One of your favorite shows.
Choosing just one show is hard. Which is probably why i haven’t written this post yet. I choose Game of Thrones.
I have meaning to get around to mentioning Game of Thrones. This is one of my newer fandoms, though it’s already a couple of years old amazingly. I think i started watching during the hiatus between seasons 2 and 3. I’m not sure why i started watching it other than the fact that i’m a geek, everyone was talking about it, and i appreciate Sean Bean’s work usually. Initially i didn’t have a lot of problems with the nudity and violence, though they have since added so much unneeded and not-in-the-book nudity and sex that i’ve gotten a bit annoyed. Let’s just say that i didn’t expect the books to espouse Christian standards even as i had absolutely no idea what i was getting myself into. I should have guessed since it was starring Sean Bean, but i didn’t. I was shocked at the end of the first season, absolutely shocked and heartbroken. I have since read the books and want the series to follow them more closely, which seems to be becoming more and more unlikely.
Many Chrisitians refuse to watch R-rated films, i have no problem with it but also don’t make a habit of it. Most Christians teaching are completely anti-porn, even going so far as to label books without images as part of the sex problem that America has. While there is a lot of violence in the Bible, there is not explicit sex. However, i have a hard time believing that the lovers in the Song of Solomon remained fully clothed at all times:
The king has brought me into his bedroom. (1:4b)
My lover is like a sachet of myrrh
lying between my breasts. (1:13)
Like the finest apple tree in the orchard
is my lover among other young men.
I sit in his delightful shade
and taste his delicious fruit. (2:3)
His left arm is under my head,
and his right arm embraces me. (2:6)
One night as I lay in bed, I yearned for my lover.
I yearned for him, but he did not come.
when I found my love!
I caught and held him tightly,
then I brought him to my mother’s house,
into my mother’s bed, where I had been conceived. (3:1, 4b)
Your breasts are like two fawns,
twin fawns of a gazelle grazing among the lilies. (4:5)
Your thighs shelter a paradise of pomegranates
with rare spices… (4:13)
Blow on my garden
and spread its fragrance all around.
Come into your garden, my love;
taste its finest fruits. (4:16b)
Only the last chapter of Song of Songs is set after the wedding. So while i don’t praise Game of Thrones for its overabundance of sex i do think that sex can have a place in literature. Some Christians are a little over zealous in their hatred of “pornography”, snubbing even fiction or photography that has artistic merit. However, these texts from the Bible are nearly pornographic! But all of the churches i have attended have had a very head in the sand approach to sex. Children are dealing with these temptations as young as in third grade now, the Left wants sex ed to be in Kindergarten, so why should a Christian’s only knowledge about sex be relegated to post-marriage with absolutely no guidance from the Church? If the Bible deals with lovemaking, isn’t it something that we are meant to know about? How are we meant to remain pure if we are not taught the proper boundaries by the Church? If our only sources are secular ones then something is not right. And sex is clearly alluded to in the Bible in instructive and artistic ways. So i have little trouble watching or reading about sex in a medical context or even within the boundaries of a marriage relationship if it is meant to be artistic and informative literature. I know that i am going out on a limb in saying that but i would have to be a hypocrite not to. Though i am not really open about it, i have written erotica in the past and am sure i will in the future.
One thing that Game of Thrones does a good job of being frank that violence is not something pretty but it is part of the human experience. Most modern media ignores this, most secular sources act as if violence is not part of the Human condition, that it is abnormal, abhorrent, and unusual. Just over one hundred years ago violence was still commonplace, a part of survival. One had to raise and slaughter or hunt and slaughter their own meat. One had to defend themself if they lived in remote regions or the Wild West. There is little of our history that is not violent and our planet is still not tame. Multiple wars are happening simultaneously, animals cross the invisible town line and attack unexpectedly, the elements are merciless. Violence is not something i have trouble watching usually. Fight Club is an exception, i had a very hard time watching that film. Lucy Liu’s scenes in Kill Bill and most of Sin City also come to mind. Stylized comic book violence is something i usually appreciate, but there is a point where the violence is glorified rather than respected.
Game of Thrones plays with this line. It is occasionally so violent that i want to look away. It is brutally honest about what man really is deep down inside. The show tells you what happened, it doesn’t judge the characters (though it sometimes destroys character arcs unfortunately), it lets you draw your own conclusions. The Bible is like that more than you might imagine. For instance, Abraham, David, and Solomon had multiple wives, and the Bible never says that polygamy is wrong. It does show you that polygamy is far from a good idea and comes with a host of problems such as jealousy and manipulation and favoritism. The Bible states that murder is wrong but frequently depicts war and violence as forms of justice. There is capital punishment in the Bible, Jesus said that it is okay to kill a home invader, etc.
Martin plays with violence and religion brilliantly. One of the reasons i love the Song of Ice and Fire series so much is because religion is important to all of the characters. People are mad at their own gods, devoted to them, violent towards people of other religions or even their own if they aren’t devout enough. Faith matters. In my own modern life i often feel like i am a freak for living my faith. Somewhat unusually, i’m not sure that any of the religions in ASOIAF are meant to be an accurate representation of Christianity. Worship of the Seven reminds me of Catholicism with a septogy rather than a trilogy, and the trees with faces remind me of the Burning Bush, but i find is a bit scary that the Lord of Light sounds the most like a Christian God (though actually there seems to be more correlations to the Muslim faith). While the Bible does say that incest is wrong, Martin shows you why…your kids are probably going to be insane. But underneath all of the novels there is one uniting thread, the Song of Ice and Fire. Winter is Coming, and with it a war between the forces of good and evil unlike any beyond memory. All of the characters, even though they may think they have nothing to worry about, are moving towards that eventual end. Good and evil are pulling at them, often times in ways that are completely beyond their control.
And possibly the most heinous of crimes that this series has…magic is real. Well of course it is. There are forces at work beyond our knowledge, but they’re still working towards the End Times. What would our technology of today look like to people who lived 100 years ago, let alone farther back? Magic. What do the plagues of Moses’ God look like to the Egyptians? A burning bush that isn’t consumed? Elijah stopping it from raining for over a year? Magic, magic, magic. There are things that we cannot explain, that doesn’t mean that God didn’t design science to work that way. The dragons’ magic is part of their genetic makeup and was passed down through the Targaryens. The Starks are descended from the First Men and have their own genetic heritage. Ice zombies are ice zombies, what do you want? This is fiction at its finest, it’s mean to prompt questions and make us think about the world around us. Fantasy can work as science fiction, too.
Back to the revelation that may have left some of you reeling. I write erotica? Why yes i do. I am a fanfiction writer who was frustrated when my ship didn’t pay off and was struggling with my sexuality. I am over thirty years old, a virgin, and my biological clock has been screaming at me for longer than i can remember. So i did what i do with most of my problems (after praying)…i wrote. I read others fanfiction. I did research about the physical processes. I did some hard thinking about my feelings and impressions and what i have been taught and observed within my lifetime. I used a process similar to what is discussed at more length in this article about Fifty Shades of Grey:
Many fans of erotica and fan fiction will be quick to explain that non-consent fantasies are hugely popular among female audiences. People that are much smarter and more educated than me have attempted to explain the reason for this and failed, so I am not even going to try. All you need to know is that it DOES NOT mean all women secretly want to be dominated/controlled and/or raped; it’s just a fantasy. These power fantasies are prevalent in both fan fiction and the romance genre. Fifty Shades of Grey is just one of many stories tapping into that desire, as anyone that is an avid reader of fan fiction or romance will be able to tell you.
The problem is that Fifty Shades of Grey is so mainstream now that many of the people reading it (and even more people that are about to see the movie) are unaware of the generic conventions of romance or fan fiction. They might not have read or seen anything like it before. They’re probably not part of a community that actively interrogates what they’re reading. And they probably haven’t had the chance to read countless different versions of the same story from different perspectives with different ideologies. So they’re not getting the whole picture. All they’re seeing is a wildly popular novel and movie that treats what is pretty much a textbook example of an abusive relationship as romantic and covers it up by calling it BDSM.
Yes. Science fiction, and reading in general, has always urged me to question my beliefs and preconceived notions. I am fine with this, i have never questioned my faith, i’ve only become stronger and identified why i believe what i believe, what evidence there is to support my position, and what must be taken on faith alone. I interrogate what i read and i like to talk to others who do the same about shows and books that we mutually love. I experience other peoples’ point of views while remaining true to my own.My fanfictions are sometimes a critique, sometimes a magnifying glass on the good that can be found in the work of art. I know that not everyone can understand that, and may condemn me for it, but i write for God, not for someone who might be offended. If i worried about that i would never write anything at all, because i’m sure i offend Satan if no one else.
So i feel a little strange about openly being a Game of Thrones fan. The TV series is far from perfect, but i always love seeing my favorite stories faithfully brought to the screen. The show has been pretty good at that overall, even if they have made mistakes along the way. I love long term character development and foreshadowing and conclusions that promise to be awesome. So i’m most eager for the next book in the series, but i’m still thrilled to watch my favorite characters come to life. Game of Thrones is completely honest that we are all sinners, and i love that. We all need God, we’re not born “good” or any of those platitudes. Our vows and beliefs can trap us but are what make us who we are. So even if Martin is being critical of Christianity (i’m not sure what he believes himself) his books are pretty awesome about being honest about some things that most people would rather ignore or cover up.