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My Problems With Game of Thrones

The other day, I got a comment to a post I made complaining about the three episodes of Game Of Thrones I’d “watched” a while back. The comment was everything you wish it wasn’t. I’ve deleted the comment, the post and all, because I deleted the post on LJ a long time ago (I wasn’t making my points clearly and I didn’t want to argue about something that was just making me angry) and just forgot to delete the one on WordPress.

You can read the rest, but you've only yourself to blame.

I don’t have the full comment, having deleted it, but it went something like this “I love Game of Thrones! They treat bitches the way bitches need to be treated. Bitch sasses you, you smack her. Fuck Yeah! Rape all the bitches! Fucking cunts… ect. ect. ect.” Was this just some troll? Maybe, but I started looking around and found that if the joke of Game of Thrones is that the way women are used in the story is horrible and we should be glad to live in a place that isn’t like that… then a lot of guys DID NOT get the joke.

I’m not sure that’s the statement anyway, but that argument has been going on for years on the internet. I’ve noticed though, that a lot of the argument is between women. Some women love it, others are horrified. I have been rather saddened though, to see so many women using the sort of dismissive language that men use to Mansplain why women are wrong when they complain about something like this. If it were an argument about how women are treated in comics, the only thing that would change is that it would be a bunch of guys with the sexual maturity of 14 year olds calling the complainers stupid. Seriously a lot of the discussion is that bad.

The problem for me is that at least as far as the TV show goes, this isn’t medieval misogyny, this is modern misogyny. They make the women stupid, mean, vengeful for no reason and objects for rape. Oh, unless they’re only reason for being cast was to be naked. There was a lot of nudity that really served no purpose but to go “WOOO HOOO! We’re on HBO! Have some titties bitches!” I was deeply disturbed by the treatment, and noticed that women were only being given power so they could abuse it, or have it taken away as a prelude to being raped and killed. Not because of any story arc, but to show THAT’S why you don’t given women power. The dismissive attitude of the medieval period was completely missing. If you really want to represent the medieval period, you should treat women as if they’re one step above children.

I complained to Syd that it was a fun house Renaissance Festival view of the time period, and that’s when she told me that part of the impetus to write the series was that GRRM wanted to fight the Ren-Fest view of the middle ages. To which I informed her that he fucking failed and invited her to read a couple of history books we have lying around. I’ll grant that the “Hi-Ho-The-Derry-Oh Let me put on my colorful hose, by which I mean leggings not a street vernacular for prostitutes” view of those ages is sort of warped, but if you think this is how the medieval period was like, you’ve gone to a point where you’re just as bad, but now you shop at Hot Topic. This is no more an accurate representation of Medieval Europe, than Robin Hood: Men In Tights is.

Ah, but soft, in that we have a minor problem and a stick that I seem to have the wrong end of…

As it turns out, one of the reasons I didn’t like Game of Thrones isn’t really the fault of the show or the books. It even undercuts the above paragraph to some degree. See, when people were talking about it before it started, I was told that it was a retelling of European history, and that it was really historically accurate to the middle ages. That… that’s just not true. I don’t want to say the person was lying to me deliberately, but that person is a stupid moron. I don’t mind saying that, because they don’t read here and I’ve already told them that they’re stupid for telling me that it was. I also cuffed them around the ear for that bit of stupidity.

There is clearly an inspiration in certain parts of history, but it’s not Europe. It’s not even Earth! A POINT I CAN’T HELP BUT THINK COULD HAVE BEEN BROUGHT UP AT SOMETIME! I put that in capital letters because I never got that. Not once. In three the episodes I watched, I never understood that this was not a Tolkienesque Pre-Historical Europe. I only got that when I was bitching about how often they talk about how winter is coming every three minutes and was stopped mid-rant. Allow me to replicate the situation.

Me: And fucking winter! I mean Sweet Jesus Banana Flavored Christ! You store some grain, you slaughter some cows, you eat some dense cake, you wait 90 days. Boom! It’s fucking over. The way they go one about this fucking winter thing, you’d think it lasts five fucking years.

Syd: It does.

Me: WHAT?

Syd: You remember when the dwarf said he’d lived through six winters? That’s because winter only comes around every ten years and it lasts like five years.

Me: *Sigh* Okay. Let’s get Cosmos out so Uncle Carl can explain how the rotation of the Earth works.

Syd: This isn’t Earth.

Me: Pardon?

Syd: This isn’t Earth, it’s on a different planet with an entirely different weather cycle.

Me: Then why don’t they ever mention that? Why don’t they explain that even fucking ONCE?

Syd: I don’t know, maybe they did while you were shouting one of those times.

Me: Okay. When does winter arrive then? At the end of this season I presume?

Syd: It hasn’t arrived in the books yet.

Me: …what?

Syd: We’re um… five books in? I think it arrives at the end of the last book, the one I haven’t read yet.

I won’t bore you with what I said next. 98% of it was profanity, and the other two percent might as well have been. Bust as you see, there was a lot I didn’t know. Conferring with some other people who tried to watch the show, they confirmed that they were also confused as hell about what exactly was supposed to be going on with this whole winter thing. The fact that they mention the onset every 3 goddamn minutes really pissed more than one of them off too. Syd claims that it’s not said anywhere near as many times in the book, but someone else said that what they did was take every single utterance of the word winter from the book and put that line in the show. All I know was that with such a build up I was expecting it to arrive pretty damn soon. The other people I know who didn’t like it, all gave up and didn’t get to the last episode, but where they dropped off varies from person to person. None of those people have decided to read the books, just in case you’re wondering. Several of them have decided that if they find themselves in a room with GRRM, they will give him such a pinch.

That’s not to say that everyone I’ve talked to who didn’t read the books hated it. Some really liked it. Some were lukewarm on it, and as I understand it, some of them will want to hunt down and kill GRRM when they find out what comes later. None of them have decided to read the books as a result though, unless some of you reading are now knee deep in the series, but I don’t know about it if you are.

Really and truly though, the show lost me in the first seven minutes and never really got me back again. That’s the honest truth. Part of the problem was that I came in with my arms crossed, sitting on a HUGE pile of hype and saying “This had better blow me the fuck away to justify all this bullshit.” and I’m not sure even Seven Samurai can stand up to that. Maybe Raiders of The Lost Ark… maybe.

The first seven minutes was pure Dead Meat. If you don’t watch a lot of horror, I’ll explain using terms you can understand. You start a horror movie with some red shirts running around, they get found by the monster, they are killed before the opening credits start. It’s supposed to gear you up for a movie where death stalks at every turn. In reality, it leaves you saying (completely dead pan) “Oh no, not him, he was my favorite of the three characters whose names I don’t know and haven’t been with long enough to give half a shit about.” I think when I actually said that when the second guy died, Syd knew this wasn’t going to end well. I was already fidgeting and sighing, so a verbal outburst was just the thing. Here’s the thing though, I had identified them as Dead Meat from the moment they came on screen. I’ve watched a lot of movies, and I know Dead Meat when I see it. And what was the whole creepy child monster thing to come to? Nothing. I asked Syd, who was being my personal crystal ball of explanations and spoilers for the night, and she explained that nothing I had seen up to the end of the credits was going to have much impact on anything.

That was the first time I left the room. I just stood up and walked out. The open credits were doing nothing for me anyway, so I decided that if it was going to be like this, then I didn’t need to keep watching. I then decided I was being unfair and came back. I must point out, it took me FOREVER to get into Deadwood. Holly and I really struggled through the first three episodes.

So I came back and found people trying to encourage a little kid shooting. I don’t remember his name, I didn’t remember anyone’s name. I started, almost immediately to identify people with nick-names, another horribly bad sign.

This is actually a problem with all HBO shows, not just GoT. They hurl so many characters and so many story arcs at you in the first episode that it’s hard to keep track. Sadly, HBO’s thought process on this is, if you get lost, fuck you. A lot of the problems are honestly the fact that this is a typical HBO show. Lots of tits, lots of swearing, lots of gratuitous bullshit that does nothing but make the show “Edgy” because edgy gets Cable Ace Awards.

Now the second time I sat down, I was still sighing and bitching, but I tried to watch. I sat for about 20 minutes before getting fed up and walking off again. During that time though, I kept up a running commentary about how you can’t have that sword with that armor, that jerkin can’t exist if you’re still wearing those boots, that dagger was never ever worn like that, the castles wouldn’t have been that drafty… in short, Syd found herself watching a show set, nominally at least, in the medieval period with someone who knew that it wasn’t and went on about how this world doesn’t work in anyway shape or form. Anyone with medical training who wants to complain about medical shows? Any Lawyers want to bitch about some of the stupidity in legal shows and movies? Now imagine that you have a deep understanding of the history of technology and how the interconnection of technology works. Yeah, I sort of live here and these fuckers are fucking it all up.

Ned is stupid, too stupid to live. And I knew he was going to die, not because he was stupid or because I’d learned something about the show, but because he’s played by Sean Bean! I mean C’MON! It’s Sean “Dead Man” Bean. Show me a movie, any movie, where he makes it to the end. Any TV show that isn’t based on the Sharpe’s Series where he lives. You can’t because Sean Bean’s one and only job on anything is to die. Even when he’s not actually killed, he’s bumped out of the cast never to return at least half way through.

I missed most of the introduction of the bad wig family. I walked off when they decided to have bad wig princess standing around naked while her fully clothed brother stood by drooling on her. I had kind of got to the point where I was just plain disgusted, and left the room again. To be honest, it was less the nudity than the fact that the chick playing the bad wig princess was cast more for her willingness to be naked a lot than her acting ability. I came back when that bullshit was over and the Stupid Rat Creatures Stark bullshit had begun again. I left when during the wedding of the Bad Wig Princess to the Every Negative Stereotype Ever guy was going on and a line I recognized from a slanderous Colonization Tract from the 1800s was spoken. The one about the nomads having to kill at least three people during the wedding? Yeah. I read that in a novel that was more or less an explanation as to why the English had to subjugate and murder the nomads of Arabia. It was for their own good, because they’re barely human, they kill at least three or four people during an event. That didn’t make me leave the room though, deciding I didn’t need to watch the rape of a crying, stupid girl made me leave the room.

And then I came back to watch some people fucking doggy style (because face to face wasn’t invented until 1485 or something) and one of them pushed a kid out a window. I congratulated them for being so “edgy” and “dark” that they killed a kid, and had my happy little moment of dead children ruined by my little spoiler next to me.

So you see, they lost me, entirely during the first episode. I only remember those bits, which is basically when I left the room. I think part of the problem I was bored and annoyed was that so much of what happens struck me as being against what the characters should be doing. There is clearly and outline and GRRM is going to stick to it and NOBODY is going to change that. Not editors, not fans, and sure as FUCK not those characters who are all too stupid to know what they want or how they should act. The characters seem to me to have evolved in ways that the Outline didn’t plan for and most the tension I’m feeling is between the organic nature of the characters and the stone monolith of The Outline. They don’t seem to be acting like people, but like game pieces being shoved around a board.

The story doesn’t really end there, because it’s not until the second episode that I was literally shouting at the TV which sent Syd running to the bed room crying and asking why I can’t just not like something like a normal person. In my defense though, it was a scene of stupid fucking bullying that would have made Stephen King blush with the stupidity of it. Again, my problem with the way women are used. The Queen was using all her power to bully one little girl and she was being so stupid about it. Only someone who really wants you to hate a woman in power would have constructed this scene this way. I couldn’t even respect her for being such a cold bitch because she was being so stupid and obvious that she should have been knifed by her own guards for it. And it’s one of those scenes that only really existed because GRRM simply had to have it, and in order to have it, everything and everyone had to be stupid. So Ned was stupid, the king was stupid, the boy was stupid, the girl was stupid, the rat creatures were stupid but by comparison they were fucking mensa inductees and the whole thing pushed everyone of my buttons. That sent me over the edge and I lost it.

I calmed Syd down though, and we finished the episode, although the only thing I remember was discussing how pandering I found the faux-sapho scene and how Bad Wig Princess’s decision to try and be on top was coming off less as a way of gaining power over Every Negative Stereotype Ever guy and more a way to stop getting the shit raped out of her every night.

I remember almost nothing about the third episode, except that it was boring as fuck and I still didn’t like one single person in this cast beyond the dwarf. I started to get slightly interested in the daughter, Eowyn Jr. as I called her, but not enough to watch the fourth episode. Syd said she wouldn’t watch any more with me anyway. Remember, this was after the How to Train Your Dragon debacle, where a similar event of me getting so mad I started shouting at the screen occurred. A person can be forgiven for suggesting that maybe I should only watch things that aren’t going to piss me off for a while. So I’ve been watching a lot of Mystery Science Theater 3000 lately is what I’m saying. That and Dylan Moran stand-up dvds.

Thing is, I know a lot of people like this. Smart people, people who have a grown up view towards humans and stuff. I keep thinking there has to be something of value here, but I’m not seeing it. I hate too many of the characters, and find the others either entirely uninteresting or terminal sufferers of To Build a Fire Syndrome. I would like to give it another try sometime, but I fear all the issues I have will just bubble up again.

tl;dr
I was given a wrong idea about what the show was, and as such approached it from a bad angle. The first episode didn’t do it any favors, being equal parts boring and offensively stupid. It was so like all the other HBO shows I’d watched, that I was rolling my eyes until they nearly fell out of my head. The fact that the story is so incredibly full of plot contrivance and things happening because a writer decided they would happen rather than organically coming out of characters didn’t help any either. This really struck me as the worst kind of writing by outline I’ve ever seen.

I recognized much later that part of the problem was the impression I was given, but it doesn’t help many of the other complaints I had. However, so many people have liked it, that I keep thinking it can’t be as utterly devoid of value as I found it and I keep thinking I should give it another try, but then I remember how pissed I got every time Sean Bean was stupid, which was whenever he was on screen, and I think “Maybe not” but the whole thing still bugs me.

And then I found out that there are a lot of guys who seem to think that beating and raping women is awesome and that’s why they love the show and books and I really want to kill an entire subset of the world now.

If someone wants to mollify me, I’ve got Dylan Moran’s latest dvd, Yeah, Yeah on my wishlist.

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March 15, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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