No, I don’t hate GRRM, and I don’t hate ASOIAF.
It seems whenever I offer a criticism of ASOIAF and the way it’s been written, I receive a flood of messages asking me, “do you even like ASOIAF?” or “if you hate GRRM so much, then why do you read his books?”
Both types of questions are annoying and willingly ignorant.
I, along with many other people in this world, consume media critically. I search for flaws the same way I search for highlights. I make lists of what I like and don’t like. There’s a good chance that if I’m still talking about it months (or in ASOIAF’s case, years) after I had initially seen/read it, there is something about it that I liked enough to have latched onto it.
As a beginning ASOIAF fan I was extremely uncritical. I found nothing in particular to complain about except maybe a few minor grievances here and there. I romanticized ships like Rhaegar/Lyanna, I thought Jon Snow was a flawless character, I found every protagonist to be pleasant enough and every antagonist to be unpleasant enough.
As time (and GoT seasons) dragged on, some things I did not consider before were called to my attention. I read some meta. I browsed tumblr and reddit. I became more enlightened through reading these opinions and thought pieces until I slowly began to embrace some of these ideas and formed my own opinions around them.
I soon found myself bothered by the romanticization of Rhaegar and Lyanna. I found myself bothered by how often rape and sexual assault were introduced in the books. I found myself bothered by the depiction of the Dothraki, then later of the Dornish, Summer Islanders, and other characters that were depicted as PoC. When I was able to put those feelings to words, I received feedback both positive and negative. People agreed with me. People disagreed with me. I was corrected many times, I shared many back and forth constructive conversations, until I’ve reached where I am now, still sometimes wrong but a person with my own opinions and grievances on this book series I latched onto.
Why did any of this happen? Why I read and reread and learn and grow? Why did I introduce my criticism? Why did I bother at all? Because I love ASOIAF. I fell in love with the story, the characters, the complexity, the details, the worldbuilding, all of it, and I was not satisfied with the books alone, so I sought out more writings, more fans, a community where there is an exchange of ideas and where I could delve even deeper into the series than ever before.
The first thing I ever wrote that I tagged as “my meta” was a criticism on how GRRM wrote misogyny and sexual assault into the narrative but failed to address those issues within the narrative. I wrote that three years ago and I still can’t believe I did that, I can’t believe it got 100s of notes and that I got a dialogue going. The response was encouraging, because it told me that people are listening to me, people agree with me, there are others out there who love the books as I do but are also bothered by the same things as me! That’s crazy!
Yet somehow, this criticism of GRRM’s writing is often translated into: “oh, so you must hate GRRM”. No! I don’t! I hate how he wrote some parts of this story, but do I hate him personally? No! Why would I? I don’t know him. I’m irritated at his writing choices, particularly with how he wrote race and sexism. Those two things are real things people like me and millions of other deal with everyday, so when one of us say “hey, I’m bothered with how he wrote the Dothraki as a dark-skinned barbaric horde with no personality traits except Rape and Violence” it is not the same thing as saying “I think GRRM is toxic waste, should be sealed in a lead drum and buried 20 feet underground”. Stop translating criticism, especially that which comes from a personal place, as some sort of thesis on the man himself. It’s insulting and reductive and just says to me “hey, your points make me uncomfortable and/or I don’t understand it, but I did see you mention GRRM a few times in your writing so it looks like you have something against him”. It tells me that you missed the point completely.
So please folks. I beseech you. Stop doing that. Stop derailing. Stop believing that those of us who criticize ASOIAF are part of some crusade against this 69 year old white dude. He’s never harmed us personally, I assure you. He wrote some amazing literature that we have all eaten up and eagerly have been waiting for more, we’re all a little bored here, and he’s given us lots of time to reflect on the flaws and isms of his writing. Let us do that without assuming that we’re all waiting with pitchforks outside of house ready to skewer him Oberyn-vs-Mountain style because of something we didn’t like.
Moreover, if you read something that you disagree with, don’t take it personally. Either build an argument in return or let it go. Stew over it with your friends or alone, idc. Just don’t go stomping into inboxes derailing the OP’s post with ad hominems and red herrings, okay?
I once joked that I love the books so much that sometimes I hate them. ASOIAF is like that best friend I get along with really well, but then they say something racist or catcall a woman on the street, I have to yell at them until they learn to behave again.
Anyways, thanks for reading, and please don’t make me write another post like this again. Please.