Meneldur Olvarion wrote:After reading that site, it looks like jumbling up historical accounts and giving them some CGI glitter and flash makes for great storytelling. It does puzzle me why this attracts the great population of dimwitteds, but it no longer surprises me in the least. I guess if you are a producer of these things, the key to a hit show is to aim for the lowest common denominator instead of the highest. Or to put it another way: write for quality, and then almost exactly invert that (although I doubt most of them are quite that dedicated).
I researched it a bit because I wrote an article in the Dutch Tolkien Society magazine Lembas
about the show - which I was afraid could have been a bit thorny because it so happens that the editor of Lembas
also happens to be the one who translated Mr. Martin's "A Song of Fire and Ice"
(the books the series is based on) in Dutch. But she took it as a sport, which I appreciated, because my review was, well, not exactly glowing.
It wasn't even a real review because I have never seen a minute of the series nor read a single page of the book. Therefore, the article is announced as an attempt to reverse-engineer the work from the noise it makes on the internet. And indeed, I think the chance that the series and the books are altogether completely different than the image that practically screams at you from all the fallout is about as small as the proverbial monkey writing Marcel Proust's "Au recherche du temps perdu" on a typewriter purely by chance.
That's why I read quite a number of Youtube comments and the like, and I have seen that argument used over and over again that it is good because it's (supposedly) based on facts
. One comment on YouTube went something like this: "That violence is in there because those things also happened for REAL! Didn't you know? Are you blind or what? You better educate yourself then! Or would you want to censor that out and want us to live in a LIE, huh? Is that what you want? Well, we don't like censors and LIARS in here! So be gone with you!"
Also, the author, mr. Martin, says: "I wanted to show that the evil resides within ourselves instead of in Orcs or Dark Lords"
As I also said last week somewhere on Facebook, you can then still wonder why one would need six seasons stuffed with the most hideous violence to drive that simple message home.
But, well. That article I wrote was in Dutch, but the gist is something like this: that I noticed a few things about the series such as the above-mentioned rationalisation for liking it because it should be based on historical facts.
Another striking thing was the way in which people talk about the series. For instance, I noticed this with some of my colleagues: they typically talked about it in a sort of awe, telling that yes, it was very VERY good, and yes, it was indeed also very unpleasantly violent. It was as if they somehow subjugated themselves to those unpleasantries as an atonement of some sort.
I found it VERY weird, there was something odd going on there, which reminded me of those self-flagellating monks in Monty Python's Holy Grail movie ("Pie Iesu Christu" ... *smack* ... "dona eis requim" ... *smack*)
. I don't think that any of them could have pinpointed it if asked, nor explain it.
You could then ask yourself what the attraction of exposing oneself to unpleasant things is in general. It comes in many shapes and sizes and intensities, from those Social Drama movies set in the suburbs of Manchester, via those obligatory "dark and gritty" arthouse flicks (with punk soundtrack) about junks and prostitutes that the progressive public has been indulging in since the 1980's (at least here in Europe), all the way to slasher movies or what have you.
It would be handy to have a word for this, so I coined misagathos
- dislike of happiness
(or someone who-), in analogy of JRRT's misomythos
(hater of myth
, from Mythopoeia).
Then, I tried to draw up an extensive list of all thinkable motives for misagathos, and, as in Cinderella, try and figure out which shoe fits Game of Thrones best. This is, IMO at least, a motive I labeled "the Factguiser" exactly because the observed tendency to point to the supposed historical factuality when asked "why all the violence"?
There is also a website somewhere that debunks that supposed historical accuracy. It is, in short, bollocks.
The Middle Ages were admittedly more violent than these days, but nowhere near as intensely, commonly and frequently as is depicted in GoT. And that goes even stronger for rape, which the show cannot get enough of it seems - but the reality is that there was a very strong taboo on rape. It absolutely happened, but again, most definitely not with the appalling regularity as in that series.
Too bad I don't have the article here, otherwise I would have posted that site.
And lastly, I argue that the series is in fact not fantasy at all. If you look at the definitions given by Tolkien, GoT simply isn't fantasy. It lacks the most essential quality: it does not derive from a veritable experience in the land of Faerie. The author even boasts that it's not.
Therefore, GoT is nothing but a violent soap-opera with swords and dragons in it.