Showcase Post 2 – Advance Australia Fair of Skin

As a mousey-brown-haired blue-eyed Australian woman, born of Australian parents who were born of Australian parents, I am a part of the main demographic my country’s media represents. Yet my appearance is genetic and my citizenship a result of my place of birth. But here I am, an Aussie sheila.

Shudder.

My childhood and adolescence were certainly shaped by the rote of national television. I would rise to Agro’s Cartoon Connection, eat dinner between Neighbours and Home & Away, and reach the pinnacle of my weekend as Red Symons dished out another Red Faces gong. Perhaps one day Koshie and Mel will dictate my morning routine as I dream of my children’s post-All Saints-equivalent-Australian-medical-drama-bedtime.

As David Morley summarises Berlant (2000) ‘through the accident of birth within a particular set of geographical and political boundaries, the individual is transformed into the subject of a collectively held history and learns to value a particular set of symbols as intrinsic to the nation and its terrain.’ Although it could be argued that our parents’ ideologies shape us as much, if not more than national ideologies, the bigger picture is that they too are a product of their country and form part of its ‘collectively held history’.

Like many Australians, I was proud to be Australian. I loved the beach. I supported the Wallabies. I cried when Princess Diana died. But I’ve never been surfing. I don’t care for sports. And I like the idea of becoming a Republic. What ‘Australian’ even means to me these days I would struggle to define. Or I would shudder. Again.

Putting your finger on Australia’s national identity has never been an easy task. In an attempt to articulate our Australianness, we identified ourselves as a people through what we were not, distancing ourselves from the British and the Americans (Cao, 2007). It was here that the ‘laidback larrikin’ stereotype began, and has since been perpetuated and bastardised into the loudmouth racist bogan stereotype that is too often associated with the green and the gold.

For such a young country, the ‘idea of the nation as represented in its mediated culture’ (Morley, p.105) was intrinsic in ‘the construction of a sense of national identity’ (Lofgren in Morley, p.106), ‘the “cultural thickening” of the nation state’ (Morley, p.106). Cinema as well as broadcast media lauded blokes in the bush as national heroes. Yet this young country has grown and developed. Immigrants added richness and diversity Australia, and their children, second-generation immigrants, increasingly made up a significant component of the country’s populace (May, 2003).

Papastergiadis (in Morley, p.107) argues that “the symbols and narratives of the nation can only resonate if they are admitted to the chamber of the home”, yet if the symbols and narratives dictate a verandah out the front, a clothesline out the back and an old rocking chair, and the chamber of the housing-commission home they are admitted to is represented by none of these things, national broadcasting as a form of unification instead becomes a repellant. The media has a responsibility to inscribe non-Anglo Australian identities as equally central to any other experience, and not marginal or different (Berry, 1999).

Television was indeed anglocentric. In fact up until the early 1990s, multiculturalism within Australia’s national broadcasting remained minimal. When it did occur the actor’s part was ‘performed’ ethnicity, rather than the portrayal of an ‘everyday’ Australian (May, p.1). May suggests that diversification of the country’s media occurred from the late 1980s onwards, paralleling the development of a broad multicultural policy by government. For a cultural identity to remain accurate, it needs to respond to the social, political and economical developments occurring within that culture and be fluid enough to mould a new definition of self. As a nation changes and grows, the identity of a nation grows with it.

Perhaps Channel 7 didn’t get that agenda. Ex-Home and Awayactor Jay Laga’aia (of Samoan descent) accused the Channel 7 show of dumping him as they had already fulfilled their ‘ethnic quota’ with Ada Nicodemou, a Greek Cypriot-born actress. In fact, Laga’aia’s accusation came just a day after Under Belly actor Firas Dirani called for commercial TV to rid itself of a perceived “white Australia” policy and instead strive to represent the “different flavours, different cultures” of modern Australia (Vickery, 2012). Says Professor Andrew Jakubowicz ‘The streets of Neighbours and Home and Away remained blandly Anglo, with an occasional and often violently resented non-White newcomer. These people appeared and disappeared with monotonous regularity, as though there was a tipping point at which the commercial channels had to do something, just to say they were, but then move them on before offence was caused.’

Although the “visibly different” are comparatively more visible and less different today than they were in decades past, I’d argue that Indigenous Australians are still grossly underrepresented by our national media. And even when cast, the role laid out for Indigenous actors is often one that really emphasises aspects of Aboriginality. An Australian television drama that really stood out to me at the time of airing was Secret Life of Us. Looking back on it now, it becomes increasingly clear that the show seemed more pertinent and more real because of its depiction of a group of friends with different coloured skin, different beliefs, different incomes, different accents. Secret Life of Us was actually one of the driving factors that saw me move from Canberra to (more ethnically diverse) Melbourne.

The media plays a central role in the production, circulation and transformation of ideas about race (a key contributor to the idea of “national identity”) – but the media is also subject to the wanton whims of the nation’s funding agencies. Jakubowicz argues that despite the culturally inclusive policies of agencies such as Screen Australia and the ABC, our media is still in desperate need of independent reviews and a political shakeup.

At the time of writing this original post, the Olympics were screening and creating the spectacle-induced swell of national pride that Bondi Rescue could only dream of. Australians in all their varieties came together. For a while, at least. A dismal medal count saw our ‘great sporting nation’ bow it’s head in shame, and second generation immigrants revert to barracking for the country of their heritage. My freckles and name would suggest I champion the Republic of Ireland. I don’t suppose they’re doing much better though, are they?

REFERENCES

Berry, C (1999) ‘The Importance of Being Ari: Chris Berry Takes a Sideways Glance at Head On’, Metro Magazine: Media & Education Magazine, v.118, pp.34-37.

Cao, B (2007) ‘Beyond Empires: Australian Cinematic Identity in the 21st Century’, viewed 25 September 2012, <http://www.polsis.uq.edu.au/docs/Challenging-Politics-Papers/Benito-Cao-Beyond-Empire.pdf&gt;.

Jakubowicz, A (2010) ‘Race media and identity in Australia’, blog, n.d., Andrew Jakubowicz, viewed 10 October 2012, < http://andrewjakubowicz.com/publications/race-media-and-identity-in-australia/&gt;.

May, H (2003) ‘Australian multicultural policy and television drama in comparative contexts’, Doctor of Philosophy thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

Morley, D (2000) ‘Broadcasting and the Construction of the National Family’, Home Territories, course readings from COMM1073, RMIT University, Melbourne, viewed 6 Aug 2012.

Vickery, C (2012) ‘Ex-Home and Away star Jay Laga’aia rants over ‘racist’ soapie on Twitter’, Herald Sun, 16 February, viewed 9 October 2012, < http://www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/tv-radio/ex-home-and-away-star-jay-lagaaia-rants-over-racist-soapie-on-twitter/story-e6frf9ho-1226272054926&gt;.

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Showcase Post 1 – Mad Men revisited

A close textual analysis of Mad Men S01 E13 “The Wheel” – the scene where Don comes home from work the day Francine has confided in Betty that her husband, Carlton, has been cheating.

The scene opens on the dining area. We see through the window and panels of glass in the front door that it is night time. Betty sits in her quilted white robe at the foot (or is it the head?) of the table with her back to the camera. She is softly illuminated by offscreen tungsten lighting from both sides. The overhead light remains off. The camera is at her height. Despite being sat at the dining room table, the scene feels tense and void of the homeliness usually associated with a wife welcoming home a husband in the kitchen area. There is no food – only a bottle of red wine and smoke drifting from a cigarette Betty inhales vigorously.

We hear a rustling as the front door opens and Don enters the scene. There is no lighting in the door alcove. Don is dressed in his work clothes – the darkness of his suit, hair and overcoat merging with the darkness of the doorway and contrasting with Betty’s white robe and blonde hair.

Don stands tall and the camera rises to his level. In ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’: Historicising Visual Style in Mad Men (2011), Jeremy Butler notes that within the Sterling Cooper office complex, the commanding stature of the admen is often confirmed by shooting the characters from a low-angle. Don, especially, is ‘master of any space he enters’ (p.63). Despite Betty being positioned lower than Don, the viewer is allowed an eye-level view – thus diminishing the disproportionate view from below at work, and beginning the process of positing Don as less threatening when at home.

As Don steps into his home he takes off his overcoat, greets Betty by her pet name and kisses her on the forehead. There is a sense of intimacy and familiarity, yet Betty remains silent. However, she does not go unnoticed by the camera as we see her casting glances at Don. Is she relieved he has come home? Or is it more surprise? Is she wondering what’s kept him back so long? Is she quietly planning what to say? In Suggestive Silence in Season One, Maurice Yacowar notes that the first season of Mad Men is entrenched with suggestive silence, and he draws attention to the fact that what’s explicit is often of less importance than what’s implicit (p.87).

Betty finally breaks her silence, asking gently why, at 9.30pm he didn’t just stay in the city. Although this could be mistaken for concern or understanding, we know that this is Betty’s way of airing her suspicions and introducing her confrontation of (and warning to) Don – articulated or not. Betty’s mention of the time, without consulting a watch or clock, indicates that she’s been waiting there for hours, overly aware of the minutes passing between the time Don should’ve been home and the time he actually walked through the front door.

Don remains standing as he speaks loudly and formally to Betty about the need to continue his work from home. At this, Betty becomes passive-aggressive, bringing up a previous argument about Thanksgiving. She is chastised by Don and we watch her change tactics, apologising for her anger and instead seeking sympathy for the terrible day she’s had – again, a method of introducing the confrontation/warning. As she speaks she looks straight ahead at no one and nothing, until a sudden tilt of her head as she averts her eyes and demands (albeit coquettishly) that he sit with her.

Don pacifies his wife and does as he’s told. As he sits at the table he and Betty are now at the same height and the camera lowers to its original position. The closer proximity of their bodies allows Don to speak in softer tones, emphasising the fact that he is now at home speaking to his wife, and not at work conversing with a client.

As Betty begins telling Don about Francine’s disclosure that Carlton has been cheating, the conversation is depicted through shot-reverse shot editing. Medium close ups position both characters onscreen and illustrate their interaction and body language throughout the (disguised) interrogation. Then at particularly pertinent moments, where Betty’s words are loaded with double meaning, we see close up shots of Betty and Don. These shots really emphasise the fact that the words being spoken are only a minor part of this conversation, as the implications run much deeper for both. Betty pauses intermittently throughout her story, holding strong eye contact with Don, challenging him to confess. With a crinkled forehead and eyebrows raised, Don returns eye contact for a moment, but then wavers, revealing more to Betty than his carefully considered words.

Laura Mulvey’s 1975 essay Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema (as cited in Borak, 2012) talks about post-structuralist feminism, detailing the passive role of women onscreen and highlighting the camera’s tendency to linger on the female body as spectacle rather than narrative progression. Whilst the camera is certainly hungry for Betty, her prolonged onscreen silence serves to undermine Don’s delusion of superiority. His command of language allows him to sell ideas during a pitch to client, yet during this exchange with Betty Don’s silence speaks louder than words.

The lighting on both Betty and Don’s faces also serves to deepen the undertones of the unspoken conversation. Both characters are partly illuminated, the light falling across their faces in a traditional Rembrandt style – again, a stark difference to the harsh fluorescent lights that illuminate the business world of Sterling Cooper. The darkness across Don’s face re-establishes what both the viewer and Betty already know – that there is an element of mystery to Don, that what you see isn’t all that you get. And the darkness across Betty’s face amplifies the fact that there is a darker meaning behind her telling Don the story of Francine and Carlton.

The close up shots also serve to posit the characters within their environment. Behind Don we see uniformly-patterned masculine wallpaper, and we see the front door/window area – his means of entering the house, but also his means of escaping it. Behind Betty we see the family home – the lounge room furnished comfortably and warmly lit with lamps. Butler demonstrates how Mad Men saturates its small-scale frames with ‘exotic apprehensible details’ such as ‘Betty Draper’s dressing gown…bric-a-brac on shelves…and [the] ashtray’ (p.59) in order to gain viewer acceptance that we are in fact witnessing a slice of 1960s life.

Betty speaks to Don of the bond that love and children is supposed to create between a married couple, alluding to Francine and Carlton, but leaving Don with no doubt that she is addressing him directly as she says “Doesn’t this all mean anything?” – the choice of “this” rather than “that” bringing the conversation hurtling from Francine and Carlton’s house to right in there, unavoidably in front of them.

Betty has made her point and is emotionally in control of the situation, so Don reasserts his authority the best way he can. He ends the conversation by standing, reintroducing his powerful physical presence into the scene, and squeezes Betty’s shoulder as he departs, telling her to bring the wine. As Don stands, the camera rises again, and for the first time in the scene the stretch of silence is supplemented by non-diagetic sound in the form of a slow and dramatic string instrumental that carries over as the scene cuts.

 

REFERENCES

Borak, J (2012) ‘Don Draper is Kind of a Sexist: A Post-Structuralist Feminist Analysis of Mad Men’s Season 5 Poster’, blog, 9 April, Remotely Interesting, viewed 8 October 2012, < http://remotelyinterestingtv.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/don-draper-is-kind-of-a-sexist/&gt;.

Butler, J (2011) ‘’Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’: Historicising Visual Style in Mad Men’, ed. Edgerton, G, Mad Men, I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd, London, UK, pp.55-71.

Yacowar, M (2011) ‘Suggestive Silence in Season One’, ed. Edgerton, G, Mad Men, I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd, London, UK, pp.86-93.

Are you for real?

What the hell is Reality TV? A slice-of-life-documentary-soap-gameshow self-reflexive form of escapism that is loved and hated in equal parts, yet continues to thrive and flourish because of audience contempt? Well, yes.

In her review of several key TV studies theorists, Helen Piper identifies what we call ‘Reality TV’ as an ever-expanding range of programming that emerged, in its current state, around the turn of the century. She cites Big Brother as a catalyst for this change, and highlights the necessity for reality tv programming to exist within  an ecosystem of histrionic commentaries – reliant on magazines, websites and tabloids to validate / exacerbate the slice of life being shown.

Speaking of histrionic commentaries, check out Reality TVGIFs. Incredible.

In her overview of reality television, Kimberly Little also recognises an evolution of the genre, crediting the history of television programming as a whole to endowing reality tv with such a variety of qualities from the gamut of genres. As such, Little struggles to define reality television, but summarises it through the possession of four characteristics:

  1. The attempted use of passive camera surveillance.
  2. Illusion of reality.
  3. Focus on ordinary people.
  4. A certain extent of voyeurism.

Elizabeth Jensen, a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, also struggles to define such a versatile genre, often referring to “Reality TV” as “unscripted television” throughout her article. She fuels her fascination for the genre – ‘a juicy mix of fact and fiction’ – by drawing upon a wide spectrum of sources, appropriating theorists’ questions to accentuate the boundlessness of the genre. What do we mean by a culture as ‘real’? How can something that claims to be real present itself as a game? And what of the school of thought that says reality tv shows are merely ‘human experiments that social scientists would perform if their code of ethics allowed them…’?

James Poniewozik from Time Magazine used network executive’s description of sitcoms and dramas as “comfort television” – familiar and boring- to then position reality television as “discomfort television” – rattling viewers through provocation and offence, and dragging them from the habitual television viewing rut they had fallen into. He recognises the humiliating aspects reality TV that often drive the genre, but tells of how these are balanced by moments of triumph. Rather than deny the presence of bad behaviour such as sexism and misanthropy within reality TV shows, Poniewozik illustrates the hypocrisy of a critical audience who views the same behaviour as ‘nuanced storytelling’ in a show such as The Sopranos’.

(And of course, the cyclical nature of television has been at play throughout. Now we see fictional shows created with reality television traits – confessional style interviews in The Office, handheld cameras in Kath & Kim.)

So the question still remains. What the hell is Reality TV?

REFERENCES

What does it all mean?

A close textual analysis of Mad Men S01 E13 “The Wheel” – the scene where Don comes home from work the day Francine has confided in Betty that her husband, Carlton, has been cheating.

The scene opens on the dining area. We see through the window that it is nighttime. Betty sits in her quilted white robe at the foot of the table with her back to the camera. She is softly illuminated by offscreen tungsten lighting from both sides. The overhead light remains off. The camera is at her height. Despite being sat at the dining room table, the scene feels tense and void of the homeliness usually associated with a wife welcoming home a husband in the kitchen area. There is no food – only a bottle of red wine and smoke drifting from a cigarette Betty inhales vigorously.

We hear a rustling as the front door opens and Don enters the scene. There is no lighting in the door alcove. He stands tall and the camera rises to his level. He is dressed in his work clothes – the darkness of his suit, hair and overcoat merging with the darkness of the doorway and contrasting with Betty.

As Don steps into his home he takes off his overcoat, greets Betty by her pet name and kisses her on the forehead. There is a sense of intimacy and familiarity, yet Betty remains silent. However, she does not go unnoticed by the camera as we see her casting glances at Don. Is she relieved he has come home? Or is it more surprise? Is she wondering what’s kept him back so long? Is she quietly planning what to say? These questions are all answered when Betty finally breaks her silence, asking gently why, at 9.30pm he didn’t just stay in the city. Although this could be mistaken for concern or understanding, we know that this is Betty’s way of airing her suspicions and introducing her confrontation of (and warning to) Don. Betty’s mention of the time, without consulting a watch or clock, indicates that she’s been waiting there for hours, overly aware of the minutes passing between the time Don should’ve been home and the time he actually walked through the front door.

Don remains standing as he speaks loudly and formally to Betty about the need to continue his work from home. At this, Betty becomes passive aggressive, bringing up a previous argument about Thanksgiving. She is chastised by Don and we watch her change tactics, apologising for her anger and instead seeking sympathy for the terrible day she’s had – again, a method of introducing the confrontation/warning. As she speaks she looks straight ahead at no one and nothing, until a sudden tilt of her head as she averts her eyes and demands (albeit coquettishly) that he sit with her.

Don pacifies his wife and does as he’s told. As he sits at the table he and Betty are now at the same height and the camera lowers to its original position. The closer proximity of their bodies allows Don to speak in softer tones, emphasising the fact that he is now at home speaking to his wife, and not at work conversing with a client.

As Betty begins telling Don about Francine’s disclosure that Carlton has been cheating, the conversation is depicted through shot-reverse shot editing. Medium close ups position both characters onscreen and illustrate their interaction and body language throughout the (disguised) interrogation. Then at particularly pertinent moments, where Betty’s words are loaded with double meaning, we see close up shots of Betty and Don. These shots really emphasise the fact that the words being spoken are only a minor part of this conversation, as the implications run much deeper for both. Betty pauses intermittently throughout her story, holding strong eye contact with Don, challenging him to confess. With a crinkled forehead and eyebrows raised, Don returns eye contact for a moment, but then wavers, revealing more to Betty than his carefully considered words.

 

The lighting on both Betty and Don’s faces also serves to deepen the undertones of the unspoken conversation. Both characters are partly illuminated, the light falling across their faces in a traditional Rembrandt style. The darkness across Don’s face reestablishes what both the viewer and Betty know – that there is an element of mystery to Don, that what you see isn’t all that you get. And the darkness across Betty’s face amplifies the fact that there is a darker meaning behind her telling Don the story of Francine and Carlton.

The close up shots also serve to posit the characters within their environment. Behind Don we see uniformly-patterned masculine wallpaper, and we see the front door/window area – his means of entering the house, but also his means of escaping it. Behind Betty we see the family home – the lounge room furnished comfortably and warmly lit with lamps. She speaks of the bond that love and children is supposed to create between a married couple, alluding to Francine and Carlton, but leaving Don with no doubt that she is addressing him directly as she says “Doesn’t this all mean anything?” – the choice of “this” rather than “that” bringing the conversation hurtling from Francine and Carlton’s house to right in there, unavoidably in front of them.

Betty has made her point and is emotionally in control of the situation, so Don reasserts his authority the best way he can. He ends the conversation by standing, reintroducing his powerful physical presence into the scene, and squeezes Betty’s shoulder as he departs, telling her to bring the wine. As Don stands, the camera rises again, and for the first time in the scene we hear non-diagetic sound in the form of a slow and dramatic string instrumental. The instrumental carries over as the scene cuts.

Moody’s monsters

In the 1990s HBO revolutionised long-form drama. And in the 1990s HBO’s catch cry was “It’s not TV. It’s HBO.”

Was it the work of highly effective advertising strategy (amazing brand positioning, kudos!) that saw complex narrative shows (as typified by those screened on HBO) deemed “Quality TV”? Or was it rather the more upper class educated audience that posited these shows as intellectually and culturally superior to the ‘soapbox trash’ favoured by your run of the mill Darren and Sharon? I’ve come to think it may well be a case of the chicken and the egg.

“It’s not TV. It’s HBO.” came about through brand positioning exercises conducted within the company, including establishing what HBO did NOT want to be. As a pay to subscribe service, HBO had to make sure viewers were getting what they paid for each month – something different and something better. In defining themselves by something they’re not, the branding line became the driving force behind HBO’s programming, and as such, a self-fulfilling prophecy (Adamson 2006).

“It’s not TV. It’s HBO.” remains such a touchstone for quality within HBO that it even extends to the advertising. Says Adamson, “HBO’s advertising is a branding signal that no ordinary television network could use. Like the programming, the advertising is groundbreaking.” Indeed, world famous photographer Annie Leibovitz is often called upon to provide photographs for HBO programs, most notably The Sopranos.

 

So is it merely a direct comparison to ‘ordinary television’ that elevates other programs to ‘quality television’? Not so, says Mittell (2006) who argues that ‘the model of television storytelling distinct for its use of narrative complexity’ elicits ‘unique pleasures and patterns of comprehension’ (p.29) within a more niche, more passionate, and more educated audience. Interestingly, this “boutique” audience is comprised of people who usually avoid television, but when it comes to the shows that get their eyeballs twitching in anticipatory delight their dedication and consistent cult-like following is enough to make the shows economically viable (and advertising agencies twitch in delight everywhere else).

As technological advances have meant that the viewer has more control over what they watch (and when and how) the dedicated fan base of “Quality TV” can collect episodes, if not series, of their favourite shows and binge on them season at a time. But it doesn’t stop there – collectability means rewatchability which leads to a deeper knowledge of (and, arguably, obsession with) these shows, attributes that reward the viewer of a complex narrative program with the ability to actively and attentively comprehend and decode the mode of storytelling.

Although “Quality TV” may be seen as a genre in itself, the programs that fall within this category span a number of traditional genres, The Wire, Queer As Folk, The X-Files and Sex & The City demonstrate but a few. In fact, it was Mittell’s discussion of The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer that really highlighted the trope of quality across seemingly disparate programs. As Mittell drew upon monsters-of-the-week and underlying conspiracy theories to demonstrate one of the major demands of narrative complexity – the delivery of both episodic and serial storytelling – I started to think about Hank Moody. Ah, Hank Moody.

 

(Only realised the David Duchovny connection as I was searching for images. Could Duchovny be the face of Quality TV?)

Hank’s monsters-of-the-week, be they Mia, Surfer Girl or Trixie, are the episodic storytelling elements that serve to ‘advance various narrative arcs…’ (serial storytelling aspects) ‘as characters reveal key secrets and deepen relationships to move the season-long plot forward’. Hank’s weekly dance with a she-devil disrupts any traces of domestic harmony with Karen and Becca, yet fans of the show understand that the love Karen and Hank share might be enough for them to come together in the end (the equivalent of The X-Files’ conspiracy theories). It might event be enough to withstand the murder-suicide pact of a psychotic ex-girlfriend…

Series 6, I await you.

 

REFERENCES

Adamson, A (2006) BrandSimple: How the best brands keep it simple and succeed, Palgrave Macmillian, pp.83-86.

Mittell, J (2006) ‘Narrative Complexity in Contemporary American Television’, The Velvet Light Trap, vol.58, Fall, pp.29-40.

Bring on the beasts and boobs

I’d never watched Game of Thrones. I’d heard good things – but I’d heard them from fantasy fans. Fanboys and fangirls alike were dedicating their Monday nights to group viewings of the HBO show. I was dedicating my Tuesday mornings to skimming through post after Facebook post about the previous night’s show, unengaged and disinterested.

I have to admit, however, that after the screening of the first episode of Game of Thrones as part of the TV Cultures course my interest was piqued. My assumptions about the show were based on genre and taste, but certainly not gender. Mythical creatures in faraway lands don’t usually float my boat. I couldn’t sit through even one Lord of the Rings, and Star Trek makes me shudder. But it was precisely the elements of Game of Thrones critiqued as being “boy fiction” that I enjoyed. Beasts balanced with boobs. Royal banquets bookended by orgies and incest.

Image

“Beheadings, barbarians, bastards and boobs. We we f**king love Game of Thrones.”

Twitter @IGN

Sure, the assumption that these elements of Game of Thrones are what keep the boys interested is probably well-founded, but the challenge to that assumption is clear in the plethora of online content written by female bloggers – not just fangirls and geek girls, but your Average Joeline as well.

In response to a NY Times criticism positing Game of Thrones as “boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half”, a fan wrote:

“This made me shriek…and nearly toss my laptop across the room… I find the terms ‘girl fiction’ and ‘boy fiction’ offensive and needlessly discriminating.”

(Faith, 2011)

Maybe I’ll give Game of Thrones another go. Episode 2 Season 1 leaves me plenty of time to get hooked (and plenty of time to escape!). Perhaps fantasy isn’t so bad. Perhaps fanatic friends are not geeks. And perhaps the show doesn’t appeal because of gender, but because it’s full of good stuff. Perhaps.

 

REFERENCES

McNutt, M (2011) ‘Questions of Taste: Dissecting the Dissection of Early Reviews of HBO’s Game of Thrones’, blog, 9 April, Cultural Learnings, viewed 5 September 2012, <http://cultural-learnings.com/2011/04/09/questions-of-taste-dissecting-the-dissection-of-early-reviews-of-hbos-game-of-thrones/>.

Taillefer, C (2011) ‘Game of Thrones? More like Game of Bones. As in ‘boners’.’ blog, 15 April, Bibliotech, viewed 31 August 2012, <http://celinetaillefer.blogspot.com/2011/04/game-of-thrones-more-like-game-of-bones.html>.