The ethics of caring in Game of Thrones

“Law must, like the other parts of the culture, be understood in its historical context and within ‘the political, social and economic conditions, which have given it form and shape.’ (Sandra Berns, Concise Jurisprudence, Federation Press, Sydney 1993, p. 120) If we look at the parts of society as inter-linking … we do see that our ‘public’ institutions continue to be dominated by males and we further comprehend that there are gender differences in personality traits and roles. It is evidence that law may, in fact, not reflect women’s experiences – instead seeing and treating women ‘the way men see and treat women,’ (Catharine MacKinnon, “Feminism, Marxism, Method and the State: Towards a Feminist Jurisprudence,” (1983) 8 Signs 685) which has been described as irrational, illogical, emotional and erratic. (Ngaire Naffine, ‘Sexing the Object of Law,” in M Thornton (ed.) Public and Private: Feminist Legal Debates, OUP, Melbourne 1995, pp 18-39.)”

Women and the Law in Australia, ed. Patricia Easteal, LexisNexis Butterworths 2010 Sydney.

A while ago, a post on /r/asoiaf caught my eye: it noted that the biggest difference between the books and the show was that ultimately, the big lessons of the books are missed by the show. Instead of showing us that Sansa learns from the cruelty and machinations of Cersei and Littlefinger, and resolves to never be like that, Show!Sansa is all about becoming a blend of Cersei and LF – the Queen in the North who is ruthless as well as strong. Tywin Lannister is still considered to the show to be A Great Man, rather than a cruel tyrant whose legacy is a stinking, rotting corpse and a pile of horse manure in the throne room.

Fundamentally, the showrunners’ biggest flaw in GOT was in missing the nuance and ethics of care at the heart of the books. We’re supposed to cheer on Jon and Sansa as they grow into leaders who care for the people they rule. We’re supposed to side eye Dany when she talks about care but then burns people alive. We’re supposed to feel deeply uncomfortable as Tyrion goes dark. We’re supposed to see Cersei as a tragic victim of misogyny but a horrendously cruel woman who has brought her own misery upon herself. We’re supposed to cheer on Jaime’s redemption but also remember that he is still (as at AFFC/ADWD) leading the Lannister armies to enforce the broken cruelty his father subjected the Riverlands to in the first arc of the books.

Short term gain and Big Impressive Water Cooler Moments are not what ASOIAF is about, and nowhere was that more starkly confirmed than in Season 8. Yes, I am grateful that for 8 seasons, a fantasy show was The Biggest TV Show In The World. But jeez I wish they’d actually adapted ASOIAF, instead of coming up with their idea of Game of Thrones…

Continue reading “The ethics of caring in Game of Thrones”

Advertisements

Well. That’s that then…

And just like that, Game of Thrones is finished.

It’s fair to say the end wasn’t warmly received by fans and critics alike. I won’t link to the many, many think pieces out there about the problems with the final season, but just wanted to jot down some thoughts (and reboot my blog… ahem. Sorry. Been busy with work and real life!)

The unifying theme of the criticisms has been that it was just so rushed.

Does GRRM intend to seat King Bran on the Iron Throne (or what remains of it) at the end of ASOIAF? I don’t know. Maybe? But the way it was presented in the show makes no sense at all.

I have a similar reaction to Arya killing the Night King (a storyline I’m quite confident won’t occur in the books, if only because there is no Night King…) and Jon going off as King Beyond the Wall with the wildings. Everything just felt… meh. No pay off whatsoever to the many threads of plot across 7 preceding seasons or the books.

I did like Sansa being crowned Queen in the North though. I’m OK with that ending. 🙂

The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives

If that’s the ultimate message of the books, I can deal with that. Pretty sure it isn’t though…

Ser Jay of House Gatsby: American Myths in ASOIAF

This is very, very good.

GRRM is showing us that Gatsby wasn’t quite as kind and tragic and romantic in Littlefinger, by showing us that at heart of it all is a man who wants to control a woman.

Off The Bookshelf

A sword shivers from a scabbard. A lion banner flaps in the early winter wind. The moors are disquiet. To the north are the cold mountains and crags; to the south are the lands of decadence; to the east are the horselords and their strange wild customs. To the west is the open sea, the end of the world, from which no sailor returns. Kings brood in golden halls. Something that isn’t quite the Catholic Church holds sway with the peasantry.

Hey, look at that! We just built 90% of all fantasy settings!

The Medieval European Milieu Experience (MEME for short) is the most common setting for fantasy stories through the last century. That’s not to say there aren’t exceptions – there are tons of exceptions – but the image of fantasy is a decidedly French-British-Germanic one, variations on the theme of the heyday of feudal Christendom.

A Song of…

View original post 2,225 more words

The female line of House Blackfyre

Recently at a book festival appearance, GRRM confirmed that while Aegor “Bittersteel” Rivers married his half-brother and great friend Daemon Blackfyre’s daughter Calla, they never had children.

Some people have been posting on /r/asoiaf about how this means “GRRM is denying the fAegon Blackfyre theory” as if fAegon Blackfyre requires the kid to be descended from Bittersteel and Blackfyre. It never did.

But this did get me to thinking… where is the supposed female line of House Blackfyre?

house-blackfyre-heraldry

Continue reading “The female line of House Blackfyre”

Toxic Narratives and ASOIAF: From Within and Without

This is very good.

GRRM is a good writer, very good. But he’s not perfect… and the problems in the fandom flow from the problems in his writing.

People who want to romanticise the problems of history, inequality, slavery and so on, see no issue with how GRRM also does this.

Off The Bookshelf

That was in the dawn of days, when our sun was rising. Now it sinks, and this is our long dwindling (Dance, Bran III)

A specter is haunting ASOIAF – the specter of the past. Our characters are haunted by the great things that came before them, from myth and song to parents and grandparents. In this essay, I’m going to talk about some of the toxic nostalgia our characters participate in…and then talk about how some in-real-life toxic nostalgia may be informing some of the storytelling choices GRRM makes.

View original post 5,090 more words

Morality Beyond the Wall: Con of Thrones 2018 Panel — The Clanking Dragon

Panel from Con of Thrones featuring Watchers on the Wall feature writer Patrick Sponaugle, author Ian Thomas Malone, Professor Priscilla Walton, and myself talking about the morality and ethics that exist beyond the Wall. Skinchangers, cannibals, tribal wars, trade through the Wall among Other topics.

via Morality Beyond the Wall: Con of Thrones 2018 Panel — The Clanking Dragon

A plague o’er both their Houses…

The Dance of the Dragons is the first major civil war for a post-Targaryen Conquest united Westeros. And… it was pretty damn ugly.

giphy

In one corner, you had the Greens, so named for Alicent Hightower, second wife of King Viserys I and mother of future claimant Aegon II, wearing a green gown to a tourney in 111 AC. Alicent and her father, who was Viserys’ on and off again Hand of the King, were not bashful about pushing for Aegon’s claim to the Iron Throne, a claim based on the laws of Westeros as confirmed in the Great Council 101 AC, that held that neither a woman nor a man who’s claim descended through a female line could inherit the Iron Throne before an eldest male heir.

In the other corner, you had the Blacks. Rhaenyra Targaryen, first born daughter of Viserys and for much of his reign his only child, elevated to Crown Princess of Dragonstone and heir in order to push back the claims of Viserys’ brother and Rhaenyra’s later lover and husband (and uncle!) Daemon, the Rogue Prince. Her claim was based on the proclamation of the King, and the fact that she was trained for the role since she was a young girl.

Prior to the Dance, both Rhaenyra and Aegon were fairly reasonable people. Rhaenyra demonstrated a questionable level of selfishness by prioritising her personal pleasure and love affair with Ser Harwin Strong over her thoroughly unsuitable marriage to cousin and former claimant for the Iron Throne, Laenor Velaryon, but had undoubtably received years of training in how to rule and had the connections with the nobility to be a decent Queen Regnant. Aegon II seems to have been a fine young man, albeit a little bit under the influence of his grandfather and mother, as you’d expect for a young man in his late teens.

But by the end of the war, both Rhaenyra and Aegon were bitter, twisted, cruel, capricious and vicious people, who you wouldn’t want to rule over a piss up in a brewery, let alone a civil war devastated kingdom.

So who was the rightful claimant?

Who was the better candidate for the Iron Throne?

What could or should have Viserys done to avoid this inevitable conflict?

What was the legacy of the Dance, and does it have any relevance to our current situation in ASOIAF? (Yes. It does.)

And… how many Romeo + Juliet gifs can I put into a blog about historical Westeros? 

Continue reading “A plague o’er both their Houses…”