“Because she’s hot.”: When you talk GoT with your ‘casual viewer’ friends...
So last night I was at a dinner with a few friends and aquaintances some of whom have either just started watching GoT and are still trying to “get into it” and some have been long time viewers.
I wouldn’t blame anyone, especially not the people who are new to the show, to not remember all the names or not to get confused about things. It’s a complex show with a shitload of characters and fantasy names to keep track of so…
What I did find simultaneously ridiculous and also really telling about how D&D’s vision of the show seems to be working out so far is when the same people are asked which characters are their favourites and the answers are:
“The blonde one” - “The blonde haired girl” or “the one with the dragons”
Fair enough. I’ve liked her and found her story interesting for the first couple of seasons (approx. until she got to Mereen) so this is not out of the ordinary.
HOWEVER, when asked “why” exactly they like “the blonde one with the dragons” and you expect them to say something like ‘she’s a badass’ or ‘she went through so much and managed to fight her way up’ or at least ‘she freed the slaves and would be a good choice for queen’…anything approaching a character analysis really (however little I may agree with it, but that wasn’t the point then)….
“She’s hot.” - “Yeah, she’s gorgeous.” - “She’s the hottest of all the women.”
“I like her style.” (the only blonde haired girl at the table, jokingly)
I realize that my circle of friends or aquaintances is by no means a standard that measures what people really think of the show or characters in it, but even so I thought it incredibly ridiculous if not disturbing that viewers who profess to love the character of Daenerys can not cite one single reason why she is so very interesting or great or the “best” character other than her being the most “attractive” and “desirable” and “stylish” character on the show - which makes men fantasize about her and women trying to emulate her style to look as “hot” as she does.
And NO this is of course not a “fault” of the character. Outward appearance whether attractive or plain is NEVER and should NEVER be a point of criticism. (I’m in love with the costumes in the show and have salivated over some of the concoctions she wore and loved her hairstyle etc.) And of course it is not actually “wrong” to like a character based on their looks –
However, if my friends’ opinion WERE an indicator as to what a mass of ‘casual viewers’ perceive to be the most important character for the sole reason that she is the “hottest” - this does bother me.
Game of Thrones IS a show that viewed on its shallowest level basically functions on the principles of spectacle: blood shed, gore, amazing settings, big crowd scenes and of course naked women left, right and center. The nudity on the show (and explicit scenes) may have been toned down in later seasons, but the objectification of characters, especially female ones is still rampant.
And the centeral spectacle is most definitely “the hot blonde one” who cannot be shown naked often enough - which appears to make her the most popular girl in town. Viewers are supposed to “look” at her, not to necessarily “understand” her or “relate” to her. Male viewers “want her” and female viewers “want to be her” not because she is a badass queen who is “the best chance for the realm” but because she is hot - at least that seems to be the impression I gathered last night.
Casual viewers often can not even remember her name or fully understand who she actually is (”Wait, she is his AUNT???”)
Yes, it’s entirely ok to watch GoT on a shallow level and not care about character complexities and only enjoy the spectacle without thinking about what the show is actually telling us about human nature, love, family, power, politics, good and evil…..
BUT: What disturbs me is that unless there is something far more complex planned for S8 like some kind of plot twist – I fear that this is all D&D are going to sell to us: the hot naked lady is the star of the show and wins all the thrones because she is the most popular girl and we pair her up with the hottest, most popular boy and EVERYONE will be happy.
I think not.
Because in that case all Game of Thrones will ever be remembered for is its spectacle - and perhaps how an intricate and “surprising” story became nothing more than background noise and a canvass to display the hotness of the “ice and fire” couple.