Jump to content
BethR

Game of Thrones

Recommended Posts

Grantland's Andy Greenwald interviewed Weiss and Benioff about the show on a podcast.

the two spoke candidly about their struggles to convince everyone, from author George R.R. Martin to themselves, that they were the right men to bring Thrones to life, despite having no previous experience in television. We also discussed the ways in which their jobs differ from those of a typical showrunner (frequent flier miles to Croatia are involved), the perils of smoke nephews, and why they expect the upcoming third season (debuting Sunday, March 31, at 9 p.m. ET) to be the most exciting one yet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Had lunch with my sister's family & friends of my niece & nephew who are hosting a GoT viewing party this evening, including dinner made from recipes in the Official Game of Thrones Cookbook, which gets extra points for including some authentic medieval recipes along with modern equivalents. Man, this kind of thing is why I loved living in Chapel Hill--you could always find a large group of like-minded nerds. I couldn't round up the usual suspects from among my current local friends this weekend, because it's (1) Easter--OK, that's actually a good reason--and (2) NCAA basketball tournament. Ah, college towns!

Edited by BethR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jonathan Ryan at CT (which includes, I'm told, a major Hunger Games spoiler:

The Grim Image of Game of Thrones

In [Martin's] gray, morally ambiguous world, bad things happen all the time. Little good is done in the end. And Martin is not the only writer who has embraced this "realistic" point of view in modern stories. Dystopian fiction has taken over the Young Adult book world. The Hunger Games shares Martin's view of human action. Every good act is under suspicion, every good thing corrupted at its heart.

True, Katniss sacrifices for her sister, but even that noble act is rendered meaningless in the concluding book of the triology.

Books like these are praised as realistic, bold, and unflinching.

But Martin's relentlessly grim view of human beings is far from realistic. He is looking at the world with just one jaundiced, damaged eye.

The world is full of horror—but it is also full of people acting selflessly, laughing, loving and fighting hard for their communities. We are far more like hobbits than orcs, or the grim images of Martin's world.

Edited by Overstreet

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jonathan Ryan at CT:

The Grim Image of Game of Thrones

In [Martin's] gray, morally ambiguous world, bad things happen all the time. Little good is done in the end. And Martin is not the only writer who has embraced this "realistic" point of view in modern stories. Dystopian fiction has taken over the Young Adult book world. The Hunger Games shares Martin's view of human action. Every good act is under suspicion, every good thing corrupted at its heart. True, Katniss sacrifices for her sister, but even that noble act is rendered meaningless in the concluding book of the triology. Books like these are praised as realistic, bold, and unflinching.

But Martin's relentlessly grim view of human beings is far from realistic. He is looking at the world with just one jaundiced, damaged eye.

The world is full of horror—but it is also full of people acting selflessly, laughing, loving and fighting hard for their communities. We are far more like hobbits than orcs, or the grim images of Martin's world.

***Major Hunger Games spoiler****

Edited by Tyler

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks. I've added spoiler text to the post. (But it'll need to be added to your reply.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jonathan Ryan at CT (which includes, I'm told, a major Hunger Games spoiler:

Jonathan and I talked about this in February at a conference a bit, and I guess we just ended up disagreeing — Martin's work IS dark, but I think it also really shooting for something that's ultimately bittersweet (Martin's words). He also wrote a Lovecraft v. Arthur Machen article a few months ago that was almost identical to this one: here's a well-regarded genre author, and here's a Christian who is better for THESE reasons (it honestly was a good article, though I greatly disagreed).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jonathan Ryan at CT (which includes, I'm told, a major Hunger Games spoiler:

...

And I found myself agreeing with much of what Ryan had to say here--I read the print version Saturday...old school smile.png --but since the series isn't complete yet, I think it's too soon to say, ultimately just how grim Martin's view of humanity will turn out to be. The GoT world does include characters who give us something to admire, but it's hard to argue with him when by the end of book 5

nearly every admirable character is either dead, imprisoned, imperiled, or incapacitated

. If/when Martin pulls a "bittersweet" ending out of the tangles he's wound everyone up in, I shall salute him.

But I can't help wondering whether his "realism" is contributing to the writer's block (or whatever it is). Tolkien could create a coherent quest within a large canvas (and with an even larger mythological background) because he saw the Creation, and therefore his own subcreation, as having a plan. Martin's Westeros, etc., can be praised for its realism in many ways, but if part of that "realism" is a worldview that sees life as just "one damn thing after another," then the story can go on indefinitely, more people dying and killing, and stealing, and using sex merely as an exercise of power, without anyone "winning" the Game of Thrones, until we dislike all the characters so much that we don't care what happens to any of them.

That would be a worst case scenario. I don't think it has to go that way, and there are some hopeful signs that it won't. We'll see. One thing for sure: season three won't cheer anyone up. Just saying. But I did think the opening episode did well at picking up most of the narrative threads from the end of season two.

Edited by BethR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

but it's hard to argue with him when by the end of book 5

nearly every admirable character is either dead, imprisoned, imperiled, or incapacitated

. If/when Martin pulls a "bittersweet" ending out of the tangles he's wound everyone up in, I shall salute him.

Good points, Beth. I think the moral ambiguity in Martin's world has show us some redemptive aspects in the "bad guys:"

Characters like Jaime, the wildlings, Sandor (assuming he's still alive, which I do), and others have been given time to "come around," and in many ways they have or they are.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I exchanged e-mails with the editor of CT and was assured the plot spoiler was an oversight./mistake. It's unfortunate that it happened in this instance. (I was one of the readers of the book and watcher of the shows who had the plot point spoiled by the article), but I was encouraged to hear that it was mistake and we're going to try to keep those sorts of things from happening again in the future.

But I can't help wondering whether his "realism" is contributing to the writer's block (or whatever it is). Tolkien could create a coherent quest within a large canvas (and with an even larger mythological background) because he saw the Creation, and therefore his own subcreation, as having a plan. Martin's Westeros, etc., can be praised for its realism in many ways, but if part of that "realism" is a worldview that sees life as just "one damn thing after another," then the story can go on indefinitely, more people dying and killing, and stealing, and using sex merely as an exercise of power, without anyone "winning" the Game of Thrones, until we dislike all the characters so much that we don't care what happens to any of them.

I more or less disagree with the thesis of the piece (so far as I understand it), but then I don't find myself disliking all the characters (or the work as a whole) for not having any that are umcompromised. It is certainly easier to situate one's own decisions (moral or political) within the confines of a concrete sliver of history (one's own life) than within a history that precedes and follows one longitudinally, but I feel the characters (particularly Jon Snow in Book II and Dany in Book III deal with that struggle, and the inability to bring things to a close may, in a way, be the opening to consider whether or not characters such as Ned, who value integrity over expediency, are not wrong simply because they aren't always immediately successful.

Of course, if one posits an athiestic universe (as opposed to an agnostic world), then history is just one thing after another, in which case none of it matters very much and lets eat drink, and be merry. In such a formulation, I pity the characters more than dislike them, and it may be that they embody anagogically a postmodern world more than they (or Martin) know, because I do think one of the major themes in the series is the fog of war and how it obscures an already tenuous and arbitrary value system, challenging its characters (and readers) with Ecclesiastes-like questions of why the unfolding of history doesn't always appear (perhaps cannot appear) to the finite eye to illustrate or reveal the moral laws of the gods who created it.

But is that not "realistic"? I know many an athiest (most by reputation, a few personally), who look at our history of our world and would say the same things about it as some say about Westeros.I know a few Christians, too, (as the reference to Ecclesiastes implies) who don't know how to answer that charge to their own satisfaction (much less the satisfaction of their theology's critics) and, hence, would rather claim history as a more coherent an clear mirror of a created, moral universe than face the implication of just how dimly the reflection of God and his moral character is reflected in our fallen natures and the dark glass of a world we occupy.

Edited by kenmorefield

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But I can't help wondering whether his "realism" is contributing to the writer's block (or whatever it is). Tolkien could create a coherent quest within a large canvas (and with an even larger mythological background) because he saw the Creation, and therefore his own subcreation, as having a plan. Martin's Westeros, etc., can be praised for its realism in many ways, but if part of that "realism" is a worldview that sees life as just "one damn thing after another," then the story can go on indefinitely, more people dying and killing, and stealing, and using sex merely as an exercise of power, without anyone "winning" the Game of Thrones, until we dislike all the characters so much that we don't care what happens to any of them.

I more or less disagree with the thesis of the piece (so far as I understand it), but then I don't find myself disliking all the characters (or the work as a whole) for not having any that are umcompromised. It is certainly easier to situate one's own decisions (moral or political) within the confines of a concrete sliver of history (one's own life) than within a history that precedes and follows one longitudinally, but I feel the characters (particularly Jon Snow in Book II and Dany in Book III deal with that struggle, and the inability to bring things to a close may, in a way, be the opening to consider whether or not characters such as Ned, who value integrity over expediency, are not wrong simply because they aren't always immediately successful.

But is that not "realistic"? I know many an athiest (most by reputation, a few personally), who look at our history of our world and would say the same things about it as some say about Westeros.I know a few Christians, too, (as the reference to Ecclesiastes implies) who don't know how to answer that charge to their own satisfaction (much less the satisfaction of their theology's critics) and, hence, would rather claim history as a more coherent an clear mirror of a created, moral universe than face the implication of just how dimly the reflection of God and his moral character is reflected in our fallen natures and the dark glass of a world we occupy.

This is a good response. The article under-interprets the goodness of characters within the broader scope of the series, which I have found more immediately recognizable in the TV series. And it, not kidding here, totally neglects the arcs of minor characters like Hot Pie.

The article also kind of begs the question regarding how we define "realistic."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a good response. The article under-interprets the goodness of characters within the broader scope of the series, which I have found more immediately recognizable in the TV series. And it, not kidding here, totally neglects the arcs of minor characters like Hot Pie.

The article also kind of begs the question regarding how we define "realistic."

Thank you, Mike.

I agree with your last emphatically. It says succinctly what it takes me more verbiage and contextualization to get out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for those excellent responses, Ken and Michael — you touched on some things I've been mulling over about the series. I think Westeros is as much a character in the series as any of the POV folks, especially so in A Feast For Crows (which is why it's my favorite of the bunch). The grace notes really come out when Martin spends time with the minor characters (or peripheral characters, in many cases): the Hot Pies, the Garlan Tyrells, the Hodors.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been spending part of this day thinking about why this story irritated me so much (besides the spoiler angle which contributed but doesn't fully explain my irritation at it).

I've come to the conclusion that it (my irritation) is in part b/c I think the inability (or unwilingness0 to "like" (love, empathize) those who are not uncomplicatedly "good" (as we currently understand the term) is one of the seminal and systematic failures of American Christianity (evangelicalism? protestantism? fundamentalism?)...I think it has negatively affected our politics and our theology, and I definitely think it has affected our art and artistic judgment (ability to both understand/interpret and appreciate/enjoy rich, complex, and "good" art.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am loving this discussion.

I'm kind of surprised by this article because the greatest conflict I see in the books, at least in the characters that fall nearer the "good" end of the scale, is the tension between duty, honor and integrity. All admirable things. Not so much that every good deed is somehow tainted by corruption, although many in this universe are.

(Spoilers for all five books)

Ned Stark had all three of the aforementioned traits, and his failure, I think, was conflating them. I don't think he died because of a lack of opportunism or expediency, he died because he thought a good person tells the whole truth to everybody all the time, and that publicly doing an honorable thing was more important than holding one's cards close in order to uproot corruption and restore truth to its rightful place. One can be gentle as a dove and yet wise as a serpent. And even at the end, he actually recanted, because Varys had convinced him that his death on behalf of his own honor would serve no purpose, and indeed actually do further harm to the realm (since he was repeating the same actions that caused the last war). Of course that was ruined by Joffrey.

Ditto with Robb Stark, who had to choose between dishonoring a family of his own bannermen (who had already been treated with scorn for years by his relatives, yet had given him an absolutely vital strongpost in his war) and dishonoring a girl with a bastard. In the process he managed to dishonor his own family. And lose a couple other important things as well. Like his head. Catelyn, who had been both good AND wise up until that point, was his collateral damage.

I see the same thing happening with Brienne, who is all about duty and honor and everything that causes troubadours to write ballads about knights and ladies. Now in book 6 she'll have to choose between her sworn duty to Catelyn Stark and her knowledge that Catelyn is no longer Catelyn and Jaime is no longer the Jaime that he was. She'll have to choose on her own between justice and vengeance, rather than letting duty choose for her.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I see the same thing happening with Brienne, who is all about duty and honor and everything that causes troubadours to write ballads about knights and ladies. Now in book 6 she'll have to choose between her sworn duty to Catelyn Stark and her knowledge that Catelyn is no longer Catelyn and Jaime is no longer the Jaime that he was. She'll have to choose on her own between justice and vengeance, rather than letting duty choose for her.

And don't forget Pod!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Neal Stephenson, tweeting about the second episode:

"This week all the GoT fighters are supporting their swords on their elbows. Seems a good way to get struck on the elbow."

"Except for Arya who suddenly forgot 100% of what her dad & Syrio Forel taught her. A new direction for her."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Amanda MacInnis (via Fred Clark):

But then, every once and a while you come across an example of how not to interact with
Game of Thrones
. Take the
at Christianity Today. Jonathan Ryan attempts to contrast
Game of Thrones
and
The Lord of the Rings
. Which is fine, so long as it is recognized that they are two very different worlds and worldviews. The problem comes when Ryan tries to compare Tyrion Lannister to Gollum: . . .

Ryan fundamentally misunderstands and misconstrues the character of Tyrion. In fact, I would argue that Tyrion is in fact one of the most honourable characters in Westeros, with the understanding that the rules of morality in
A Song of Ice and Fire
are very, very distinct from the rules of morality in something like
The Lord of the Rings
. Indeed, it is this honour-in- spite-of-all-he’s-been-through that makes Tyrion one of the more beloved characters to readers (and viewers). The same endearment cannot be said of Gollum.

In trying to compare Tyrion to Gollum, the author overlooks all the good things that Tyrion has done. (There is now a note at the bottom of the article that the article removed an important plot point from the article because it would be a “spoiler” to those who are new to the series, but even eliminating discussion of the plot point does not mean that at this point in the TV series Tyrion fits well with Gollum). . . .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Worst episode in the history of television.

If you haven't read the books, then trust me... it gets worse. menacegrin.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Twitter reactions to last night's show (I don't watch it) are kind of hilarious. Mondays are fun, with the Mad Men and GoT discontent aired for all to see.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So the episode last night got me thinking more on the good and evil theme in the story:

- I keep hearing about how this show is ammoral and doesn't really have real goodness in it.

- For example: Jonathan Ryan's Christianity Today article:

For Martin, realistic means his characters are complex, "gray," and morally ambiguous. There are no heroes in Martin's books like there are in The Lord of the Rings ... Martin's work, at least so far, contains very little room for eucatastrophe. In his gray, morally ambiguous world, bad things happen all the time. Little good is done in the end. And Martin is not the only writer who has embraced this "realistic" point of view in modern stories.

- Back in April, Peter linked the responding article by Amanda MacInnis, where she says:

I would argue that Tyrion is in fact one of the most honourable characters in Westeros, with the understanding that the rules of morality in A Song of Ice and Fire are very, very distinct from the rules of morality in something like The Lord of the Rings.

- I'm not sure MacInnis is correct here. Are the rules of morality really that different in both stories? As the episode last night demonstrated, Ned Stark's family stand for honor and for a code of right and wrong in a way a large majority of other characters do not. Just during last night's episode alone, the Starks risked their lives to save two innocent lives. Arya and Jon both object to the killing of innocents at different points in the episode and are willing to face the consequences.

- It occurred to me that, when it really comes down to it, the Starks are genuinely good characters. Robb and Talissa are so likeable because of their innocence and their romance. In spite of everything going on, they believe in the same healthy things the heroes of any fairy tale believe in. Tyrion is also one of the most loveable characters on the show, and he is because he remains untouched by the lust for power that is ultimately ammoral and immoral in everyone else surrounding him. While he's not perfect, he hasn't been twisted and corrupted like almost everyone else.

- So, that said, one of the major themes of Game of Thrones is the fate of the good in the world of the story. Last night showed again, just like the character of Ned Stark showed, that goodness and innocence often lacks guile in a way that dooms the honorable when they are caught up in the web of medieval power politics and double-dealing. They die. One of the most difficult balancing acts is to preserve the good while also surviving in a world where everyone acts as if might makes right. Tyrion is one of only good characters left because he's able to make adjustments and to use his wits. After last night, you can't help but get the feeling that the remaining Stark children are either going to have to die, fall into evil, or somehow, against all the odds, still manage to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. And the world being the way it is, death seems pretty inevitable.

- If you read Medieval history, the good and the saintly don't fair well. They get assassinated and martyred. Even in Medieval legend, even when these good characters successfully set up, like Arthur, an order founded on their ideas of good - eventually human depravity tears it down, it falls, and even Arthur dies in battle.

- So many viewers of the show are upset right now because some of the brightest and strongest remnants of goodness in the story were just stamped out. But that doesn't mean that Robb, Talissa and Catelyn were any less good or honorable (although granted, Catelyn is the one who was losing it at the end). They were just too easy to defeat. That is the lesson that the other good characters are going to have to figure out how to learn or, the way this story works, they just aren't going to make it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very well put, J.A.A.

Mind you, I generally have found this series to be remarkably effective, barring the torture of a certain character (would blank the name, but having trouble with formatting) and ridiculous "sexposition," which hasn't been as intrusive in season 3. But a flaw in the HBO show model (OK, the general mass media model) is reliance on sex & violence, which means some characters who may represent more of the kind "good" we'd like to see more of get less screen time, maybe less character development compared to what they had in the books. In 3.9, we got just a glimpse of Bran with the Reed siblings. They remind me a little bit of Frodo and Sam--small people slipping through the cracks while big armies go at each other...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...