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…

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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…

Annulments, plot holes and water cooler moments…. all the ways the show has gone off the rails in S6-7 and beyond.

sansa

YES, I’m a Book Snob who thinks the Books Are Better Than The Show. But I also genuinely really do like Game of Thrones. The first 3-4 seasons are fantastic, even with the changes they made from text to screen. But then… things started to get a bit wonky. Jaime inexplicably went to Dorne, where Ellaria Sand was merged with Arianne Martell to produce a vengeance driven woman who seized power by killing her paramour’s brother, and the Sand Sneks went from interesting but over the top characters to caricatures of the Erotic Exotic, with cringe-inducing lines about liking the “bad pussy.”

The show is still doing epic, amazing MOMENTS that make us go WOAH NO WAY SO COOL. The Field of Fire? Holy crap. That was awesome.

But then… there’s the lack of logical consequences. No Dany, you don’t guarantee that the nobles of Westeros will follow you if you burn every Randyl Tarly that says no. You imprison them and take their heir as a hostage/ward to be your page until they say yes. No Cersei, you don’t just crown yourself Queen because your son died without an heir and because you want to… and you blew up all the nobles that would have been able to tell you to piss off in the Sept of Baelor. Not every major lord in Westeros was at Loras’ trial and confession. Only the ones who had speaking parts on the show thus far. There should have been an opposition to Cersei’s coronation – hell, even if it was just two lines of Random Unnamed Nobles hurrying to the Throne room saying “I don’t like this, but what can we do against the Mad Queen who blew up our most sacred institution?” GIVE US SOME LOGICAL CONSEQUENCES FOR THESE MAJOR ACTION SET PIECES DAMMIT.

The worst offender this season is a doozy. Gilly, who has mastered reading (good on you girl!) while Sam’s been cleaning poopy chamber pots, found a reference in a Septon’s diary (not just some average run of the mill septon who was hanging around Rhaegar’s entourage… but the ACTUAL HIGH SEPTON. The Westerosi Pope. And no one thought to read his memoirs before???) to a rather convenient annulment. This is a major problem, and actually doesn’t solve anything – it just introduces more pointless and unnecessary drama. The concerning thing is that the show runners seem to think that the audience loves it and it answers questions about Jon and his role in the future Westeros. This blog is all the reasons why, in my considered legal opinion, that this totally ridiculous, complete and utter bullshit actually creates more problems than it “fixes.”

Continue reading “Annulments, plot holes and water cooler moments…. all the ways the show has gone off the rails in S6-7 and beyond.”