So, I was having a conversation tonight with a close friend online, and as you do, we were talking about tv.
And as it does, when we’re talking geeks, the conversation turned to Game of Thrones.
When it first appeared, I was quite entranced. Compulsive watching stuff. Drama! Dragons! Kal Drogo!
It was fun, too, to have non-spoileresque conversations with another friend, who resolutely refuses to read the books, about where all the various plot lines might travel.
But, tonight, I was just thinking that the more distance you get from it, the worse and worse it looks.
Partly, that’s having read, again compulsively, all the George R. R. Martin books, and watching that perennial disease of the BIG FANTASY series take hold and corrupt the thing from the inside. Too sprawling, too unfocused, clearly not edited any more.
But it’s also thinking more about the horrendous #racefail stuff. I mean, Dani could not be MORE WHITE. And the Dothraki… well, noble savages, blah blah, wild pagan rites, blah blah, untrustworthy, blah blah. You know the rest. Kal Drogo wears eyeshadow; that is one redeeming feature. But Othering much? The big barbarian has to be feminised.
And then there’s… well, just reflect on the “brothel scene” where Littlefinger opines while still directing the “lesbian scene” with the two prostitutes. You know the rest.
Now, the standard defence (and I think it may originate with George R. R. Martin) goes something along the lines of “well, the show represents the prevalent gender and racial cultures of the time it alludes to”.
Race and gender were figured in exactly the same way in the Middle Ages (whatever they were, and we know where they were).
I don’t think so.
There’s another queer history of medieval Europe, where something quite other to our sex/gender/sexuality triad lived. And there’s something prior to the Great White Imaginary going on too. Why not represent that? That would be transgressive.
Or even, as The Opinioness of the World says:
It would be one thing if the show made a commentary on the sexism that pervades society, a la Mad Men. But that doesn’t appear to be what’s happening here.
As my friend said:
Male gaze, male gaze, male gaze, male gaze, male gaze, male gaze, male gaze.
Yes, all this stuff is problematic, but what makes us blind or too kind to it, initially?
That’s what we should think about.
And I totally include myself in the indictment made here.
We all deserve better.
PS: There’s also the way certain hegemonic elements of fandom act as an enforcer against critique. Here’s Latoya Peterson on that. Regrettably, I can’t recall, for the moment, the blog where a flame war from GoT fandom erupted at such intensity that I believe a comments thread with several thousands of entries was deleted. Google hasn’t been my friend in this instance, but I’ll seek some advice from someone who knows and update!