I Just Don’t GoT It

Not to appear behind the curve, or anything, but recently we got around to watching the beginning of Game of Thrones. (Don’t worry, I’ll soon be posting a review of this great new film, Cool Runnings.) Now I don’t need to Google the title to know there’ll be a list of blogs about GoT — both positive and negative — as long as the proverbial, and I don’t particularly want to add to this. I’m just intrigued by the recent upsurge in popularity (or am I imagining it? maybe I am) of pop culture offerings of a…less than amazing quality. (Then again, I may be imagining it: I’ve had something against pop culture phenomena since Harry Potter took off.) So what have I got against poor old (Emmy-winning, multi-million-dollar-grossing) Game of Thrones?

It’s horribly racist (the attitude to the ethnic minority the Dothraki wouldn’t seem out-of-place in 1950s America or pre-1994 South Africa), but that’s not the only reason I’ve got a problem with it. The characters display a resolutely pre-1928 attitude to women, but again that on its own isn’t enough. There’s a cliché-ridden approach to the North/South divide that wouldn’t be unfamiliar in the Victorian Britain of Engels, but th–actually, they’re all the problem. Why is this poorly written (I’ve had a look at one of the books, and it wasn’t pretty), racially and misogynistically offensive drivel so popular?

I have a theory (you’ll be surprised to learn).

With Game of Thrones — along with, among other examples, Fifty Shades of Porn (for an amazing analysis of E.L. James’s literary car-crash, see this brilliant blog) — the quality of the narrative doesn’t really matter: the fact that it’s compelling and fast-paced is enough. Maybe, what with the global financial mess and everything, a bit of escapism is what people want. It’s just a bit sad that said escapism comes in the form of a cultural product that’s such a political throw-back.

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5 thoughts on “I Just Don’t GoT It

  1. Satires are often mistaken for parodies. Dany’s experience with the Dothraki comes closer to satire, as she establishes that
    1) they aren’t beasts
    2) they aren’t savages
    3) some of their customs are better than she’s been taught.

    all without losing sight that these people are marauders.

  2. I’m not sure what you’re saying, Kim; at no point did I mention either satire or parody. More importantly, though, we don’t just see the Dothraki through the (as you say) largely sympathetic eyes of Dany (although don’t get me started on the hideously dated misogyny of a woman who ‘just wants to know how to please her man’), but also through the racially insensitive eyes of just about everyone else in Martin’s world.

    • Dany isn’t Kotonoha — yes, she may think that she’s got to “please her man” — but that’s being done with an agenda, and she’s far from a limp dishrag.

      Sides, you gotta give GRRM credit for pulling off a 25 year old consummates a marriage with a 13 year old, and not have it be rape (at least in the books).

      In the TV show at least, Dany’s right hand man has a good deal of respect for the Dothraki ways…

      And it’s not like the Dothraki are the only colored people out there — some of the more “civilized and advanced” cultures are people with darker skins.

  3. Straw men all over the place, here, Kim: at no point did I suggest the Dothraki were the only minority; nor did I deny the existence of pro-Dothraki opinions, particularly in Dany’s lieutenant; nor did I imply that Dany is some sort of walk-over.

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