SONG THAT IS THEMATICALLY RELEVANT TO THIS POST (and also totally boss btw)
Oh yeah, Hot off the heels of my Legend of Korra post, here’s my thoughts, reactions and HNNNGGGHHHH about Game of Thrones
I didn’t want to watch Game of Thrones.
Oh I’d heard about it, sure! The internet would stubbornly not shut the fuck up about it. But I did manage to remain generally ignorant of the phenomenon for the entirety of the first series. I was so ignorant I didn’t actually know that Sean Bean was in it- I thought that ‘the memes are coming’ shot what from Lord of the Rings- that’s how out of the nerd loop I was. So finally, last month I said fuck it. Let’s give this a shot.
So my first major reactions were as follows- Gratuitous, over the top, gratuitous, violent, nothing new. I thought it was going to be the most over hyped mess I’d ever watched. It felt very Tudors-ish- Hell, it even HAS Anne Boleyn in it now! I just didn’t see how a sexy, violent show would appeal to me- The Tudors and Rome and even Downton abbey certainly never did much.
But everybody loved this show, I couldn’t believe it! Game of Thrones is possibly the greatest force for nerd-dom I have ever seen, seriously. This show rakes in the Fantasy nerds, the gamer nerds, the literature nerds, the sci fi nerds, even political science nerds (Omg the politcal intrigue is just GNNNHHHH- See rant below for more)- This one HBO show managed to unite so many different fandoms it’s fucking staggering. It’s the only thing I’ve ever seen that appeals equally to 13 year old boys (BOOBIES N SWORDS N DRAGONS) and to 20 year old cardigan wearing student feminist like me (WHAT ARE THE SYMBOLIC IMPLICATIONS OF THOSE BOOBIES N WHERE DOES EVERYONE SWEAR LOYALTY WITH THEIR SWORDS N HNNNGGH THE DRAGONS REPRESENT NUCLEAR WEAPONS). It, like Legend of Aang actually, manages to maintain a massive fanbase dragged from all different corners of nerd-dom. So bowing to the pressures of fans everywhere, I forced myself to sit through episode one.
How the fuck did I go a year without getting into this?! I mean, FUCK! I’m not even going to discuss the books today but MY GOD, this show. What can I really say? Okay, let me.. let me gather myself.
The political and social implications of NOODZ
As I said before Game of Thrones certainly errs on the side of gratuity, in terms of it’s sexual and violent content. It’s actually been criticized for how it portrays women- including a really annoying case of a woman with a Brazilian wax, who’d grown up in the wilderness and SHOULD NOT BE SHAVED DOWN THERE. But, considering that everyone in this show also has perfect white teeth and the Lannisters have perfectly poofy and shampooed hair. Heck, maybe the actress was Brazilian’d anyway and didn’t want to grow her hair out- Point being yes it would have been awesome to have a full happy bush on a lady on American TV but I’m going to let it slide, because really I don’t think it’s fair to really complain about something awesome they *didn’t* do. It’s lame but not game breakingly lame. And in fairness the only other girl we’ve seen a lot of Nakedness from is… Danaerys.
Now Danaerys is a really interesting thing, in terms of the fanservice we get in the show. See there is an effort (in series 1 at least) to make the nudity relevant to the plot in the same way that the over the top violence. So you have scenes of Danny getting her freak on with Killy horsey man husband…
… And like in the book, their relationship really grows and becomes genuine through their sex scenes. It’s kind of necessary considering they have a language barrier. The nudity here is used to develop their bond and while being obvious fan service, it’s relevant fan service.
Game of Thrones also COMPLETELY makes up for it’s fan service-y moments by having some of the most incredibly disturbing shit ever put on TV. Take for instance a scene with uber baster Prince Joffrey enjoying some hookers sent by his uncle. It contains two girls making out for his pleasure, but he proceeds to have one girl beat the ever-loving shit out of the other with a club. And the worst part of it is how utterly asexual he remains. It’s so graphic I actually couldn’t find that shit on youtube, but trust me- The worst part is seeing Joffrey’s face as the girl is beaten- it’s not a face of arousal or anything sexual- It’s just kind of happy? It’s made even worse because he’s not getting his rocks off to the violence- he’s only 16, he just likes having the power to make other people cause pain.
It would have been the easiest thing in the world to just toss some lesbians at us for kicks, but that scene is used to hammer home was a sick little fuck he is, without lazily making him some BDSM pervert- he’s just a twerp who likes violence. There are other deeply unsettling and unpleasant scenes of sex and nudity that totally offset any boobies thrown out to entertain the viewers.
And man I haven’t even gotten to the plot yet!
Your princess is in another castle! Also she’s dead!
Game of Thrones is strange as far as a fantasy plot goes. I really think it’s a story of what happens ‘after’ the happily ever after of other fantasy stories. In the backstory of the series and the books, Robert and Ned teamed up as young heroes, battled the evil king, fought the good fight, avenged their foster fathers death- the LITERALLY WENT on a quest to save a princess (Well Lyanna was a lord’s daughter but fuck it, close enough) That had been kidnapped by a wicked prince. At the end Robert wins the crown and defeats the king, but sadly doesn’t save his princess- he still gets a super hot wife and everything ends on a somewhat bittersweet but still triumphant note, and Ned gets to go home happy and safe to his wife and his son, where his illegitimate son is safe with his nurse. The end!
Except in a Song of Ice and fire, that happens 17 years before the story starts! This series is amazing because it’s the fantasy equivalent of an ‘after the end’ setting- What does actually happen when you win? What do you do when you win the throne and have to change from being a badass warrior to being a statesman? How do you deal with the fact that you brutally murdered an entire family and exiled the rest? Are they any real heroes and Villains in this world?
When you play the game of thrones, you live or you di-OH SHIT ZOMBIES
There’s no single bad guy in this show, the politics of it are amazing. Even if you find yourself rooting for a particular family like the Starks or the Lannisters, you’re always going to find someone from the other side that you value and love and who would be fucked up if the others win. I find myself loving Danaerys and wanting her to succeed even though she’s basically going to fuck up the shit of EVERY OTHER CHARACTER in the series when she can- Including Tyrion, Sansa, the other Starks. It makes it really difficult to take a definitive side and sets it apart from other fantasy series in that there really isn’t a big bad. The closest you get really is Tywin Lannister, who’s generally just looking out for his own family rather than trying to take over the world. It’s also quite difficult to see Danaerys’ return (spoken of with dread by everyone) as being particularly bad for ordinary people- she’s a pretty nice kid, as long as you don’t fuck her up.
Added to the squabbling is the very real threat of the mother fucking ice zombies- and the best, most genius part of the plot is that nobody gives two flying fucks about the impending doom! Any other book or show, everyone would be focused on the doom, and the big bad, and the holy shit we need to fight off the ICE ZOMBIES. But everyone’s too wrapped up in their political allegiances and wars to actually band together and save the world.
The cosmic deadline
So having a plot that isn’t automatically concerned with the fate of the world means you really need something to up the stakes with, and so Game of Thrones does that with WINTER. Winter is mother fucking coming, and it’s gonna fucking suck for everything and fuck your shit up and NOBODY (except Dany with her mother fucking dragons perhaps) stands a chance of surviving. And unlike other cosmic deadlines there is nothing anyone can do- You can’t defeat a season, you actually just have to bunker down and try not to die in the ten years it might take to pass. The dread with which people speak about winter takes the place of a Sauron or a Voldermort in Game of Thrones. And there’s no side stepping it or getting around it or defeating it with the power of love- And that is fucking scary.
The performances are subtle and complex, the costumes are gorgeous, the script is unreal, THIS SHOW GIVES ME SUCH GOOD FEELINGS. I don’t even know how to wrap this up, just…. Here, have some Jon Snow.
Niamh ‘I pledge my banner to house TarMOTHERFUCKINGDRAGONS’ Keoghan