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”

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…

Too many unfinished threads in FeastDance for Winds to progress?

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What’s the hold up with The Winds of Winter?

This is a question on, more or less, every ASOIAF fan’s lips at some stage in the past seven years (yes. SEVEN.) Is GRRM past it, too old, no longer interested in Westeros, over it, put off by the show getting ahead of him, procrastinating, or any of the other millions of pejorative ideas thrown at him by ‘fans’?

Maybe.

Or …. maybe it’s just REALLY HARD for him to get every character and every various plot that has been set up over the first five books into the right locations for the final war for humanity?

Because there are a lot of unfinished plot threads. Some are pretty minor, like whether or not Edric Storm will be pulled out like a bunny in a hat by someone claiming the Iron Throne to be legitimised and be the father of the next generation of Baratheons. Some are pretty major, like how the hell is Sansa going to get out from under Littlefinger’s increasingly Weinstein-esque manipulation?

Not going to lie: I just spent far too long responding to a post on /r/asoiaf, and I feel like I should justify it by copying/pasting it into a blog post…. not that any of this is going to help me in Wednesday’s exam…

This line of thought was partly prompted by BryndenBFish’s post on /r/asoiaf earlier today about the extremely likely possibility that ASOIAF is going to be eight books all up, not seven as GRRM keeps insisting (and that, in all likelihood, GRRM’s reluctance to accept this is part of the editing/writing stumbling block!)

That post then prompted another post, where a user put forward their idea about what might happen in TWOW. It was… interesting. Started well, veered into fanfic about halfway through. To be fair, mine probably does as well. Everyone’s does – except for GRRM, and he’s the only one who really knows what’s going on, isn’t it?!

Continue reading “Too many unfinished threads in FeastDance for Winds to progress?”

Fan entitlement and writer’s block

Many, many fans are fed up with GRRM’s glacial writing pace. As someone who waited patiently from primary school to university, to working, to returning to uni for postgraduate studies, to getting a masters before Isobelle Carmody finally finished the damn Obernewtyn Chronicles, I get it. It’s frustrating.

But as Neil Gaiman said, GRRM doesn’t owe us anything. He is not our bitch.

Creative writing is just that: creative. Sometimes creativity doesn’t flow smoothly. Sometimes you get stuck. And if GRRM did give us an update, would that satisfy us?

Probably not. This is what he said to a fan recently on NotABlog:

If you think a “tell all” or update on WINDS OF WINTER would stop fans from asking about it… well, I love your optimism, but my own decades of experience suggest otherwise.

There are only two things that will stop people asking me about WOW:
(1) my finishing and delivering the book, or (2) a giant asteroid hitting the Earth and destroying human civilization.

As I have no control over (2), I am working on (1).

However, I know perfectly well that the moment I announce the completion and delivery of THE WINDS OF WINTER, I will start to get emails demanding to know how A DREAM OF SPRING is coming.

So it goes…

He’s quite right. GRRM could tell us “I have worked out Theon’s, Arya’s, Tyrion’s, Arianne’s, JonCon’s, and Jon’s arcs, but am struggling with Sansa, Brienne, Jaime, Cersei, Dany, Barristan, Asha, and how to get everything ready for the Others to invade” and it wouldn’t tell us any more or any less than we already know, would it?

He’s working on TWOW and will be working on it until it’s done.

So suck it up princesses. Be patient. Wait until he’s done. Keep coming up with tinfoil. Chill out. Re-read. Watch Game of Thrones. Enjoy it.

It’ll be done when it’s done.

Hanging Plot Threads as at the end of AFFC/ADWD

This post earned me 2015 Runner Up Post of the Year on /r/asoiaf. Only minor editing here, just remove reddit related links!

What plot threads have been left hanging from AFFC/ADWD (or all the books in general)?

The short answer? LOTS…

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Assumptions behind this post

A Song of Ice & Fire is ultimately about two things: who will sit on the Iron Throne, or the “Game of Thrones” which 90% of characters think is the most important thing of all time, and the more important War for the Dawn or whatever we’re going to call the upcoming fight against the Others, which we as readers think/hope is the bigger picture – the Song.

It’s unclear right now how much overlap there will be between The Game and The Song. Maybe lots, maybe none. But I am making the assumption that everything in Westeros is going to be affected by one or both of these major themes, and that The Game & The Song is the story that GRRM is telling.

So where are we left with various plots?

Continue reading “Hanging Plot Threads as at the end of AFFC/ADWD”