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April 18 2011

Buffy turned the tide for young women. "Joss Whedon gave us an autonomous heroine and surrounded her with smart friends." says Geek Girl.

"Geek Girl" uses Buffy to account for the growth in young female fans of fantasy. Part of the ongoing "Game of Thrones appeals to women because ... "discussion, all over an Internet near you.

I like this article. Thumbs up!
Yep, me like. It certainly ties in with a brief discussion a short while ago here, about women characters in GOT (and the whole A Song of Fire and Ice series of novels) being translatable and relatable with Joss' women characters. And yet, there are critics who I call foes of genre, who still want to put down genre entertainment just on the face of it, not even making an effort to understand from whence comes our fervor and devotion. As witnessed by Matt Zoller Seitz's defense of fantasy fans and rebuttal to two extremely unkind and tone-deaf reviews:

Slate, New York Times to fantasy buffs: Grow up.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2011-04-18 16:30 ]
I'm hoping it will be good. I am hoping for some homosexuality. Arya looks awesome.

[ edited by digupherbones on 2011-04-18 16:51 ]
Ditto- Arya rocks! There is my point of investment, a necessary component of enjoying the series. I have not read the books, either, so this is all new to me. (I will correctt hat shortly, as soon as my son brings them back from Illinois this upcoming weekend).
I was only gonna watch this cause Lena Heady was in it and she's bad ass. T:SCC and 300, I'd follow her to reality TV to show appreciation for providing me with strong female characters to watch. Actually, I'm still only gonna give this show a go cause of her, but just wondering, is this in a similar vein to LOTR? Or what would you compare it to?
I have not read any of the books, but I watched the first episode of the HBO version last night and was repulsed. Good parts: Sean Bean, the young girl who looks as if she's on a path to becoming a warrior, HBO's lavish production values.

Bad parts: frequent gratuitous female nudity, repeated sexual humiliation of women, a version of the "white woman abducted by Indian savages" trope that looks like it's going to be a central part of the series. Meanwhile, the men keep their clothes on and their dignity throughout.

It is entirely possible to present a patriarchal society in which women are in inferior positions without making that an excuse for titillation. This show does not simply depict the objectification of women, it revels in it.

I presume they are setting up for some worm turning, but that does not excuse the way they are going about it.
Actually, I'm still only gonna give this show a go cause of her, but just wondering, is this in a similar vein to LOTR?

No. Much more "gritty" and "realistic", as they say. More sex, violence, character deaths and a lot less fantasy elements. It's more alternate history than fantasy. Kinda like a "War of the Roses" setting, with mild fantasy elements. At least in the first book. There are the typical dragons and "unholy beast from the north" like other fantasy books, but they don't come into play much in a Game of Thrones. (Don't know about the rest of the series as haven't read it.)

Bad parts: frequent gratuitous female nudity, repeated sexual humiliation of women, a version of the "white woman abducted by Indian savages" trope that looks like it's going to be a central part of the series. Meanwhile, the men keep their clothes on and their dignity throughout.

That really turned me off to. Especially considering that most of the sex and nudity scenes were not nearly as graphic in the actual novel itself.
Thanks Kaan for clearing that up, I really didn't like LOTR, elves and hobits are not my thing. Do you actually have to see the "unholy beast from the north" and the dragons and such? That's a bit of a deal breaker right there.
Janef, thanks for the review and preparing some of us(me) for all the unnecessary nudity. Not impressed with that sort of thing. Even True Blood and Spartacus treat both genders as sexual objects, it's the way society has progressed, equal opportunity fodder for the eye candy fire. Hoping they make a better effort with this and that that NYTimes review isn't at least semi-right about this show.
Guess I'll be finding out in a few hours...
Do you actually have to see the "unholy beast from the north" and the dragons and such? That's a bit of a deal breaker right there.

That should be beasts actually. Like a whole army of them. And they aren't really beasts, per se. Won't spoil it for you. I don't really remember much magic in Game of Thrones. There is some, no doubt, but what there was was really inconsequential. No elves and hobbits. The fantasy elements felt more like something that will have greater significance in later books (such as the dragons and the threat from the north). You do see them, kinda, but it's all pretty vague stuff. From what I recall it's more political scheming and human wars. But I'm no expert (nor much of a fan to tell the truth), so I could be a little confused, but I don't think so.
Cool, thanks Kaan, you've been a huge help with my issues of "to itunes or not to itunes". It's postmodern Shakespeare and you sir are Horatio in this case; helpful and putting things right in my itunes world.
I'm conflicted. On the one hand I see what you're saying, janef. But to me there were certain aspects that didn't come across as titillation for titillation's sake, most especially regarding Dany. My sympathy was with Dany as the story directed me to see her side. The men she interacted with were depicted as brutal and controlling in different ways and I felt the story judged them for it. As for the way the scenes were shot, again it didn't feel like the Male Gaze was directing the action because it was about portraying and bringing to life Dany's POV, so not so much with the titillation in this specific regard.

I'm holding judgment on Dany's story and the show. I haven't read the books yet, though I've taken a peek at some summaries, trying to get a vague sense for what's to come with her, and I'm reassured by what I've gleaned to be the direction of her story.
"That really turned me off to. Especially considering that most of the sex and nudity scenes were not nearly as graphic in the actual novel itself."

Kaan, you confirm my suspicions. In most of the scenes that include female nudity or sexusl activity, I could think of other ways of doing the scene that would have been less graphic while conveying the same information. They made a choice and it appears to me that the motivation was not inherent in the material, but merely a pretext to show bare bosoms, whores having zipless fucks and a virginal victim in a transparent dress.

I don't have any problem with the depictions of sex in True Blood, partly because the genre in which Ball has placed the show is Southern Gothic which demands some outre sexuality, and partly because it seems to be evenhanded, as BlueSkies says. It also makes a difference that the female lead in True Blood is presented from the outset as an independent actor and not primarily as a rescue object.
None of the women in this series come close to being rescue objects. They are strong, have lives and desires of their own, and have or create their own agency. Do not be fooled by this first episode.
I agree with you, Dana, as someone who has read all the books. I don't believe there is any way, with the level of respect the producers have for the project (and I read at their website since 2008), that they would purposefully demean the female characters.
I wasn't sure why the writers/producers had to make Daenerys Targaryen's marriage night sexual experience with Khal Drogo more degrading/forced than it was in the book, nor why they are so particularly fond of depicting the plentiful male/female intercourse from the book as performed doggy-style... but that said, I'm willing to give the characters, and this show in general, more time to develop.

If they go somewhere with this... tone that makes it all meaningful, I'll hang with it... because there's a lot of other stuff I like. If not, there is this awesome thingy that's called a remote, and I'll click it.
My take on the forced sex- it is done to debase the women involved, so as to highlight their later growth and power. I am just as uncomfortable with these depictions as everyone else, but I do think that in this case, it is for a dramatic point- which may or may not make it okay.
I read the whole series of books fairly recently & signed on to HBO just to catch this series. Actually, there's a bit more nudity in the first chapters of the first volume than we saw on TV. But it was differently distributed; Sean Bean probably declined to put his manly bits on view. (It's been many years since he was Lady Chatterly's lover.)

Actual fantasy elements? In the world of the books--especially the first one, on which this season is based--civilized people mostly think magic & weird beasts are ancient history. Or simply tales to scare children. But the first scene, north of The Wall, showed that Things were Stirring. (Not that all the troublemakers up there are uncanny; there are groups of pasty-faced humans who don't love civilization.)

The notorious NYT review posited that Girls Don't Like Fantasy & contained errors indicating the writer hadn't actually paid attention to what she saw.
This response
was among the best.

Game of Thrones has just been renewed for a second season, making this Fantasy & SF loving female quite happy. The world of the books is a harsh one but contains some strong females.

And I wonder at Whedon fans turning up their noses at the possibility of fantastic plot elements. Hey: vampires, demons & a mayor who became a demon snake!

[ edited by not_Bridget on 2011-04-19 19:07 ]

[ edited by not_Bridget on 2011-04-19 19:08 ]
Exactly (the response by Jezebel). These are not the Sobbin' women from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, much as I love that musical. There will be tears, but not of the Oh, poor me, variety, or, for very long.
not_Bridget the thing about whedon fans questioning fantasy, as I have suggested many times, is the way in which the fantasy is presented. If this is a dungeons and dragons/LOTR kind of fantasy then I'm not for it. In Buffy everything stood for something else. If this is straight up fantasy then I'm not so into it.
I watched it last night and was glad that the killer things at least looked human. To be honest the depiction of women wasn't as bad as I had been expecting, in fact it seemed like a regular TV show. Sure, it made no sense that those barbarians didn't have to even move their pants to have at it at the wedding, but seemed very much in tune with average tv. In fact to me, that was a very average episode. All of it seemed to be pushing that "this girl doesn't want to marry. This woman is a bitch. This kid is a bastard." We get it! Even if the book states it this many times, it doesn't mean the show has to. If they had played it a little more subtley it may have been better. Maybe more ambiguity for the queen and her brothers? Hold off on the judging her until the end and maybe not tell us in the opening minutes that the guy had been murdered, leave us to wonder about the letter and stuff. But other than those few complaints(and the weird blonde incest boob rubbing bit) it was just mediocre.
There's more to fantasy than LOTR / D&D. I loved LOTR but have never played D&D--although we've seen Whedon characters toss those funny-looking dice. Buffy, Angel, et al., never seemed allegorical to me. Of course, I've read a bunch of SF & fantasy throughout my life--as well as a fair sampling of other literature.

This really isn't the best forum to discuss the details of Martin's series & the TV show that just began. (Although the characters & the stories do have some interesting twists as the story progresses; if there was a murder, we might not know who did it.) If it's not to your taste, don't watch!

The OP was about female fans of fantasy through the years--with Buffy as a prime example, although Xena & others were mentioned. We are out there, despite the NYT reviewer who doubted we exist.
We'll be doing a front page entry for Jane's episode so you can discuss then if you like.

As for the first episode, it felt a bit plodden in places and it didn't grab me as a premiere should. Maybe it gets good by episode 6, "The Stark on the Street".
I've only skimmed both the article and this thread because I haven't read the books and I'm a spolier-phobe, so just popping on to say that I was enthralled by the first ep of Game of Thrones.

I did catch a comment by Dana that encourages me about the development of the female characters, but I wasn't put off by the gender politics of the first ep, in the first place. My impression was that the women are going to play a greater role and I'm pleased if that's the case. But I really don't base my enjoyment of everything I watch on feminist political correctness (although I've been a feminist all my life & i'm old enough for that to go back to the days when they were calling it "women's lib").

I have my deal breakers (like horror porn) but as for this show, the main thing I see is a gorgeous, well acted fantasy that promises to be complex and multi-layered, so I'm just thrilled with it already. If the misogyny demonstrated by the warrior (clan? tribe?) goes on to be depicted as OK, I would have a major problem with that. But my initial impression was that this wont be the case.
The article did omit one Pioneer Geek Girl: Sarah Jane Smith.

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