Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Walk of Shame for "Game of Thrones" Showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss

 
The showrunners of Game of Thrones, David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, were bowed, bent and broken by feminists who vehemently protested the series' steady stream of comely bare-chested ladies and sadistic rape scenes.  The issue reached a fevered height during the series' fifth season.  Kate Aurthur of BuzzFeed wrote:
Despite its strong female leads, Game of Thrones has gotten considerable criticism for what is undeniably a lot of nudity, which has been called extraneous, and for its use of sex as a plot device.  To quote only a small selection of the ongoing outcry, Mary McNamara wrote in the Los Angeles Times that "maybe it’s time to tone down the tits"; TV writer and academic Myles McNutt invented the word "sexposition" to describe the show’s tic of underlining expository speeches with nudity or sex; and, during Season 2, xoJane’s executive editor, Emily McCombs, wrote a post with the headline "I Think King Joffrey Is Activating My PTSD" after a particularly hideous (and not-in-the-book) scene during which Joffrey forced one prostitute to beat another while he watched.
Kate Maltby of The Spectator wrote:
Naturally, I’ve had high-minded things to say about the show’s problematic gender politics.  Every Monday night, I gather with my sister-feminists on Twitter and muse aloud about the show’s treatment of female characters.  And yes, it’s appalling. Last night, Queen Cersei Lannister, who’s spent the last five seasons channelling Snow White’s stepmother on speed, had a moment of comeuppance.  In public penance for her crimes, she was stripped naked, sentenced to walk through the streets of her capital while every man, woman or child could spit upon her body (which, predictably, didn’t look as if it had raised three teenage children).  A woman who’d fulfilled our worst stereotypes of women who get too close to power – manipulating men to do her murders for her – cut down to size, and reminded that any man on the street could take pleasure in telling her to suck his cock.
This is what I got for your sister-feminists.

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Eliana Dockterman of Time wrote:
Daenerys emerging from a fire with her baby dragons, or Brienne taking down the Hound — these were glorious moments that reminded fans these abused women had personalities, motivations and the potential to best their enemies.  But this season, the women on Game of Thrones have felt impotent.  Sansa and Shireen have had no control over their respective fates, and even the so-called powerful women have been neutralized. . . Cersei was so blinded by jealousy and greed that she couldn’t see her own doom barreling towards her.  Same goes for Margaery, who after deftly handling Cersei walked directly into her trap.  Daenerys and her supposedly invincible army were constantly outwitted by some guys in masks.  Brienne has been sitting in a castle.  Arya spent nearly all her time washing dead men’s feet. 

. . .

Many critics have thrown up their hands during this season of Game of Thrones, as female characters have been brutalized over and over again.  Sansa’s rape, in particular, was so far beyond the pale that Senator Claire McCaskill declared she’s done with the show, and feminist genre website The Mary Sue announced it would cease all promotion of Game of ThronesGame of Thrones has a long history of sexual violence, and yet this season has felt more abusive of women than previous ones.
So, as their penance, Benioff and Weiss made a point to adapt a feminist perspective for the new season of Game of Thrones.  It was an effort that did not turn out well.  Tyler O'Neil of PJ Media wrote:
Game of Thrones season 6 premiered this week, and many outlets are praising the first episode as a victory for "women's empowerment."  Ironically, the most empowering moments were also the least compelling, as a group of women carelessly murdered three very powerful men.  "The Red Woman" had great moments as well, but underdeveloped violent heroines are more of a weakness than an asset.
Prominent in the Season 6 premiere was the warrior Sand sisters, Obara, Tyene, and Nymeria.  The characters were designed by Benioff and Weiss to be feminist-friendly.  But a character designed to make a political statement or appease political activists never has depth or substance.  O'Neil said of the sisters, "[E]ach of these ladies gets about one sentence of backstory.  Everything about them is summed up in their attitude: they are kick-ass teenage assassins who exist to show how badass and sexy young ladies can be."  The kick-ass, badass sisters were shallow and boring.  O'Neil added, "Obara, Tyene, and Nymeria each have their special weapons: knives, a whip, and spears.  These weapons are less a natural fit for their characters and more a flashy action nod, like the different weapons of each ninja turtle.  This style renders such female characters almost farcical, compared to the fleshed-out complex characters of Daenerys, Catelyn, Brienne, and Cersei.  Gone is any sense of restraint and seriousness -- these women are the teenage dream of girls who are into action or boys who want to combine their lust with violence onscreen."  Dockterman noted more succinctly, "The Sand Snakes, who were touted as a feminist force and potential fan favorites, fizzled."  Murderous acts and general ass-kicking is a poor replacement for compelling character development.  Besides, it is wrong-headed and immoral to tell women that they can only achieve empowerment by fiendishly killing men.



Every woman in the series is now strong and good.  Despite her many evil deeds, Cersei (Lena Headey) is suddenly being presented as an empowered woman that we are expected to cheer.  Her canoodling with her brother is no longer depicted as a dark and shameful act.  The showrunners seem determined to smash the longstanding taboo of incest when they have Cersei manfully grab her brother and plant a big wet kiss on his lips.  This is, by every indication, designed to be a cheer-rousing moment.  Incest, hooray!  A number of viewers have taken to the message boards to say that Cersei and her brother should be left alone to carry on their torrid affair.  I am so disappointed in Benioff and Weiss.  Incest pushers, really?  What the fuck happened to you, man?  Your ass used to be beautiful.

 
 

Let us look for a moment at the recent episode "Book of the Stranger" (May 15, 2016).  This episode makes it very clear that the series' women have become brave and strong while the men have become spineless crybabies.  Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan) is a fiercely courageous longship commander with aspirations to be a queen.  She looks with disgust at her broken brother, Theon (Alfie Allen).  Theon is spineless and dickless, which is a fact that is mentioned endlessly by Yara and other characters.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A once-brave knight, Ser Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones), has been broken under his imprisonment by the Faith Militant.  Now, he sobs uncontrollably as his sister, Lady Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), hugs him to her chest to comfort him.

 
 
 
Even a prepubescent female is formidable in this brave new world.  I am referring to little Lady Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey).  The message, evidently, is that a female no longer derives her greatest power from a hospitable womb.  It is now a female's spunk that is her greatest asset.


Game of Thrones has turned into a mucky pile of political propaganda.  More and more, the series stands as a simpleminded, heavyhanded parable recited in soothing tones to cranky leftist extremists in need of a bedtime story.

The Sworn Brothers of the Night's Watch are the border patrol for the Seven Kingdoms.  For eight millennial, the group has stood guard at a 700-foot wall to keep the wildings out of their kingdoms.  Many of the brothers become violently upset when their new Lord Commander, Jon Snow (Kit Harington), allows the mass migration of wildings. The parallels to modern events is too painfully obvious.

In the latest episode, an empowered woman, a lesbian sea dog, a liberated black slave and a dwarf outcast pledge their unity and commitment to defeat white patriarchy and religious authority.  I offer this scene as proof that the empowered woman, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), has become the most boring character in television history.

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White Patriarchy


Religious Authority 


I was ready to say a lot more about this terribly disappointing season of Game of Thrones, but I found that Erik Kain has pretty much covered my other complaints.  Click here for Kain's remarks.

Yes, Erik, you got it exactly right.  I remember Daenerys being a more complex character in the books.  She had good qualities and bad qualities.  She was a flawed character that I did not necessarily want to win the throne in the end.  Now that she has become a fully empowered female character, she has become reduced to a bland "Mary Sue."  It is a foregone conclusion that she will ultimately occupy the throne.  That couldn't be more uninteresting or more boring.  And, as soon as Sansa became empowered, her half-brother Jon Snow was rendered fairly useless in the siblings' effort to recover their family castle Winterfell. 

Excuse me for going off topic for a moment.  Am I the only one who thought that Hodor's death was the height of silliness?

Q: What has two-thousand legs and says "Ho-de-do, ho-de-do, ho-de-do"?

A: One-thousand White Walkers running for an elevator.

I once looked forward to every episode of Game of Thrones and I felt that every season ended too soon.  But now I have lost interest in the series.

The current season's scenes of female empowerment are poorly conceived in their attempt to balance out the abuse inflicted on female characters in the previous season.  I must say that I did not approve of the rapes or the bare breasts, but it bothers me to witness Benioff and Weiss having to suffer their own walk of shame.  It makes it far worse that the hapless duo has had to drag me, a faithful viewer, along for the slog.

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