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Is Game of Thrones Good Or Bad For Fantasy?

Is George R.R. Martin's dark vision and the HBO show's sex and violence the future? Or a sleazy trend to oppose? Should writers aim for the NC-17-level?

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PJ Lifestyle Pop Culture Debates!

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May 9, 2014 - 3:30 pm

In partnership with the new fiction publishing platform Liberty Island, PJ Lifestyle is going to begin promoting and co-hosting a series of debates and discussions about popular culture. The goal is to figure out what works and what doesn’t so that in the future we can promote and create better fiction and culture of our own. These are public brainstorming sessions for writers and culture advocates interested in developing a more vibrant popular culture. You’re invited to submit your answers to any of these questions — or a related one of your own! — that interests you:

A) in the comments

B) Via email to PJ Lifestyle editor Dave Swindle.

C) at your blog, then let us know in the comments or via email. 

The most interesting answers may be linked, crossposted, or published at PJ Lifestyle. 

The Independent: “George RR Martin defends sexual violence in Game of Thrones

The debate about sexual violence in Game of Thrones has been ongoing since the TV series began, but has been reignited in the current fourth season after popular character Jaime Lannister was shown forcing himself on his sister Cersei.

The scene was particularly controversial because it wasn’t portrayed as rape in Martin’s account.

But Martin, who has worked as TV writer since the early Eighties, said he understood the show’s creators would want to make their own artistic choices for the books to work in a different medium.

“The graphic novels and television programmes are in the hands of others, who make their own artistic choices as to what sort of approach will work best in their respective mediums,” he said.

He added that many scenes in his books are intended to disturb the reader, and would apply the same principle to the TV show.

Hannah Sternberg: Bad Advice for 5 Game of Thrones Characters

Andrew Klavan: Should People of Faith Watch Game of Thrones?

Dave Swindle: The 2 Most Important Reasons Why I Hate Game of Thrones

What pop culture questions do you want to debate and discuss? Please leave your suggestions for upcoming Pop Culture debates also in the comments or submit via email.

Joffrey-the-ultimate-inbred

PJ Lifestyle Pop Culture Debates Features a new prompt each weekday to weigh the good, the bad, the overrated, the unbelievable, and the amazing throughout the worlds of books, film, and TV. We can't figure out how to build a greater pop culture until we dissect the mess we already have. Want to contribute your perspective to the debate? Email PJ Lifestyle editor Dave Swindle with your take: DaveSwindlePJM [@] gmail.com Image via shutterstock/ DarkGeometryStudios

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All Comments   (3)
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I enjoy the show, but I think its more likely to do long term damage than good to Fantasy. (I haven't read the books, so I won't speak to them).

Sex and violence have been essential components of the Fantasy genre since before Tolkien. If you don't believe me, go read some of the Robert E. Howard "Conan the Barbarian" stories. Fantasy really got its start as a pulp genre, and Tolkien did a lot to remove it from that.

The problem I have with Game of Thrones is that it removes Fantasy from the realm of pulp fiction, which plays sex and violence for fun and cheap thrills, and moves into the realm of melodrama, which plays it for emotional shock value. GoT redeems itself by having some good dialogue, and a few really likable characters, but I don't like to see the precedent set.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
I care about Game of Thrones just enough to post this comment saying I don't care about Game of Thrones. Do. Not. Care.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm going to say 'good'. Even the failures and mis-steps are good, as negative examples. He is the standard by which other, established fantasy writers measure themselves. Seriously, go to World Fantasy or WorldCon and start talking to writers about Martin.

Martin is a master of point of view. He creates engrossing scenes and characters that feel both real and larger-than-life. He takes something most of us read to avoid, politics, and infuses it into his narrative. He talks about power, where it comes from, how it is lost and where is truly lies. He's taken the magic out of fantasy and returns it in sprinkles rather than slathering it in layers. He's created a mythology and an alternate nostalgia for a world that never existed. He's subverted the expectations of what fantasy can or should be.

He's also gone too far in some ways, showing readers and writers the perils of killing off too many characters. He's shown the importance of outlining epic fantasy novels before writing them. He has exposed the importance of pacing and reader expectations and just how far you can bend them. Though he's had little to do with the TV adaptations, apart from selling to HBO rather than going for a quick buck, his work has popularized fantasy as a mass-market entertainment in a way no one since Robert Jordan or Tolkien. He's explored the limits of deplorable characters, and how much deviancy the audience will accept.

I feel the Song of Ice and Fire series is the most important fantasy novel series since Tolkien, even with its flaws. The man can write, his politics and annoying plot decisions aside, that's what matters to the genre.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
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