4.16.2011

Winter Is Coming (Or Is It Summer?)

The weather suggests that it is indeed summer that is coming, but on the other hand A Game of Thrones starts up on Sunday. Best of both worlds! I'll admit, as someone who has only recently been exposed to the series (which is a little odd considering the amount of epic fantasy I read and how long it has been around) and is making my way through the books, I'm fairly excited to see what HBO does in its adaptation and whether or not it will be able to live up to the significant hype it has managed to build up. My only reservation will be the nudity: I fully expect it to be there - this is HBO after all - but it needs to be... tasteful, and not gratuitous. I'm a little conflicted when it comes to depictions of nudity in media. On the one hand there is the acknowledgement that nudity is a normal part of life (it is after all, ahem, aur naturel state of being) and is nothing to be ashamed of, and yet on the other hand there are the problems in the glamourization of titillation so prevalent in films like the American Pie series where nudity is played to get a rise with little or no purpose beyond getting the audience to associate what they are seeing with sex.

Anyway, we'll see what happens and how much of the series I actually end up watching.

In related GoT news, the internetz got all up and indignant today with the continuing ignorance of NY Times writer Ginia Bellafante. That may seem a bit harsh, but having read a few of her tv "reviews" I find it difficult to even imagine the dark arts she must employ to keep her job. Seriously, I wonder if she is just playing us all for fools or if she really is that incompetent.

The article in question is, naturally, a review of A Game of Thrones. While the main thrust of her argument may seem valid to anyone new to the the Song of Ice and Fire series, anyone familiar with the texts or Martin can spot the fairly obvious problems with her statements. We'll leave her insistence that AGoT is a metaphor for global warming alone - though she is fairly adamant about it - and focus in on her insistence that girls would never, ever watch this show. Bellafante suggests that AGoT is "boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half." The basis for this argument is that the show is set in a medieval period with horses, swords, honour, and fighting and that the illicitness (sex) was inserted "out of a justifiable fear, perhaps, that no woman alive would watch otherwise." After all:

While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first.

What?

Perhaps we should cut Bellafante some slack; after all, how can we expect her to invest time in the characters - especially of the female variety - if she can barely handle the dramaticus personae of the tv show? It is unfortunate indeed: Martin has packed his books with strong female characters - no Mary Sues allowed. If the allure of interesting and complicated female characters wasn't enough, the series involves much more gossip and politicking than it does actual fighting, the nobility preferring to work out its aggression through subversion and alliances than outright fighting. Sounds like a certain male/female dichotomy to me.

I'm not the first, and certainly won't be the last to point out the problems in this "review", so I won't flog it any further. Ultimately, it seems more like Bellafante reinforcing the mainstream bias against genre fiction than it is an actual critical piece. She concludes by contrasting AGoT with more "real" shows like The Sopranos and The Wire:
When the network ventures away from its instincts for real-world sociology, as it has with the vampire saga “True Blood,” things start to feel cheap, and we feel as though we have been placed in the hands of cheaters. “Game of Thrones” serves up a lot of confusion in the name of no larger or really relevant idea beyond sketchily fleshed-out notions that war is ugly, families are insidious and power is hot. If you are not averse to the Dungeons & Dragons aesthetic, the series might be worth the effort. If you are nearly anyone else, you will hunger for HBO to get back to the business of languages for which we already have a dictionary. 

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