Saturday, February 22, 2014

Why I hated the Game of Thrones

I am going to rant on about why I hate GOT. It may sound blasphemous to the fans but even if I consider myself a sadist or a masochist, I cannot derive entertainment out of child molestations, cold blooded murders, rapes, gory violence because there is nothing original there. I can find this even in the newspaper. If you expect me to not be able to tolerate graphic details of violence simply because I have an X chromosome instead of a Y, it may be of interest to note that I actually find myself digging out the most violent news snippets from the internet and reading as much details about them as I can find. I read extensively about serial killers, psychopath killers, rapists or terrorists because violence does not bother me and psychology intrigues me. I read ravenously about the Fritzl case of Austria for days and even found myself looking for details about the Damini case. Now getting back to GOT - even if I accept the fact that it is indeed merely a dystopian dark fantasy series (now that we have established that violence is not my problem with it), there is so much more that it lacks which ended up frustrating me. When I began watching it, I had no idea it had a “fantasy” element to it so the question of comparing it with HP did not even arise – HP is a perfect story to me and I cannot tarnish it by comparing any and every other story with it – and I didn’t.
Whenever I begin a book or a series, I am both skeptic as well as hopeful; Skeptic because I am not easily impressed and hopeful because I am always interested in things, generally (and I lose interest as quickly too). GOT was supposed to be a royal tale about the complex international politics of power – so obviously I had high expectations from it, especially because I love the complex! So I was instantly intrigued. I watched the first episode and got bored to death but my tenacity did not let me give up on the series before the Red Wedding. That is when I had had it – not the violence, but the sheer stupidity and lack of direction of the plot. Let me explain what seems so wrong to me about GOT:
1.     The pace of the story is excruciatingly slow! You cannot keep your interest alive in the few promising characters there are, like Tyrion or Arya or Jon or Bran or Daenerys (my favorite) because the plot moves in such a sluggish manner that you feel you have been watching them walk and walk in the jungles, the snow, the wind, the rain, the sand for ages! Thirty hours have past (and that is what – three books?) and I can count the interesting events on my fingers. The rest of it is just a tedious ordeal.
2.     The characters! They lack any real depth and most characters can be described with one adjective or two. Cercei is a bitch. Ned Stark is the most honorable man in Seven Kingdoms. Jon the bastard. Arya the tomboy. Like that. Almost all the characters can be divided into two categories – clever cowards or honorable fools. Like stupidity comes with honor in a person – the most annoying characteristic of the series! Then there are conversations that do entertain in the beginning but by the end of the third season become boring and predictable. There will be a slew of smart-ass replies when two ‘clever cowards’ will talk and they will try to bring each other down with their words. When two ‘honorable fool’ characters will converse, there is a palpable heaviness that you will feel in the conversation and they both will be just raving about how heavy their shoulders are with all the weight of the world. Then there are the conversations between the two types where the clever coward will tell the honorable fool about his foolishness and the honorable fool retorts by telling him about the clever coward’s cowardice. How innovative! How entertaining…. Not!
3.     You will not get closure. Most of the events are very random – and I get it why people find it intriguing. Because randomness is unpredictable. So George R.R. Martin’s trick is over complicate the story and introduce random events for which you will never get closure or events that have no consequence except to prolong the already over stretched plot. After some “twists and turns” in the story, I was left confused and asking myself “what’s the point?” For example, Jon Snow is the outcast, the bastard who could never fit in. But then that’s it – nothing more to this really. He is somewhere in the north of the wall and I don’t even care to remember what all happened there, because things don’t go the way they are built up. He was supposed to kill a member of the Night’s Watch to win the trust of Wildlings so that he can later be useful. Great! But what happens? There is a brief shallow love story and then before you know it, it’s over! What happened, Mr. Martin? You got bored of your own plot? How long before you kill Jon, now that he has become a burden on you? I stopped caring about the Night’s Watch long ago to be bothered about this. Again, so much build-up around the Red woman, yet nothing of consequence happens. The God of light, the whole drama around Stannis (I fail to understand why the character of Renly was created) and then nothing even remotely entertaining comes of it. I am getting pissed off by all the build-ups that end up as empty promises. Why are there so many events that have no meaning?  And don’t even get me started on Theon Greyjoy – what is his role? What is his motivation? What is he doing in the story except pissing you off? And oh Bran, you are a warg. We are finally told this in the third season, you had so much of potential to make this tedious tale interesting, but the poor Martin does not know how to use you well and well in time. And Khal Drogo dies of a wound? Really? You’ve got to be kidding me. If anyone says that it is original writing, I am gonna smack him. None of the characters stand out and so many of them are simply boring…and frustrating.
4.     I care about the story and the characters when I watch anything or read any book. None of the characters in the story are likeable. I like Arya and Daenerys because I relate to them. Plus the latter is the mother of dragons (which can any moment be stolen by Tywin Lannister I guess). The story of Daenerys was the only one, I think, interesting enough to keep me patient with the series. I even ignored the fact that she fell in love with the person who raped her (And why does every sex scene either involve a whore or a scandal or a rape?) I liked Ned, you killed him and I made my peace with it. Probably it was important for the story. But then you kill Robb and Catelyn too? Why did you drag them through three seasons, why the huge build up? I so knew by now that Arya would not meet them. That is the pattern here, what happens is the exact opposite of what you expect. Maybe Daenerys gets killed by one of her slaves in her sleep, who knows? How exciting? How unpredictable and entertaining? No, it’s just sheer stupid. Robb killing Karstark was stupid. Catelyn letting Jaime go was stupid. Ned telling the queen that he knows her secret was not honorable, but stupid. Baelish and Varys – because they do not have any real motivation, of their actions I stopped caring about them too, though initially I thought the unrequited love angle would shape into some event later. But again, nothing! I need something to look forward to be able to watch the show and I have lost all interest, I no longer care enough. I always try to make sense of the plot and unlike most guys I really don’t watch it for the porn factor, or as a guilty pleasure. I couldn’t make sense of so many events that I kept in mind thinking that they may be connected to so many future events until I gave up thinking most events are random.
I really do not like George R.R Martin’s style of storytelling. The first season was so promising; so many characters had so much of potential. But you choose to show Tyrion like a helpless kitten in love or lost in debauchery when he is not making smartass statements (some of which were witty), how is that entertaining to people, I wonder. And why are there so many meaningless love stories going on? (I don’t give a fuck about Gilly or Ygritte!) I can just go on and on about what all is so wrong about GOT, but in the end I have to make my peace with the fact that I did not like it. I so wanted to like it – it had the elements I’d like – politics, history, fantasy and the story of royal families (that is my favorite kind). But still I hated it, and I am surprised somebody can take these elements and make a story so STUPID. What frustrates me the most is that this REALLY could have been an amazing story if R.R. Martin knew how to implement his ideas into a convincing story. There are no climactic moments and it is just a series of one dull event after another (seriously how much can I enjoy smartass converstations? I’d rather read G.B Shaw or Oscar Wilde’s quotes for that). I am so disappointed.


Barry Knister said...

"When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned like a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things."
This idea no longer seems to apply, at least in America. Everywhere, books and stories created for children and teenagers are being turned into big-budget escapes for adults. Technology makes this possible: it can create an array of special effects so startling as to pretty much eliminate any need for stories that appeal to adults. In my view, GOT fits this profile.

John Hertel said...

Well said, and you too Barry!
Its not often that you find a series that makes you despise its fans, its author and the whole bastardized excuse for a culture that makes it so "popular".
Its really just another Death-Fest in the tradition of LOST, with the added misery of an even more lame ending being the inevitable result of this mish-mash.

betty davis said...

HEAR HEAR to all of you, my sentiments exactly!

first star said...

Thank you! My feelings exactly! I could tell from the commercial on HBO it was cheesy. All GOT fans must be either sadists or masochists. And the story is boring as hell...