Cersei Lannister and the Shallow Politics of Game of Thrones

Cersei Lannister and the Shallow Politics of Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones is overrated and A Feast for Crows is underrated.

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They presented a one-dimensional conflict with the Faith clearly meant to equate them with judgmental Christians who denounce homosexuals and fornicators.

Correct me if im wrong, but wasnt there already a stigma against homosexuality and fornication among the nobility in Westeros before the Faith came along?

And wasnt the Faith supposed to represent an extreme fundamentalist faction that typically exists in all religions?

And wasnt the foundation of the fundamentalist movement based on the opposition to the opulence, decadence and corruption of the septons dictating the faith from Kings Landing? Which began extending to the nobility once the Faith installed itself?

I feel like the author of this article missed how adaptations are forced to change between mediums. All of that stuff you described sounds like it would take an episode by itself, but the show has to focus on other things. In essence, things get... distilled. It's something we as fans of media have to accept to a certain degree. She falls apart in the books, and she falls apart in the show. Close enough.

This isn't the first time someone has noted that ceresei in The Game of Thrones series is an overall different person as to the Lannister in the book. Carol is one meme.http://theculturalvacuum.tumblr.com/post/116816249708/the-book-snob-glossary

A really good article, just I wouldn't go with the conservative idea. Power corrupts is a universal trope, especially when given to people without the necessary training or abilities to wield it. There's also the disturbing fact that Daenarys acts very similar to Cersei once in power. While not evil as Cersei she also acts very short sighted.

gigastar:

They presented a one-dimensional conflict with the Faith clearly meant to equate them with judgmental Christians who denounce homosexuals and fornicators.

Correct me if im wrong, but wasnt there already a stigma against homosexuality and fornication among the nobility in Westeros before the Faith came along?

And wasnt the Faith supposed to represent an extreme fundamentalist faction that typically exists in all religions?

And wasnt the foundation of the fundamentalist movement based on the opposition to the opulence, decadence and corruption of the septons dictating the faith from Kings Landing? Which began extending to the nobility once the Faith installed itself?

At least the Homossexuals part was new to the show, only the fornications stuff was there and, to be honest, is a drop in the puddle of the horrible stuff Cersei does. For the Faith itself, it is a strange beast since we still don't know if it's bad or good. They are better than the corrupted establishment before it and actually gives a shit for the common man but is very militant and might just start a new war.

I think what Zydrate said is really on point, for some reason it won't let me quote them

gigastar:
Correct me if im wrong, but wasnt there already a stigma against homosexuality and fornication among the nobility in Westeros before the Faith came along?

It was and it wasn't. The people said that kind of thing because it was socially required of them, even if they were engaging in it behind closed doors. For example, most people knew about Loris and Renly, but other than a snide joke here and there, people didn't really care. It wasn't until the faith became militarized that did actively persecuting them become the norm.

gigastar:

They presented a one-dimensional conflict with the Faith clearly meant to equate them with judgmental Christians who denounce homosexuals and fornicators.

Correct me if im wrong, but wasnt there already a stigma against homosexuality and fornication among the nobility in Westeros before the Faith came along?

And wasnt the Faith supposed to represent an extreme fundamentalist faction that typically exists in all religions?

And wasnt the foundation of the fundamentalist movement based on the opposition to the opulence, decadence and corruption of the septons dictating the faith from Kings Landing? Which began extending to the nobility once the Faith installed itself?

Recall what Ollyna Tyrell said to Tywin Lannister "We don't get precious about a discrete bit of buggery....but a brother and sister? That can taint a name for generations". It was that or something close to it.

Basically outside of Renly being difficult to get an heir out of - which wasnt an issue until Ned Stark fucked it all up - he kept his affair on the QT and for what I know exclusively with Loras. Compared to Robert's legendary whoring which produced Gods knows how many bastards and Cersi and Jamie's affair which would dismantle the Lannisters as nobles in about a day, Renly and Loras barely register.

Have to disagree with calling GoT a 'mediocre show', seriously if GoT is average then... well just fuck.

However the book critque I thought was pretty spot on. As for how it doesn't relate to the show I think you have to be reasonable. While I accept it would have made C's character more deep and complex it would also have changed GoT into the Cersei Lannister show for about a season. As is I still felt the writers got the cliff notes of her screwing up i.e. scorning the iron bank, arming the church, enough that I didn't feel she just got unlucky when it all came down on her head. Funnily enough you compare her final scene to The Godfather but I think it's actually closer to Scarface. Yeah she just had her bad ass, 'Say hello to my little friend' moment but she's now royally fucked (no pun intended).

Far North: Icewalkers.
North: King of the North 2.0.
East: The remanents or the Treyell family.
Further East: The Sand Scorpians now leading the Kingdom of Dorne.
West: The Mother of Dragons, her hordes and a sizable portion of the Iron Isles.

Are all coming, they're the army equivilant of the guy with the shotgun who blows Tony Montana away and like TM I don't feel this is happening because her son was weak or because she got unlucky but because of bad decision, after bad decision that has left her surronded by enemies, out of money and a smoking crater in her capital.

In short, seeing all the above in black and white, I'd say the writers pulled off showing how Cersi's greed for power didn't equate to ability while managing to give the show a really cool iconic moment. I won't go so far as to say better than the book because I believe both are very different beasts but I dare to suggest... on par.

My impression of the show was that Tommen was wimpy because Cercei deliberately manipulated him to be that way. When he wanted to go rescue his wife, Cerei was all like 'you can't do anything, let mommy handle it'. Which bit her in the ass when the High Sparrow made use of that spinelessness. Just what you wanted to see.

Also, liberals don't want authocracy either you know? Perhaps they want the state to have more influence than conservatives do*, but that isn't the same as putting that power into the hands of an unaccountable lone leader.

*Or claim they do. When it comes to "culture war' issues many do want the state to control what you can do with your body or in your bedroom.

Zeke63:
I think what Zydrate said is really on point, for some reason it won't let me quote them

Thanks. I thought on it more later and I also came to the conclusion that books are probably a hell of a lot cheaper to make than movies or series are. I could go 'write' a book right now and all it would cost me is time and the occasional few bucks for pens and paper.
Meanwhile the series takes millions on top of millions on top of time. Some things just have to get cut down and distilled, and this is a fact of life I've long accepted as a consumer of media.

Kiall:
Have to disagree with calling GoT a 'mediocre show', seriously if GoT is average then... well just fuck.

However the book critque I thought was pretty spot on. As for how it doesn't relate to the show I think you have to be reasonable. While I accept it would have made C's character more deep and complex it would also have changed GoT into the Cersei Lannister show for about a season. As is I still felt the writers got the cliff notes of her screwing up i.e. scorning the iron bank, arming the church, enough that I didn't feel she just got unlucky when it all came down on her head. Funnily enough you compare her final scene to The Godfather but I think it's actually closer to Scarface. Yeah she just had her bad ass, 'Say hello to my little friend' moment but she's now royally fucked (no pun intended).

Far North: Icewalkers.
North: King of the North 2.0.
East: The remanents or the Treyell family.
Further East: The Sand Scorpians now leading the Kingdom of Dorne.
West: The Mother of Dragons, her hordes and a sizable portion of the Iron Isles.

Are all coming, they're the army equivilant of the guy with the shotgun who blows Tony Montana away and like TM I don't feel this is happening because her son was weak or because she got unlucky but because of bad decision, after bad decision that has left her surronded by enemies, out of money and a smoking crater in her capital.

In short, seeing all the above in black and white, I'd say the writers pulled off showing how Cersi's greed for power didn't equate to ability while managing to give the show a really cool iconic moment. I won't go so far as to say better than the book because I believe both are very different beasts but I dare to suggest... on par.

Think you messed up some of the directions. Dorne is the southern end of Westeros, and the other continent is east of Westeros.

I still like the progression Cersei has taken on the show and wasn't expecting the same level of depth as the book's version. She keeps having to take more drastic steps to dig herself out of the problems she creates, and is about to get what is coming as she has now destroyed pretty much all of her support.

No abuse of power, no genuine mistakes,

...did... did you not catch the explosion...? I really like the show Cersei, how her single minded persuit of "protecting" her kids is screwing everything up and ultimately kills them.

Still disagree with your assessment of Feast For Crows. While it did do a good job of fleshing out the politics of the world, it still brought things to a freaking drag, leaving us with a book where not a lot happened compared to the first three books. It and the fifth book were originally supposed to just be one book, and it freaking shows. I mean, really, did we NEED all of those Samwell Tarly scenes?

I agree with your assessment that the show is rather shallow compared to the books though, totally agree. Cercei's mistakes are just so bad that it's simultaneously hilarious and cringey to watch. Like when she makes a bastard Admiral of the royal fleet because he reminds her of the man she wanted to marry with a teenager. And then he takes the fleet and goes pirating with it, right around the point when the Greyjoys are getting their second wind and have smashed the only other navy loyal to the crown. I wouldn't say that the show is overall mediocre though, it's a decent show that has the unfortunate circumstance of being compared to books written by the man known as the American J.R.R. Tolken.

erttheking:
Still disagree with your assessment of Feast For Crows. While it did do a good job of fleshing out the politics of the world, it still brought things to a freaking drag, leaving us with a book where not a lot happened compared to the first three books. It and the fifth book were originally supposed to just be one book, and it freaking shows. I mean, really, did we NEED all of those Samwell Tarly scenes?

Originally he wasn't even going have the books and instead just do a time jump. While I agree that skipping ahead probably would have been too much of a mess, I definitely agree that the 4th book simply had too much stuff that didn't seem all that important. I enjoyed having a Cersei though.

As for the mediocrity of the show... ya I don't agree either. It has some major missteps (Dorne as a whole), but I still find it a lot more compelling than most of the procedural crap on TV.

Some interesting comments so far, and I'm glad to see that people have found my article engaging at the very least. The Zydrate and Morti criticism are the ones that I think most deserve an immediate answer.

I'll reiterate that I don't think the show needed to do this exact storyline. I certainly do NOT agree that something like this would have been the subject of an entire episode in itself (that's not how the show structures developments anyway). This is something that can be scattered across a season, small character choices and actions that drive her propulsive story. Maybe have a scene where she's sitting in the tower all day doing the tiresome paperwork her father did, get bored and pissed, throw a jar of wine at the wall, and then summon a slave girl for her to dominate and feel powerful. Or a scene where she's having more nightmares about the prophecy that's haunting her that causes her to act impulsively in a way that clearly indicts her competence as a ruler, or alienates others in her family. There are a million ways to work the details out into a coherent story. All I'm asking is that there be one, and not just where we're checking in on her once every episode where she can muse on about something cynical like an average episode of "The Walking Dead." But as far as the show goes, Cersei has only one conflict. I get that it's meant to change her, and this is where I disagree that the wildfire was really a "mistake." Is it going to backfire on her? Absolutely. Is it ironic, given what it drove Tommen into doing? Definitely. But Cersei even says in the first episode of the season that she's effectively made peace with the fact that even Tommen will die before her. She doesn't care, and thus she isn't doing anything for him anymore; just herself. But the show doesn't probe further. We're just to take that for granted and wait out the standoff for ten episodes until she demolishes the Sept of Baelor. To eschew her complexity doesn't just go against the spirit of the books, but it goes against the spirit of the show itself as per its brilliantly executed first two/three seasons that embraced characters' humanity and wasn't afraid to examine them closely.

Otherwise, even if we assume that you're right - that one episode can accomplish something like what I was hoping for - what exactly do HBO and the showrunners have to lose at this point? Are we really making excuses for a show this big, this widely watched, and widely beloved? It is strange to see people argue that "Game of Thrones" is in some kind of difficult narrative position when it comes to the direction of its characters and journey towards the end, that forces tough choices. If we're going to praise the show for the way it engages throughout depicting its compelling character adventures and political developments, we are implicitly saying that these are the very things that matter most about the show, not just the endpoint or momentary thrilling climaxes.

Followup thoughts are welcome, but I don't think I'll be able to answer them for a bit.

- Vivek

I'm not sure how we can call the show or the books mediocre. Can anyone think of a better medieval fantasy political series in either medium?

Maybe that's just not what the author is in to?

I was wrong. The article is interesting. I couldn't watch the show past season 2 because stuff kept getting messed up. It's hard to translate something like this in to film unless you make it super long and, probably, very boring. They have to cut corners, and it makes the story weaker. That's something that has been happening in film adaptations since the times of yore.

Thank you for this.

I have not read the books. So this might explain why my interest for Game og Thrones took such a nosedive in season 5. I blamed myself, my lack of stamina or tension span as in: What has a beginning must have an end - otherwise it's just another Days of Our Lives.

So many shows fail for me because they go for the big instant thrills and then completly fail to connect the dots to make something complete. I thought because it was based on books, atleast the screenwriters wouldn't be able to stray too far from the path in their adaptation but something has definitely turned sour along the way.

I'll be honest, I quite liked the fourth book, never really understood why almost everyone else never seemed to. granted, when I was reading A Feast for Crows, A Dance With Dragons had already been released, so that may have something to do with my more rosy perception.

Flankhard:

I have not read the books. So this might explain why my interest for Game og Thrones took such a nosedive in season 5. I blamed myself, my lack of stamina or tension span as in: What has a beginning must have an end - otherwise it's just another Days of Our Lives.

I'd recommend powering through Season 5 and watch Season 6. It has so many payoffs, very satisfying.
Especially if you enjoyed most of it as it was, there's just the occasional slog. I feel most seasons have this beginner-season slump that usually bores me in particular.

I know where the author is coming from. What noticed and annoyed me when watching Cersei was how sane and rational she was in comparison to her book counterpart. She's by now means presented as a good queen but she also lacks the colossal screw ups and the pararels to her husband that could be so interesting.

But perhaps that's for the next season now that there is no one left that can prevent Cersei from going totally off the rails.

Hades:
I know where the author is coming from. What noticed and annoyed me when watching Cersei was how sane and rational she was in comparison to her book counterpart. She's by now means presented as a good queen but she also lacks the colossal screw ups and the pararels to her husband that could be so interesting.

But perhaps that's for the next season now that there is no one left that can prevent Cersei from going totally off the rails.

I think the main reason for that is that, in the books, most of her paranoia and irrationality comes from her inner voice. On the outside, she conducts herself as the paragon of royalty, but we know she is paranoid, vile and complex because we have a glimpse into her mind every so often. It is a problem with book adaptations... We can't have a character think one way and behave another unless she talks her inner thoughts, at which point she becomes a different character too.

inu-kun:
A really good article, just I wouldn't go with the conservative idea. Power corrupts is a universal trope, especially when given to people without the necessary training or abilities to wield it. There's also the disturbing fact that Daenarys acts very similar to Cersei once in power. While not evil as Cersei she also acts very short sighted.

gigastar:

They presented a one-dimensional conflict with the Faith clearly meant to equate them with judgmental Christians who denounce homosexuals and fornicators.

Correct me if im wrong, but wasnt there already a stigma against homosexuality and fornication among the nobility in Westeros before the Faith came along?

And wasnt the Faith supposed to represent an extreme fundamentalist faction that typically exists in all religions?

And wasnt the foundation of the fundamentalist movement based on the opposition to the opulence, decadence and corruption of the septons dictating the faith from Kings Landing? Which began extending to the nobility once the Faith installed itself?

At least the Homossexuals part was new to the show, only the fornications stuff was there and, to be honest, is a drop in the puddle of the horrible stuff Cersei does. For the Faith itself, it is a strange beast since we still don't know if it's bad or good. They are better than the corrupted establishment before it and actually gives a shit for the common man but is very militant and might just start a new war.

Was it new to the show? Correct me if I am wrong, but homosexuality was the specific reason they imprison Loras Tyrell in the books too. It wasn't adultery, or promiscuity, or having sex outside of wedlock, it was because he was openly gay (or as openly as you could be in such a society)

hermes:
Was it new to the show? Correct me if I am wrong, but homosexuality was the specific reason they imprison Loras Tyrell in the books too. It wasn't adultery, or promiscuity, or having sex outside of wedlock, it was because he was openly gay (or as openly as you could be in such a society)

Loras Tyrell was never imprisoned in the books, for homosexuality or otherwise. To be fair the Faith of the Seven is almost certainly against homosexuality given all its other views.

Very spot on article. They really missed out on a lot of opportunities with the TV show. Imagine if they'd had done scenes fleshing out these conflicts instead of the softcore pornography brothel filler.

Yeah that show really going down the drain since season 5... it started with Dorne but it'S not getting any better.
I'm no longer excited by the show like i used to... give me Winds of Winter and i will be happy

008Zulu:

gigastar:
Correct me if im wrong, but wasnt there already a stigma against homosexuality and fornication among the nobility in Westeros before the Faith came along?

It was and it wasn't. The people said that kind of thing because it was socially required of them, even if they were engaging in it behind closed doors. For example, most people knew about Loris and Renly, but other than a snide joke here and there, people didn't really care. It wasn't until the faith became militarized that did actively persecuting them become the norm.

Yeah but that was only in the show... In the books the Faith is never shown discriminating agaisnt homosexuals. Loras seem to meet his faith during a siege of Dragonstone, nothing to do with religious perscecutions

 

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