16 April 2011

Regarding the "Review" & Backlash Thereof of "Game of Thrones"

Many smarter-than-I people have weighed in regarding a  New York Times.com "review" of the new HBO miniseries Game of Thrones. I will admit that I am not familiar with the series, or the books that it is sourced from. However, my distaste for this piece (and that of many of the others commenting) stems from the seemingly circa 1950s view of gender-based preferences and roles.

Compounding this giant leap back in woman’s public equality are three points of curiosity for me, in order of levels of perplexity.

The first is that this article was apparently written by a woman. Seems assuming women are just dainty simpletons that lack the ability to think beyond their “book club” isn’t just an opinion for crusty old men from the 1950s anymore! (I do hope the oozing sarcasm is apparent enough here.)

Second is that this is a “review” associated with the New York Times. It seems that this is a periodical of note and as such seems subject to a higher standard. I’m not a subscriber, so I cannot say firsthand if I feel this reputation is deserved or not. I can only comment that a venerable media outlet that has as many loyal readers worldwide as this one does, might do well to not take this heightened position quite so lightly. Well, that is unless they believe themselves untouchable by so minor a setback in the grand scheme. As I said, I do not know and as such can only speculate.

The third point of curiosity is the “review” portion of the review. As is mentioned by others (see list below) there is not much in the way of mentioning in any discernible detail things such as plot, characters, actors, etc. It seems right to me that if you are going to call something a “review” you might make some effort to give as balanced assessment of the thing in question. Most reviews I have read seem to be aware that not everyone will outright share their opinion about something and allow for the chance for someone to like what they themselves might not. Opinions are what a reviewer is supposed to have (and thus why reviewers are more commonly called “critics”) but these tend to be best stated in a final summery of the review. It seems rather counter-intuitive to blast an opinion about something without giving any tangible information regarding the source of these specific opinions. Even more counter-intuitive is the decision of alienating a considerable portion of your potential readership instead of simply stating in summation that you didn’t like something and why.

·                                The “review” in question:  New York Times.com Review of "Game of Thrones" on HBO
·                                Jill Pantozzi at TheNerdyBird, this being where the rest of this (unedited save for mentioning of quotes in the final entry) list was found.

·                                Is Game of Thrones 'boy fiction?' via NYMAG.com
·                                New York Times Sets Feminist Movement Back With Game Of Thrones Review via Geek Girl on the Street/Bleeding Cool
·                                Why Is the Fact of Women Liking Sci-Fi and Fantasy So Hard To Believe? via Teresa Jusino
·                                Response to the NY Times Game of Thrones Review via Geek Girl with Curves, Amy Ratcliffe
·                                Today in New York Times navel-gazing via Reason.com
·                                'Game of Thrones' Is Not 'Boy Fiction' via ThinkHero.com
·                                NYT says fiction is gendered, Geek Girls unite to tell them, "NO." via Carnival of the Random
·                                Game of Thrones & the New York Times: Game Over. via Pop Culture Academic
·                                To Ginia Bellafante Regarding Your "Review" Of Game Of Thrones. [Rant] via Geek Girl Diva
·                                A Live Woman Who’d Gladly Watch A Game of Thrones (Even Without the Sex Scenes) via GeekMom.com
·                                Really, why would men ever want to watch "Game Of Thrones"? via io9.com
·                                Hey NY Times - Geek Girls Really Do Exist! via Newsarama (with quotes from Jill Pantozzi and Amy Ratcliffe)

Since I’m already writing more then could ever fit in the comment section this was originally intended for, I'm going to approach this from another prospective for a moment, if I may. I found the piece in question to be not only an inappropriate generalization with regards to women (which it most certainly was), but also a fine illustration of a sadly incorrect generalization regarding men as well. Although, lets face it, generalizations such as these will always be pretty much the same as stereotypes so often are, a pinch of outdated truth and several cups of offensiveness.

Sorry, back to the addendum point I was intending to make: Just because I happen to be a man does not automatically mean that I like violence, blood, gore, etc. I also don't care about car engines, sports, porn, or so much of the other crap guys are supposed to like just as default because of gender. Now because I cast aside many of the so-called man stuff, it is generally assumed that I am some scrawny 20 something still living with his parents, and probably gay. These are some of the stereotypes I have been accused of upholding because I don’t give a damn about beer (and the other stuff mentioned above, especially the “etc.” part).

These negative stereotypes (or in the case of being gay the negative connotation of something that is in no other way negative in my opinion), cut just as deep as anything in the “review” cited above.

I happen to be a former bar bouncer (to illustrate that I’m not scrawny), I used to play rugby (just because I don’t care for sports, doesn’t mean I haven’t partaken), I have been out of my parents houses since my late teens (although there was a stint after I got out of the Army that I had to stay with them both separately while I “got back on my feet”), and I’m not gay (although it wouldn’t matter one iota if I was).

I believe, and I always have, that everyone is an individual and therefore everyone should begin on equal footing. Merits and demerits should be based on ones own merits (sorry but I couldn’t resist that wordplay).

Truth is, because I don’t look the part of what we have been told comics readers, sci-fi fans, toy collectors, toy customizers, and so on, I’ve had a difficult time earning my “nerd-cred”. Perhaps not nearly as much as many of the women out there have, but it’s been tough nevertheless.

In summation, my opinion of the “review” that sparked this latest backlash is that it was crap on multiple levels. I believe that all people start out as equals and it should be up to the individual to remain there. Geek girls in particular have my respect as fellow fighters in the trenches and front-lines of the battle for respect.

Real geeks/nerds of the world, please stand up and unite for our equality!


  1. NICE! I like it!

  2. Thank you, yours was great, too.

  3. Very well said, sir! And you're right, being respected as a geek girl is sometimes damn near impossible. I finally had to stop caring! Well, except to my friends, they're geeks, too. :)

  4. Thanks, I hope the trials of my being a geek guy that looks all badass is of some small consolation.

    Provided I come off as looking at all badass here anyway. :P

  5. What?!?!

    You don't like porn?

    I would call you gay but gay men love porn.

  6. This is a fact that has confounded former girlfriends as well. It has just never held much interest for me. To be clear, I personally find a strong distinction between porn and sex. Perhaps this is a subject (like so many other subjects) for another blog that I will eventually get around to (read: totally procrastinate) writing.