Game of Thrones three-wheeler (of sorts) by Anime Nut
This review of Game Of Thrones in the New Statesman is quite ignorant and terrible. It’s quite superficial and involves more projection than analysis. I’ve read all the books and seen most of the TV series, so perhaps I’m seeing it in that context, but the context is important. Laurie Penny’s thesis seems to be that GoT is A) too rapey B) not subtle and C) a simple story of finding a good king. It’s none of these things really, it’s actually quite complex.
GoT is ultimately about power, and politics. Women get raped and men and women get tortured and killed yes, but – to quote Ving Rhames – it ‘gets medieval’. Literally, it’s set in quasi medieval times. Penny’s idea is that ‘If the creator of a fantasy series can dream up an army of self-resurrecting zombie immortals he can damn well dream up equal marriage rights’, but then that would change the entire story, and take it well out of the realm of even current politics. I mean, Syria is pretty rapey right now, as is any place going through violent power struggles. It not that Martin or the show’s producers are rape fans, but that is the world that we live in now, and it was worse before. To not examine those issues is I think worse than pretending they don’t exist.
Furthermore, the female characters in GoT are very strong. Cersei the Queen Regent, Arya and Sansa, and Daenerys, the mother of dragons. Not to mention Bree, the female knight, and Catherine Stark, who actually gets more hardcore as the series goes one. The females actually seem to survive longer and take on more responsibiliy. It’s portrayal of gender is actually quite nuanced and realistic, rape and all. Seriously though, rape happens a lot in the modern day. Conscious fiction can’t ignore that, nor can it ignore the relationship of rape to violence and power.
Her next point is
Its major plot points, based on George R. R Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire novels, are so simplistic that they may as well have been scrawled in crayon on the intricate wallpaper of literary-televisual tradition: the goodies are the rough, noble Northerners, the Stark family, none of whom have any discernible character defects, and the baddies are the yellow-haired Southern Lannisters,
This is just plain wrong. She’s citing the book, which she obviously hasn’t read. The book (and series) just start with the Starks so you think that they’re the main characters, but they’re not. What I found very interesting about the books was that you start off hating the Lannisters, then you get chapters told from their perspective and then you begin to understand and even like them more. It’s a very interesting and compelling character growth, one which the series hasn’t quite got to yet. The characters all change, and the Starks are in no way the good guys. They get warped more than you can imagine, and the Lannisters have more good in them than you’d ever think. It’s really not simple at all, it’s quite accurate.
Her next point is that the whole series is about finding a ‘Good King’. Well, no, not at all. It’s just about power. Raw, brutal power, and the jockeying for it. It’s not a merit based competition, modeled on the War Of The Roses. It’s just a fight. At no point is power justified in terms of policy or the needs of the people. It’s just might. The people are only bit players, emerging only as a rebellious threat when living conditions get out of hand, and even then as a pawn to be used by one of the warring sides. It’s more the search for a good Mafia Don than a good king, in the idealistic sense.
So yeah. Terrible, ignorant review. Great books and series.