Okay, I’m being brave, I am standing in the middle of Westeros with a small knife and a small shield made of cardboard expecting the oncoming storm from fans of the overly-praised show coming at all angles. I have not read the books by George R. R. Martin so I haven’t much ground to stand on for correct terms and such or long term narrative diferences. I am a fan of the fantasy genre when done correctly and when there is so much to play with in a genre such as this and with HBO funding the huge project you would expect Game of Thrones to fly into action in spectacular fashion, sadly it does not and here are my points of concern about the series.
I will start with possibly my biggest gripe, the sex. The hardcore fucking that rules over this land is ghastly and is the first step in the self absorbant style of proclaiming that nothing is too taboo for Martin and his team. From gay sex, to prostitution, even midget fetishes have their place in this world and where similar genre pieces like Lord of the Rings creates a courtly romance, Game of Thrones decides that in order to become a game changer it needs to show as much of and as graphic a sex scenes as possible, a bit like a medieval Thirty Shades of Grey. As every episode goes on in the series there is more and more fucking and when you hear that pounding tribe like drum echo over the soundtrack you know that tribes and the more ‘civilised’ clans are doing it doggy and the scene is about to change to show you.
However if one loudly declared themselves above this childish drivel it doesn’t make them an adult; it makes them adolescent. This, I guess, is a reason behind people brandishing the series ‘original’. We find ‘new’ things first as a child no matter when they were made, and for the majority the two mainstream fantasy media they can be expected to have seen are Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Most children have seen at least one of the two and they serve as the babysitter, something put on to keep the kids quite, but now, alas, these children have grown up into young adults, teenagers, and as they reach their years they are given acne and mood swings in the form of Game of Thrones.
The harsh truth is there is no originality in Game of Thrones, in fairness, perhaps this is a problem in a lot of mainstream fantasy. In theory (in Martin’s head) it is the most liberated thing the genre has ever seen, meanwhile, back in reality and in practice, it is possibly the most conservative. Despite the fact the realms of fantasy are free and open and can literally do anything with magic and creatures the world of Game of Thrones hasn’t been fleshed out at all and relies upon swordplay and potent sorcery. Dare I say it, even low-budget British alternative for the genre Merlin did better, especially post-series 2, of exploring some interesting paths and creating a journey than Game of Thrones has.
Game of Thrones employs a distinctly regressive social framework in the show. So much so that the equivalent to a strong female archetype like Eowen in Lord of the Rings is Daenerys Targaryen. A character who switches and varies between being a knowing seductress, an overly protective mother, a matriarchal battle-axe, and an embodiment of chaotic wrath. However, despite being cursed to run around from one stereotype to the next like a one woman panto of sexism, Daenerys actually has it a bit better off than most women in the show who are usually prostitues, rape victimes or quite simply snivelling wretches whom derive power from their husbands or their royal-born male children. Women are seen as having no head or knowledge for violence or politics, despite the politics of Game of Thrones being painfully straight forward, a basic choice of who would make the slightly better king.
However, to call Game of Thrones misogynist would be doing a huge injustice to the hard work and time it puts in to be misanthropic. The men, oh, the men… The men in Game of Thrones are no more than noble murderers. The two main houses of Lannister and Stark are self obsessed and rich and even better, defined by two of the most unconvincing and unimaginative heraldry ever to be seen in fantasy… a lion and a wolf… groan. They are deemed ‘civilised societies’ though, whereas the Dothraki are no more than a tribe not yet progressed into the medieval, they are tattooed savages who can’t get their heads around the concept of boats. Then we have Targaryens, basically, Lord of the Rings’ Elves of Riverdale. The ‘higher’ people… oh dear.
The thing is, if it was just the unoriginality and lack of inventive characterisation during the series, it wouldn’t be so bad to watch, but then, to hear this sex-obsessed and overly blooded Lord of the Rings alternative is to be considered a game-changer and a red-letter day for the genre by reviewers and audiences alike. The supposed ‘growing up’ and evolution of the genre from the more child friendly renditions is no more grown up than a ten-year old elbowing his way up and onto the grownups table and demanding he is given a sherry.
The fact Martin himself does not know how the series will end surely declares the show to be more of a soap opera than anything else Which in turn would go an awful long way into explaining why people are so obsessed with it, a lot like the audiences of Eastenders or Coronation Street. There is nothing wrong with enjoying it on this level, not at all, and especially if it dodn’t take itself seriously, oh wait, apart from the fact it does take itself very, very seriously. Introducing lines that can appear on GIFs featuring characters looking solum all over the internet to pull on the reigns and lure even more defenceless waters in. Watching the series because it is relatively exciting and fast paced, has a certain visceral pleasure surrounding it or because the character arcs are unpredictable is perfectly acceptable, but please, don’t tell me it is the revolutionary moment of the genre when it is no more the revolution than Jack the Giant Slayer.
I will watch the rest.