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George R. R. Martin Talks 'Game of Thrones'' Lack of Diversity, and Sean Bean Clarifies His Non-Spoilerish Theory

By Cindy Davis | Trade News | August 6, 2014 | Comments ()


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As much as we rag on GRRM around here, the truth is that we obviously love his books. Personally, I also love that he’s at least willing to answer fan questions and concerns in public, even if his answers aren’t always what we want to hear, or particularly satisfactory. He does his best to acknowledge problems, both with Game of Thrones (albeit, sometimes throwing Benioff and Weiss under a bus) and A Song of Ice and Fire. What I’m saying is, at least he makes an effort.

Addressing fan question directly on his blog, Martin responded to the series lack of racial diversity.

samara21 wrote:

” I Love GOT but the lack of diversity really hurts I’ve just finished watching the GOT panel at SDCC and no one really asked the question that was on my heart. I dont [sic] know if you’ll ever read this but I thought I would try. I am an african-american female and have been a devoted fan of GOT since the beginning but the lack of diversity in both the show and books has really been troubling lately. With the state of racial equality currently in the world and the people that have been trying to push back, I am extremely sad that I can not include my favorite, Game of Thrones, as an example of “hollywood” starting to change how race is depicted. So far in the series there has only been one black woman with a speaking role and while i love that she’s getting a romantic storyline too but that hasn’t been enough for me. I know its not something you focus on while writing the extremely complex storylines but it would be nice to dress as someone other than Black Daenerys for a change. I don’t know if this will make a difference but I wanted you to know that I will keep on hoping for a change. I’ve seen the new cast and I applaud the casting of DeObia Oparei but must all black people in the series be servants, guards, or charlatans?”

GRRM:

” Westeros around 300 AC is nowhere near as diverse as 21st century America, of course… but with that being said, I do have some ‘characters of color’ who will have somewhat larger roles in WINDS OF WINTER. Admittedly, these are secondary and tertiary characters, though not without importance.

Of course, I am talking about the books here, and you are talking about the show, which is a thing apart. I do think HBO and David and Dan are doing what they can to promote diversity as well, as witness the casting of Areo Hotah, which you mention. Of course, Hotah IS a guard… but he is also a viewpoint character in the novels, a brave and loyal warrior.”


From Ever Light:

“Sad about Asians… Dear George, I’m a huge fan of ASOIAF and a tv show, and I’m pretty sure there are lots of Asian fans just like me. ASOIAF has become a serious project, attracting people of all countries and all races. There are a white race, a black race in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire, and many other races. Why there is no Asian race (Chinese-like, Japanese-like) in the Game of Thrones show and ASOIAF books? I know this can sound offensive, but I just wish to know the fact. That would be awesome to meet a character who would inspire Asians as much as Daenerys or John Snow. I heard there are many dragons and other wonderful creatures over the Jade Sea.”

GRRM:

“Well, Westeros is the fantasy analogue of the British Isles in its world, so it is a long long way from the Asia analogue. There weren’t a lot of Asians in Yorkish England either.

That is not to suggest that such places don’t exist, however. You will want to get THE WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE when it comes out in October. In the “Other Places” section you will find a lot of material about Yi Ti, the island of Leng, and the plains of the Jogos Nhai, which you may find of interest.”

While I do think people rightly take issue more with the television series whiteification than the books, I’ll let you digest and dissect those answers yourselves.


And now for something completely different…a while back, some people got a little riled up when I posted Sean Bean’s comments about a certain fan theory. Spoiler Note: Some consider the theory in itself a spoiler; if you are one of those people, you probably want to leave now. Okay, coast clear? Here we go…

Sean Bean did a Reddit AMA yesterday, and clarified his earlier Jon Snow parentage comments thusly:

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 8.01.46 AM.png


Of course, when later on he joked about not being Snow’s father…

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 8.07.28 AM.png

everyone went nuts screaming about spoilers again. But I’ll let you go read that whole mess after you’ve had enough coffee. (Is there ever enough coffee?)

That’s all folks.


Cindy Davis, (Twitter) also knows nothing.


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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Maddy

    I know people probably won't see this but I thought I would just leave this here anyway

  • Maddy

    And if you're going to pull the 'more diversity is just pandering' argument at least acknowledge that in most most mainstream media NO ONE IS MORE CATERED OR PANDERED TO THAN STRAIGHT WHITE MALES AND THIS IS NOT AN OBJECTIVE REFLECTION OF MOST OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE. The mainstream media we consume is skewed to that perspective because of who largely has power and privilege in Western society. More representation of the diversity of human experience makes stories better not worse.

  • martial_arts_expert

    How about a h/t to the source of this post? http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy...

  • Nadiney

    I have no idea how anyone can think a THEORY is a spoiler. I haven't read the books but I'm preeetty confident the truth hasn't been revealed in them either, so if Bean wants to suggest his character is not the bio dad of Jon Snow then that's not a spoiler.

    If nothing else, go on looks alone. The natural Stark kids are brunette or red haired. Jon has thick black curls. The seed is strong, y'all.

    My own feelings are that the theory he's a Targaryn are stupid. He's Roberts. He has the black hair. If he's Roberts, depending on his mother (if she's a Targaryn or from the south) then he's the actual King of the North.

    I reckon Ned's sister is Jon's mum. Rob and she had a tryst, had Jon and to protect their allegiance with the Lannisters(any children born before Cersei's would surely inherit the throne before fucking Joffrey) Ned spirited him away. Robert didn't even have to know about him hence his total lack of reaction to Jon all the way through any time spent together.

    Ned didn't tell Cat because her reaction and behaviour towards Jon could clue people in or because she's sort of impulsive or he just didn't want to discuss that secret in his home for fear of what it might bring to his family if he did.

  • RhymesWithSilver

    GRRM is following a long tradition in fantasy writing by drawing on cultures that are familiar to us, painting this people and settings in broad strokes and letting our brains fill in the rest. This is a tactic that, of course, leans heavily on prior knowledge and stereotypes. To some extent, he's using racial and physical differences to make distinctions in terms of distance. This is a medieval world and, besides nobles, people seldom travel far enough to meet someone of a different race. But what I'm finding really interesting in these comments is how people saw different cultural analogs in the different places. Someone said the Dothraki were analog to Native American; I thought they were more like Mongols, with Khal Drogo as a modified Ghengis Khan. Someone else thinks the Dornish are Latino; I thought they sounded more like Italian. Meereen has elements of Ancient Greece, Persia, the Levant and Byzantium, but which you see most seems to be in the eye of the beholder, so are its people North African analogs, Persians, or something else? And it's interesting that some of us think that the peoples Daenerys frees are insufficiently ethnic, while other critiques have pointed out the contrast between the freed slaves and "white savior" Daenerys as problematic. I find the latter point less meaningful in the books, since the Targaryens deliberately don't look like *anyone* else; in the book, they are essentially their own race, and they alone have bronze skin, silver hair and purple eyes. (I think it would have been too weird and distracting to make Emilia Clark look like that on screen, even if it means the Targaryens come across as merely blond.) My issue is that even if GRRM put more people of color in the books, what would that actually mean? First off, there doesn't appear to be any racial history to explore, except maybe between the Wildlings and everyone else. (That's interesting in and of itself, since the conflict between the Wildlings and everyone else reminds us that racism hasn't always depended on skin color.) Another thing is that there seems to be very little racism in this world in general, which is remarkable in itself; skin color doesn't seem like it counts for all that much in these characters' realities. But that means there's no way to be black or Asian in Westeros that recalls any meaningful history in our own world. In fact, the literary tactic of creating vaguely African or Asian places would probably just get GRRM in trouble, and he's smart enough to know that. I anticipate the mysterious, magical land of Asshai will have a touch of pseudo-China about it, and this sort of Orientalism already seems like treading on thin ice. But in the end I can't see that it really means very much to be a minority in these books, except that your skin is darker, you come from somewhere fairly remote to Westeros, and it's probably warm there. If you make a white guy write black characters just for the sake of inclusion, what you will get will be either just white characters painted black, or characters with traits that are "black" in the author's interpretation. Even if he asks some actual black people for help, can anybody but GRRM really answer what it would mean to be black in Westeros? And on top of that, we're all apparently looking at his existing characters, and some of us are seeing twice as many faces of color in our minds eye as others. I see a lot of diversity in this world, but to many watchers and readers, it seems as though vastly more characters scan as "white". What does that say about us and about the question of diversity in fiction in literature and onscreen?

  • Maddy

    This is my favourite takedown of Dany's storyline in the show http://aamerrahman.tumblr.com/...

  • Maddy

    And if someone starts acting like accusing the books or the show of racism is in any way equivalent to actually being the victim of racism or not seeing yourself represented in popular culture I will start throwing every table.

  • Maddy

    I am actually so glad that people are asking these questions about this series or just media in general. And to all of you LEAVE POOR GRRM ALONE DON'T CRITICISE THE FLAWLESS MASTER I reckon he'll be fine with his piles of money. This is what criticism is. This is what happens when things become popular. Deal with it.

  • Lorechano

    Just because it ISN'T real, doesn't mean it should not LOOK real.

  • Maddy

    Tell me more about how having more POC would undo the reality of the series.

  • Lorechano

    Black people do exist in Martin world, but they are in they "Africa-like" region of the Martin's planet!

  • Lorechano

    Ok, so, if there were black people in Westeros, where did this black people came from? There were no imigration in a mediaval time world!

  • Maddy

    LOL I think you'll find there was trade and travel then. Which doesn't even matter considering this ISN'T REAL HISTORY IT IS FANTASY

  • Maddy

    Dragons and zombies are fine BUT BLACK PEOPLE OMG THIS IS SO UNREALISTIC HOW CAN THEY POSSIBLY EXIST

  • competitivenonfiction

    I've said it before and I'll say it again here, I have a hard time with the logic that someone who has imagined a fantastical world can't somehow imagine one that includes women and people of colour (and that includes . This is a lot harder to believe in science fiction where one is drawing from an imagined future state rather than fantasy where one is drawing from an imagined past. I do, however think that GRRM does a good job of explaining why the book is made of of the peoples its made up of in this particular case, and that he's drawing from a European analogue.

  • Maddy

    Here's something I've learned fellow white people. When people of colour talk about wanting representation from a place of lived experience how about you listen and consider rather than tell them they're being ridiculous or over sensitive. Just a thought. I hate when males pull that shit whenever the conversation is about female characters. It's only pandering when you think white is the default when it isn't it's a conscious choice.

  • manting

    Is it just me or werent the Dothraki asian? I took them as an analog of the Huns or the Mongols. Badass horsemen who lived to kick ass.

  • Maddy

    Yep that's how I pictured them when I read anyway

  • Xulux

    It's refreshing to finally see a show that features roles for hill giants, imo.

  • But where are the fat people? We only get worthless Sam and token Hot Pie.

  • Kim Voeks

    Excuse my French, but there are fucking dragons on this show! You're telling me black and Asian people are too much of a stretch of credibility? That a black man is cast as a lead on a show with white walkers is a bridge too far? GTFOOH!

  • John G.

    google the phrase "producers game of thrones". Those are the people who make these decisions, and those are the people who find people of color too much of a stretch.

  • Maddy

    Yep. The books are not perfect on this at all but the show could definitely have taken more opportunities and they didn't.

  • BendinIntheWind

    No one is saying that ethnically diverse characters do not exist in the GoT universe, but consider the economic divisions instead:

    This show is not about the struggles of the poor farmers whose crops are burned by warring soldiers, nor is it about the rippling effect of Westerosi warfare on neighboring countries (not yet, at least). The show/books focus on the political maneuvering of a few rich families who all hail from the same small geographic pool. These families have remained in power largely by intermarrying over hundreds of years, which means the rich white families continue to proliferate.

    As the scope of the show expands to other locales, it absolutely should include more diverse casting to represent this. But in the meantime, think of the modern analogue: if you're making a show set in the British Isles *today*, with a similar direction and focus (rich families and governing bodies who hold power over the rest of the population), who's gonna star in it? Rich white people.

  • Paddington

    You can't have black/Asian/hispanic people be wealthy and marrying whites in our show with giants and zombies, that's unreasonable!

  • BendinIntheWind

    That's completely reductive and has absolutely nothing to do with what I posted. Why are there also not talking dogs or two moons or sand worms or television?

    There's an obvious historical reference being used as the starting point for a level of verisimilitude. If Martin's starting point had completely eliminated the idea of racial diversity (just cast whoever in whatever role, establishing that in this world, people just sometimes look different), then you also remove the implications and effects of racism, which are pretty effective in the stories. How people from Westeros view and treat those from other lands is reinforced over and over.

    It's not a case of "I need a cast so I'll just fill it with white people, just like me!", but the core group of white people illustrate through their actions how race/ethnicity affects *their* world as it does ours.

  • Paddington

    So you think racial minorities are as fantastical as sandworms and television in a medieval setting but more fantastical than magic and dragons and zombies. Please tell me more.

  • BendinIntheWind

    Again: maybe actually reading my logical explanation would help you understand?

    The sand worm example is an illustration of how ridiculous your complaint is: whining about the lack of diversity is equally as silly as whining about the lack of sandworms.

    NO ONE thinks the addition of non-whites to the cast is unbelievable. Literally no one. This is a straw-man argument. It's fiction, it's a fantasy world, Martin can do whatever he wants in order to better tell his story. But by maintaining similar race divisions that we experience in real life, writers are allowed the freedom to both comment on it and explore what race divisions mean in this alternate universe.

  • Paddington

    If you keep racial division "realistic" you can explore race but if you complain about the lack of racial minorities you are being ridiculous because the lack of racial minorities allows an exploration of race.

    That's logical to you because you're not bright and probably racist.

    If, to you, having too many coloreds around affects your ability to enjoy a show or is as similar to having sandworms or other things that don't actually exist you're racist. It's really that simple.

  • BendinIntheWind

    I'm not trying to get you to agree with me, that ship has obviously sailed. However, if you present counterpoints to what I'm actually saying, we could have an interesting conversation.

    It appears that THAT ship has also sailed, but what the hell:

    I use the term "racial division" in reference to how the characters of different ethnicities on the show are separated **from each other**. Never once did I argue that the white actors of this show should be left alone and separate from minority actors on other shows. I'm actually quite sad the show has had to streamline and eliminate book characters that are clearly described as non-Westerosi. Off the top of my head, I quite liked Strong Belwas, not only because he was an interesting character, but because his interactions with Dany helped her understand the different culture and traditions of her new "subjects" as she travels. Their relationship is clearly influenced by their different ethnic backgrounds, and it allows for some important character development.

    Calling me a racist isn't going to make my points any less valid, and if we're being honest with our insults, it just makes you look like a dick.

  • Paddington

    Oh, so we need these racial divisions so the white people become better people. Gotcha, sorry I didn't quite get that at first. So, it's like the best black friend or wise Asian master. Like, they aren't really people but are things that allow the characters to improve themselves. That's a pretty classic convention so I say we keep it classic. Khal Drogo is resurrected. He searches for Dany, finally finding her... dead in a refrigerator. I mean, lady leaders? That's crazy so she needs to die. So Drogo has a reason to conquer Westeros, for her. That'll add some character development.

  • BendinIntheWind

    Every interaction between characters should tell us something about them, whether it reinforces something they already believed, or causes some sort of change/evolution. Their differences create character development. Non-race-related example: Sansa hates the Lannisters and holds Tyrion partly responsible for what's happened to her family, but after they marry, he treats her with kindness, which allows her to grow a bit as a character and not see the world purely as black and white.

    I agree that a lot of shows can get quite "Very Special Episode" when pairing characters of different backgrounds, but "Game of Thrones" isn't really one of those shows. The racial diversity isn't just a crutch they bring out to make a point. It's there because it exists in their world, and we get to see what effects it has on the characters.

    And your description of Dany and Khal Drogo sounds like the funniest alternate version of "Punky Brewster" I've ever heard.

  • BlackRabbit

    About Hotah...do they ever say his color in the books at all? I have absolutley no issue with the announced casting except that he seems kind of young for a role that seems to call for an older actor, but I don't remember if it's mentioned?

  • Maddy

    It's weird I pictured him as a black character but apparently he's not described specifically in the books. The only real issue is that he's a servant and that they haven't taken the opportunity to be more diverse in their casting of other characters. Like I think people not from Westeros shouldn't be white just to make it easier. All these old grizzled white dudes look the same. I like Mark Gatiss fine but that whole scene I was like ... If you're from Braavos why are you all white? Be more creative with your casting

  • BlackRabbit

    And he must have a beard.

  • Maddy

    Have you seen his arms? OMG I stalked him on twitter and holy shit I might actually be interested in this character which in the books was basically a non entity.

  • Maddy

    I think GRRM is great but I also think he's an old white dude that has some blind spots and I don't think he's the be all and end all of fantasy. Go read the Inheritance Trilogy by NK Jemisin as just one example of diversity in fantasy (and a really cool and enjoyable series).

    It's not unreasonable for people from diverse backgrounds to want to see themselves reflected in the media they consume. I get frustrated enough and I'm a relatively privileged straight white female. And it's pretty condescending and frustrating to argue that any character that isn't white is 'forced'. Which is one of the reasons Arianne is so important and awesome and why it annoys me so much that they seem to not have cast her in the show. She's a woman of colour fighting for her birthright in the only realm in Westeros with equal primogeniture. She is important for both plot and thematic reasons and it would have been so cool to see a charismatic actress portray her and maybe they will. I WANT TO BELIEVE.

  • alwaysanswerb

    The apparent ablation of Arianne has my hackles raised SO. MUCH.

  • Maddy

    Don't even get me started. And people are already saying she isn't important or she's not a 'role model' which is such bullshit. White male characters just get to exist but Arianne has to prove why she deserves to exist apparently. FFS. The Sandsnakes are cool but I don't see why we couldn't have had 1 or 2 and still had Arianne.

  • alwaysanswerb

    Yeah I know know the show is gonna decide that it's really important to me to spend more time with Sam or Bran despite them being the least interesting. IMO OF COURSE

  • Maddy

    If you think I'm here for Sam or Bran hate YOU DO NOT KNOW ME AT ALL. Lol anyway. I get that they can't include every storyline I really do get that. But it still irks me.

  • Maddy

    How about I just jump in right now and say that people wanting more diversity in this series or any series is not ridiculous or people being overly sensitive. And if you're going to do the whole 'he's just being historically accurate because there was only white people back in the olden days BS (which doesn't even make sense considering this is fantasy but anyway) then I suggest you have a look at this awesome tumblr: http://medievalpoc.tumblr.com

    I have seen people literally bend over backwards to try and say that Dorne is white and that people were 'seeing things that weren't there'. Think about why it is so important to you that every character is white and why the obvious evidence people point out isn't enough to convince you.

    There's nothing wrong or malicious about having mainly white characters obviously. But as an author he makes choices about who is centred and who isn't and the type of world he creates.

    The books have some pretty awkward race stuff but the show has some next level fuckery (which was somewhat rectified in the last season) which doesn't necessarily indicate malicious intent obviously.

  • FrayedMachine

    THANK YOU for linking this. I was right about to just go through this thread and link this to everyone.

  • Maddy

    It's really cool and definitely helps to shut down people who pretend to be historical and anthropology experts 'but everyone was white anyway' BS. Definitely has made me notice the racial makeup of casting in historical movies which I never used to consider at all.

    And people who are like 'but that's what it was like back then' BACK WHEN!?!?!? It's a fictional world created by an author based loosely on history but still NOT REAL.

  • lemurlove

    Maddy, thanks for that tumblr link. I'm in the Society for Creative Anachronism and will pass it on to all my SCA friends!

  • Valhallaback Girl

    Samesies. Landsknecht represent

  • lemurlove

    Viking here--the garb is the easiest. Landsknecht garb is really tough--I'm impressed!

  • Maddy

    No worries it's so interesting and I have a very casual interest in history

  • Sean Van Damme

    I never understood the Dorne is white people. I always pictured them as Middle Eastern, maybe that crazy darkstar guy was a bit white.

  • JustOP

    Really? I thought Dorne was pretty obviously akin to Spain, certainly hispanic.The show sort of solidified that belief with Pascal.

  • Maddy

    People are so weird. They're like 'race isn't important' but then they will get so angry at the implication that people aren't white and go to so much effort to prove people wrong. If it doesn't matter to you then why let the presence of POC bother you so much? Even if they're not it's pretty gross to use middle Eastern influences and then erase the actual people so I'm going to give GRRM the benefit of the doubt here (plus if you look at the GRRM approved Dorne artwork it's pretty obvious that they're not white)

  • manting

    arent there 3 kinds of Dornishmen? Essentially white ones (closest to the Andals) the tan ones (in between?) and the darker ones (Mediterranean/N. African). At least thats what I pictured in my head when reading the books.

  • Maddy

    Yep I think so there's a variation from what I remember

  • Dove of Doom

    The first time I saw the issue of lack of diversity in GoT brought up was by a smartass critic who was obviously only interested in mocking the show and the fantasy genre as a whole. He mused about why there were no "African-American" characters on the show. At that point there had, in fact, been people of color on the show, although they were secondary and tertiary figures as Martin admitted was also the case in his novels. But for that critic it was just another smug thing to say, and the obvious answer to his smugness is that there are no African-American characters on GoT because there's no Africa or America either.

    I much prefer the sincerity of the fans who asked Martin about diversity directly because it's clearly something they genuinely care about.

  • The Grand Leaf

    He's a white guy and all his experiences are those of a white guy and he's writing a pseudo-medieval time period series, the history of which is largely a bunch of white guys writing about a bunch of white guys.

    People write what they know. Why is that a problem? Reasonable questions for fans to ask, but annoyed with anyone who takes issue with his answers.

  • FrayedMachine

    Ugh, that whole "People write what they know" mentality is utter garbage and is nothing but a cop out in terms of creativity. Writing what you know is more than writing solely about your skin color and/or your sex/gender. People are complex individuals who have a multitude of life experiences that over lap things like gender identity and race. Saying that you're a White guy therefor continuing the line of restrictive representation and making no effort what so ever in acknowledging your problematic behavior and how that plays a role in the larger scheme of society is totally justifiable is doing nothing but reinforcing the current problematic structure! White guys have written stories that had people of color in them and starred people of color! This is not an excuse! Bloody hell!

    He's totally fine in having his answer, sure, fine, whatever, but it's a fucking lazy one. The guy's coasting on the money he's getting from the series, of course he's not going to try and argue in favor of representation.

  • JustOP

    True, but if you're writing a fantasy back-ended by English history and using (then) English culture as basis seems pretty obvious it's gonna look pretty white. Looks to me he wanted to write a story about that period of history with a massive fantastical bent to it.

    He also has no obligation as a writer to pander or meet certain criteria to anyone or anything.

  • FrayedMachine

    Neither European or English History are only made of White People ?? ? ? ? ? ? ?

    http://medievalpoc.tumblr.com/

    Also Oh my God you have no right to use History as an actual central focus of your argument when the story has DRAGONS AND ZOMBIE ICE PEOPLE

    And why the hell is it that questioning a purely White casted T.V. show and a primarily White casted book series is suddenly asking for someone to "pander" to more than just White people ?? Cause you realize that making a series WHITE FOCUSED is literally doing just that - Treating White people like they're special snow flakes and the only ones worth telling a story about

  • Papa November

    First of all, 'People of Color' is a loaded term, all people are of color. White is a color too, no matter how much you hate yourself.

    Furthermore I've viewed this Tumblr rather extensively in the past and I have to say it's drawing some pretty huge conclusions from very little evidence, there is absolutely no plausible demographics explanation that can be used to support the claim that there were significant populations of 'minorities' in Medieval Europe, although there were African individuals who became well known throughout European history this was mostly a case of them being a rarity which gave them an 'exotic' quality.

    A Song of Ice and Fire primarily draws its cultural parallels from a huge amalgamation of all the nations of the Mediterranean as well as the British Isles and last I checked the majority population of these areas were made up of Caucasians, especially in Europe and the Middle East. Asians also became rather prominent with the conquering and colonization of Anatolia by the Seljuks and the later Mongol Invasions.

  • JustOP

    Completely correct, I do not disagree or call what you're saying untrue.

    However, Poc in medieval England would have been a very very tiny minority. I think calling GoT as white-focused is misleading, as race isn't a focus at all.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T...

    This is the narrative inspiration for the ASOFAI series.

  • FrayedMachine

    UH

    When there is no effort what so ever at creating a diverse cast, YES, it is White Focused because it continues the dialogue that the only people who's stories are worth telling are those who are White.

    Also again. Are you really going to try and say Historical Accuracy for White dominance in the world of GoT when the story has Dragons and zombie iced people and friggin magic left and right ???? If you're going to take the time to bend the rules of history to add things like that as Canon, you literally have no grounds what so ever to continue to justify White focused story telling with "BECAUSE HISTORY"

  • JustOP

    I'm not trying to be offensive or provactive, but I appreciate your passion.

    I don't think GRRM had any notion of 'race' in his mind when creating this universe. I simply think he was trying to translate certain people/depictions of people from reality in fantasy.

    Dragons/Magic etc are a pretty massive part of English folklore. Their inclusion in this story is more than fitting.

  • FrayedMachine

    And that's the problem that people have over this. The fact the default in so many people's minds is WHITE. The fact that people can use laziness to justify their complete and total apathy at even trying to diversify the worlds the create.

    Also I'm sorry but since when did the English have a hold on Dragons and Magic? Sorry but you do realize that pretty much every majorly developed culture on this planet has their own idea of what Dragons are like, and had their own folklore that involved magic? England is not special. Surprise!

  • JustOP

    I think there's a difference between believing the default in people minds being 'white', and the default when writing a story based on English history. I don't even like the word default, but it's just clear to anyone that England had a massive majority white population at that time.

    I didn't claim England had a monopoly on Dragons and Magic, just that it's been intrinsic to English folklore. & considering GRRM himself has stated England was the basis for his story, I find it unsuprising other things carryover too.

    Further, the narrative his story is founded on revolves around about the highest class in England fighting for the rights to the throne.

  • Maddy

    The point is that he wrote the story that way. Obviously he's the author and he can do what he likes. But his world is largely centred on white people because he made it that way not because of 'historical accuracy' or whatever else you want to do to explain it.

  • JustOP

    So he deliberately decided to not use PoC, not because of any historical reference but.... what? He doesn't care about poc? He's a racist? He's just ignorant to the plight of people who aren't white everywhere?

    Stop. You're absurd.

  • Maddy

    Not what I said. He can write whatever he wants and have whatever priorities he wants. It's just ridiculous to assert that of course there are dragons and zombies but OMG people who aren't white that's so unrealistic or not historically accurate.

    I'm not a mind reader and it's not about calling him a racist. I don't know him and I'm sure he isn't. That doesn't mean people can't critique his work in a number of ways - gender, race, representation, character, themes etc. thats what people do when they look at at art. Not once have I seen people say 'OMG GRRM is racist' but even if they did, let's not pretend that accusing a rich white successful author of racism on an internet forum is at all equivalent to issues of representation and diversity in media (which in case you didn't know actually has real effects on people's lives as much as you might not think it does)

    Thanks so much for your condescending white male input though.

  • JustOP

    Great comment.

    My argument isn't - magic and dragons of course but minorities are unrealistic. My argument is - GRRM stories borrow a lot of English history and unfortunately racial diversity in that time was fairly low. If he's writing an analogue to The War of the Roses I fail to see how not including minorities is a valid criticism.

    If you believe that labelling people things they aren't isn't damaging, you're demonstrably wrong. Furthermore, stating that accusing someone of being racist when they're not is wrong isn't the same as equivalating that issue to representation and diversity on the internet.

    Thanks so much for your condescending white female input though.

  • Maddy

    WESTEROS IS NOT REAL IS IS FICTIONAL CREATED BY AN AUTHOR AND MORE DIVERSITY WOULD BE A GOOD THING AND WOULD MAKE THE STORY AND WORLD RICHER. THAT'S IT. WHY IS THIS SIMPLE STATEMENT SOMETHING YOU HAVE TO ARGUE THE POINT OVER???

    I also love this whole 'diversity in that time was fairly low' (thanks for that anthropological expertise). As an author he made decisions about what parts of history to draw from and what kind of stories and characters he wanted to portray. There is no reason why a loosely War of the Roses based storyline that he has changed many elements to tell a fictional story has to include majority white people. Fantasy is about expanding your imagination. This whole thing about 'well if people aren't white there better be a good reason for it' is inherently biased. His books are (mostly) about white people because he as an author made it that way. There's nothing inevitable about that. I also think you'll find that people of colour aren't a 'minority' despite that term being flung around in medieval Europe or today. It's not his job to cater his story to appeal to every kind of person, but it's also true that while he might do a better job than many white male authors when it comes to female characters, the same can't be said when it comes to race (or sexual orientation). Yes different races exist but with the exception of Dorne they are not at the centre of their own stories, and when it comes to Dany's storyline - the Dothraki and other races she encounters don't get a POV at all.

    I love these books I really really do. But identifying and talking about problematic elements isn't mutually exclusive with enjoying something. It's actually about engaging deeply with something and having respect for it. I don't spend this amount of time thinking about Big Bang Theory.

  • JustOP

    Because I disagree with the idea that having a diverse cast instantly makes a story better. By that logic, a diverse cast that features characters who aren't white but are poorly written charicatures is better than a cast of only white people, simply because there are non white people there. Is 1984 a poor story because it isn't interested in exploring race?

    The idea that a story has to be diverse to be good is nonsense. If I want to write a story about all white character, or all black characters, or all black characters who immigrated to japan and make no mention of any japanese people whatsoever, that is my perogative. Labelling a story bad at something it never planned, nor wanted, to do , is weak criticism in my eyes.

    "There is no reason why a loosely War of the Roses based storyline that he has changed many elements to tell a fictional story has to include majority white people." No reason? Everyone important involed in TWOTR was white. English nobility was white. England was (and still is) majority white. His story draws multiple parralls to European history - majority of Europe is white. Perhaps GRRM has a penchant for grounding his stories in a realistic way and that carrys over from his inspirations Should I go on?

    "I also think you'll find that people of colour aren't a 'minority' despite that term being flung around in medieval Europe or today." You think I'll find that people who aren't part of the majority in England aren't apart of a minority?

    How highly do you think race/sexual orientation was on his mind when he was planning to transition War of the Roses into his narrative? How highly do you think race/sexual orientation played into the things that inspired him to write his novels?

  • Maddy

    You were the one who responded to my point about ASOIAF being largely centred on white people because of a decision of the author who created that world as ARE YOU SAYING GRRM IS RACIST?!?!?! But ok

    This is basically just derailment of any discussion of the fact that ASOIF is a work of art created for a modern audience with modern attitudes about race, gender etc and from a particular POV that is absolutely a fictional construction of a quasi-medieval setting that has the conscious and unconscious biases of a white man.

    The reason there are hardly any POC in the series , and the ones that are there are often portrayed in an otherised stereotypical way, is because an author made it that way. Not because it's am objective apolitical presentation of what the actual Middle Ages were like. He can justify and explain it all he likes if he so chooses. It's his story. I don't think I ever said that I think it's a bad story, I think it's a great one and he does lots of things well. Even skilled talented authors have blind spots or problematic elements in their work. That's what criticism and discussion means.

  • JustOP

    I was being facetious - I wasn't actually accusing you of saying anything. But ok (<-i'm doing it again, like, just here. Facetious. And also right now.)

    Derailing =/= engaging with your points.

    No claims have been made he's making an objective apolitical presentation. Simply that he's adhering to certain historical basises within his novels. The notion that he took a period of time, morphed it into his own narrative, but didn't include things you think are important is criticism, but not a strong one in my eyes.

  • Maddy

    This is not a historical novel. It is fantasy. This world is largely white because the author made it that way not because that was the way it had to be. I don't understand why this is such a bizarre or incomprehensible idea. Or why you refuse to listen to why people critique the overwhelming whiteness in this genre as a problem (which is starting to change thankfully)

    Thanks for your male input though I learned a lot *sips tea*

  • JustOP

    Thanks for the conversation, just a shame it ended with you being insulting and completely failing to adress my points.

  • Maddy

    Basically I think this is why it's so important to have more diversity in fantasy (and lots of other genres) to make it more interesting. It's so weird that so much of it is like let's have this really rich imaginative world but base it only on one civilisation and one type of people.

  • Maddy

    Look I like GRRM and his answers were fine here but in the past some of his answers to these kind of questions have been pretty cringeworthy.

  • John G.

    what did he say in the past? I can imagine he gets so many of the same questions and so many questions overall that sometimes he probably snaps back in a non thoughtful way. Being confronted by desperate fans with inane questions sounds to me like one version of hell.

  • Maddy

    Look I'm sure it must get annoying and generally I think he does a really good job interacting with his fans. At the same time it's not really something he can complain about (ok maybe that's harsh) as it's a product of his success.

    I think he's mainly come unstuck when defending the show and doing the whole 'sorry you were offended' thing. But I also get he's in a tough position when it comes to that. I just wish he wouldn't say anything rather than 'it was different in the books'.

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  • BWeaves

    I am happily watching The Story of Saiunkoko, which is Game of Thrones, if Game of Thrones was Asian and anime. Unfortunately, I'm stuck in the middle because the 2nd season is unavailable in English.

  • Lord Inferno

    We have plenty of ginger-versity on this show. I'm happy.

  • Sam Underwood

    mmm Red-heads

  • ELee

    I think people's anger over the lack of diversity is ridiculous. Not every work of fiction needs a diverse population, and I truly believe that in some cases it can appear forced and cheap. This is a fantasy series with fictitious countries and populations. Do we really need to start adding in token characters of color to make everyone happy?

  • Maddy

    I didn't see any examples of people getting angry.and if they want to be angry LET THEM PEOPLE ARE ALLOWED TO BE PASSIONATE AND ANGRY ABOUT THINGS

  • JustOP

    Isn't GoT War of the Roses injected with fantasy heroin? Isn't it blatantly obvious with the North/South divide, even the differing in accents between the North and South reflecting that of England itself, even now?

  • mykal zimmerman

    Exactly! If I'm righting a book about 1100 AD Africa the among of Whites and Asians in it would be little to none in most cases. As a black fan I'm tired of people complaining about extra diversity, what you should be concerned about is if the story is good, is it engaging. Hell if you downloaded the series and haven't bought a damn boxset why the hell are you even complaining? The world was thought to be flat up until a while ago, I doubt folks was taking extended trips to Japan from South America. Write the story the way it make sense to you and don't worry about everything else.

  • Which one is Pink?

    So what you are saying is: " Let's keep it white, that's better".`

  • ELee

    Don't troll me. That's not what I'm saying at all. Is it better to shoehorn in a bunch of diverse characters so everyone feels represented in every show ever, or do we randomly change the races of certain characters to placate people?

  • Which one is Pink?

    This is what you said in your previous comment:
    "Why do we have to make everyone happy?" -You mean only whites should be catered to?
    It reminds me of that Fox News blond bimbo and her "sensitive" comments on why Santa and Jesus are white. "Just because something makes you uncomforable it doesn't need to change"(her response to a black child wishing to see a Santa that doesn't look white)

  • manting

    Ok both are fictional characters but Jesus was brown. He was a desert living Jew. He certainly wasnt pasty white with blonde hair and blue eyes. He might have had those sweet abs though.

  • ELee

    The man is writing what he knows. He's a white guy who is basing his world on European history. Give the guy a break. I don't think his work needs to be criticized or changed because he wrote his characters a certain way.

  • Paddington

    There have been African and Asian people in Europe that predates colonialism. Also, his world is fictional. Dragons don't exist but he can write about dragons? You aren't very logical. Since none of the racial categories or constructs exist he could make any character he wanted a minority, the show could too. But keep fiction white for the whites is an interesting argument and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  • manting

    I have an idea - if you are so pissed than Boycott GoT. Problem solved. So go piss up a rope while we all enjoy the best written fantasy series in several generations and the best show on television.

  • Paddington

    Not pissed. You can recognize flaws and not be mad and being mad doesn't make someone irrational or incorrect. But let's keep fiction white, I get it.

  • manting

    So you see giantic flaws in EVERYTHING. It must be exhausting. When you climb down off your high horse be sure you have a very high ladder or you will break something.

  • Paddington

    What's a gigantic flaw?

  • ELee

    Is there any place in the world where everyone exists in diverse, racial harmony? Unfortunately, most adults' friendships are primarily same race. Obviously there are exceptions, but as people we tend to segregate ourselves. That goes for our art too. If you try to force diversity, you end up with token ethnic characters. Yes, television, movies, books, and all kinds of other stuff is lacking in diversity, but does that mean it's all guilty of being insensitive?

  • Paddington

    Westeros doesn't exist. Westeros doesn't exist. Westeros doesn't exist. Westeros doesn't exist. Westeros doesn't exist. Westeros doesn't exist.

  • Dove of Doom

    You should write your own fantasy series set in a world without cohesive geography, history, anthropology, and sociology, where all the characters of random ethnicities live together on a continent made up of the chip on your shoulder.

  • Paddington

    .... It's entirely made up. What don't you understand about this? It isn't real, None of the lands are real, none of the ethnicities are real, it is all fake. Fake, fake, fake. Why do you need your fiction to be predominantly white?

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