Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Game of Thrones Episode 5: The First of His Name = The Fifth When Nothing Happens

Spoilers Ahead! Be Warned!

So this week we were treated to an exceptionally boring episode.
  • Jon Snow dispatched Torchwood Guy and Hodor wasted the Bolton toady. That's it for substanstive goings-on- two minor bad guys buy the farm.
  • We had one scene with Daenerys where she says she has to be a better leader.
  • We had once scene with Arya and the Hound when basically nothing happened.
  • Sansa and Peytr show up at the Vale and Peytr and crazy aunt Lysa get married. Sansa enjoys one peaceful night in her new (and, I assume, temporary) home before Lysa goes batshit on her. We did find out who killed Jon Arryn, if you even remember who that is. I had to be reminded.
  • Tommen is crowned. Cersei seems not so peevish towards Margaery for once and Tywin explains the economic benefit of her marrying the gay guy.
Now, a lot has been made recently, and continues to be made, about the level of sexual violence in the books and in the show. And I agree sometimes the show is hard to watch and I'm sure the books are hard to read. But here's the thing. You don't have to. I know "Game of Thrones" is all cool and trendy and you want to be cool and trendy like all your friends, but you don't have to be. Not only that, George R.R. Martin and David Benioff aren't obliged to tone it down to better suit their critics' delicate sensibilities. I had a bookstore customer ask me, where is that book for kids Game of Thrones and become angry when I explained that the books are written for adults and contain both graphic sex and violence, because she wanted it for her 11 year old and how dare he write something so "trashy." There are plenty of kid-friendly books written just for them. Art isn't always safe.

First, I don't know why this conversation is starting now, four seasons in. Did these folks just tune in last week for the first time? You haven't noticed for the past three years but now it's a big deal? Does it have something to do with the culture of political correctness around books and media generally, or folks' expectations that media be sanitized and safe and not hurt their feelings? George R.R. Martin has responded to this criticism by saying, and I'm paraphrasing, that life and war are filled with rape and torture and it would be dishonest if his work, about war, did not include those elements. To some degree I agree although we can argue about specifics. Does Tywin Lannister need to have that Bolton toady killed (in the book) by forcing him to eat himself? Maybe not. But at least we're not seeing that on TV. Likewise, did Benioff have to change the tone of the sexual encounter between Jaime and Cersei from consensual to rape (even though he's denied he did that)? No, but it's his choice to make, and he made it.

And we have a choice- to watch or not. I almost backed out of "Battlestar Galatica" for the same reason and I wouldn't blame you if you backed out now. I wouldn't. But the show (and the books) should stay true its vision and individuals have the choice to vote with their remotes.