makes the whole thing look like a dream sequence. Not knowing anything about the story – other than Ned Stark dies and boobs – I was ready to watch some easy fantasy nonsense.

You See, this sort of weird Hazy Bright thing. I think it's supposed to make things look epic.

You see? this sort of weird hazy but bright look. I think it’s supposed to make things look epic.

So I appreciated the whoring and squalor off the bat, primarily because it is kind of annoying how fantasy worlds never have quite the amount of grime and depressive exploitation that happened in feudal times and would no doubt happen in a Lord of the rings – weird how the soldiers of Minas-Tirith don’t frequent brothels and Theoden has no bastard children – even if these things are a little overplayed and weird, the best example of this is the character of “Rose” who initially seems to only be there as an actor who would flash her crotch for the camera as I have no idea what she adds to the show (My further issues with Rose will be discussed later). I enjoy the initial story is focused on the inner workings of the government of Westeros – I’m a sucker for palace intrigue – as well as seeing the way the Night’s Watch work through Jon Snow’s experience of Channel 4 News The Wall as it’s a convenient way to tell us all about the North, the Wildlings and the religions of Westeros – again something I appreciated about GOT vs. LOTR, as this adds an otherness about the North and thus of the Stark family in relation to the rest of the Westeros aristocracy.

It’s kind of annoying how the only people with any independent characterization are members of the aristocracy; everyone without a title seems to have emotions primarily focused around those who do. All the working class nightswatchmen are super angry with Jon Snow for being good at fighting as opposed to… I don’t know, being conscripted into a celibate army in a land of perpetual Winter. The boys Arya is taken north with seem to all be universally cowardly and viscous with the exception of Gendry(You know, the one with noble blood). When I read the books (after watching the second season) this made sense as the POV nature of the books sort of requires us to firstly see things from the from the perspective of the aristocracy which would naturally overlook all the commoners who don’t do stuff for them; however, this perspective sort of goes out the window since we’re not inside any character’s head during the TV show, an issue I’ll bring up later on but I don’t want to get into comparing the tv show to the book unfavorably too much.

Hooray! A high born white lady to solve all our problems!

Hooray! A high born white lady to solve all our problems!

Despite all this classist bullshit that goes on in minor characterization is kind of weird as it seems to fly in the face of the overarching thesis of game of thrones, which I think is that hereditary power is a bad Idea as everyone who inherits power during the story (Robb Stark, Joffery Baratheon, Cerci Lanister, Robert Ayrn, Viserys Targaryen) fuck up monumentally due to a hubris based on the arrogance they have been endowed with due to being label for rule from an early age, whilst the competent players are all the marginalized characters (Tryion Lanister, Jon Snow, Samwell Tarley, Littlefinger, Lord Vareys, Jamie Lanister). It should be noted that they’re all still members of the aristocracy, which kind of makes me sympathetic to the argument that game of thrones plays into the iconography of fascism in that the heroes of this story all seem to be members of the lower upper class and benefit from the breeding and the fact that they have had to fight their way to the top.

So ladies; It confuses me that GOT is lauded as the most feminist thing in the Fantasy Genre (gonna complain about it not being like the book for a paragraph, sorry) So there are four characters who I think are unpleasantly scaled down from the fully fleshed out characters they could be/are in fact in the books;

1) Ayra – So from the get-go Arya is an irritatingly pingeonholeable “Tomboy”. Something I don’t necessarily mind in itself but is kind of annoying playing against Sansa (who we will get to) she comes off as just a foil for her sister’s less than clever remarks about her professed love for Joffrey. The main source of my irritation re: Arya is that she watches her father be murdered, is threatened with rape, murder and attacked nearly constantly whilst she is meandering through the middle of a no holds barred war – yet she doesn’t kill anyone until the end of the third season. in the book (Sorry) she kills her first person at the end of book one, who is a stable boy, this leads to an awesome piece of character development as it pays off near the end of the fourth book as she has a minor breakdown as the fact that she has washed herself in the blood of dozens of men for the last 18 months or so. As she doesn’t do this during the tv show her bravado and gradual heart hardening don’t make a lot of sense as all her killing is done for her by men and boys who all seem to be much more competent than she is despite lacking the sword training she apparently has. GAH

Like Seriously; Ice cold killer!

Like Seriously; Ice cold killer!

2) Shae: Why the fuck does Shae give a shit about who Tyrion marries? Their relationship starts with him hiring her; her primary motivations are money and entertaining herself and all the ideas Tyrion has about her loving him are supposed to be just those; thoughts in Tyrion’s head. It pains me that a character who was clearly written as the antithesis to the “Hooker with a heart of Gold” trope go on to weirdly fulfill that role. As a side note I do like that Sibel Kekilli did porn earlier on in her life; it kind of shows that it’s possible to be a successful public figure even though people know for a fact that you’ve had sex…. In Germany at least; Sigh English speaking world, sigh

3) Sansa: Sansa is super frustrating The fact that we have a character who has been trapped by her former betrothed whilst coming to terms with the death of her father, a thing she was somewhat complicit in, is a really cool opportunity to either explore what it would be like to experience this – would she work to try and undermine the Lannisters and their hold on king’s Landing or possibly develop some kind of Stockholm syndrome that the amount of time she spends both in court and with Cersei. Instead of this we just see life sucking for her continually as her gallant brother Robb fights to save her unsuccessfully.  (Sorry about the need to refer to the book) A major flaw in Sansa’s Character in the TV show is that during the books she develops really extensively but almost all of that development is internal monologue, this means that in the TV Show she comes off as just a damsel in  distress.

4) Daenerys: So Danny is annoyingly under characterized – a good example of this is a seen early on in the first season when her handmaid teaches her how to have sex with Karl so he’ll respect her more. The dynamics of this scene are annoying because it’s premise is that The Female heir to a former Royal household which deals almost exclusively in sister-brother marriage (something that means that from birth she has been told about sex and breeding because that is essentially her job) at no point thought to ask anyone to give her pointers on how to gain power in a marital relationship through sexual favours. This is especially annoying as it makes Danny this weird helpless damsel in distress until she gets dragons. After she gets dragons, however, I enjoy Danny character despite the fact that the entirety of her stay in Quarth seems to supposedly be the turning point of her story as she begins to resolve to build her army/empire as opposed to keep running.

As well as under characterizing people who we’re supposed to root for, GOT has a bad habit of over characterizing people who don’t need it at all. A good example of this is Joffrey; why do we need to see Joffery begin to suspect that Cersei and Jamie have been fucking? Why do we need to watch him be sexually intimidated by Margery? Joffery is a Sociopath who has been taught from birth by an overbearing mother that he is the literal center of the universe who will one day rule almost all the known world. He has no redeemable qualities and it’s detrimental to the show to pretend he does. I can only assume this is something the writers have taken from the fact that the way Jamie’s character is developed over the series as we start knowing only that he is a killer who is prepared to kill kids to protect his incestuous affair, we then see him grow as a human-being and come to see his character as whole and well beyond the one dimensional swaggering villain he starts as.

Really all the characterization you need

Really all the characterization you need

Overall I like game of thrones; I think it’s a really good step in the right direction as it has a really nice earthiness that a lot of fantasy/sci-fi stuff is really bad at – possibly because the target demographic isn’t super comfortable with social commentary, and sexy stuff.

The Thrilling sequel