Thursday, March 31, 2011

LA Times brings the snark to A Game of Thrones preview

Every time I think I’ve moved on from the fantasy/realism debate, someone drops the gauntlet and I find myself back in the thick of the fray, giving and receiving hard blows in turn. The latest exchange stems from this preview of the upcoming HBO miniseries A Game of Thrones, courtesy of the LA Times:

Based on George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels, the 10-episode saga is a high-stakes move for HBO — an expensive leap into spectacular fantasy for a network whose reputation was built on nuanced, character-driven dramas geared toward adults.


So … ASOIAF is a risky move for HBO because it’s fantasy, and therefore cannot be possibly be nuanced, or character-driven, or geared toward adults. Good to know.


To read the rest of this post, visit The Black Gate website .

6 comments:

Trey said...

Ah well. It's the sort of codescension I've come to expect from mainstream media.

Taranaich said...

I'm so glad you decided to tackle this one, Brian: I had half a mind to do it myself, but I'm getting a little sick of letting my blog get mired in negativity.

Gotta love the "bare breasts and blood" bit. Do they not realise what they're saying? "Yeah, LotR's for kids, let's all look at naked ladies and ultraviolence, that'll really make us look grown up!" Yet somehow I doubt the LA Times would consider the likes of [i]Conan the Barbarian[/i] as being more "mature/adult" than Tolkien...

Brian Murphy said...

Ah well. It's the sort of codescension I've come to expect from mainstream media.

Yep. Apparently fantasy by default can't be literary, or even adult. And if it exhibits any of these characteristics, then it's not really fantasy (it's character-driven quasi-historic fiction). See how that works?

I'm so glad you decided to tackle this one, Brian: I had half a mind to do it myself, but I'm getting a little sick of letting my blog get mired in negativity.

We'll take turns in the list then. Someone has to ride out to vanquish evil (aka, literary snobbery) when it appears.

Watch The Game of Thrones Episodes Online said...

I really like how Eddard swings Ice. They did a great job of showing the arm movements required to wield a 2-handed greatsword. Ice is extremely heavy, not exactly a battlefield weapon, So excited for both the show and Dance of Dragons the new TV show on April. Watch Game of Thrones Episodes Online

Anonymous said...

Brian:

I respect your willingness to step into the shield wall at any hint of an assault on Tolkien. And I appreciate that you and Tompkins restored my own enjoyment of Tolkien, which had fallen away over the years.

I believe the LA Times piece and a lot of the "Sopranos in Middle Earth" marketing surrounding AGOT is aimed at people like me.

I devoured Tolkien and Howard as a youth, but I'm not and never was generally a fantasy reader. Howard stayed with me more than Tolkien because of his historical predilections. Even his fantasy feels like historical adventure to me.

Selling A Game of Thrones as "fantasy for people who don't do fantasy" is critical if the series is to get adequate numbers to sustain itself. It needs the Rome audience, the Deadwood audience and some of the Sopranos audience. It needs watchers like me.

For me, it's not a snob thing, it's a matter of what lights my fire. "It's fantasy but it feels like medieval historical fiction" is a pitch that works for me.

Could that be done without the "Tolkien snark." Sure. It should be, especially as Martin acknowledges Tolkien's stature.

But the bottom line is that we're going to get a good fantasy series that appeals to you and appeals to me, though we come to it by different roads. Just as we stood in the same shield wall at The Cimmerian, with you weilding your sword tempered in dragon fire on the mythic flank and me doing security with a bowie knife and an Enfield rifle on the Western/Historical flank.

Jim Cornelius

Brian Murphy said...

Fair enough Jim, I understand where you're coming from. And I agree that the HBO series needs a broader audience than just hardcore GRRM readers if it's going to survive (in fact, Martin says the same thing in an interview I read somewhere else).

But I don't think publicity requires a scorched earth approach to the fantasy genre. The L.A. Times could have dropped the D&D/Tolkien geekery and its patronizing "fantasy for adults" overtones and discussed ASOIAF as a different off-shoot of the same fantasy tree. But then the article wouldn't have been as "ironic and hip."

Keep wielding that bowie knife!