HBO’s adaption of Game of Thrones premieres tonight amid a new storm of controversy about women and fantasy. What could possibly have soiled the premiere of what is probably the biggest fantasy literature event of the year? (Well, the biggest one that doesn’t involve boy wizards and horcruxes, anyway.) Why, yet more false assumptions about women and what they watch and read, of course!
It was all sparked by Ginia Bellafante’s New York Times review. Behold this bit of ‘wisdom:’
The true perversion, though, is the sense you get that all of this illicitness has been tossed in as a little something for the ladies, out of a justifiable fear, perhaps, that no woman alive would watch otherwise. While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first. “Game of Thrones” is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half.
Uh-huh. There’s plenty one can say to this, but since I am the absolute last fantasy-loving female in the blogosphere to address it, here are a few selected responses:
The reality check. Emily of The Discriminating Fangirl responds to many of Bellafante’s misconceptions. Key quote: “…How can the show require MENSA-member viewers and be too stupid/silly for HBO?”
The feminist. Sarah Louise of Bleeding Cool takes on the gender normative tone of the review. Key quote: “The main thing I find shocking about all these sweeping remarks is the fact that the piece was written by a woman. Aren’t we all supposed to be in this thing together?”
The ally. Alan Kistler wonders where the actual review was in his Newsarama Op-ed. Key quote: “We didn’t get an informed opinion on the show. In fact, in her whole review, the story premise is barely touched on and not one character, plot point or scene is mentioned. ”
The snarky: Annalee Newitz of io9 asked (with spoilers) why would men want to watch Game of Thrones? Key quote: “Who but a woman would even be able to keep all those Stark children’s names straight, let alone all the other people connected to the Stark family?”
The full package. Amy Ratcliffe of Geek with Curves talks about what she really wants to see in the series. Key quote: “I’m not tuning into the television show to see sex either. I won’t lie – I’m not unhappy about seeing Jason Momoa shirtless as Khal Drogo, but that isn’t the primary reason I’m watching. I want to see Westeros on screen.”
The author. George R. R. Martin breaks his own rules to say something about the review. Key quote: “…if I am writing ‘boy fiction,’ who are all those boys with breasts who keep turning up by the hundreds at my signings and readings?”
And naturally, amid all this? A Today piece on how ladies power viewership for SF/F TV. How long must we have to harp on this before the Ginia Bellafantes of the world catch on?
UPDATE: Bellafonte responds. What does she take from this? ‘People on the internet are mean?’ So much facepalm.