Fans of HBO's Game of Thrones adaptation aren't too happy with a recent review that calls them all "Dungeons & Dragons types."
The New York Times did a pretty decent job of angering people last year when it assigned Ginia Bellafante to review the first season of HBO's Game of Thrones adaptation. Bellafante, not otherwise known as a particularly controversial reviewer, accused the show of pandering to females by focusing on illicit sex intrigue, while claiming "that no woman alive would watch otherwise." You might think that after running such a dragon-waking statement, the New York Times would consider assigning a more fantasy-savvy writer to critique the series for season two. Spoiler Alert: they didn't.
The New York Times has replaced Bellafante with writer Neil Genzlinger for its Seven Kingdoms coverage, but still seems to have found yet another someone with almost no knowledge of the community or genre. Still, at least unlike his predecessor, Genzlinger has decided to focus on which sweepingly generalized group of people would be able to enjoy the show, as opposed to which sweepingly generalized group of people wouldn't. In this case, the "Dungeons & Dragons types."
"What Game of Thrones needs if it is to expand its fan base beyond Dungeons & Dragons types is what most of the United States didn't get this year: a hard winter," Genzlinger writes. "Life in this particular fantasy land consists of seasons of indeterminate length, and since the series began there have been references to an impending winter of fearsome power."
This isn't the first time a NYT writer has decided that the fantasy genre is shoehorned by the dice-driven RPG. In fact, even Bellafante previously described the show's entire look that way last year, writing that if you "are anyone [other than a fan of the Dungeons & Dragons aesthetic], you will hunger for HBO to get back to the business of languages for which we already have a dictionary."
Genzlinger then goes on to write that "if you look forward to Joffery's scenes, there's something wrong with you," and that "your brain doesn't have [enough] neurons" to remember the large cast, coming to the conclusion that "If decapitations and regular helpings of bare breasts and buttocks are all you require of your television, step right up."
While reviews are, by nature, the statement of opinion, perhaps it would still be in everyone's interest (The New York Times included) to find someone on staff with a wider vision of fantasy than "Anything with a sword in it is Dungeons & Dragons." I have many friends who dislike or, at the very least, feel apathetic toward HBO's adaptation, but at least they come to their opinions from a foundation of understanding the genre and the community that supports it. There is sign of improvement, though, as the Times seems to have advanced from "girls would hate GoT without all the sex" to "the only people who like this are D&D types," so, who knows? Perhaps in the future we can look forward to a more even analysis.
Source: The Mary Sue