After having a great intellectual and stimulating time at the Akashic party for LONG ISLAND NOIR at Mysterious Book Shop, Kevin and I came home and watched the Season 2 finale of GAME OF THRONES on HBO.
Here is my private, uncensored conversation on Facebook:
Kaylie Jones: Why I do not like GAME OF THRONES: The characters have no will of their own. You can feel them manipulated by the writer, who seems to have little understanding of human nature. Characters do things they absolutely would never do, given their histories, backgrounds, and what they stand for. I find this extremely annoying.
Matthew Koch: I’m going to assume you’re reading the books and not just watching the HBO series, which is clearly only focused on one thing (boobs). I don’t necessarily disagree with some of the points you’re making, but I also think this series has been a game changer for fantasy. So I’m curious – which characters do you think are doing things out of character?
Kelly Munley: Interesting. Example?
Michael Joseph Muller: I haven’t read GAME OF THRONES, but in general it is extremely annoying that crappy, superficial books and even porn become bestsellers while my sterling prose, penetrating insight, and artful storytelling languish.
Annie Paul: hmmm maybe that’s why i haven’t managed to get into it either, in my case i couldn’t stand the blood and gore…
Amanda Green: I’m with you! And I do wish they’d show more boobs.
Patricia Hope: Kaylie, I agree. I tried to watch it once, and found the characters and characterizations to be two-dimensional – ten pounds of makeup in a five-pound bag. The story line was overgrown, like fingernails doubled back on themselves.
Matthew Koch: See, this is always going to be the problem with trying to fit an epic fantasy into 10 episodes of TV. There are so many characters (and they’re leaving out more) that they have to strip down their complexity so they’re more palatable to a television audience. And, while I admit I haven’t seen much of Season 2, I’m not sure they could have fit more boobs into Season 1, something which did not escape the folks at Saturday Night Live:
Game of Thrones Skit on Saturday Night Live
(Why is there so much nudity on Game of Thrones? It’s all due to a 13-year old on set, explains Saturday Night Live in this amazing skit.)
Michael Joseph Muller: Extensive and in depth marketing research has unequivocally demonstrated that audiences and people prefer crap.
Kaylie Jones to Matthew Koch: I read the entire series (almost). I kept waiting to ‘get it’ – so many fantasists I adore love the series. I was so pissed off by the end I threw the book against the wall. (Sorry, Krista Caponigro).
Jz Holden: I just wonder about their use of the word c***. Can’t wait for the return of HOMELAND.
Kaylie Jones: Most of them are extremely foolish. The Stark mother, for example, spend half her life telling her son the new King to put his kingdom first, to sacrifice for the people, then she lets that asshole The KingSlayer go? Give me a break. And Stark, the father, he knows Circe is a backstabbing bitch, yet he goes and tells her that he knows her kids are her brother’s children. What is he, plain stupid? Seems like the man couldn’t run a kindergarten class, forget about an entire section of the kingdom. And forget about the ward that grew up there, in the castle. Maybe if he was retarded I’d believe he got talked into invading Winterfell. I’m sorry, these people are not just stupid, they’re foolish.
Matthew Koch: For me, the series lost some of its thunder after book three. I will say that my mother (an avid reader) picked up the series after seeing the HBO show and constantly complains to me about it. I think the fascination with these books is that they really set a different tone for epic fantasy. Other best-selling series (Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time comes to mind or before him Terry Brooks) owe so much to Tolkien that at best they’re clever clones or retellings of the story he told. Game of Thrones (Song of Ice and Fire) was a series based more in European-style history, combat, and politics that felt like something completely new when it emerged in the 90s.
Kaylie Jones: I absolutely love Patrick Rothfus’ series THE KINGKILLER CHRONICLE. THE WISE MAN’S FEAR (Book II) is phenomenal. Just love those and can’t wait for the third.
Jz Holden: At the bookstore last night Kevin (Heisler), Matt (McGevna) and I were discussing the charm of Downton Abbey, when I interjected it was simply the WASP version of Fiddler on the Roof. Can’t go wrong with that.
Matthew Koch: I think you need to look more at the primary motivations of these characters. For Caitlyn (sp), her primary motivation is her children. She talks a good game about the kingdom, but the second she sees a chance to barter the Kingslayer for Sansa, she does it. She really only wants her kids to be safe. Ned Stark’s motivation is honor above all else. This is what kills him. He thinks the honorable thing to do is tell Cersei her crimes and give her a chance to flee with her children. Cersei (and most of the other characters) don’t play by Ned’s rules, and it costs him his head. I think you’re talking about Theon Greyjoy (the ward of the Starks) for the third example. He’s one of the most tragic characters in my mind. All he wants is to make his family proud (especially his father), but he doesn’t realize this is never going to happen. Then he goes and betrays the only people that have ever truly loved him. Now, I’m not saying some of these motivations are overly-dramatized, but this is fantasy, and Martin’s characters feel far more “real” than a lot of what you get out of fantasy these days.
Robert Ward: My problem with fantasy has always been the whole voice of the genre. Books always start with lines like”Pleethgor picked up his magical ice axe, Zumby, and walked with his wolf, Craysnerd, into the million acre woods.” End of story.
Michael Pokocky: This is an example of what I call “our flatlined culture”. What sells is what appeals. Obviously the mass market. This spills over to the crap I see in eBooks evangilists. Crap is the new normal. I read today over 200,000+ new books published by indie authors looking for fame and wealth. I’m going now to walk to the lake with Hemingway’s short story collection I picked up in someone’s garbage box. It was right at the top so it was clean and the spine was not cracked. Lucky me.
Matthew Koch: Let’s not turn this into an “all fantasy is garbage” argument. I don’t think that’s where Kaylie was going with it. No one is claiming Game of Thrones is War and Peace. Just don’t throw it down into the dumpster with 50 Shades of Grey…
Robert Ward: My son, a brilliant kid, LOVES Game of Thrones and, in fact, I gave it to him because I loved another George RR Martin book The Apocalypse Rag, which is one of the best thrillers I’ve ever read…Also he was a pal of mine for a while when he worked ion The Twilight Zone and i worked on Hill Street Blues just down the hall. I used to see him and Harlan Ellison sitting out on a balcony working away on their stories. Two of my favorite guys. George and I had lunch a few times and I tried to get ‘Rag’ made into a movie. Still think it would make a great one. I strongly suggest anyone get Apocalypse Rag, a novel you cannot put down. I’m just unable to get into fantasy… those names, those owls!
Kaylie Jones to Matthew Koch: Don’t think I haven’t had this discussion before! Everything you say about the characters is logical, but they are still stupid and vapid. I don’t buy it for a second. Bullshit on his sense of justice and honor. You’d think the man hadn’t been ruling the North for seven minutes, he’s so stupid. And the mother, give me a break. And the tragedy of Theon? I would have shot him after thirty second of listening to his whining.
Robert Ward: Kaylie, cut it out, yr. killing me. Beating up these poor fantasy characters!
Kelly Munley: I have to agree on those points! Thank you.
Michael Joseph Muller: I think the underlying issue with fantasy is one of the continuum of emotional maturity. At the low end fantasy is just a primitive expression of childish fantasies about being powerful, loved, and able to act out one’s anger and lust. At the high end it is an allegory expressing more profound truths.
Kelly Munley: What is your take on Aria, Tyrian and that little SOB Jeoffrey?
Matthew Koch: Theon is completely whiny. I’ll also agree that the mother is one of the more disliked characters in the books, especially from female readers (in the discussions I’ve had). Letting Jaime go was probably the single stupidest thing she could have done. I like Ned Stark, though. He represents the naivete of “honor” in the chivalric sense of honor that so many boys grow up with from reading fantasy. By killing Ned, Martin sets the tone for the whole series. One could even argue it made the series so famous. It was shocking. We’re used to someone who does the right thing making it out OK in fantasy, and here’s this guy who represents the ideals of everything it means to be an “honorable” man (yes, in the mind of a 16-year old boy) and he’s just brutally killed off. We know this type of honor can’t exist in the “real” world, but that’s what fantasy is supposed to be – NOT the real world. (You should also know that I once had my first love rip up a copy of The Song of Roland and throw it in my face as she left me, uttering the words “you know this honor stuff is just bullshit and no one cares about it.” And people wonder why one of my favorite poems is Miniver Cheevy…)
Kelly Munley: She is stupid. From a mother’s perspective, I must admit that there is a possibility that I would have done the same thing. I would not want to ever have to make the decision to have to betray one of my children in order to try to save two. Ick.
Michael Pokocky: Let’s turn to something that describes every experience of my 10 year experience on the internet; where this particular post by Kaylie Jones demonstrates that everything is moving toward a dumb herd — I’m referring to my previous comment above: Andrew Keen: ‘Social media is killing our species‘
Eva Hunter: This should never happen in fiction. We writers have a term for it: “throwing the reader out of the dream.”