Tag Archives: HBO

The Evolving Feminism of Game of Thrones: Evidence that Viewers Can Change Problematic Television

There are spoilers below, so very many spoilers. Read at your own risk.

I’ve often felt conflicted about Game of Thrones. 

From the beginning, I’ve been irritated with the gratuitous sex and nudity. I understand that this can sometimes be used to move the plot in an effective way (i.e. Cersei’s walk of shame). But, generally speaking, GOT has used naked ladies as window dressing to keep straight male viewers watching. HBO has been notorious for finding any and every opportunity to throw a couple of boobs into any given scene in all of its shows. However, as CollegeHumor points out in their NSFW video below, HBO’s gratuitous nudity only goes one way.

Unfortunately, Game of Thrones’ sex scenes have not only been irritating, some have also been majorly problematic. In the first season Daenerys Targaryen is sold into marriage with warlord Khal Drogo, who rapes her on their wedding night. While their relationship eventually progresses into “love,” this first scene made it impossible for me to ever really view their relationship as a loving one. It made me even more angry when I learned that, in the books, this scene between Daenerys and Drogo was actually consensual. Continue reading

A Vindication of Piracy

A while ago (and with great reluctance from Evan), I posted a defense of piracy.

Understanding how much Evan and I differ on the subject, I wouldn’t have written anything more about it- had the BBC not just put forth an article kinda vindicating my entire position.

Oh, you better believe I’m gonna be cocky about this…

Continue reading

Aaron Sorkin VS Women

My roommate and I have been watching The Newsroom without fail every Sunday evening. For anyone unaware, The Newsroom is the latest creation of Aaron Sorkin, perhaps most famous for his show The West Wing and his favored medium of people having very fast conversations while walking.

The show’s premise is actually pretty interesting. Set in an alternate reality where there’s actually a single news channel actually devoted to journalism and integrity (as much as anyone can hope for, anyways), anchor Will MacAvoy (Jeff Daniels) and his intrepid crew struggle to keep the beacon of integrity and unflinching honesty lit in a mire of shady politics, fear-mongering, and cheap entertainment. Continue reading

Girl Don’t Need A Man To Get Into Hilariously Comedic Situations

This past Monday a new show called The New Normal premiered on NBC. I wasn’t able to catch the pilot, though I did make sure to watch a preview to see what it was all about. You can watch the whole thing if you want, but what I want you to see is right near the beginning:

So at around 22 seconds into the trailer we’re shown that Goldie’s good-for-nothing husband has cheated on her, which becomes the catalyst to her drive across America to begin life anew with eight-year-old daughter.

Continue reading

Game of Thrones translates better to the screen than Lord of the Rings

I read Game of Thrones back when it was a relatively nerdy thing to do (I’m not bragging; the geekiness of it at the time cancels out any hipster cred I could claim now) – back when I had to tell people that it was “fantasy, but also good”. So seeing the books translated into an HBO series (insert shout-out to the casting directors for being awesome) is pretty exciting, and seeing it done well is even more exciting.

During the (EDIT: second-to-last episode) of Season 2 – specifically, the siege scene – there was this shot of Stannis’ army lifting up ladders to the walls of King’s Landing, and one of my friends said that it looked like the Two Towers. Upon further thought, I realized that I liked the film representation of the King’s Landing siege – and the Game of Thrones books in general – better than I liked the Lord of the Rings adaptations. As the LotR movies were the most significant and noticeable film event in my life so far, this was a pretty strange realization. So I tried to figure out why I thought that Game of Thrones was doing a better job on screen.

I do love extravagant battle scenes, and the LotR movies delivers, but I always feel kind of jerked around by the battle scenes in LotR. I was watching The Two Towers and noticed how formulaic the Helm’s Deep battle sequence is. The tactics are interesting enough, but the camera just focuses on giving us series of tantalizing deaths to push my hopes one way or another – we’ll see a handful of individual “good team” deaths accompanied by tragic music, only to then be fed a series of orcs getting killed by archers to keep us hopeful and interested. Tactically, Helm’s Deep isn’t a very interesting battle – good team is losing/bad team is scary, Gandalf comes back with Eomer, good team is winning again.

EDIT: I have been informed that I am woefully underinformed, and this giant scary battering ram’s name is Grond and is NOT from the battle of Helm’s deep. I’m keeping this picture up, though.

In terms of effects and extravagance, the LotR team did an incredible job. The scenes are beautiful. But the use of repeated grisly deaths and cruelly interesting kills just to jerk around the viewers’ emotions started to feel like a cheap tactic.

A quote you wouldn’t hear in Lord of the Rings: “Those are brave men knocking at our door. Let’s go kill them!”

In Game of Thrones, however, I noticed the battle in the Season 2 finale was different. For one thing, there wasn’t a specific side to cheer for – I mean, everybody likes Tyrion and Sansa, but it probably wouldn’t be a terrible thing if Joffrey were kicked off the throne, and what’shisface’s (the Stag guy’s) bitterness is relateable, and not necessarily borne of some intransigent evil. The scene also depicted more of the tactics and the actual progression of the battle, I thought, than dragging the viewers along by alternately dashing and keeping up their hopes.

The whole story of Game of Thrones, I think, falls short of the story of LotR. Martin relies too much (like Ayn Rand in We the Living) on making us disappointed – true, the events are appropriately random and unexpected, but (is it ridiculous to say this?) random and unexpected for 1200 pages gets sort of predictable. Or at least, rhythmic. But the honesty of the characters and the anti-gloriousness of their predicaments makes it more suited to visual media than LotR. The broad, mythic scope of LotR made for beautiful movies that would never quite live up to the epicness of the books. In the end, even after all of the stunning shots of New Zealand, the story was too big to be sold.

In LotR, we know , essentially, that the good team is going to win. In Game of Thrones, while the Stark family is pretty unabashedly Good, the rest of the characters are up for grabs. Villanous actions in LotR are generally due to some inherent evil (orcs, Uruk-Hai, Sauron), but villainous actions in Game of Thrones are usually the product of a relateable motivation (love, fear, greed) and aren’t generally limited to specific characters. Game of Thrones is morally messier, and while LotR calls upon values like honor and steadfastness, the characters in Game of Thrones are constantly questioning the actual merits of those values

Questioning the merits of virtue
Jaqen: “A girl has no honor!” Arya: *shrug*

LotR is a myth. Grittiness of character is not its thing – it excercises a style of storytelling that requires suspension of disbelief and an appreciation value of behavioral archetypes. In LotR, Aragorn becomes king and is reunited with Eowyn – in Game of Thrones, Eddard Stark dies in the middle of the first book. LotR’s plots make for fabulous books, and the prose and the world Tolkien created is LotR’s real strength. Game of Thrones by no means compares to Tolkien’s prose, but it makes for interesting characters, engaging dialogue, and non-predictable battles. Because of this, Game of Thrones is way, way better for visual media.

In Game of Thrones, Robert says of killing people: “They never tell you how they all sh** them selves, They don’t put that part in the songs.” Lord of the Rings was the song, and Game of Thrones is showing us the parts the songs leave out. Each type of story is legitimate in its own right – but Game of Thrones seems to translate better to the screen.