Sometimes You Eat the Bear and Sometimes the Bear Tortures, Rapes, and Murders Your Entire Family for No Particular Reason ¡Boobs!

Art, Books and Literature, Culture, Movies

Game of Thrones is supposed to belong to a post-Tolkienian form of fantasy that dispenses with the pewter trappings of the high-fantastic sword-and-sorcery formula, where, in Miéville’s game, funny description, “morality is absolute, and political complexities conveniently evaporate. Battles are glorious and death is noble. The good look the part, and the evil are ugly. Elves are natural aristos, hobbits are the salt of the earth, and – in a fairyland version of genetic determinism – orcs are shits by birth. This is a conservative hymn to order and reason – to the status quo.” The GoT series’ creator, George R.R. Martin, obviously and self-confessedly mined actual history as inspiration—he notably cites the War of the Roses as a source.

As literature, his writing is no better than Tolkien. If Tolkien is, per Miéville, “like opera without the music,” then Martin is Tom Clancy without the helicopters. Workmanlike would be too much praise by half. But, like Tolkien, Martin manages despite the sentence-by-sentence weakness of his work, to maintain an impressively consistent air. Tolkien’s was dread and doom; Martin’s is fear and gloom. To his credit, his most beautiful and noble (in the genealogical sense) characters are often the ugliest and most irredeemably evil and cruel. He is a misogynist, but his misogyny is at least in service of his deliberate atmosphere of unrelenting brutality, unlike Tolkien, whose Pre-Raphaelite maidens gaze virginally out of their frames while fey, faygeleh menfolk seem ever on the verge of the wrestling scene from Women in Love.

Martin’s fantasy world is distinguished by its impossibly long seasons, each lasting many years, and there’s at least some passing mention of storing up food for the long winter that approaches. HBO’s version effectively forgot about this peculiarity of its fictive setting once it killed off the majority of its Northerners—the nobly flawed Stark family’s motto (its “words”, in the in-universe terminology) were, in fact, “Winter Is Coming.” That’s fine. The show’s first season was pretty good TV, an improvement, if you ask me, over Martin’s turbid and overlong volumes, and it helped that it had a compelling central plot. Good art is frequently made not in spite of formal constraints, but because of them. Martin’s York-and-Lancaster framework keeps the story from wandering too far into the weeds. The bad guys, such as they are, win in the end, which subverts the genre but not the narrative; in fact, when the shock of it passes, it feels inevitable, which is a mark of good storytelling.

Subsequent seasons have dissipated into a series of parodically violent picaresques with occasional jump-cuts to various scenes of sub-Verdian scheming nobility. I’ll leave aside, for the moment, the white girl, her brown army, and her three dragons on the other side of the world. By its end, the third season resembled nothing so much as the Black Knight sequence from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, though carried off with such an air of dourly amoral self-seriousness that I half expected Kevin Spacey to stop into the capital’s whorehouse and mention his Congressional campaign. The level of violence is cartoonishly absurd; I mean, we are in, like, Itchy and Scratchy territory, here. At one point, a warrior woman fights a bear. It isn’t meant as a punch line, yuk-yuk, but it is.

Now, as we enter the fourth season, the overwhelming question is: how do these people eat? Fiction, of course, necessarily dispenses with plenty of fundamentals of actual existence in order to force life into its linear format, and no one, not even Houellebecq, wants to write a novel in which everyone spends all of their time opening doors, sleeping, pooping, and remembering that they need to buy mouthwash and paper towels on the way home. But the world of Game of Thrones is meant, despite its fantasy-genre affect, to feel lived-in and real. No one stops to wonder, amidst the depopulated and desolate marches of Middle Earth, how Rohan gets all that meat and mead, any more than they do in the middle of Beowulf, but it is impossible, as we wander into one more Westerosi tavern, rape all of the women, kill the cook, and burn down the village, just how on earth these people, from peasants to princes, manage to fill their bellies from time to time.

The portrait of feudal society as unremittingly violent and bleak, a never-ending, failed-state, crypto-Hobbesian war of all against all, is the really fantastical element of all this, far more so than a trio of squabbling adolescent dragons. This is not to say that Europe between Rome and the Enlightenment was a Hobbit-y idyll, verdant and free of war, plague, and exploitation. It was not. And yet, this fundamentally agrarian society lasted for a millennium, with the various forms of feudalism as social mechanisms for organizing productive land and the Church, for all its earthly corruptions and abuses, serving a complementary social organizing role. What is the manor, after all, if not a farm? Lords may have exploited their peasantry, overworked them, and taken too large a share of the crop, but they didn’t devote quite so much time and effort to randomly and wantonly terrorizing, raping, and murdering them, because, after all, who else is going to till the fields? Warfare in medieval Europe was limited due to primitive technology and low population, but also by the demands of the fields. It would not do to destroy all of the farms. The fundamental activity of this society was feeding itself, not, I don’t know, not mindlessly murdering everybody all the time in incoherent wars of dynastic succession. Game of Thrones makes the very worst excesses of the Crusades an hourly occurrence, an entire civilization an unrelenting, pre-mechanized Stalingrad.

The criticism of Game of Thrones—that it is a violent, sexist, rape-fantasy farrago whose fantastical-historical setting is little more than moral excuse-making for the fact that it wants naked women to beat each other with spiked clubs—is now wholly correct. The proof of this is in the fact that it has not the slightest interest in engaging with or depicting an actually realized world. How many times must it be said: realism is not the quality of set design. Nothing about this world makes any sense, unless the world is taken only as a convenient exercise in excuse-making for the dullest sort of murder-rape fantasy. Its setting is a moral excuse constructed solely to absolve viewers of their own interest in a pornography of sexualized bloodshed. Even a show as crassly, unnecessarily gory as The Walking Dead, for all its silliness and perversity, challenges its audience with some vague hint of complicity; there, but for the grace of the fact there is no such thing as a zombie apocalypse, go we. Game of Thrones just gives an otherworldly hall pass to our own unseemly tastes.

 

UPDATE: Commenter Patrick links a great post from cool Tumblr People of Color in European Art History that covers similar territory, and better.

56 thoughts on “Sometimes You Eat the Bear and Sometimes the Bear Tortures, Rapes, and Murders Your Entire Family for No Particular Reason ¡Boobs!

  1. My history is fuzzy, but I’m fairly sure that e.g. the 30 years war would fit the bill for big gangs of crazy mercenaries raping and pillaging their way across the continent.

    1. The 30 years war was very bad, but it wasn’t medieval. At best (worst?), a transitional conflict to more modern warfare, fought largely with firearms, etc… If it symbolizes, it symbolizes less the brutal nature of the Middle Ages, more the brutality of the modern era.

      1. The idea is that mindless murdering is not unusual behavior for roving bands of mercenaries (which were part of medieval warfare as well). Technological progress would lead to differences in degree rather than kind. But you’re overstating the degree of the slaughter in the novels and the show, since you fail to acknowledge that large parts of the realm have so far remain fairly unaffected.

  2. Wow, that is some sick troll bait, Bravo!

    Would’ve worked better if you’d actually read the books. Just saying.

  3. Hmm. I’ve long had a rather opposite criticism of Martin. He’s made a very intricate world (maybe not realistic, but: fantasy) at the cost of any actual story. And while he may not explain how the fields get tilled, he doesn’t skimp on telling us what each and every character eats. At every meal. And what they’re wearing while they’re eating. Oh, Tyrion is wearing his green velvet doublet again, I wonder which one it… ah, the one with the gold filigree along the edges, that’s nice.

    The books feel to me more like a history than a story.

  4. This is hilarious to me, because I’ve seen Martin get so much shit in other places for having Dany’s and Jon’s storylines in the last installment basically centered on them trying to secure food supply for Meereen/the Wall. And that riot in King’s Landing, back in A Clash of Kings, when Sansa was assaulted and saved by the Hound? That was about bread as well.

    I agree that the technical details of Westerosi agriculture are somewhat questionable due to the magical seasons, but you have to do a very selective reading to conclude that the issue is not on Martin’s radar at all.
    Sure, historical feudal societies might not have been about mindlessly murdering everybody_all the time_ , but neither is feudal Westeros. The whole realm had seen a fairly respectable period of stability when Tywin had his first go round as Hand under Aerys, and even the War of the Five Kings only really devastated the Riverlands where the brunt of the fighting took place. Other regions (The Vale, the Reach and Dorne) have been pretty much untouched so far (and are hopefully stocking up on those winter supplies, albeit certainly not as much as they should be, which will surely become a plot point, however).

    Now replace “all the time” with “occasionally” and we’re back to verisimilitude. I’m not a fan of the grimdark pour grimdark, but Brienne’s adventures in the Riverlands for instance read like something straight out of Simplicius Simplicissimus to me. Granted, that’s fiction too, but I really doubt Grimmelshausen was just trying to be edgy. Responsible aristocrats may try to limit the collatoral damage, but marauding bands of mercenaries/disbanded troops won’t care too much about sustainability.

    Consider also that peasants in fair Albion in its splendid isolation might have gotten off comparatively easy, historically. Compare that to certain territories of the Holy Roman Empire which have been pretty much a near constant horror show since medieval times at least, ever shifting border regions repeatedly depopulated by plagues, Turks, imperial troops and uprisings and resettled by different ethnic groups from all corners of the empire. Seems like quite a bit of mindless murdering of everybody to me – not _all_ the time, surely, but more often than not. (See, it’s okay if you have an empire; you can just exchange the murdered peasants in one region with – if all else fails forcibly- resettled peasants from another region. Worked for the Habsburgs for centuries.)

    Is Martin wallowing in the gore? Maybe. I won’t lie, I could do with less elaborate descriptions of torture and maiming and rape in my stories, verisimilitude be damned. Historicity is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. But I don’t read these novels for the battles and the war crimes – I read them for the wandering Seption Brienne meets on her misadventures and his moving speech about the broken men, how war destroys even those who survive. I read them for the glimpses of solidarity among the survivors, the inn at the crossroads reopened as a refuge for orphans. For me, the point of that woman fighting the bear was not the grotesque nature of the spectacle – the point was that Jaime came back for her. Jaimie, who had nothing to gain from her survival, who couldn’t care less about a reputation for chivalry, who has, indeed, violated every code of chivalry conceivable on previous occasions, risking his life for a woman who had so far expressed nothing but contempt for him. I wouldn’t go so far to call it redemption, but it’s a moment of grace, one of many instances of characters making great personal sacrifices for each other/a greater good. And there are moments like this throughout the series.

    If anyone won’t read the books because the ugliness is just too triggering, fine – “too much gore and rape” is always a perfectly valid reason to put down any book – but if you _do_ actually read them, and all you get out of them is the torture porn….. I really feel that’s on you.

    1. Yeah, the Septon Meribald bit in book four puts the lie to pretty much everything in this post. It’ll be interesting to see if the show keeps that in (I hope it does), but even the show gave us a moment in the most recent episode to process exactly how much catharsis we really got from Arya’s revenge.

  5. Oh, god, thank you for the bit about the medieval past. One of my least favorite bits of internet groupthink is the notion that absolutely any time prior to right now was an unremittingly bleak hellhole of constant violence and despair. It’s such an obviously self-aggrandizing presentism. Yes, of course: smallpox and no antibiotics and habitual rape and the Inquisition and whatever else are bad. But the notion that anyone who lived before, say, 1980 was necessarily engaged in a hellish existence is ahistorical nonsense.

    My brother was telling me that he read on Tumblr somewhere someone claiming that it was perfectly normal, in Marie Antoinette’s period of the French court, for people to simply pull their pants down and shit on the floor. And of course there wasn’t the hint of evidence to defend this idea, just the assumption that past=barbarism. It’s so acute now that I am forced to give a thousand caveats before I say something as simple as “I’d love to be able to experience Victorian London.”

    1. How does “smallpox and no antibiotics and habitual rape and the Inquisition and whatever else” not equate to “bleak hellhole of constant violence and despair”? Maybe it’s just a so-so shithole of ennui perhaps?

      Also, since we’re talking about the medieval past, I would have used 1580 as a cut-off date for my argument, but I’m just crazy like that.

      1. Because not everyone had smallpox; not everyone died of infections; not everyone was killed by the Inquisition; etc. I get it: you need to believe that you live in the Most Important Time Ever because you are a Very Very Important Person of Great Importance, but the idea that there was no joy, love, fun, laughter, etc. in the past is just bullshit.

      2. I’m sure that the modern residents of places like Baghdad, Iraq (Praise be to Bush and Obama) Kinshasa, Congo, Lagos, Nigeria, Brazilian favellas, etc. etc. etc. would agree with your characteristization that these are the best of times.

  6. Are you aware that fighting in Westeros is constrained to one slender area, the Riverlands? Martin repeatedly shows what the war has done to the Riverlands, but area is not at all reflective of the entire continent. The whole continent has not been foraged or burned; over 90% of it has not seen a battle. Importantly, the southern portion of the continent, which feeds much of the realm, has seen no warfare. Food becomes a big issue I’m the later books. If you take the time, you’ll find characters on both Westeros and Essos discussing food shortages. It sounds like you’ve read the first novel of the series and let the show fill you in on the rest. Did you see the bread riot in King’s Landing? The food shortages throughout Daenerys’s story? Jon struggling to feed a growing host of men? Inform yourself.

      1. Well, you could say that until he started critiquing George R. R. Martin’s writing (2nd paragraph) as well as comparing it to Tolkein’s (because that’s fresh, new territory!). Unless we’re being generous and assuming that this article’s author meant the 3 scripts for episodes that George wrote…

      2. *Apologies for the above typos; typing on the iPhone was a poor choice.

        It’s clear there’s a criticism of both. Either way, you can watch the title sequence on the show in order to familiarize yourself with the landscape and get an idea of how concentrated the fighting has been. It’s not unreasonable to expect that Westeros would be able to cope with a couple years of intense fighting in the Riverlands, especially when you consider that the extended summer has created an abundance of food in the realm.

  7. Funnily enough I understand much misunderstanding of the Middle Ages a legacy of the Victorians whose elites (non-Royal, at least) derided the era supposedly for its backwardness but I suspect truly, or mostly, for its traditions of charity and solidarity, such as they were, what with guilds, almshouses and so on.

    I do enjoy the show though. The books have interesting elements but they may as well have been released in encyclopedic form for all the storytelling enjoyment you get.

    1. Interesting comment, dsquib. Especially given our current Lords and Ladies’ perception that they DESERVE IT ALL and that there is no such thing as “society” or the oblige half of noblesse oblige. 🙂

  8. MedievalPOC has made a similar argument on Tumblr, making special note that the level of violence in both show and books has more to do with the colonial period, as possessed to the medieval:

    “Basically what I am saying here is that ASOIAF/Game of Thrones, is absolutely a post-colonial projection of colonial brutality into a quasi-Medieval setting. Westeros exists because we are a post-colonial society and that is a product of specifically white and Eurocentric speculative fiction: because what if colonial-level horrors had been visited upon Medieval white people by Medieval white people?

    “And it is very sincerely a fantasy; the resources and circumstances for that kind of EVERYthing to exist cannot be replicated in a Medieval social structure with that degree of instability, war, and cultural nihilism combined with a lack of social supportive structures. Nor that level of gender inequality and femicide/violence against women, in case you were wondering. ”

  9. I rarely post comments, but I was deeply dismayed by this article. The author of this post refers to the books, but I wonder if he or she has read them? Or, read them with anything resembling an open, unbiased mind?

    Personally, I started reading them with a very biased opinion. The last fantasy book that my sister had recommended to me before the ASoIaF series was by R.A. Salvatore and I absolutely did not care for it. It was full of generalizations, over-glorified and poorly-written violence, and what i found to be weak portrayals of women. I started reading this series assuming that I would be disgusted to my humanist, feminist, pacifist core. NOPE. There is quite a bit of violence, but it is not glorious… or in the few cases where it is (like with Arya), the reader is aware of the wrongness of finding it so. As Ellaria Sand so eloquently and futilely pointed out, even vengeance that seems justified more often than not leads to fresh atrocities. And because the majority of the characters are capable of both great good and evil, the reader has their empathy torn between rivals constantly. I also think that it is worth noting that most especially brutal violent acts (notably sexual assaults) are for the most part handled “off-screen”. We hear of them to our horror, but they are not handled gratuitously.

    Yes, often “ugly” characters are still good people, but Martin has not simply swapped the paradigm (there are beautiful characters who are mostly good as well. Perhaps you do not notice them because this is less jarring for you?). Characters are written as people, not just reversed stereotypes.

    The show is not the books. Both are enjoyable, but they are in vastly different mediums where different things are possible. I love the show as a companion piece where I get to see the costumes and lands come to life and where I get to see Diana Rigg and Charles Dance just blow my mind and give me alternate insights into characters I already enjoyed. I mean, it’s one thing to read the Queen of Thorns, but who could write Rigg’s delivery? To me, the books will always take precedence, because they are what provide the depth to the material, but what a delight to have both!

    Maybe the author of this post it looking for more reads through a jab at something popular. I imagine this is the case. So they have won… except they haven’t, because I get to have the experience of being involved in one of the largest, most inclusive, and intelligent fandoms out there. I hope that he or she may find a similar experience.

    Cheers and love all around!

  10. bk is on the shelves i see , ,i wish that i was not in this of lath and plaster kept ..and could reach ..to look , said palm bra .. to the fine tall another bach’ .. .

  11. and to some’ of freddie’s back to another above there/here, and some other .. i said to someone here /out in the wilds,of air ,street .. that we (of norway from ..) were not plundering .. but going from lovely barren to lovely barren …. . ,

  12. Credit to JB, mind – if he was reviewing the books rather than the series, he’d have had to raise the nipple fixation. There must be hundreds of scenes featuring nipple description and/or mutilation. Also, the cheap scud-book lesbianism is pretty hilarious.

    But for all the medieval trappings of the books and the series, especially the war sections, I’d say that the viper’s nest royal court more resembles the Imperial Palace in I, Claudius. Incest, poison, rampant abuse of power by Caligulan rulers, sexual depravity, non-stop bloody murder, despised minor relations with disabilities who turn out to be far brighter and more decent than their attractive and noble kin, and so on and etc. It’s not exact by any stretch, but GoT has always had a bit of a reign-of-Tiberius feel to me.

  13. Thank you so, … ;0) !!!!!!
    wasn’t going to pester – as I’ve been drowning in the horror of whether to allow myself to be sliced into, … and further, …..by those (many of whom I actually like, very, very much) under an entity which has made a high, fine …. art (a, surely DOD Funded, and DOMINANT: Teaching Ho$pital – the ugly deal Johnson was forced to make for a health safety net?) – of treating its ‘no one’ patients as if they were tumors, with no other significance in life than to be ‘treated’ …. ultimately crushed ….. in that ‘healing process’;….. versus taking the route where I determine that since I’m not wanting to live all that much longer ….. year wise, ….. and seemingly can’t get the tumor removed by any entity I do feel safe with, …… I will let it remain – but what the hell:
    It seemed so timely that I read your deserved and lovely Game of Thrones response near back to back with this Palo Alto, [Empire of] California, Sly Con Valley, Palantir slamming read:

    04/09/14 Silicon Valley Royalty Cosplay for Game of Thrones Party

    which included this priceless link:

    Hearst Castle 30th Birthday Party
    On the heels of the third anniversary of entrepreneur Joe Lonsdale’s [Palntir co-founder, along with Peter Thiel …. – diane] latest and greatest software venture, Addepar, it seemed only fitting that the company celebrate this milestone (along with Jon’s 30th birthday) like a king—an American king—and in an American king’s castle. Next stop, Hearst Castle!
    William Randolph Hearst, whose life and palatial estate were the inspiration behind Citizen Kane, never had a laser light show, but that’s probably because he never hired King Dahl Event Design of Los Angeles. In addition to the impressive lighting décor, King Dahl deserves a standing ovation for bringing a moveable feast to the most famous mansion in America. DJ Kevin Doja traveled all the way from San Francisco to keep party guests dancing into the wee hours. And all this splendor for a young man whose name is not yet as familiar as Hearst’s. But give him time – after all, he’s only thirty!

  14. screaming a lullaby …. (ms. wide mouthed simon schuster ‘heiress ref’ …love that song:…. i believe in love …..(I tell no lie there, I do believe in love, it is the only thing worthy of giving and surviving …. staying alive, for)) in duplicate (ants in my pantses):
    Thank you so, … ;0) !!!!!!
    wasn’t going to pester – as I’ve been drowning in the horror of whether to allow myself to be sliced into, … and further, …..by those (many of whom I actually like, very, very much) under an entity which has made a high, fine …. art (a, surely DOD Funded, and DOMINANT: Teaching Ho$pital – the ugly deal Johnson was forced to make for a health safety net?) – of treating its ‘no one’ patients as if they were tumors, with no other significance in life than to be ‘treated’ …. ultimately crushed ….. in that ‘healing process’;….. versus taking the route where I determine that since I’m not wanting to live all that much longer ….. year wise, ….. and seemingly can’t get the tumor removed by any entity I do feel safe with, …… I will let it remain – but what the hell:
    It seemed so timely that I read your deserved and lovely Game of thrones response near back to back with this Palo Alto, [Empire of] California, Sly Con Valley, Palantir slamming read:

    04/09/14 Silicon Valley Royalty Cosplay for Game of Thrones Party

    which included this priceless link:

    Hearst Castle 30th Birthday Party
    On the heels of the third anniversary of entrepreneur Joe Lonsdale’s [Palntir co-founder, along with Peter Thiel …. – diane] latest and greatest software venture, Addepar, it seemed only fitting that the company celebrate this milestone (along with Jon’s 30th birthday) like a king—an American king—and in an American king’s castle. Next stop, Hearst Castle!
    William Randolph Hearst, whose life and palatial estate were the inspiration behind Citizen Kane, never had a laser light show, but that’s probably because he never hired King Dahl Event Design of Los Angeles. In addition to the impressive lighting décor, King Dahl deserves a standing ovation for bringing a moveable feast to the most famous mansion in America. DJ Kevin Doja traveled all the way from San Francisco to keep party guests dancing into the wee hours. And all this splendor for a young man whose name is not yet as familiar as Hearst’s. But give him time – after all, he’s only thirty!

    1. (sighhh …what happened to my deep purple (equal parts red and blue) wordpress snow flake ‘avatar’ tattoo? It’s faithfully lasted (unless I mistakenly, or, rarely and deliberately …for emphasis, add an extra consonant, which transforms the snowflake to an orange burst, lasted for over a year. Now, with no clue as to why: it’s an ugly bland and ghostly greyish blue shadow? I entered my same ole bogus email addy correctly ( I take screen pic copies of my posts, to remind me, …in case I ever end up in court …..not that it would matter but sometimes a delusion of any sort of prevention against insane POWER and STATE ABUSE can be slightly easing.) So I know something has changed with the assigned avatars)……..Matt ,..calling.. matttt mullenweg.)

      1. (I figured that would happen (getting the same, at least a year old purple ‘snowflake,’ avatar back … in a post as to why it has disappeared), fact of the matter is that all three bogus email addresses I used in the above 3 comments were verifiably the same as I’ve used for over a year now (along with my “user” name, diane, which is my name.) and should have ended up with same purple ‘snowflake.’ …It really is not trifling commentary (a different avatar adds an element of: possibly not the same person, not that I’m at all pointing the finger at you, Jacob.)

  15. Yeah, I’ve read all the books and watched a couple of seasons. Mostly entertaining, and interesting to see how Martin’s world has sparked popular discourse, but it all seems frivolous and lacking true weight, considering contemporary conditions. How we amplify and pontificate with such seriousness on matters of little consequence . . .

    Hey, not trying to come across as a heavy weight here, but come on. . .

    Meanwhile Martin’s raking in the bucks while sparking controversy and creating entertaining diversions, whether based on Medieval history or not. (I always do wonder about that food thing, though.)

    BTW, I heard about shitting on the steps in Versailles when in high school, long before the internet.

  16. Sad to see that the author subscribes to the intellectually untenable argument that a subjective value judgment about a TV show can be “correct.”

  17. does the game of thrones have any trading of ..pressed snow .. we are each unique.. of wording by/with , i like grey ,said no tely .. .

    1. I love grey/gray also …in its gentle, meditative realm …….

      when it is used to obscure my identity, when that is the last thing I needed, or wanted, to be applied to my uttering my witness (to FOG IT OUT) …..

      I Call FOUL.

  18. First, I would like to endorse what Eudora Quilt and Ryan Noonan wrote upthread.

    “He is a misogynist, but his misogyny is at least in service of his deliberate atmosphere of unrelenting brutality, unlike Tolkien…”

    “Misogynist” seems like a pretty strong accusation — perhaps not as damning as “racist,” but still serious. So it is disheartening to see OP cavalierly toss off the accusation, without marshaling evidence for the claim or even linking to an argument for the case (for instance, this Neil Drumming post in Salon). Mr. Bacharach makes a thorough argument for the series (and the books) displaying gratuitous violence; but that argument makes more conspicuous the lack of argument for the the more inflammatory charge of misogyny against GRRM.

  19. I stopped watching during the first season after Blond Incest Woman imprisoned Sean Bean. It just made no sense. Sean Bean’s succession to the throne had been established as the intent of the dead king—established in the court, in front of all the lords and captains and whatnot—it was totally legit, with the blessing and sanction of that clerical guy. Then the blond lady says “seize him” and … wait, what? The soldiers DO IT? Why? Why on earth would they? She’d just been rendered irrelevant. If the machinery of the state & church had any weight at all, the soldiers would know there was no longer any angle in doing her bidding. If this machinery didn’t have any weight, wtf was it there for in the first place?

    I stopped watching because that episode made clear that Martin’s world is governed only by the rule of the Extreme Plot Twist.

  20. Patrick Allen Foster saiz:

    “Misogynist” seems like a pretty strong accusation — perhaps not as damning as “racist,”

    Oh fucking my, ….how to respond?

    Guess I’ll start with a suggestion that racism is actually a subset of misogyny, …in that racism – in my over a half century of observation, and firsthand experience – seems to encompass the belief that the males of whatever race are contemptible, ….are not REAL MEN, and that the females and children (no matter the ‘gender’) of whatever race is being held in contempt, are fair game for RAPE.

    Misogyny, is a perfected fit for describing “GOT.”

      1. Game of Thrones can be quite misogynist, yet the books aren’t. Chapters from Brienne, Catelyn Stark and Cersei Lannister’s point of view should prove that GRRM’s portrayals of women in fantasy is inspired, and risk taking, from the classical Strong Women Warrior that is Brienne, which puts all the tropes in perspective, to Cersei and her internalized misogyny.
        It’s just much easier for everyone to be offended by all things.

    1. Excellent bit of badinage there, IMNSHO.
      Reminds me of something by one of IOZ’s favorites (John Donne):
      “Batter my heart, three-personned God”
      I once broke the poet Tim Murphy up by starting a poem:
      “Since our three-personned God has
      lately sworn off all ménages a quatres …”

      1. this game.. of thro nes ,no tely, is now moving up not jacob’s ..ladder ,krebs to fugue , , ear eer er

  21. So honey, given your new books success (and congrats dear, I’ll have to unfortunately wait for it to appear in a Sly Con Valley Library), what are your thoughts on the Heinz conspiring?

    041414 via rich ( http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/04/links-41614.html#comment-1997778 ………………….), on 041614: Heinz Offers Buyout To All Local Employees, Prompting Concerns About Future Here http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2014/04/14/heinz-offers-buyout-to-all-local-employees-prompting-concerns-about-future-here/
    081413 (EDT) Heinz announces layoffs of 600 office staff in U.S. and Canada http://www.upi.com/Business_News/2013/08/14/Heinz-announces-layoffs-of-600-office-staff-in-US-and-Canada/UPI-99031376455768/
    021413 Three Billionaires Join Buffett for Heinz Deal http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-14/three-billionaires-join-buffett-for-heinz-deal.html
    021413 RPT-Burger King’s Brazilian owner at heart of all-American Heinz deal http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/14/berkshire-heinz-3g-idUSL1N0BE81L20130214?rpc=401&

    What is the current ratio of shelter from freezing fall and winter nights (for those who will lose their shirts and never regain them) per newly hell holed home less person, in Pitt’s Berg?

      1. a deep (surprisingly unraspy to those who expect and proclaim raspy) and mournful sigh …..♫Musical Chairs♫ is actually the subtle response?

        :0)
        :0(:0(
        :0(
        :0(

  22. I unexplainedly feel so very apologetic (I wonder why) for the missing ‘white space’ between …..”♫Musical Chairs♫” and is actually the subtle response?..

    siiiiiiiiiiiiighhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

  23. A related thought always occurs to me when whatever incumbent politician here in NYC wants close the homeless shelters, which are brimming with low-wage workers, meanwhile subway fair is rising faster than inflation on the Zimbabwean dollar. The city needs these people to stock store shelves and cook food in posh restaurants. And whether they live in the city or have an affordable way to commute, a way to keep them working here will ultimately be found–a wage hike! if things really get dire.

  24. Funny, the whole reason I like Tolkein’s world is how fully realized it is, I feel like if he had kept writing you would know exactly how Rohan came to like horses so damn much. I also think the time is ripe for a Grendel-style “found literature” diary of an middle management Orc, just trying to make his way through this crazy world. Maybe he could have 3 days til retirement right before Helm’s Deep or something.

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