So a while back George R. R. Martin gave a sort of condescending statement in regards to the misogynistic nature of his hit series, Game of Thrones. Now, I have several friends that have tried to get me to watch the television series and read the books, but I’ve never been too interested due to the exploitative nature of television show (and I hear the books don’t fall too far from the tree in that sense). But based on his statement, I now officially have no desire to.
Here’s what he said, “The books reflect a patriarchal society based on the Middle Ages. The Middle Ages were not a time of sexual egalitarianism. It was very classist, dividing people into three classes. And they had strong ideas about the roles of women. One of the charges against Joan of Arc that got her burned at the stake was that she wore men’s clothing—that was not a small thing. There were, of course, some strong and competent women. It still doesn’t change the nature of the society. And if you look at the books, my heroes and viewpoint characters are all misfits. They’re outliers. They don’t fit the roles society has for them. They’re ‘cripples, bastards, and broken things’—a dwarf, a fat guy who can’t fight, a bastard, and women who don’t fit comfortably into the roles society has for them (though there are also those who do—like Sansa and Catelyn).
“Now there are people who will say to that, ‘Well, he’s not writing history, he’s writing fantasy—he put in dragons, he should have made an egalitarian society.’ Just because you put in dragons doesn’t mean you can put in anything you want. If pigs could fly, then that’s your book. But that doesn’t mean you also want people walking on their hands instead of their feet. If you’re going to do [a fantasy element], it’s best to only do one of them, or a few. I wanted my books to be strongly grounded in history and to show what medieval society was like, and I was also reacting to a lot of fantasy fiction. Most stories depict what I call the ‘Disneyland Middle Ages’—there are princes and princesses and knights in shining armor, but they didn’t want to show what those societies meant and how they functioned…
I’m writing about war, which what almost all epic fantasy is about. But if you’re going to write about war, and you just want to include all the cool battles and heroes killing a lot of orcs and things like that and you don’t portray [sexual violence], then there’s something fundamentally dishonest about that. **, unfortunately, is still a part of war today. It’s not a strong testament to the human race, but I don’t think we should pretend it doesn’t exist.”
Give me a freaking break George. J. R. R. Tolkien took from history (and folklore) too, particularly wartime history (he actually served). He created languages and has a lasting legacy to this day by basically inventing (or re-inventing) fantasy story telling. Guess what his classic, critically acclaimed series didn’t have? Same as C. S. Lewis. So did a million other fantasy writers. Take some freaking responsibility. No one is holding a gun to your head and making you write that bullsh*t. All that graphic brutality (both male and female) and blatent sexism is because YOU want it in there. I can’t help if your readers are mindless sheep (composed of twelve-year-old fan boys). I can’t help it if they need the “hard-core” graphically depicted scenes to get off on (and don’t we just love their equally offensive arguments to try to justify it all – thanks for proving our points, *ssh*les). At the end of the day it’s all unnecessary detail.
Georgie, it’s insulting how much you try to rip off Tolkien (even in your name) and then shade his work at the same time. But you will never be Tolkien. He didn’t use, nor need, mindless graphical and sexual exploitation to get cheap thrills because he didn’t want to detract from character development and instead wanted to focus on the damn plot. Yes, sometimes atrocities happened in war-time history. But it doesn’t need to be explained to the audience in such over-the-top detail (here’s a hint: every woman in the world knows how horrific being raped is, we don’t need it depicted for us step-by-step). This isn’t about making things “cartoony” either but rather cutting out the unnecessary BS to get to the story. Tolkien didn’t go into detail in his books, not to “Disney-ize” his story for the kiddies, but because such graphic details did nothing to further the plot or build his characters. Anyone that says that such things are necessary need to get their heads checked. Tolkien WAS able to discuss sexism and discrimination, and depict the hardships of war, WITHOUT BEING EXPLOITIVE (look up that word, Georgie). His Middle Earth series was so rich and full, with interesting (and well thought-out) back-stories and even its OWN mythology. Your bullsh*t? Graphic novel paint-by-numbers BS with nudity. Sorry, but after a few episodes I have yet to see one character or event that doesn’t feel like some tired, hollow, worn-out cliché.
As brilliant as he was, H. P. Lovecraft was a bitter narcissistic racist. And he OWNED it. Just saying.