Live from La Farine: Game of Thrones Blogging:
People: "Game of Thrones" Is Horror!:
In the very first scene of the very first episode of the very first season of "Game of Thrones", three members of the Night's Watch--an older veteran-type Gared, and two callow-youth types, one in command named Waymar Royce and the other named Will--set out on patrol. By 2:45 the point rider Will has encountered horrible evil. By 3:30 the veteran-type Gared has told the two callow-youth types that they need to head back to their base. By 5:50 they learn that the evil is supernatural, and start to die. By 6:15 the survivors' courage has broken and they are running south as fast as they can. By 7:00 there is only one survivor--the un-arrogant callow youth Will.
Then comes the introductory series title, which announces that the series's headline star is Sean Bean and takes us to 8:58.
At 8:58 the very second scene begins. The one survivor of the characters from scene 1, Will, has not recovered his courage but instead continued his mad flight south all the way to Winterfell. Will is captured.
At 9:45 scene three begins at Winterfell, showing us Eddard Stark, Warden of the North and Lord of Winterfell--played by Sean Bean--and his family: his wife Catelyn, his legitimate children Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran, and Rickon, and his presumed illegitimate son Jon Snow.
At 12:10 scene four begins. Eddard Stark confronts Will, the surviving Night's Watchman from scene one.
When, in The Lord of the Rings, Aragorn son of Arathorn, Head Ranger, Elf-Friend, Chief of the Dunedain of the North, King Elessar of Gondor, confronts those of his soldiers who have similarly lost their courage when confronted with a supernatural evil beyond their expectation or comprehension:
So desolate were those places and so deep the horror that lay on them that some of the host were unmanned, and they could neither walk nor ride further north. Aragorn looked at them, and there was pity in his eyes rather than wrath; for these were young men from Rohan, from Westfold far away, or husbandmen from Lossarnach, and tothem Mordor had been from childhood a name of evil, and yet unreal, a legend that had no part in their simple life; and now they walked like men in a hideous dream made true, and they understood not this war nor why fate should lead them to such a pass.
‘Go!’ said Aragorn. ‘But keep what honour you may, and do not run! And there is a task which you may attempt and so be not wholly shamed. Take your way south-west till you come to Cair Andros, and if that is still held by enemies, as I think, then re-take it, if you can; and hold it to the last in defence of Gondor and Rohan!’
That is not what Eddard Stark does.
At 13:45 Eddard Stark executes Will--for he is a deserter. And Eddard Stark is the good guy--the best guy--in "Game of Thrones".
At 55:25 the 13-year-old Daenerys Targaryen is sold as a bride to Khal Drogo. They share no languages in common. At 57:15 he pushes her down, doggy-style. She is weeping.
That is the kind of show we have here. By the end of the first episode it is clear that horrible things happen to people.
For, as anyone who has read other things by George R.R. Martin like “After the Festival” or “A Song for Lya” would expect, it is a horror show.
Although George R.R. Martin cloaks his story in the tropes of other genres, what he is really writing is horror. I am not saying you should watch "Game of Thrones". I am not saying that you should enjoy "Game of Thrones". I am not even saying that there are psychologically healthy people who enjoy "Game of Thrones". But what happened to Sansa Stark at the end of season five, episode six is not as bad as what happened to Daenerys back in the first episode of season one, or what happened to innumerable other women not constantly in the camera’s eye episode after episode as among the good-guy Starks. The horrible things that happened in season one were not exceptional plot-driving motivators. They are the warp and woof life as it is lived in Martin's Westeros.
For me, the most horrible moment was Daenerys's tears and wedding-night rape at the end of episode one of season one. The second-worst moment was when I realized that Martin had just turned me into a monster cheering at the agonizing murder by poison of a mentally-ill 15-year-old. The third-worst moment was the sexual-torture-murder of Roz by said mental-ill 15-year-old Joffrey. "Game of Thrones" fascinates. And I admit I am desperately curious as to what happens next. But… it is horror. And is with all horror, it is not clear that you are supposed to enjoy it, or that if you do "enjoy" it you are not mentally ill...
All (hopefully) of the bad arguments about rape on Game of Thrones debunked: "One way you can tell that people are starting from a conclusion and arguing backwards...**:
...is when they bust out the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink strategy: Trying a bunch of different arguments in hopes that one ‘sticks’ and justifies a conclusion you’ve already arrived at.... That strategy was out in spades with the critics of the Ramsay Bolton/Sansa Stark rape on Game of Thrones. I’ve defended the scene.... It comported with the way the series exists... to subvert common fantasy and adventure tropes that glamorize war by twisting certain cliches that we’ve become accustomed to, including the cliche that sexual violence is always thwarted at the last minute by a brave act of heroism.
But the arguments against it are classic moving goalposts.... Not to pick on anyone specific, but Jen Trolio of Vox manages to accumulate so many of the bad arguments in one piece that I figured I’d use her as a starting point.... It doesn’t tell us anything new.... So?... Plot points have value other than revealing new things about characters. For instance, the relationship between Theon and Sansa, which was ice cold for understandable reasons, just got completely altered. They have been through some shit together now. The one person in the world who actually knows and gives a shit about her is someone she hates.... Why didn’t Theon hulk out?... Certainly, we have been conditioned by most narrative fiction... to believe that this is the moment where our hero... saves the day. That’s the cliche.... But that’s what Game of Thrones does: It takes those cliches and expectations of the audiences and turns them on their head. The fact that we’re surprised every single time—every time a Ned Stark or Oberyn Martell dies—shows how much we are trained into certain rhythms of storytelling.... Why didn’t Sansa hulk out?... The notion that Sansa is weak or somehow failed herself by getting raped is victim-blaming, flat out.... They made it about Theon.... Wrong again. Yes, his was the last face we saw—as we are hearing her scream and cry....
But there were other scenes in the past that got rape wrong.... ‘Either way, I hope the series won’t dishonor Sansa by reducing her to a pawn.’ Just quoted directly. The series is not reducing Sansa to a pawn. The men around her are doing that.... The series is not siding with Ramsay and Littlefinger.... Like I said, I don’t want to pick on Trolio, who, like us all, is caught up in the hot take needs of the internet....
Look, watch or don’t watch Game of Thrones. This isn’t about making you like what I like. I fully accept that my appetite for stuff that can get really dark and violent might be vaster than a lot of people’s. That’s not the issue here. The issue here is bad arguments and why feminists need to avoid them...