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Racism, Misogyny, and Other Incendiary Topics


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#1021

Darryl Zero

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Posted May 3, 2012 @ 6:39 PM

You're talking on the show and series as a whole. I'm expressly talking about only the Joffrey sceptre scene. Using sexual violence as a storytelling tool for another character entirely is what I take issue with and what I consider normalizing. Not examining sexual violence, or exploring the realities of it in a medieval (or even contemporary) setting. It's not too different to me from a show or movie using a woman's rape as motivation or character exploration for a male character. It's fridging the girlfriend to give the hero reason to fight. That is not saying anything about the violence itself, it's not saying anything even slightly meaningful about a reality for women. It is saying something about our society, but not what it thinks it's saying.


Well, I think context matters, so I don't see any way to separate the two (at least vis a vis normalizing versus othering). But the more I think about it the more I think I'm just not sold on the idea of normalization in the way that you think about it. I can see that there's something dehumanizing about treating women going through such horrific experiences so instrumentally, but the step past that toward normalization doesn't feel quite right to me.

Let me see if I've got the logical chain right. It goes from dehumanization of these female characters --> dehumanization of women more generally --> not just the show but also viewers dehumanize women? I guess if there's empirical evidence about how this impacts the real world, I'd be open to that, but the theory isn't compelling on its own to me.

That's a pretty tenuous foundation to rationalize the choices made in that scene.


Critique accepted. That line of thinking has a lot more to do with the broader theme and very little to do with that scene in specific.

And again, that's part of the normalization of it, making it so extreme that it's no longer tied to current reality and thus something that can be brushed aside if you're bothered by it. This doesn't really happen, it's just a TV show, you're oversensitive, this is how women were treated but it's not how they're treated now so just shut up and enjoy the show, etc.


So, am I hearing that othering and normalizing can occur simultaneously? The audience seems like the normalizers in this example rather than the show, and I suspect those same audience members would be doing the same thing even if the show put the experiences of the women front and center. So where's the agency here? I guess it's always shared between show and audience (or author and audience), but this seems awfully circular.

Look, there are shitloads of realistic, facts-of-medieval-life things that are mentioned repeatedly in the books that get zero or next to zero airtime on the show... So when nudity and brutality towards women IS included and frequently at such length (and disparity, since the only male nudity we've gotten is Hodor and Theon, and Hodor's was mostly for comic effect, and there are plenty of places where casual non-sexual female/male nudity would make sense but we never get it), it's entirely fair to question why, why these things, and when it's ADDED outside the source material it's even more fair and really quite necessary. That's a question that has less to do with the world GRRM's created or the world the show presents than the world we all live in that the show happens to be a part of.


It's certainly entirely fair to question why, and I'd go a step further to say that it's important to do so and that your approach is sophisticated and interesting. I also think you're wrong, but you've definitely got me thinking.

I'm on the fence about this. On the one hand, that could be the point that the author and showrunners are ultimately making but I think it also might be a convenient defense for gratuitous violence, especially against women. I will say I didn't feel that they eroticized the scene - it started down that path and then turned very quickly into something truly horrible - but I'm not sure it was necessary or at least the length of the scene was necessary. Last season the violence seemed a little more plot relevant. Like I said, it may be that future episodes change my mind.

Are they mutually exclusive? I think both are happening.

If (soon) we are shown Roz herself becoming a more complex and interesting character as the result of her traumatic experiences (and Daisy too, if she survived), then there might be a defense for the show saying the abuse scene was necessary. If (soon) they trot out Roz and/or Daisy simply to abuse and shit upon them once again without developing them as characters, I'd say it's pure exploitation.

I think the result is likely to be somewhere in between. I don't think she'll be pure titillation again, but I don't think her life is about to get any easier. Book spoilers:

ETA Spoiler tags not working, but I was discussing Chataya/Alayaya. Maybe where I was going with that is obvious to readers?

Edited by Darryl Zero, May 3, 2012 @ 6:41 PM.

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#1022

Hecate7

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Posted May 3, 2012 @ 8:43 PM

If (soon) we are shown Roz herself becoming a more complex and interesting character as the result of her traumatic experiences (and Daisy too, if she survived), then there might be a defense for the show saying the abuse scene was necessary. If (soon) they trot out Roz and/or Daisy simply to abuse and shit upon them once again without developing them as characters, I'd say it's pure exploitation.


I disagree. For one thing, it would imply that getting abused is good for you and makes you a more interesting person, while happy, carefree sex is just boring. I don't think that's an accurate or healthy message. I think it's sufficient to show these women's natural reactions.

I would like to know if Daisy survived. (I'm thinking no.) And since we have in fact seen some character development from Roz every time she's been shown, I'm sure we'll see some here. She's gone from feeling fairly positive about her job servicing the Tyrions, Theons, and Jon Snows of the world, to being miserable that her job entails pleasuring the Janos Slynts of the world, to finally realizing that Littlefinger's business isn't just about sex, it's also about controlling the "merchandise" with threats, punishment, even murder. And even rising through the ranks to madam can't protect her from being exploited by powerful men. By rising in this system, she gains the right to commit violence against women herself, but she is still no freer than the woman she's forced to beat. Her face showed terror, hope, dread, sorrow--a whole gamut of emotions. I call that character development, myself.

This stuff IS the natural, inevitable result of a patriarchal subculture in which sex is a commodity men "need," while at the same time being a sin women must be punished for. Sexual inequality and a stratified society do in fact inevitably lead to abuse of women, because when women are viewed as chattel, it is entirely up to the individual man how well-treated they are. To pretend otherwise whitewashes the society and protects us from having to care about the rights of the women.

Not showing this stuff creates the impression of a fairy tale realm not unlike the one Sansa believed in before coming to King's Landing. In a way, that scene was about her even more than it was about Joffrey or the whores. It's showing us the danger she's got to keep at bay.

Edited by Hecate7, May 3, 2012 @ 8:46 PM.

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#1023

screamin

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Posted May 3, 2012 @ 10:57 PM

I think the result is likely to be somewhere in between. I don't think she'll be pure titillation again, but I don't think her life is about to get any easier.

Just because the Joffrey scene was not meant to be pure titillation does not mean that none of it was intended to titillate - the scene began and went on for awhile like any standard-issue sex scene, like that excellent New Yorker article observed. And just because it ended violently doesn't mean that some of the audience wouldn't be titillated in spite of that - and some even because of it. Which is why it disturbs me to think HBO might be pandering to that.

ETA Spoiler tags not working, but I was discussing Chataya/Alayaya. Maybe where I was going with that is obvious to readers?

Regarding Chataya/Alayaya - if HBO is really planning to
Spoiler
, it seems to kind of reinforce the idea that HBO is okay with objectifying and dehumanizing sex workers, and is apparently even willing to go GRRM one better in doing so. GRRM went out of his way a little to
Spoiler
For HBO to lightheartedly decide that when it comes to prostitutes they can just dispense with such onerous things as having more than one name to remember and plug in one All-Purpose Whore gives the impression that HBO thinks whores don't actually need characters with any depth, just pretty interchangeable cardboard cutout characters with only two dimensions (except, of course, for their all-important pair of perky three-dimensional breasts).

I disagree. For one thing, it would imply that getting abused is good for you and makes you a more interesting person, while happy, carefree sex is just boring. I don't think that's an accurate or healthy message. I think it's sufficient to show these women's natural reactions.

No no no, that is not what I meant. At. All.

What I meant was - if a character is well written, and something traumatic happens to that character, the character will change as a consequence. She will be marked by that experience and be observably different for it than the character she was before. If, however, the writers only bring in Roz and Daisy for the boob scenes and abuse scenes (or the joint boob/abuse scenes) and show no interest in showing anything about them beyond the immediate tit shot and/or their immediate traumatized reaction to the horror du jour - if the writers show no interest in what they actually think of what they've experienced and what they can or can't do about it, and just make them disappear after their trauma for a couple episodes until it's time for another tit shot and/or scarifying horror, then the writers aren't bothering to write them as real characters. They're writing them as crash-test dummy victims that they toss into the plot as needed for titillation and for shock value, not as real people.

And if the writers don't bother to write Roz and Daisy as real people - then they're giving the impression that they think Whores Don't Matter. They are not to be seen as full three dimensional people, just pretty placeholders to be talked at, sexed, beaten and violated in order to show us something about The Real Characters.
That, to me, is disturbing, and I hope the trend won't continue.
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#1024

chaseshishorse

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Posted May 4, 2012 @ 12:49 AM

I guess if there's empirical evidence about how this impacts the real world, I'd be open to that, but the theory isn't compelling on its own to me.


Except it's not something anyone could quantify or measure, there's no empirical evidence. Could anyone provide empirical evidence on how the Mystical Negro trope is damaging and racist? That's precisely what makes this stuff so damaging. It's insidious and covert and can never be proven, so it's easily dismissed and perpetuated. When media that we consume constantly presents certain ideas - women are objects, men are entitled to their bodies, racism is individual rather than institutional, etc. etc. etc. - we internalize them. We are all products of a racist, sexist, homophobic, hetero- and able-bodied- and cis-normative society. These are the forces that shape us and our ideas and how we consume media. So when a show blithely tosses in shit like the Joffrey scene, it's reinforcing that system, it's oppressing via status quo.


This stuff IS the natural, inevitable result of a patriarchal subculture in which sex is a commodity men "need," while at the same time being a sin women must be punished for. Sexual inequality and a stratified society do in fact inevitably lead to abuse of women, because when women are viewed as chattel, it is entirely up to the individual man how well-treated they are. To pretend otherwise whitewashes the society and protects us from having to care about the rights of the women.



And what does using such things as tools to tell the story of a male character do to mitigate or combat or even deconstruct/comment critically on that? It seems to me that it reinforces it, which is exactly my problem with that particular scene. And everything you said actually supports the idea of normalization. We as a culture cannot conceive of women not being exploited, abused, commodified, brutalized and sexually assaulted. I can't really think of any other forms of violence that are both so gendered and so accepted as inevitable. And frankly, a huge degree of the inevitability of those things is reliant on our expectation that they're inevitable. It becomes tautological and self-perpetuating. Hence: normalization. Which: yuck.

Like, seriously, I'm going to check out here after this because it's immensely frustrating and disheartening, but this idea that scenes like Joffrey and the Whores are thoughtful, clear-eyed representations of the realities of women in a medieval setting like Westeros is just naive and obtuse to me. I mean, really, not including Joffrey having a prostitute beaten severely with a big wooden sceptre is whitewashing? That scene makes us care about women's rights, to the point that not including it would be a loss? Really? Really? How can you make a critical or honest commentary on women as chattel simply by including women as chattel? That's like saying that making a racist joke is really a commentary on racist jokes. Well. No, it's really not, frankly.

If the show is going to tackle these aspects of women's lives as a reality, they need to tackle them responsibly. And if they're not going to do that - which is honestly fine, it's not that show, okay, that's fair - they need to not use it as a cheap prop or a storytelling shortcut. That's my entire point. Women's oppression is not a writing shortcut. It's not characterization for a male character. It's not for shock value or to bring in the Tits or GTFO viewers.

And screamin, yes, exactly on the Ros/Chataya/Alayaya interchangeability stuff.
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#1025

Hecate7

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Posted May 5, 2012 @ 1:42 AM

This:

And if the writers don't bother to write Roz and Daisy as real people - then they're giving the impression that they think Whores Don't Matter. They are not to be seen as full three dimensional people, just pretty placeholders to be talked at, sexed, beaten and violated in order to show us something about The Real Characters.
That, to me, is disturbing, and I hope the trend won't continue.


I guess I should be asking, what exactly would you need, in order to see Roz & Daisy as real people? Does the story featuring them have to be non-fiction? Does it have to be entirely from their POV?

What I find the most disturbing about that scene and the handling of Roz and Daisy is that they haven't shown Roz confronting Tyrion, or told us what ultimately happened with Daisy. We don't know if she's alive or dead, how her injuries were tended to if she's alive. It's not resolved. If it's never resolved, I'll agree that the show is taking a Whores Don't Matter position. But if that's true it's also taking a position that babies, soldiers, shopkeeps, and pretty much most people in the world don't matter. Which it probably is.

I think Roz was in the show from the very first episode precisely because of this issue. She appeared to just be Sexposition, or Fan Service, but she's got an arc. She's already developed quite a bit as a character. Season 1 she thought this was fun. Now she's scared and angry. And I actually want to see what she has to say to Tyrion. [s]Eventually she probably is going to be Alayaya, precisely so that character will have a viewpoint and a history with us, and not just be "random girl with exotic name." [/s]

Edited by Hecate7, May 5, 2012 @ 2:22 AM.

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#1026

Molly McFly

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Posted May 5, 2012 @ 9:07 AM

I think Roz was in the show from the very first episode precisely because of this issue. She appeared to just be Sexposition, or Fan Service, but she's got an arc. She's already developed quite a bit as a character. Season 1 she thought this was fun. Now she's scared and angry. And I actually want to see what she has to say to Tyrion.

I too want to see what she has to say to Tyrion about her experience with the king. I was disappointed last Sunday that we didn't get to see her reaction after the ordeal was over, or at the very least get to see her confront the person who sent her to Joffrey in the first place, but I had to remind myself that there are just so many characters on this show that it's impossible to feature meaningful scenes with all of them every week. I agree that Roz has definitely had a character arc so far, and I would be very surprised and disappointed if this scene had no effect on her as a character, but I think it's a bit early to proclaim that that is the case in a show where we go weeks without seeing characters for more than one minute at a time. I have a feeling that this scene (or at least its consequences, for those who can't stomach watching it more than once) will play a lot better when viewed with the season as a whole rather than as one scene in isolation as we wait weeks to see how it plays out in the end.

As far as normalization goes, I think Roz's reaction to the bastard massacre, Littlefinger's threats, and Joffrey's instructions show that neither witnessing nor inflicting this kind of violence in her profession is not in any way what she expected, which to me is the opposite of normalization. It's the show trying to point out that Roz, a seasoned sex worker with plenty of experience with jerks like Theon Greyjoy, is shocked and horrified by the situation she's stuck in. I haven't had time to rewatch the episode, so I may be wrong, but isn't there a shot of Joffrey with the crossbow that is from Roz and Daisy's POV? I think that was the show's way of telling the audience that we were supposed to be identifying with them, not with Joffrey.

I won't argue that this scene was handled particularly well, but I think the writers felt it was important to show that not only is Joffrey a monster in front of his court, or towards Sansa, but also in private, and towards anyone that has the bad luck to cross his path. I think there are ways to show that that don't include sexualized violence, but I think that one of the reasons we got that scene instead of, for example, Joffrey using kittens for crossbow targets alone in his room is that we've had some time to get to know Roz and will thus feel the impact this experience has on her as a character. Shooting at kittens is a horrifying scene; abusing sex workers sets up a story arc that includes, Roz, Tyrion, Joffrey, and possibly Littlefinger, as the women are/were both in his employ. Do I wish that Tyrion had sent over a pair of clowns from Littlefinger's birthday party service (I'm sure he has one)? Yes, but I have a feeling the end result - i.e., one terrorized, one possibly dead or at least badly beaten - would be much the same.
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#1027

Constantinople

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Posted May 5, 2012 @ 9:56 AM

And if the writers don't bother to write Roz and Daisy as real people - then they're giving the impression that they think Whores Don't Matter. They are not to be seen as full three dimensional people, just pretty placeholders to be talked at, sexed, beaten and violated in order to show us something about The Real Characters.
That, to me, is disturbing, and I hope the trend won't continue.


In the same episode a fisherman had his foot chopped off and some random villager had his insides ripped out by a crazed rat. I doubt we'll see the fisherman again. Given that we last saw the villager with his head on a spike, I'm confident we won't see him again, at least as a living character.

I don't think the writers are giving the impression that fishermen don't matter or random villagers don't matter.
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#1028

screamin

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Posted May 5, 2012 @ 11:15 AM

I guess I should be asking, what exactly would you need, in order to see Roz & Daisy as real people? Does the story featuring them have to be non-fiction? Does it have to be entirely from their POV?

Not a bit. It's easy enough to add a little dimension to a minor character without dedicating a lot of screen time to her (as long as it's important to the writers to do so). They could have taken two minutes out of that excruciating buildup to the scepter beating/rape/whatever to show Roz and Daisy hiding behind the curtains of Joffrey's four poster bed awaiting their entrance, with Daisy chattering nervously about how she hears the palace has changed since old King Robert died and the new one took over, and Roz trying to reassure her that the King is just a boy and they know how to please boys - and then Joffrey comes in, and they put on their big party smiles and come slithering out to seduce him. That's the sort of thing that promotes the literary illusion that these are real people with differing personalities who have an inner life behind the perky boobs, that they continue to exist even when they're offscreen, thinking and worrying about things that are happening, having a relationship and a friendship.

I mean, look at Maester Luwin. AFAIK, he's had no more screen time than Roz - my impression is that he's had less. But IMO, we know a lot more about him as a person than we know about Roz.

I don't think the writers are giving the impression that fishermen don't matter or random villagers don't matter.

If the writers introduced a pair of fishermen who make recurring appearances in various episodes, and go so far as to give them names (say, Ron and Dave), but then show us nothing about them as people except that they fish and that periodically horrible things happen to them because they are fisherman - a nobleman disembowels an acquaintance of theirs in front of them for having sold him a spoiled fish, another nobleman threatens Ron with death if he can't bring in enough shrimp for a party, yet another nobleman has Dave tossed into the shark-filled sea a mile from shore because he supplies lobster for an enemy of his, and then we're never even informed if Dave was eaten or managed to swim ashore after having merely lost a few limbs - then, yeah, I would start to wonder what the hell the writers' problem with fishermen is.

Edited by screamin, May 5, 2012 @ 11:18 AM.

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#1029

Constantinople

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Posted May 5, 2012 @ 1:33 PM

I mean, look at Maester Luwin. AFAIK, he's had no more screen time than Roz - my impression is that he's had less. But IMO, we know a lot more about him as a person than we know about Roz.


I disagree.

We know almost nothing about Maester Luwin. We don't know where he came from, how or why he became a maester, or how he found his way in service to the Starks. We can only guess at his motivation in the various scenes in which he's appeared.

For the most part, he serves as a counterpoint to someone else's advice ("Different time, different king" when Catelyn reminds Ned what happened the last time a Stark went to King's Landing); to underline another character's choices ("this is a royal command" when Robb is contemplating his summons to King's Landing); or to re-emphasize what we already know ("Owls and shadowcats?" "I'm not talking about owls and shadowcats old man").

It's easy enough to add a little dimension to a minor character without dedicating a lot of screen time to her (as long as it's important to the writers to do so). They could have taken two minutes out of that excruciating buildup to the scepter beating/rape/whatever to show Roz and Daisy hiding behind the curtains of Joffrey's four poster bed awaiting their entrance, with Daisy chattering nervously about how she hears the palace has changed since old King Robert died and the new one took over, and Roz trying to reassure her that the King is just a boy and they know how to please boys - and then Joffrey comes in, and they put on their big party smiles and come slithering out to seduce him. That's the sort of thing that promotes the literary illusion that these are real people with differing personalities who have an inner life behind the perky boobs, that they continue to exist even when they're offscreen, thinking and worrying about things that are happening, having a relationship and a friendship...

If the writers introduced a pair of fishermen who make recurring appearances in various episodes, and go so far as to give them names (say, Ron and Dave), but then show us nothing about them as people except that they fish and that periodically horrible things happen to them because they are fisherman - a nobleman disembowels an acquaintance of theirs in front of them for having sold him a spoiled fish, another nobleman threatens Ron with death if he can't bring in enough shrimp for a party, yet another nobleman has Dave tossed into the shark-filled sea a mile from shore because he supplies lobster for an enemy of his, and then we're never even informed if Dave was eaten or managed to swim ashore after having merely lost a few limbs - then, yeah, I would start to wonder what the hell the writers' problem with fishermen is.


So characters can be tortured and mutilated if they're un-named, have a diversity of occupations or are given them a few lines of chitchat beforehand?
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#1030

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Posted May 5, 2012 @ 9:11 PM

We know almost nothing about Maester Luwin. We don't know where he came from, how or why he became a maester, or how he found his way in service to the Starks. We can only guess at his motivation in the various scenes in which he's appeared.

I disagree. I haven't actually been paying a huge amount of attention to Maester Luwin, but from the one conversation I remember off the top of my head I know that he used to be an imaginative, dreamy boy who yearned to believe magic was real and even tried to learn to do it. I also learned something about his education as a maester. I learned about the pragmatic realist view he holds in the present...all of that character development fitting neatly and unobtrusively into necessary exposition for the show. When have we ever learned that much concrete, specific, character-developing information about Roz? IMO, everything we've ever learned about Roz (which is precious little) fits under the heading of "Generic Whore With A Heart Of Gold", which is not a character at all, but a stereotype.

So characters can be tortured and mutilated if they're un-named, have a diversity of occupations or are given them a few lines of chitchat beforehand?

I'm very much aware that in a series like GoT there will be great carnage and the deaths of thousands of anonymous spear-carriers, most of whom will have few or no lines, or names, and who will not be mentioned again once they've spilled their picturesque atmospheric blood in the service of the latest battle-scene. But IMO, if a show names a character and has her appear multiple times, in the service of good writing she ought to have at least as much character development as other minor characters who have as much screen time. When she does not - when we learn more about Maester Luwin and Gendry and even Yoren than we do about a woman who's been onscreen as much if not more than they - then I do start to wonder whether the reason is that she's a whore, hence considered intrinsically unimportant.

In my mind's ear, I seem to hear an exasperated writer (maybe in conference with the horny thirteen year old boy creative consultant we saw on SNL) shouting, "Character development? She don't need no stinkin' character development! She's got TITS!"

Edited by screamin, May 5, 2012 @ 9:14 PM.

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#1031

Hecate7

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Posted May 6, 2012 @ 5:39 AM

I mean, look at Maester Luwin. AFAIK, he's had no more screen time than Roz - my impression is that he's had less. But IMO, we know a lot more about him as a person than we know about Roz.


That is a very good comparison. Both are defined so far by their professions. What we know about Maester Luwin is that he's a very good maester, who used to want to do magic but is now the soul of skepticism. He's wise and kindly. You could call him a stereotypical Obi-wan Knobe, if you wanted to. Compared with the other maester on the show so far, he's got a lot of integrity. But that's all we know.

What we know about Roz is that she actually enjoys sex, is very proud of her body, likes pleasing men for the most part, can handle people like Theon Greyjoy, and is pretty unflappable most of the time. We know she impressed Littlefinger enough that he made her second in command at his brothel, and that the girls already look to her for leadership. She isn't a drug addict, a sadist, or a narcissist, she hasn't been dehumanized by her work. She's a party girl with a naturally optimistic and ambitious personality. If that translates as "heart of gold," so be it. She's meant to be someone we can relate to, I think.

I didn't need to see the chit-chat to know what the girls were thinking. We all know they were giggling and wriggling because it's the show they prepared to put on. They clearly had some schtick rehearsed that should have gone over a treat with a young boy, and were thrown that he wanted something else, but game until they realized just how far this was going to go.

We did see him through their eyes, and we saw the crossbow from Roz' POV, and Roz's reaction. Then we saw Daisy's reaction. For me, that was enough. The mere fact that Roz was in the scene at all, at this point, made me experience it from her POV--a person forced to choose between heroically getting shot refusing to cooperate, or living another day by doing something she absolutely did not want to do, and loathed doing.

I found myself trying to find a way out for both girls. Jump him together? He'd have shot one of them, but crossbows take time to reload and one of them might have lived. Run? Same story. One lives, one dies. Go along? Possibly both live. I tried to think of a way Roz could have done anything better, and realized she erred on the side of caution, and that I probably would have, too, in her place.

A lot of the characters lately have been faced with getting what they wanted, but in a way that makes them sorry they ever wanted it. Add Roz to the list. She's "made it," and has some power, but she can't wield it in any way that's useful to her. She can wield power over the other girls, but not protect them. I notice they kept her bosom covered this time. I think that's telling us subliminally, "This scene isn't about jiggles. And neither is this character, anymore."

It never once entered my mind to look at it from Joffrey's POV, and I think they did a great job of not making it at all titillating.
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#1032

Critical Geek

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Posted May 6, 2012 @ 7:03 AM

The whole reason Roz is still a character is because the writers liked the actress playing the role. Her lack of arc is the reason book readers are up in arms about her, when, for the most part, she's exactly there to provide someone else to talk to. The complaints about it aren't out of the blue, or incendiary issues, or normalization issues, it's just flat out show runners combining a number of 1 to 4 line parts into a big part for a player they liked, and then forgetting that with added lines comes added arc and history expectations. The profession of the combined set of parts is just one more thing damning what was a literary kludge to begin with.
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#1033

Constantinople

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Posted May 6, 2012 @ 7:06 AM

I haven't actually been paying a huge amount of attention to Maester Luwin, but from the one conversation I remember off the top of my head I know that he used to be an imaginative, dreamy boy who yearned to believe magic was real and even tried to learn to do it. I also learned something about his education as a maester. I learned about the pragmatic realist view he holds in the present...all of that character development fitting neatly and unobtrusively into necessary exposition for the show.


A young boy wants to grow-up to be a wizard, only to later decide there's nothing to it. This is such slender character development as to be meaningless, and is much of a stereotype as the generic "Whore With a Heart of Gold".

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 1 Corinthians 13:11

Not that I've seen any evidence that Roz fits her alleged stereotype unless being upset over watching a baby being stabbed to death means on has a "heart of gold".

But IMO, if a show names a character and has her appear multiple times, in the service of good writing she ought to have at least as much character development as other minor characters who have as much screen time.


What we know about Roz is that she actually enjoys sex, is very proud of her body, likes pleasing men for the most part, can handle people like Theon Greyjoy, and is pretty unflappable most of the time. We know she impressed Littlefinger enough that he made her second in command at his brothel, and that the girls already look to her for leadership. She isn't a drug addict, a sadist, or a narcissist, she hasn't been dehumanized by her work. She's a party girl with a naturally optimistic and ambitious personality. If that translates as "heart of gold," so be it. She's meant to be someone we can relate to, I think.



Roz was also practical enough to get out of Winterfell and to King's Landing before the fighting started. In retrospect that may be a mistake, but at the time, many people in Westeros thought that the Lannisters would make short work of Robb Stark, one of them being Tywin Lannister (even Ned described Robb as "just a boy").
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#1034

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Posted May 6, 2012 @ 8:22 PM

A young boy wants to grow-up to be a wizard, only to later decide there's nothing to it. This is such slender character development as to be meaningless, and is much of a stereotype as the generic "Whore With a Heart of Gold".

Whether you're a Harry Potter fan or not, what we saw in that conversation was Maester Luwin imparting some of his personal history, using it neatly both to give us necessary expositionary information and to strengthen the illusion that he is an actual person with a history, not a scripted nonentity. That's good writing. We saw the same with Gendry. With Sam Tarly. Even with Yoren. Correct me if I'm wrong, but for all her appearances we've had not one scrap of personal history from Roz. It's like the writers...aren't interested in making her seem like a real person.

What we know about Roz is that she actually enjoys sex, is very proud of her body, likes pleasing men for the most part, can handle people like Theon Greyjoy, and is pretty unflappable most of the time. We know she impressed Littlefinger enough that he made her second in command at his brothel, and that the girls already look to her for leadership. She isn't a drug addict, a sadist, or a narcissist, she hasn't been dehumanized by her work. She's a party girl with a naturally optimistic and ambitious personality. If that translates as "heart of gold," so be it. She's meant to be someone we can relate to, I think.

Neither am I a drug addict, a sadist, or a narcissist (I think). I'm also not a Justin Bieber fan, and I'm pretty sure Roz isn't either. Despite these uncanny resemblances, I'm not Roz. Negative attributes tells us very little about a character. NONE of the whores we saw in that brothel were obviously drug addicts, sadists, narcissists, or visibly dehumanized by their work. Neither was Daisy. None of them appeared to be ashamed of their bodies, or to dislike sex. None of them seemed particularly unhappy (at least until a baby was disembowelled in front of them). The show does little to diffentiate any of them as people with individual traits and personalities. Yes, Roz was promoted, but we don't see what notable attributes impressed Littlefinger enough to do it.
(It might have been more interesting to have replaced those brothel sexposition scenes with scenes of Roz leaving one of her rich powerful johns to obediently report to Littlefinger all the important gossip she's managed to wheedle out of him, and Littlefinger praising her slyness and going on naturally to talk about his own slyness. This would have the double purpose of getting exposition from Littlefinger, and showing us Roz's intelligence. Alas, HBO felt it was far more important for us to see Roz's skill at simulating lesbian passion while Littlefinger yammered on about himself for no clear reason, thus wasting an opportunity for character development for Roz, which shows clearly where HBO's priorities are.)

Edited by screamin, May 6, 2012 @ 8:24 PM.

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#1035

DigiKing

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Posted May 7, 2012 @ 10:47 PM

While we didn't see fallout from the Roz/Daisy storyline, we did see a near-miss with a similar situation in Sansa's storyline this week, and we were allowed to see Sansa's reaction and where she is now with respect to Shae and to a lesser extent the Hound. I think that there are two differences between Sansa and Daisy. One is that Sansa's a noble, and the second is that she's a main character.

I think both of those factor into the difference in treatment they got with the portrayals of their assaults more than anything else. After all, this was the same episode where a guy got his head cut off in 4 strokes and a kick. Was this about him, his family, his friends? No; it was about Theon. Does that constitute "fridging"? Is this part of a normalization of violence? After all, I'd venture to guess that the vast majority of violence we've seen has been against men. The show itself made the comparison, as well; we've seen 3 men beheaded IIRC, while in the last episode we see a character actively refuse to behead a woman. But I don't think it's really a male-female issue. I think it's a mains/nobles vs. secondaries/smallfolk issue.

So I don't know if it's realistic to expect main-character treatment for supporting characters. I think that's where the disconnect occurs, because characters like Littlefinger are always going to get more inspection than Roz, or Gendry, or Yoren.

Edited by DigiKing, May 7, 2012 @ 10:48 PM.

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#1036

lawless

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Posted May 8, 2012 @ 12:17 AM

I also haven't given up on the possibility that Ros's horrible experience with Joffrey won't serve as the catalyst for her to get involved in some kind of plot against Joffrey in the future, either as an agent of Littlefinger. or maybe even as part of a mob. I don't know of course, but it's possible since age works for a master schemer and is one of the few smallfolk we know. Then the scene with Joffrey will also be about her.
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#1037

Hecate7

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Posted May 8, 2012 @ 6:19 AM

Neither am I a drug addict, a sadist, or a narcissist (I think). I'm also not a Justin Bieber fan, and I'm pretty sure Roz isn't either. Despite these uncanny resemblances, I'm not Roz. Negative attributes tells us very little about a character. NONE of the whores we saw in that brothel were obviously drug addicts, sadists, narcissists, or visibly dehumanized by their work.


But not having any of those traits is noteworthy in a prostitute. Lack of traits can say a great deal about a person. Someone who doesn't smoke, is different from someone who does. Not being an alcoholic is very different from being one. We don't hear much about Roz's past, because we were there when it happened. We've been shown, not told, her education so far. And we're being shown competence and responsibility.

I actually assume that Daisy is on some sort of drugs. She's always got this dazed look on her face, and sometimes she sways and shuffles when she walks as if she's stoned or drunk. Most strippers and hookers do turn to some sort of chemical to deal with the craziness of their environment, so the fact that Roz does this clear-eyed and with all her wits about her tells me she's very tough physically and emotionally.

I really didn't feel I knew Maester Luwin any better after his story about studying magic, than I did in the first episode. He's one of my favorite characters, but I don't think we see an arc or any sort of "development." He's just the story's example of what a maester ought to be, to be contrasted against Pycelle. Roz, by the same token, is what a whore ought to be. And she appears to be a foil for Shae. Both have managed to finagle a connection at court--Shae with the Hand, Roz with the Lord Treasurer. Both feel ambivalent about the role they're playing and the men they work for. Both feel helpless sympathy for another female character they may be professionally obliged to betray in some way.

We did see Roz gather information from Pycelle--she got him to tell her what he thought of King Joffrey. We didn't need to see her tell LF, because we already knew she was reporting to him. We also saw that Pycelle believed he had conned her by pretending to be older and more feeble than he actually is. (Whether Roz bought it, is debatable.)That scene is probably the reason LF promoted her, which in turn is probably the reason that the next time we saw Pycelle with a prostitute, it was Daisy, not Roz.

I would love it if Roz became involved in a plot against Joffrey. Her job gives her a window into the dark underbelly of the court, and eventually she could use what she knows, as long as she learns how to use it without getting killed over it. She knows how to use the connections she has. I'd like to see her with a few more useful ones. I agree that this all needs to be building up to something--but I don't need her to become a hero, or leave the trade, or lead the charge, to root for her. I'd like to see her get even in some way, even if it's small and subversive.

Edited by Hecate7, May 8, 2012 @ 6:24 AM.

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#1038

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Posted May 8, 2012 @ 2:16 PM

So I don't know if it's realistic to expect main-character treatment for supporting characters. I think that's where the disconnect occurs, because characters like Littlefinger are always going to get more inspection than Roz, or Gendry, or Yoren.

But the depiction of Roz IS different from Gendry and Yoren. From both Gendry and Yoren we got personal history, we know a bit about their family, their past from before the time the story started. Gendry's the illegitimate son of the king, it's true, so maybe he doesn't count as smallfolk, but I'm pretty sure Yoren does. We saw much less of Yoren than we did of Roz (in more ways than one), but we know why he enlisted in the Night Watch, we know he had a brother Willem, what happened to him, and how much he meant to Yoren. Roz? We don't know why she became a whore, what her family meant to her, or even if she HAD one. As far as the show is concerned, she doesn't have a past at all; as chaseshishorse mentioned, it's like she suddenly appeared out of nowhere into that brothel where we first saw her. The fact that Roz is a minor character with limited screentime is not a reason not to give her background; Yoren had less screentime and got a past and backstory. IMO, the implication is that the showrunners feel that T&A is an adequate substitute for backstory and character development, which sucks.

But not having any of those traits is noteworthy in a prostitute. Most strippers and hookers do turn to some sort of chemical to deal with the craziness of their environment, so the fact that Roz does this clear-eyed and with all her wits about her tells me she's very tough physically and emotionally.

As I mentioned, NONE of the prostitutes we've been shown thus far have shown drug or alcohol addiction (or sadism, narcissism, body-shame,etc.), so saying that Roz lacks these qualities does nothing to distinguish her as an individual from the multitude of whores we've seen thus far.
Ideally, when we're shown an important scene with interaction between a major and a minor character, we should learn on occasion something about the minor character as well as the major one - not a great deal, of course, because the story isn't about them, but enough to give them texture and make them seem real. The scene between Arya and Yoren did that nicely.
The sexposition scene with Roz and Littlefinger? The things we learned for sure about Littlefinger from that scene - he's a deceptive shit, and he plans to screw over the powerful. What we learned for sure about Roz? She has breasts (which we knew already) and she's kind of limber. Same, IMO, with Pycelle and Roz. He talked, she was silent. He's trying to be deceptive; she - has breasts.

If they really are planning to expand her role further by making her
Spoiler

Edited by screamin, May 8, 2012 @ 2:50 PM.

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#1039

Constantinople

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Posted May 8, 2012 @ 3:00 PM

Whether you're a Harry Potter fan or not, what we saw in that conversation was Maester Luwin imparting some of his personal history, using it neatly both to give us necessary expositionary information and to strengthen the illusion that he is an actual person with a history, not a scripted nonentity. That's good writing. We saw the same with Gendry. With Sam Tarly. Even with Yoren. Correct me if I'm wrong, but for all her appearances we've had not one scrap of personal history from Roz. It's like the writers...aren't interested in making her seem like a real person.


Maester Luwin was just providing a bit of generic background as a way of telling to Bran he'll grow out of it. Not much different than Roz imparting her wisdom in the season opener after being instructed by Littlefinger in the previous season.

The only personal history we've learned of Gendry, that wasn't actually shown, was that his mother was yellow haired and his father was Robert Baratheon and tha Jon Arryn had visited him. The only reason this was imparted was so that Ned could conclude that Robert + Yellow haired women = black of hair son; X + Cersei = golden haired Joffrey; therefore X != Robert. Even Gendry's bull's head helmet exists solely so that Arya can falsely claim that the late Lommy is Gendry (for that matter, the sole insight that Lommy ever provided into the human condition before he was stabbed to death is that two men fighting isn't a battle).

Sam Tarly told Jon his background to explain why someone so completely incongrous with the Night's Watch should volunteer to join it (particularly given that Robert says some high born Tarly lad tried to end the rebellion with a swing of his sword.

Yoren provided his background only so that Arya would then be inspired to start her death list.

As DigiKing pointed out, we know nothing about Ser Rodrick Cassel. Did he enjoy gardening in his off hours? Did he ever try his hand at writing a song? We'll never know. For that matter, we didn't learn anything about Jory's history before he took a knife in the head from Jamie except that Jory fought during Balon's first rebellion.

Janos Slynt's decisions lead to Joffrey ascending the throne and Ned's head ascending a spike; he was made a lord and a member of the Little Council; he personally slew the baby in Littefinger's brothel when other men of the City Watch drew askance; he was sufficiently important enough for Tyrion to exile him to the Night's Watch. In high school, was Janos Slynt voted "Most Likely To Be Enobled" by his Senior High School Class" or did he serve as President of the Dothraki Language club? Who knows? For that matter, why are Grand Maester Pycelle's lips so firmly implanted on Tywin & Cersei Lannister's collective ass?

HBO felt it was far more important for us to see Roz's skill at simulating lesbian passion while Littlefinger yammered on about himself for no clear reason, thus wasting an opportunity for character development for Roz, which shows clearly where HBO's priorities are.


The purpose of that scene was foreshadowing. Roz = Littlefinger, Ned's the john, and prick = honor. Yet in a sense, Roz was also Ned in that she's a Northerner who's subtle as a freight train manner may play back in the sticks, but not in the big city.
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#1040

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Posted May 8, 2012 @ 3:24 PM

As DigiKing pointed out, we know nothing about Ser Rodrick Cassel. Did he enjoy gardening in his off hours? Did he ever try his hand at writing a song? We'll never know. For that matter, we didn't learn anything about Jory's history before he took a knife in the head from Jamie except that Jory fought during Balon's first rebellion.


Yes, because as a society we have such a troubled and problematic history with the media representation of knights. And the strangely-bearded are so oppressed in society, they're so consistently stripped of their narrative. Whether we learned about how Rodrik spent his off-hours is the same as whether Ros is presented as human outside her role as "receptacle." Because "I'm going to meet your father" is completely on the same level of resonance and characterization as "too much pain will spoil the pleasure, my lord." Because all knights and soldiers, from Jaime to Rodrik to Jory to Nameless Helmeted Guy on the Left are all treated with the same level of depth and characterization that serves their role as knights and soldiers and are only ever shown in the capacity of their function as knight and soldier to a man with little exploration outside of their careers, just like Ros and Daisy and...Girl with Semen on her Face and...um...

I do not get the willful level of oblivion on this subject.
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#1041

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Posted May 8, 2012 @ 4:04 PM

The purpose of that scene was foreshadowing. Roz = Littlefinger, Ned's the john, and prick = honor. Yet in a sense, Roz was also Ned in that she's a Northerner who's subtle as a freight train manner may play back in the sticks, but not in the big city.

It was a subtle, multilayered allegory requiring deep interpretation and I totally MISSED it? Damn. To me, at the time, it simply looked like a guy yapping away about himself for little reason while some comely naked women played unconvincingly with each other to entertain the viewing audience. Funny that Yoren didn't feel the need to strip naked and play with Gendry while conveying the plot of the next episode with sign language through his toes while Arya declaimed her need for vengeance. He just sat there and talked quietly to Arya, and she answered him, and both of them developed as characters as a result. And IMO, it was a great scene, worth twenty of that ridiculous sexposition scene.

The only personal history we've learned of Gendry, that wasn't actually shown, was that his mother was yellow haired and his father was Robert Baratheon and tha Jon Arryn had visited him...

Yes, I know we haven't been shown Gendry's past. But we haven't been shown anyone's past, not Ned or Robert or anyone's - there's no flashbacks in this show. Even though Gendry is a minor character, though, he's been allowed to talk about his past, like the major characters have. So has Yoren. And Luwin. And the Night Watch's recruits. When they are allowed to mention their pasts, and Roz isn't (even though she's onscreen as much), it IMO does convey the impression that HBO thinks Whores Don't Matter, that unlike Real Characters (no matter how minor) they don't need a past and they don't need to talk as long as they can be sexy wallpaper background for the Real Characters.

The only personal history we've learned of Gendry, that wasn't actually shown, was that his mother was yellow haired and his father was Robert Baratheon and that Jon Arryn had visited him...Sam Tarly told Jon his background to explain why someone so completely incongrous with the Night's Watch should volunteer to join it...Yoren provided his background only so that Arya would then be inspired to start her death list.


I know there was always a good plot-related reason for these characters to tell us their backgrounds. My point still stands - no matter the reason, these characters have told us something about their past, which gives them more depth as characters. Roz has not. The writers COULD choose to write a good, plot-related reason for Roz to mention her past in a way that simultaneously advances the plot and deepens her as a character. They did it for Yoren, after all - that Willem story was totally invented by the scriptwriters for the show. But they've chosen not to - either out of carelessness or deliberate exclusion. Either way, it looks like poor writing to me, as well as a disturbing dismissal of the importance of a character because she is a prostitute.
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#1042

Constantinople

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Posted May 8, 2012 @ 6:24 PM

Yes, because as a society we have such a troubled and problematic history with the media representation of knights.


It's not incumbent on Game of Thrones to solve society's ills. I would note, however, that Game of Thrones has hardly embraced any goodly knight stereotype. Ser Jamie Lannister the Kingslayer who sleeps with his sister; Ser Jorah Mormont the slaver; Ser Gregor Cleganae a.k.a "The Moutain", who terrorizes the common folk when he's not too busy chopping off his horse's head; Ser Armory Lorch the illiterate terrorizer of peasants; Ser Merryn, the official beater of women; Ser Illyn the executioner, who just follows orders and whose mien is not exactly "knightly"; even Ser Loras Tyrell cheats at the tournament.

I don't think it's an accident that Sandor Clegane a.k.a "The Hound" isn't a knight even though he presumably could be given his position (as could Bronn).

And the strangely-bearded are so oppressed in society, they're so consistently stripped of their narrative. Whether we learned about how Rodrik spent his off-hours is the same as whether Ros is presented as human outside her role as "receptacle." Because "I'm going to meet your father" is completely on the same level of resonance and characterization as "too much pain will spoil the pleasure, my lord."


Ser Rodrick was trying to comfort Bran as Rodrick was being executed. Roz was trying to save herself and Daisy. Different circumstances call for different responses. Moreover, we've learned that Roz is suffering from PTSD and that she's management material (although given one's view of managers in general, and Littlefinger in particular, that's not necessarily a compliment).

The original point still stands that we know of as much about Ser Rodrick's background as we do of Roz. Apparently that's unacceptable given Roz's profession, but it's pefectly acceptable to chop-off Ser Rodrick's head in a manner so incompetent and bloody that even Finchy from the Office winced.

Because all knights and soldiers, from Jaime to Rodrik to Jory to Nameless Helmeted Guy on the Left are all treated with the same level of depth and characterization that serves their role as knights and soldiers and are only ever shown in the capacity of their function as knight and soldier to a man with little exploration outside of their careers, just like Ros and Daisy and...Girl with Semen on her Face and...um...


Since they're not treated with the same level of depth and characterization, nor would most people expect there to be, I don't understand the point.

I do not get the willful level of oblivion on this subject.


That is not an argument.

It was a subtle, multilayered allegory requiring deep interpretation and I totally MISSED it?


No, it wasn't subtle, but the symbolism was there.

I know there was always a good plot-related reason for these characters to tell us their backgrounds.


If I understand the rules correctly.

1. Plot driven character background is acceptable
2. The absence of character background is acceptable if it doesn't drive the plot (ex. Ser Rodrick, Janos Slynt, etc), unless
3. The character is a whore, in which case character background is required regardless of whether that background drives the plot

Fortunately, Doreah, whom we learned was sold into a "pleasure house" at the age of 9 by her mother, but didn't touch a man until she was 12, satisfies the first and third rule.
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#1043

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Posted May 8, 2012 @ 7:05 PM

Ser Jamie Lannister the Kingslayer who sleeps with his sister; Ser Jorah Mormont the slaver; Ser Gregor Cleganae a.k.a "The Moutain", who terrorizes the common folk when he's not too busy chopping off his horse's head; Ser Armory Lorch the illiterate terrorizer of peasants; Ser Merryn, the official beater of women; Ser Illyn the executioner, who just follows orders and whose mien is not exactly "knightly"; even Ser Loras Tyrell cheats at the tournament.


Funny how you can provide many, many different types of knight characters with many different types of characterization. Can you do the same for the prostitutes? You think that because the knights' traits are "bad" that makes a difference? It has nothing to do with whether prostitutes on the show have good traits. It has to do with whether they have traits at all. And no, PTSD and "management material" are not traits. They are plot points.


It's not incumbent on Game of Thrones to solve society's ills.


An argument and a defense used by racist, sexist, fill-in-the-blank-ist objects and institutions the world over! Not sure how you've missed the fact that no one's asked it to solve anything. Merely present them responsibly and thoughtfully with as much care for female and minority characters as for any other. You don't think that their presentation of Ros is problematic but plenty of others do.

This endless "but here's why it's different" proves nothing and disproves nothing. Any one single thing can be parsed and dismissed because it's easy to look at things under a microscope and ignore the overall context and implications. The fact that you're so willing to do so in order to rationalize problematic treatment of female characters only proves the point.


Apparently that's unacceptable given Roz's profession, but it's pefectly acceptable to chop-off Ser Rodrick's head in a manner so incompetent and bloody that even Finchy from the Office winced.


Give me a break.


Since they're not treated with the same level of depth and characterization, nor would most people expect there to be, I don't understand the point.


Clearly. Because the point is that we are presented many, many variations of characters who are knights and they have varying degrees of development and characterization. We are presented Ros and Other Whore, and whatever development and characterization they receive is entirely in relation to the men they're serving. You yourself provided a great number of vastly different knight characters who have vastly different levels of development. Knights are not treated monolithically or interchangeably.


If I understand the rules correctly.



There are no rules. This is not a game or a contest. It's how people experience their lives. It's how we experience our lives and how media representation reflects and influences that in turn. And that can't be dissected and proved or disproved. It's a luxury of privilege to demand that a lack of privilege be proven.


Fortunately, Doreah, whom we learned was sold into a "pleasure house" at the age of 9 by her mother, but didn't touch a man until she was 12, satisfies the first and third rule.


I've yet to notice a single person express reservation about Doreah's role or characterization. Not sure how that's supposed to support your argument when it really undermines it, given the fact that Doreah's received far more characterization outside being from a pleasure house than Ros has. Doreah gets to function as a person in her society, she is a handmaiden (aka she's escaped prostitution and is now allowed to be a person with characterization, it seems). She isn't used as a plot device for the illumination of other characters. Which isn't to say she's perfectly drawn, but she sure as hell is more carefully and thoughtfully drawn.

Edited by chaseshishorse, May 8, 2012 @ 7:12 PM.

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#1044

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Posted May 8, 2012 @ 9:16 PM

No, it wasn't subtle, but the symbolism was there.

No, it wasn't subtle. It was ham-handed. It was badly written. It was a stupid scene, IMO...Littlefinger essentially twirling his mustache and mwah-ha-ha-ing about how evil he is in front of people who didn't ask and don't care because they're too busy ineptly enacting a porn scene.

I think that if a scene is silly in its most basic literal sense, it has also failed as a symbolic allegory, because I end up too busy laughing and mocking at its absurdity to bother analyzing its underlying meaning, much less admiring it.

And I think one of the reasons why it failed is that it treats Littlefinger as the only real person in the room, who is basically monologuing to himself while everyone else in the room, Roz included, are basically erotic tinkertoys to talk at. It doesn't convince me of Littlefinger's cleverness - it kind of reminds me of Dark Helmet in Spaceballs talking to his dolls. And Roz, who is supposed to be a recurring character, is basically one of the dolls, whose role in that and other scenes is not to say anything that might reveal her own thoughts, but just stand there and be naked. Never has a character on the show been shown so much to reveal so little. How much better that scene would be - for Littlefinger, Roz and us - if it had been rewritten as a dialogue.

Edited by screamin, May 8, 2012 @ 9:30 PM.

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#1045

Hecate7

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Posted May 9, 2012 @ 6:37 AM

Agreed that the LF monologue over Roz's "audition" was badly conceived, badly written, uncomfortable to watch, and overall just lame. Not sure making it a dialogue would have helped.

I do not get the willful level of oblivion on this subject.


It's not deliberate on my part, anyway. I just don't understand how not knowing who Roz's parents were is any more important than knowing who Varys' parents were. Or Bronn's. Some characters don't have relevant backgrounds or childhoods. The show isn't about how Roz became a prostitute or how Bronn became a sellsword. Besides, it would be very out of character for a prostitute to discuss her past, except with another prostitute, or as a way of crafting an image to gain the sympathy or admiration of a client.

And just as there is diversity among the knights, I do see diversity among the whores. Megan is amazingly naive and innocent, especially for a prostitute. She expects Ned Stark to deliver a message to the king for her, and she thinks the king will come back and visit her and little Bara--that they have a relationship. She's the sort of person who, when Theon Greyjoy announced he didn't want to pay, would have imagined that meant he loved her. Roz would never make that sort of mistake. She was very savvy even before she arrived in King's Landing. She knew when to get out of town, for instance. And she doesn't expect anyone to care that much about her, although LF had her fooled for a minute. You could see her, though, thinking, "I should have realized," when his "sad girl" story turned dark.

Then there's Dorreah, who seems to regard prostitution as a valid art form, like dance or acting. The Westerosi crew wouldn't agree--except possibly for Roz.

I've yet to notice a single person express reservation about Doreah's role or characterization.


That is such a good point. But even though she's a "handmaiden" to Dany, Dany still sends her off to "make men happy" so they'll "talk about other men." So she's still a courtesan. And there was that bathtub scene with Viserys. She enjoys more status than her Westerosi counterparts probably largely because she serves Danaerys.

Then there's the girl you've nicknamed "Semen-Face." I admit I have some confusion over her-her coloring, build, and hairstyle look just like Daisy's, and I treated them as the same character. I'm still not sure they're two people. (But I confuse some of the male characters, too. Jory and Yoren seemed like the same guy to me til one of them died.) She seemed VERY strung out in her little walk-on scene--glassy-eyed and indifferent to her surroundings--as unlike Megan, Dorreah, or Roz as it's possible to be, really. Daisy also seems strung out, so I confuse those two. The brothel reminds me of a party where everyone's off doing drugs and having sex in the corners.

And then there's Shae: princess prostitute, the entitled camp follower. If Roz had been sent to impersonate a handmaid, she'd have found out what handmaidens actually do, before she went to Sansa's chamber. Tyrion might even have a book on it he'd be willing to read to her. But Shae doesn't give a crap what handmaidens do--she's ticked that she isn't getting to be The Mistress of the Hand of the King--an attitude Dorreah might cop in similar circumstances, but none of the other girls would. As irked as Shae is with her situation, (not getting to be a conspicuous, legendary courtesan, as she should now that she's mistress to the Hand of the King, and being paid "more gold than she could spend if she lived a thousand years,")she's not irked enough to want to trade places with any of LF's girls.

I don't dismiss a character just because she's a prostitute. And I don't need a character's whole life story, to see them as a character and not a prop. I hated the device of Roz, season one. But she's really grown on me, this season.

Edited by Hecate7, May 9, 2012 @ 6:56 AM.

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#1046

Constantinople

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Posted May 9, 2012 @ 8:59 AM

Funny how you can provide many, many different types of knight characters with many different types of characterization. Can you do the same for the prostitutes? You think that because the knights' traits are "bad" that makes a difference? It has nothing to do with whether prostitutes on the show have good traits. It has to do with whether they have traits at all. And no, PTSD and "management material" are not traits. They are plot points.

Interesting that if a knight does something, or expresses a feeling, the knight is demonstrating a personality trait. If a whore does something, or expresses a feeling, the whore is not demonstrating a personality trait but furthering a plot point (disregarding that all of the behavior engaged in by the referenced knights, or any feelings they expressed, or even the very existence of the characters themselves are either plot points or a means to shed light on another character).

Apparently that's unacceptable given Roz's profession, but it's perfectly acceptable to chop-off Ser Rodrick's head in a manner so incompetent and bloody that even Finchy from the Office winced.

Give me a break.

That is not an argument.

If I understand the rules correctly.

There are no rules.

If two characters are treated the same way by the writers, but have different professions, and there are objections to one character, but not another, then there are rules.

Fortunately, Doreah, whom we learned was sold into a "pleasure house" at the age of 9 by her mother, but didn't touch a man until she was 12, satisfies the first and third rule.

I've yet to notice a single person express reservation about Doreah's role or characterization. Not sure how that's supposed to support your argument when it really undermines it, given the fact that Doreah's received far more characterization outside being from a pleasure house than Ros has. Doreah gets to function as a person in her society, she is a handmaiden (aka she's escaped prostitution and is now allowed to be a person with characterization, it seems). She isn't used as a plot device for the illumination of other characters. Which isn't to say she's perfectly drawn, but she sure as hell is more carefully and thoughtfully drawn.


So it's acceptable to have "knight characters" with different levels of development, but not "whore characters"?

What we learned about Doreah's background was plot driven. Doreah taught Daenerys and Syrio taught Arya. Odd how we learned something about a teacher's background to explain why that person is qualified to teach his/her field of expertise.

For that matter, being a handmaiden hasn't really provided Doreah with any "characterization". Whatever development and characterization she's received has been entirely in relation to the woman she's serving. Even now, Daenerys sends Doreah to "make men happy" to gather intelligence.

It's not deliberate on my part, anyway. I just don't understand how not knowing who Roz's parents were is any more important than knowing who Varys' parents were. Or Bronn's.

Because Roz is a female whore, Varys is a eunuch and Bron is a male whore. Of course, we don't even know who Doreah's mother was, just that Doreah had one and that Doreah's mother sold her to a pleasure house at 9.
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#1047

screamin

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Posted May 9, 2012 @ 9:28 AM

Because Roz is a female whore, Varys is a eunuch and Bron is a male whore.

Bronn periodically makes himself completely vulnerable to physical attack and abuse by stripping himself of all armor, clothing, weapons and other defenses (including silencing his capably sarcastic tongue) to show himself completely naked to the audience to blow and be buggered? Wow, wish I hadn't missed those scenes.

Edited by screamin, May 9, 2012 @ 9:29 AM.

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#1048

Constantinople

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Posted May 9, 2012 @ 12:25 PM

Because Roz is a female whore, Varys is a eunuch and Bron is a male whore.


Bronn periodically makes himself completely vulnerable to physical attack and abuse by stripping himself of all armor, clothing, weapons and other defenses (including silencing his capably sarcastic tongue) to show himself completely naked to the audience to blow and be buggered? Wow, wish I hadn't missed those scenes.


Bronn sells himself to the highest bidder and he wears the clothing appropriate for a sellsword.

Edited by Constantinople, May 9, 2012 @ 12:25 PM.

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#1049

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Posted May 9, 2012 @ 4:05 PM

Bron is a male whore...Bronn sells himself to the highest bidder and he wears the clothing appropriate for a sellsword.

If Bronn is a male whore, by that startlingly broad definition, then security guards in banks do a whole hell of a lot more for bankers than I thought they did, and the armed forces overseas may be properly referred to as "Our Brave Whores In Uniform."

In all seriousness, there really ARE such things as male whores in our own world, and there really (really) ARE significant differences between them and hired armed men. The job description of armed soldiers requires and encourages them to defend themselves with deadly force, and rewards and validates them for doing so. The job description for male prostitutes (AND female prostitutes, adults and children of both sexes) requires them to drop all defenses and allow their hirers most intimate access to their bodies, making them uniquely vulnerable to harm. They may request limits on what can be done to their bodies, but these are often in practice ignored by customers and pimps. If attacked, they may try to defend themselves, but this is discouraged and made difficult by the vulnerability already noted and by the fact that they are not backed up by the law in most societies. In many societies, they are culturally considered unimportant; it doesn't matter what's done to them. Armed and armored, Bronn is on equal ground with any one enemy soldier attacking him. A naked prostitute coerced by a pimp and with no recourse to law is the very opposite of an equal to any rich, powerful customer with a mind to harm him or her.

The way this show has used prostitutes has been defended as merely dedication to realism. HOWEVER, true realism would require that we might also see some ACTUAL male prostitute characters being exploited...presumably, Westeros HAS them, if they're realistic. Yet we have not seen that. Why, I wonder? Could it be that male viewers would feel acutely uncomfortable identifying with men who are powerless, vulnerable and required to perform acts many would consider painfully humiliating? Could it be that the producers decided that this would be too offputting to their male viewers and never seriously considered it, even while they were busily writing exploitative female prostitution scenes that were not in the books because male viewers would consider them erotic, and never mind whatever discomfort some female viewers would feel about it, or their supposed "realism"? I think there's a distinct possibility of that.

Anyway, since on top of that selective "realism" HBO decided that in depicting a couple of named characters of that most vulnerable profession, they would show their bodies as much as possible but could dispense with giving any details about their minds - decided that they would show these defenseless women being harmed, but not what they thought about it and how they tried to help themselves - yes, I do have a problem with that. However unimportant armed soldiers are in the scheme of things in Westeros, they still have more power than prostitutes do. So when HBO decides to write Roz and Daisy as not only powerless and deprived of all defenses, but also deprived of a point of view of their own, even though they allowed it to several other minor characters who have more power (Yoren, Bronn, Luwin, Dolorous Edd, and so on) - I have a problem with that. They have fewer options than any of them - why shouldn't they at least have a voice?
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#1050

Hecate7

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Posted May 10, 2012 @ 1:37 AM

HOWEVER, true realism would require that we might also see some ACTUAL male prostitute characters being exploited...presumably, Westeros HAS them, if they're realistic. Yet we have not seen that. Why, I wonder? Could it be that male viewers would feel acutely uncomfortable identifying with men who are powerless, vulnerable and required to perform acts many would consider painfully humiliating?


I think it's because we don't have any homosexual characters who patronize prostitutes---yet. The gay characters we've seen so far, had no need of prostitutes, because they were deeply in love, and both were young and beautiful. Loras might get his own prostitute scene, now that he's lost Renly, but prior to this it would just have been out of character for either of them. If the show introduces an older gay man, we'll probably see some bishounin booty.

We see a LOT of female whores because 1)Littlefinger runs a whorehouse. 2)Tyrion, Robert Baratheon, & Pycelle, like to hire whores. These are main characters, and so we're going to see their escorts. 3)Economics. Only 10% of men are gay, so LF would need only 10% as many male as female whores.LF runs his business to make money--you don't get much repeat business if all your clients get beaten up or killed as soon as they leave your establishment, so the gay stuff is going to be very much on the downlow. There's probably a separate suite of rooms you need to know the password to get into. So, we're not ever going to see a scene where a soldier is getting blown by some boy, with all the girls and their johns walking past.

Women get more money whoring than they can earn sewing, cooking, cleaning, or taking care of children, and they can't gain access to most other trades, so beautiful young women with no advantageous marital prospects will actually seek out work in prostitution, in addition to getting sold into it or abducted. Westerosi culture accepts this as the way of the world. An unmarried man is expected to pay for sex, not defile someone's marriageable daughter or wife, so there's a huge demand for female prostitutes.

There's doubtless a demand for male ones, too, in a culture where asking the wrong guy if he'd like a roll in the hay will get you killed, but, again, it's only 10% of the market, and the boys are a lot harder to get, since men have so many better career options than the women do, and they are valued so much more by their parents than the women are.



.

Good point about Bronn not being vulnerable the way an actual male whore would be. But I think the original point was that if Bronn were female, he'd be one of the whores. A good body, low birth, and a willingness to do anything for money if the price is right, makes a man a sellsword, but if Bronn were a woman, those same qualifications would make him a whore.
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