callista: (dream a little bigger darling)
[personal profile] callista
Fair warning: This entry contains spoilers for the first episode of Game of Thrones, the new HBO series based on George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels. That probably means spoilers for the books too, though I haven't read any of them.

As a self-proclaimed hardcore sci-fi and fantasy geek, I am probably a failure in the eyes of my fellow geeks for not having read A Song of Ice and Fire. In my defense, most of my years of geekdom have been consumed by Star Wars and it's only fairly recently that I've branched out to other series, with a few exceptions (Ender's Game, Lord of the Rings, Wheel of Time). I stumbled upon (via StumbleUpon, no less) a list of must-read sci-fi and fantasy novels and authors, and of course George R. R. Martin's books were there. I was fully intending on buying A Game of Thrones sometime in the near future. And then this TV series comes out, which seemed fortuitous; I could get a taste of the series before committing to buying the books. As you might have guessed, this didn't turn out as well as it could have.

My ignorance of what the books actually contain is probably to blame for my reaction to the first episode. The show starts out slow (which would normally not be an issue, but for a pilot episode it seems risky) but eventually escalates into a level of gore that blindsided me. Dismembered corpses, sudden decapitations, festering roadkill - and that's only in the first 10 minutes or so. The violence diminishes as the episode progresses, only to be replaced by nudity and sex. There are a whole lot of naked breasts and butts, but no penises (which could probably be construed as sexist but in this particular case, I'd rather not look a gift horse in the mouth). And this is a big spoiler, but it needs to be said: what the heck is with all the incest? Granted, there are only two instances, one of which is ambiguous, but that's two more than I expected to see outside of fanfics and porn. It's not called the "universal taboo" for nothing.

Far be it for me to judge people's sexual proclivities, but it's not like this show is porn. All of these things are mundane and probably even vanilla in the context of porn, but not on a network show. Or am I being naive? Does True Blood showcase the same (or an even greater) level of depravity? I wouldn't know. My point is that, questions of morality aside, are all those things essential to the story? I'm referring to not only the plot, but also character development, setting, mood, etc. Looking back, it seems like the people engaging in lurid sexual acts were the same people we're being led to think are evil or villainous, but that seems like such a cheap way of portraying antagonists. For the most part, all the sex and violence just distracted me from the plot. Unfortunately, they could not completely distract me from what was, in my humble opinion, sub-par acting, but I won't go there.

I'm not sure if I'm going to watch the second episode. Maybe it's unfair to judge the entire series based on the first hour of content. But that's exactly why pilot episodes have no room for error; more often than not, your viewers won't give you the benefit of the doubt nor a chance to redeem yourself. That said, I probably will give the next episode a chance. People who have actually read the books are raving about the first episode, so maybe now that I actually know what I'm getting into, I won't be so scandalized next time.

Date: 2011-04-19 08:41 am (UTC)
ext_447127: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
Huh, it's interesting that you wrote this, I'm sitting at home with a bad cold and I was just considering whether to download the first episode. I'm also I sci-fi geek who hasn't read the books, but it looks like I might skip this and try the books instead.

It is probably weird coming from someone who writes graphic porn, but I actually don't usually like porn in TV/film. Possible because the visual nature doesn't lend always itself to the subtleties of interpretation and feeling that you get in writing, so it's just - he puts it in there, then he puts it in there. Also, I can't stand the way everyone usually looks so airbrushed and posed. It's a soulless and artificial tableau of sex. Well, maybe the sex in Game of Thrones isn't like that, but if I'm following and story and everyone suddenly starts shagging unaccountably, I always feel a bit like:what what..?

Date: 2011-04-19 09:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, hi there! I didn't know you'd friended my journal *flustered*

Re: not liking porn in TV/film, I know exactly what you mean. I don't understand my distaste for it, but your explanation rings true to me. I also agree that sex in TV/film tends to seem unrealistic, probably because they keep everything so neat and clean (to avoid getting an NC-17 rating, I guess). I haven't had a chance to talk to my friends who've read A Game of Thrones, but I have yet to see a negative review for it (I haven't been looking very hard, though). I wouldn't call all the sex and violence in the show gratuitous; promiscuity seems to add a layer of complexity to some of the characters and some of the violence turns out to be necessary and unavoidable. This all sounds like retrospective rationalizing, I know, but I'd hate for anyone to pass on the show based on my one opinion, especially given that I seem to be in the minority on this. In the absence of better entertainment, maybe you can watch it and let me know what you think. It's just an hour anyway :)


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