I really need to be doing my Kentucky taxes, but I made the mistake of scanning through Twitter before I started, and I came across a tweet from Kat Howard (@KatWithSword), a speculative fiction writer and professor whom I just started following yesterday:
- "I love all the smart, literate women (and men) chiming in to say how wrongheaded and offensive that NYT Game of Thrones review is."
Well, I just HAD to go find the review. I am a huge fan of George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones series, and have been drooling in anticipation for this HBO show for a long time. (It starts Sunday night.)
You have to read the entire review to really understand this, but it seems the Times assigned someone to review this fantasy series who DOESN'T LIKE FANTASY. And yes, I understand that TV reviews in newspapers are done for a general audience, but the writer's ignorance of the genre really hurts the review.
- The bigger question, though, is: What is “Game of Thrones” doing on HBO?
- When [HBO] 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.
Really, especially, to the last one? (Ripping on D&D was old in the early 90s.) Most of the writer's criticisms, aside from that touch on the sex scenes, could be applied to the Lord of the Rings, which as we all know was a huge flop. Oh wait, IT GROSSED $2.9 BILLION at the box office alone.
However, what Kat Howard was referring to was a particularly galling section in the middle of the review, which was written by a woman:
Like “The Tudors” and “The Borgias” on Showtime and the “Spartacus” series on Starz, “Game of Thrones,” is a costume-drama sexual hopscotch, even if it is more sophisticated than its predecessors. It says something about current American attitudes toward sex that with the exception of the lurid and awful “Californication,” nearly all eroticism on television is past tense. The imagined historical universe of “Game of Thrones” gives license for unhindered bed-jumping — here sibling intimacy is hardly confined to emotional exchange.
The true perversion, though, is the sense you get that all of this illicitness has been tossed in as a little something for the ladies, out of a justifiable fear, perhaps, that no woman alive would watch otherwise. 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. “Game of Thrones” is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half.
There are so many things wrong here, it's time for more bullet points:
- First, when did sex scenes become "something for the ladies"? I thought it was men who needed to see the hot and heavy to hold our interests.
- Second, "no woman alive would watch otherwise"? Well, MY WIFE is one of the many many women I know who love the Game of Thrones books specifically, and fantasy in general, and she has been just as excited about this TV show. This is why I think it was a real mistake to have someone who obviously doesn't read or watch fantasy or sci-fi to this review. I'm sorry that the writer is too sophisticated to have even EVER MET a woman who would rather read The Hobbit rather than the latest book-club fodder.
- Third, I don't know what the show included sex-wise, but the Game of Thrones books actually have a lot of sex in them. So "all this illicitness" isn't tossed in, it's likely true to the original.
- (Updated to add): Fourth, sort of an addendum to the first point, the idea that women would only watch a fantasy series because it has sex in it? This doesn't even make sense.
That is all. I have to go do my taxes.
Updated to add: Some women who I follow on Twitter have sent me messages about how they love genre fiction. Here is one, reprinted with permission:
- Kristina Vragovic (@kvrag): "Boy fiction"? This woman (!) is clearly out of touch. She should talk epics with me sometime. (She later added, " Star Wars, LOTR... bring it.")