Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

A Game of Thrones

When I fuck a woman on film, I make sure I don't grind her face into the ground in every scene. This is what makes me a more socially aware film maker than those who were responsible for the first episode of A Game of Thrones.

Now, I want to preface this review by saying, I have read the books in George RR Martin's Song of Ice and Fire, from which the TV series is built, and by and large, I've enjoyed it. There are a few issues with it, mostly due to race and with an ever growing cast, but I've actually recommended it to anyone, male or female. It's one of the few fantasy series I can say is worth reading as an adult. However, I cannot recommend the TV series to the same people after the first episode. The first episode of the TV series (by which we must judge if we will watch the rest or not) is so disappointing in its treatment of women that I cannot do otherwise. Truthfully, if the trailer for the series interested you and you hadn't read the books, read them--in the books, the women have voices, plots, and characterisation, and are lifted from being a simple currency to be passed around by men. In the books, women are strong and weak female characters, just as the men are strong and weak characters.

A Game of Thrones, for a brief rundown on its actual contents, begins with Eddard Stark, Lord of the North, being called to execute a deserted from the Night's Watch. Shortly after, we are told that due to the death of Lord Arryn, the King will be arriving in Stark's part of the world to ask him to become the Hand of the King. We are introduced, in this opening episode, to the bastard son of Eddard, Jon, and to his legitimate children, Rob, Sansa, Arya, Bran and their youngest son, who I believe is unnamed for the most part. We are also introduced to the King, the Queen, the Queen's brothers, Jamie and Tyrion, the latter who is also known as the Imp, due to the fact that he is a midget. Meanwhile, while this is going, the children of the previously murdered King are taking part in a marriage. The youngest, Dani, is being married to a nomadic warlord in the hope that he and his army will head over to the new King and help these disposed children take back what is rightly theirs.

If you have read the book, it is pretty much a straight lift from what's there, the only difference being that Martin's varying points of view has been stripped out (each chapter is written from the point of view of Eddard, or Catelyn, or Jon, or Tyrion, and so on and so forth). That point of view was always going to be stripped out, of course, since it's close to be impossible to do it on a film, and the show suffers for it. Rendered of the history and texture that is placed in each point of view, the first episode of A Game of Thrones is essentially constructed out of the genre clichés. This includes the clichés relating to gender and race, though the latter, I must admit, was always a terrible cliché in the book. But regardless, they do pile up: an unknown danger in the North, a girl who wants to be a boy, a bastard son unloved, an unbending, loyal lord, dragon's eggs, and so on and so forth, culminating in a depiction of women that left me with the opinion that the fantasy genre itself is not place for female viewers or readers, unless they liked to be fucked from behind and their face jammed into the ground to demonstrate that they are but the servants of the men mounting them from behind, a metaphorical statement that appears with such frequency towards the end that you have to wonder what the director of the episode was thinking, if anything.

It is entirely unacceptable that this takes place, really. I am not going to sit here and tell you that the original books were havens of gender equality, because they weren't. You only have to bring up the lesbian content in later books to begin that argument. I am not even going to tell you that the fantasy genre is, either, because it's clearly not, despite the strong female authorship within it. But that does not change the fact that in a world where dragons fly round, where sword fights take place, where the hint of the supernatural is always present, that the place of such a negative portrayal of women in the genre (and specifically A Game of Thrones) adds authenticity to the product. The portrayal of women in fantasy does not need to be like this. It is a fantasy and the people responsible for that fantasy have the ability to change and alter it to present a more balanced and interesting world, a world where patriarchal or matriarchal societies do not exist and where characters are judged not on their gender, but on their characterisation, on their ability, their intelligence, and the designs of the book.

In short, don't be stupid.


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