jon grant

Daenerys Targaryen: At this point, it’s just bad story-telling

The most important element of GRRM’s style of story-telling is that it follows certain key monomythic structures of story-telling, which form the heart of a good story. This structure is not followed for everyone - arguably, there are less than ten characters for whom Martin has painstakingly wrought a full arc.

Here is Dan Harmon’s (creator of Rick and Morty, [Adult Swim]) explanation of how he uses it, as mentioned on his blog (link to his tumblr included) [btw, this is a great read, and is the first part of a series about how to plot out a good story. If you’re an author, or aspiring, I highly recommend checking it out.]

Draw a circle and divide it in half vertically.

Divide the circle again horizontally.

Starting from the 12 o clock position and going clockwise, number the 4 points where the lines cross the circle: 1, 3, 5 and 7.

Number the quarter-sections themselves 2, 4, 6 and 8.

Here we go, down and dirty:

. A character is in a zone of comfort,
. But they want something.
. They enter an unfamiliar situation,
. Adapt to it,
. Get what they wanted,
. Pay a heavy price for it,
. Then return to their familiar situation,
. Having changed.

He summarizes it something like this. I think.

Hero - Want - Go - Fight - Get - Suffer - Return - Changed

There are the obvious characters for whom this arc has been granted - Jon and Daenerys and Tyrion and Arya.

And there are the less obvious ones - Theon, Sansa, Jaime, Sandor, Sam, and yes, even Cersei.

Now, the books and the show aren’t complete, but with the prevalence of so many parallel plotlines, they move back and forth within this circle repeatedly.

Here’s Jon’s first arc, for instance - he is safe in Winterfell, he wants to be a knight, he goes to the Wall, he becomes a brother, he realizes the Wall is manned by criminals and unwanted sons, he is horribly disillusioned, he realizes he can never go back.


Here’s another arc - he wants to prove himself, he goes beyond the Wall with the Halfhand’s party, he gets captured by the wildlings, he murders Qhorin to gain their acceptance, he betrays Ygritte, he returns to the Wall, broken-hearted.


Fast-forward to the show canon - he wants to take back Winterfell, he leaves the Wall with Sansa after having won repeatedly against the wildings and established himself as a notable commander, he fails to recruit the Northern Houses, he assembles an army, he watches Rickon be murdered, he loses to the Boltons and is saved by Sansa, he returns to Winterfell.

Between arc 1, and arc 3, there is a larger arc at play - when he is at Winterfell he’s deeply dissatisfied with his social status, so he leaves Winterfell to become a ‘black knight’, he adapts to the Night’s Watch, he becomes a leader, he loses his lover, his father, his family, his brothers, he becomes the Lord Commander, he returns to Winterfell as King, but now with no ambition except keeping his people alive and safe.


This. This is good storytelling.

This is what makes Jon Snow such a compelling figure. Because he fucking suffers, and it affects him. 

It alters him.

It makes him a better man, a better friend, a better commander.


This does not happen with Daenerys. 

If anything, her arc is in reverse.

Look at her first arc - she starts off in a terrible position, she is raped, repeatedly, by her husband, and abused emotionally and physically by her brother (let’s just go with show canon, since GRRM apparently green-lit this nonsense). Clearly, not a position of comfort or safety, but it goes some way in establishing her as a sympathetic character. 


Her ascent cycle begins - she seduces her husband, sidelines her brother and watches him die, becomes a Khaleesi in her own right, has her husband promise her to take back Westeros.

(Note at this point this she’s enabling slavery - the Dothraki trade in slaves. Dany personally is served by three slaves. The Lhazareen women she ‘saves’ she does so by taking in as her personal slaves. But there’s plenty of metas about Dany’s White Saviour trope. You don’t need mine.)

(Note also, that she is perfectly happy for her husband’s horde to rain havoc, bloodshed and destruction on her own country. At no point does this trouble her, that if the Dothraki cross the Narrow Sea, the women that will be raped, the men that will be murdered, the children that will be orphaned - they will be her subjects. But there’s metas aplenty on this as well, Dany’s all-consuming lust for power. You really don’t need mine.)

When Drogo dies, and her baby dies - she suffers, yes, for about the span of five minutes. She loses the khal, and replaces it with? Dragons.

She suffers what, in the universe this story is set in, amounts to, at best, a MINOR SETBACK, and has this addressed by gaining MYTHICAL WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION.

This is Daenerys’ arc, (along with the most vocal, popular reactions)

So, she starts off low (awww), 
becomes a Khaleesi, (yay!),
loses her rapist, destructive, murderous husband, (…awww),
becomes a Mother of Dragons, (YAY!)
advances onto Astapor, (YAY!)
gains a slave army, (YAY!)
marches on to Yunkai (YAY!),
loses Jorah, (…aw.),
conquers Meereen (YAY!)
destroys the economies of three cities, (…)
does nothing except throw a fit when Barristan is murdered by the Sons (…)
is almost murdered by the Sons of the Harpy (..awww??)
saved by Drogon (YAY!)
taken by the Khals to Vaes Dothrak (awww)
murders the Khals, and burns their most important religious site to the ground, to free herself from being sold into slavery* (YAY!)
sails to Westeros. (YAY!)
with three mythical, all-powerful weapons of destruction (YAY!)

*Oh, the fucking irony.

And so her character stays within the same loop of -

  • Arrive at new place.
  • Intimidate via dragon.
  • Murder those who get in her way.
  • Instate herself as Queen.
  • Rage when the people refuse to accept her.


Astapor, when she cannot actually afford to buy the Unsullied:

Yunkai, when the City sends a diplomat:

Meereen, at the fighting pits:

Slaver’s Bay, after Tyrion’s peace talks fail and the Cities’ economies are on the verge of collapse:


The sheer profusion of victories accorded to her character is frankly insane.

She never loses anyone she cares about, because she cares about no one. She says it herself. Over, and over. Westeros isn’t a country, a people, a culture. It is reduced, for her, to a pointy chair, and the legacy of her mad, murderous ancestors. 

If the smallfolk must die, let them.
If the soldiers must die, let them.
If the Lords must die, let them. 

She’s callous to the point of psychopathy, and so, I repeat.

SHE.

NEVER.

SUFFERS.


Even Cersei, arguably the series primary remaining antagonist has suffered far worse than the woman they’re pushing as the Saviour-Hero. 

Cersei loses her father,
loses all three of her children,
watches her son die in her arms,
is tortured in a dungeon,
is made to parade naked through the streets of her own city,
is heaped with literal excrement and abuse and the kind of horror that would break anyone.



Sansa loses her father,
her mother,
her oldest brother, her youngest brother,
she is beaten and humiliated in front of her peers,
subjected to Petyr’s advances,
repeatedly beaten and raped by Ramsay Bolton,
forced to look at her Father’s decapitated head,
forced to look at her ally in Winterfell, dead and skinned
bypassed by the Northern Lords for her bastard brother even though her efforts turned the tide of a war Jon Snow lost. 



Jaime loses his father,
is betrayed by his brother, who joins the enemy,
loses all three of his children,
watches his daughter die in his arms,
loses his sword hand,
is tortured by brigands,
is called Kingslayer for saving a city from burning to the ground.



I could go on, but the point is this -

Daenerys has lost nothing.
Daenerys has gained everything.

If she survives this story, if she initiates the Targaryen Restoration, if she takes the Iron Throne easily, not only does it devalue the entire point of A Song of Ice and Fire, it is a step backward for the story - a series that has devoted itself to destroying fantasy tropes, deconstructing human ambition, and reminding us, again and again and again, that the most important battles are the ones that fought in our hearts.

It is a betrayal on a scale that spans two decades of ambitious, brilliant, life-changing work. 

It reduces the worth of everything they’ve constructed so far.

It isn’t the show we were promised.


But it could be.

5

Why It Took MTV So Long To Play Black Music Videos

Music TeleVision (MTV) hit America’s airwaves with a sonic boom 25 years ago. The pioneering cable television network also received a deafening tongue-lashing from a super ticked Rick James, who publicly declared it “blatant racism” when MTV refused to air his Super Freak video and other videos by Black artists because they didn’t fit the network’s rock-dominated format.

“A lot of Black asses are going to come together and explode on MTV,” James said in 1983. “There are no Blacks on MTV’s program list except for Tina Turner, and she stopped being Black about 10 years ago. MTV puts on little White punk groups who don’t even have record deals. Blacks are missing exposure and sales.”

Modeled after Top 40 radio, MTV’s video playlist had a meager few Black videos in 1981. Most of its early videos came from England where music videos were already common.

Eddy Grant, Musical Youth and Joan Armatrading were some of the Black artists from that country whose videos were shown during MTV’s inception. Tina Turner, Jon Butcher Axis, The Bus Boys and Donna Summer were some of the other Black artists whose videos were shown because their music fit the format.

James, whose music helped define “punk funk,” fought for two years to have more Black videos shown on MTV. ABC’s “Nightline” featured his much publicized crusade. But the outspoken performer, who died in 2004, became agitated because it seemed as though he was on the battlefield’s front line alone.

“I’m a crusader without an army,” James said. “All these Black artists claim they’re behind me, but when it’s time to make a public statement, you can’t find them … They’re going to let me do all the rapping and get into trouble and then they’ll reap the benefits.”

Hindsight

Or the super fluffy and melodramatic post-wight hunt ficlet you guys requested :) Loosely based on leak spoilers if you’re avoiding those!

[AO3]

(P.S. I did use a cut since this is kind of long. I apologize if it doesn’t function properly on mobile.)


“Khaleesi, please. You must eat something. You must.”

Dany ignored Jorah and continued staring out the grimy tower window. It provided only the faintest view of the roiling sea beyond. Between the ocean mist, the sunless sky, and the dirty glass, everything was shades of grey. All things considered it was the perfect setting to match her melancholy.

“Daenerys,” Jorah tried again, his voice soft. “It’s been a day and a half. We need to start planning our next move. You need sleep. Food. Please.”

She turned to Jorah slowly, raising her red-rimmed eyes to his. There was a world of pity in their blue depths. But it didn’t matter. What could pity do for her now? It couldn’t bring Viserion back. It couldn’t bring Jon back.

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