Questions of Taste: Dissecting the Dissection of Early Reviews of HBO’s Game of Thrones

Questions of Taste: Dissecting the Dissection of Early Reviews

April 9th, 2011

We are entering the period in which HBO’s Game of Thrones will be placed under the critical microscope – while a few early reviews (my own included, I guess) were overwhelmingly positive, it was inevitable that some less-than-positive reviews would filter in.

And thus begins the dance of deconstruction, as the reviewers interrogate the text and the fans interrogate the reviewers. It’s common practice in online criticism, although normally centered around films from beloved directors/studios or with considerable fan hype; by the time most television shows build up a substantial fanbase in later seasons, pre-air reviews are not particularly common, and are not nearly as contentious. At that point, the show has already been established, so a negative review is unlikely to make any real impact on a show’s success.

However, Game of Thrones‘ built-in fanbase has created a scenario not unlike the Rottenwatch trend within film, as each review is dissected and analyzed in order to explain – or, rather, explain away – the writer’s disappointment. Now, I have to be honest when I say that I generally find this practice problematic, especially since many of the people who are leading the charge have not actually seen the episodes in question (although I take their point that some of the reviewers make it seem as though they haven’t seen them either). While I think there is value in analyzing reviews of a particular program, and would certainly agree with some of the criticisms that fans have had for the reviewers in question, I find myself uncomfortable with some of the dismissal strategies being used in the process.

And, admittedly, I’m also uncomfortable that it’s only happening with the negative reviews.

For me, the most problematic pre-air coverage of Game of Thrones was incredibly positive. While I understand that IGN (considering its origins as a video game site) considers its primary audience to been adolescent males, and don’t necessarily view the article as reflective of the writers who work for IGN (who are friendly and supportive on Twitter), their “hype” article previewing the series concerns me in regards to questions of gender. Entitled “Why We Freakin’ Love Game of Thrones,” the piece lists a number of reasons why the writer (Matt Fowler) is excited about the series, which are summed up in the subheader:

“Beheadings, zombies, jousting, direwolves, barbarians, boobs and the threat of a never-ending nightmare frost. Yeah, we’re kind of in lust with this project.”

And when the article was tweeted (and then retweeted by the official Game of Thrones account), the point was even more succinct (and alliterative!): “Beheadings, barbarians, bastards & boobs. Why We F***ing Love Game of Thrones.”

Now, one could argue that this is typical within a particular type of online television discourse, and this is certainly true. And the piece is clearly aiming for humor, what with its playful captions on the chosen images, so one could argue that my distaste for the piece is just that: a matter of taste related to the humor involved. And yet, I still find subject headings like “From Throning to Boning” to be extremely problematic in terms of gendering the series from a male perspective, regardless of whether or not I found the captions humorous. The section is paired with an image of Lena Headey which suggests that she will “turn thy butter into cream,” and the subheading and the tweet both highlight “boobs” despite the fact that the series’ depiction of sexuality does extend to male cast members; as a result, the piece becomes a perpetuation of some pretty limiting male stereotypes which could be seen as dismissive of female readers (who don’t even get a token “There’s some hot guys for the ladies too,” although that wouldn’t exactly solve some of the larger problems with the piece’s rhetoric and its distribution).

I focus on IGN’s piece here because, generally, the piece has not been subject to any sort of wide-scale dissection. Now, there are some comments on the piece that point to some concerns over its professionalism (and a few stray message board comments lamenting the reductive discourse), but most simply dislike Fowler’s writing style (which was praised by many other commenters, and which is again a matter of taste). Of course, the same comment section also features these gems: “If Lena Headey gets naked in this one, I will be all over this shit!” (asianmacker); “i just want to see the fights and boob’s” (TiaanScheepers). These comments are unavoidable, and even sites like The A.V. Club are often inundated with such obnoxious and borderline sexist comments in its discussions; however, the problem with IGN’s article (and the way in which it was pitched on Twitter) is that it perpetuates that discourse, welcoming a limiting and reductive view of the series which risks marking it as distinctly male.

[Edit: As Knurk points out in the comments, Fowler actually wrote something closer to a traditional pre-air review on Friday (after most of this post was written already), which moves away from the comedy in favor of a pretty stock look at the premiere. Like I said, the comments above are not about Fowler so much as they are about the initial piece, so I have no problem with IGN’s subsequent coverage (even if that “epic win” in the subheader can’t help but make me cringe a little ).]

However, IGN’s article is largely accepted because it was positive. By comparison, negative reviews have resulted in fact-finding missions designed to contextualize (and dismiss) the author’s critical perspective, which has led to considerable discussion into their authority as critics – seeing what else they liked in comparison becomes a way to potentially discredit their point of view. After I tweeted about the fact that the first three “negative” reviews were written by women, a discussion erupted in a post about the negative reviews at Winter is Coming, and most commenters were right to point out that their issues did not distinctly relate to gender (focusing instead on their approach to fantasy as a genre and their general writing abilities). I realize that my comment could have been seen as an accusation that the fans were attacking the critics because they were women, but this was certainly not my claim and it has not been proven true in the resulting discourse.

My concern, though, was that the fact-finding missions were revealing details that did seem to be implicitly related to questions of gender. Kate O’Hare, who writes for Zap2it, was discovered to be a fan of Dancing with the Stars: accordingly, one of the comments that made it onto her review before she shut down comments suggested that

“Once you said you watched trash like dancing with the stars, your opinion became worthless.”

This may not be indicative of the larger fanbase, but it reflects the degree to which reality television has become gendered in online discourses, and how Dancing with the Stars in particular skews heavily towards female viewers (and journalists). Meanwhile, a commenter at Winter is Coming responded to Caryn James’ review of the series by finding a previous article she had written about Twilight and Red Riding Hood, essentially concluding that she only enjoys fantasy worlds aimed at teen girls. Now, that commenter was focused more on the question of fantasy than on the question of gender (which they tiptoe around), but bringing Twilight into the conversation plays into some highly gendered discourses (and seems a bit fallacious given James’ disdain for both films in question within that piece).

One could argue that this is a simple matter of taste: just as the Wall Street Journal’s Nancy Dewolf Smith was criticized for praising Camelot (which most critics panned) in the same article in which she dismissed Game of Thrones, O’Hare and James are criticized for praising (or preferring) pop culture texts that are considered of low quality within certain circles. Also, the bulk of the discussion surrounding these articles looks at how O’Hare and James seem particularly disillusioned by fantasy in general, and the role that their lack of appreciation for the genre plays (or, rather, should play) in their reviews. This resulted in a conversation about whether fantasy is gendered, which led to some compelling (if sometimes a bit distressing) comments over at Winter is Coming.

However, I find myself worrying about the optics of the situation, and whether or not the gender of the reviewer contributes to some of the comments left on these reviews. In the majority of cases these are not intentionally gendered, but I can’t help but feel that the following comment is particularly concerning in this situation:

“Clearly the negative reviews were written by people who weren’t spanked enough (or were spanked too much) as children.”

These kinds of comments are par for the course when negative reviews of a fan-heavy project are being discussed, but their meaning seems different when aimed at female reviewers. Take, for example, the following:

“Extremely poor and narrow-minded reviewers: too many people do jobs not suitable for them…”

I realize that I’m largely being paranoid here, perhaps too sensitive to the gendered optics, but there is something disturbing about seeing the typical rejection of negative reviews aimed squarely at three female “critics” (or, more accurately, journalists – I’d actually be reticent to calling any of this criticism, although some might disagree). This is a male-dominated field reviewing a show that one could argue is aimed more towards male reviews, so to see the marginalized female reviewers being ostracized for a minority opinion and deemed unsuitable for the position sets off alarm bells for me.

I tweeted yesterday that I wanted a male reviewer to write some negative impressions – while some presumed this was because I wanted to avoid the optics of the series seeming gendered, in truth it was to avoid seeing the typical “Negative Review Breakdown” discourse become gendered. To give credit where it is due, almost none of the comments on the reviews explicitly attack the writers based on their gender. I also don’t want to make it seem as though the fans are wrong to be criticizing these reviews: all three do seem slanted against fantasy as a genre, unwilling to readjust their expectations to consider the show from a different angle, and I like the response from some fans that these reviews are actually heartening for those concerned the series had lost its high fantasy essence. This is not a genre that appeals to all viewers, and there will be negative reviews that fail to find what fans have found in the series.

But at the same time, I think that we need to be very careful about outright dismissal of these opinions. I am all for analyzing their argument and pointing out some of the logical fallacies involved, but the idea that they are wrong for having a negative opinion is concerning. The problem with Armond White, for example, is not that he doesn’t like things; his review of Toy Story 3 was not problematic because it was negative, but rather because it made no sense. While we often search for reasons to invalidate the opinion of critics based on their personal taste, in truth that is unnecessary and often risks treading into dangerous territory; all we really need to do is look to their arguments, and we’ll often discover that a reviewer has written two paragraphs in a grab bag review that seems to betray a less than rigorous viewing of the episodes available (as is the case with the Wall Street Journal).

More reviews are going to come in over the course of the next week, and the Metacritic page (which went up earlier today) will become a space where negative reviews are highlighted and targeted by fan groups. There will be negative comments, there will be accusations of incompetence, and I am sure that there will be some intelligent dissection of the arguments in question. I just hope that fans try to steer clear of personal attacks, and that the gendering of this early discourse could perhaps shed some light on why such attacks risk perpetuating pre-existing issues relating to gender and other forms of marginalization within this industry.

I also hope that we’re willing to analyze and consider positive reviews with a similarly critical eye – some of the reviews that will be ranked highly on Metacritic might also lack rigor, or might also misrepresent the series and its fans, and I don’t want all of fans’ attention to be focused on those who do not share their opinion. I point to the IGN article to demonstrate that it isn’t just those writing negative reviews who risk misrepresenting the series, and to try to encourage a discourse driven less by positivity and negativity and more by the actual quality of argumentation and analysis being undertaken.

I know that might seem a bit idealistic, but I feel it’s a point that needs to be made.



Filed under Game of Thrones

79 responses to “Questions of Taste: Dissecting the Dissection of Early Reviews of HBO’s Game of Thrones

  1. Theamberkey

    Thanks for writing this. I too was disturbed by much of the reaction to these negative reviews, and hadn’t even considered some of the further gender implications that you describe.

  2. First I have zo say that I didn’t even notice they were all written by women. And of the three reviews I only have an issue with one, the one that mentions weird alien kids who have blonde hair. and the inexplicable weather patterns, where they have snow in the North and hot deserts in the South. Oh, and using a language that says Khal instead of King is obviously borderline crazy…

    I can’t think of a reason, why this should be even considered as a valid review. I think the main reason for it was simply to get more traffic to the blog. and it worked perfectly…

  3. Lewis

    It is interesting that you go to such great pains to discourage a narrow dismissal of critics on the basis of gender, and yet those same critics go out of their way to dismiss fans of this material as largely adolescent/infantile, fanboy, role-player, and male.

    • Becky

      Lewis – “(S)he started it” is not a reason to invalidate the concerns of this article. Fan-based reactions almost always become wildly emotional, especially when the source of entertainment is spoken of negatively. Critiquing their reviews, using level headed logic is fine, but outright dismissing them because they are negative is not.

      The author of this article is only warning us to deconstruct negative reviews as objectively as possible, rather than get all worked up because someone doesn’t like what we like. Sure, have a negative reaction, but don’t let it become a nerd rage situation.

      Thank you for this article, Myles. It is an excellent exercise in perspective, and one that will keep my own knee jerking to a minimum.

      • Lewis

        In no way am I attempting to invalidate the entirely valid concerns that Myles has raised here. I was simply pointing out that these reviewers are being as disrespectful to the audience as Myles is accusing their detractors of being towards them. As such, the tone of their reviews makes it very difficult to evaluate them objectively.

    • Lewis, I think this is a fair point, and you’re right that it fans the flames in regards to the struggle of “fans” within popular discourses surrounding fantasy and other genre fare. I would argue that the WSJ article in particular reduces the show’s audience to infantile fanboys, and I would certainly criticize that particular characterization. I was also pleased to see some very well-reasoned arguments in opposition to this generalization within the discussion thread at WiC.

      However, as Becky points out, the goal is to stop the cycle of dismissal – it’s a challenge, absolutely, but I think it’s something to strive for. You make it seem like I’m defending the critics, but in truth I found all three articles to be pretty indefensible – I just don’t think that attacking them for it does any good, especially given the intelligence and commitment of this fanbase. Y’all are better than that.

      • The best way to show these critics that ASOIF fans are not infantilized fanboys is to react like completely infantilized fanboys when a reviewer dares (what gall!) to shite upon your beloved series, surely.

  4. As always, a very good piece. You’re right, I was one who assumed at first you were just hoping the criticism wouldn’t turn on gender, but I suppose the bigger concern in some ways was that the perception of the criticism would focus on gender. I, too, am glad that largely the responses hasn’t really focused on gender at all.

    I did see and retweet IGNs piece, but I admit, its style is … well, not one I’d have thought was best conducive to selling the show to a general audience (then again, I know my own isn’t, either; I’m generally speaking to the fans), but I suppose IGN isn’t aimed at a general audience either.

    I think there certainly is within SF/F genre circles a sort of knee-jerk response to negative criticism of SF/F works from “outsiders”, especially when it seems that the critical remarks appear rooted in questioning the validity of the genre in the first place, or implying that it’s immature.

    To take the WSJ piece as an example, many fans of the fantasy as a dramatic space capable of “seriousness” probably felt some disgruntlement to the fact that Camelot, a show which seemed from the start to be aimed at at a very youthful demographic in terms of casting, storytelling, etc., was praised (as light-hearted entertainment, perhaps, which to some would be damning with faint praise) while Game of Thrones was met less positively; it implies that fantasy-as-fluff is acceptable, but “serious” fantasy is not.

    It’s quite hard to take a two-three paragraph review very seriously, as you’ve also noted. And at the same time, even longer reviews may be enthusiastic for reasons well outside of what the show actually offers up, or may have dubious reasoning, or may indicate (in the case of one positive review I’ve seen) fairly little if the writer seems to habitually praise everything that comes along.

    I know I’m squarely in the fan bracket, and will never really have a critical objectivity. And it’s ultimately interesting to see that many critics can’t really nail that objectivity either — in either direction. This may be one reason that Alan Sepinwall’s review may be the one I am most eagerly anticipating, simply as a writer I generally find pretty objective, and who hasn’t actually read the books.

  5. TC

    I made many of the same points on in those discussions. People have to consider the main reason why they care if a critic likes or dislikes a show. Their negative opinion certainly isn’t going to dissuade the devoted fan from watching.

    So the only reason I care about a reviewer’s negative review is that it may keep other potential viewers away, which effects ratings, and in turn the chance for additional seasons of the show. So if I am going to comment on a review that I disagree with I feel it is important to be respectful, not because the review itself deserves respect, but because the non-fan reader of this reviewer probably has similar tastes and that is who you are trying to convince to give the show a chance. Rip the review to shreds by pointing out problems with the review itself and not by attacking the author or dismissing them because of the author’s other tastes. Doing so is basically the same as the reviewer who is auto-failing Game of Thrones because it is fantasy.

    That being said I do consider the negative reviews that have been posted so far to have large gaps of incoherency in describing what they really dislike besides the fact that it is fantasy. Some of the reviews also feel a need to resort to belittling of any one who might enjoy the show (Looking at you Wall Street Journal). The reviewer could have been a bit more professional and simply said the violence, gore and sexual content was too much for her tastes rather than implying anyone who might find it interesting “infantile and adolescent”. Especially considering none of the topics discussed are suitable for adolescents.

    • Kim

      not so,… the lady saying she “didn’t care” is expressing that the flick failed to spend enough time setting up characters. That, and she clearly doesn’t like backstabbing plots very much. To each their own.

  6. Targaryen Fanboy

    As a straight male who is 25, I also found the IGN article silly and offensive. I hope girls love the show as they do the books. It is rich with strong female characters. I consider Daenerys to be my most favorite character. And it’s really hard to have a hit show if just guys watch.

    I’ve stayed out of bashing journalists.

    • Ellen

      I totally agree. I’m a 21 year old female, and I’ve been a fan of the books for years, so I was always planning to watch the show regardless of initial reviews. If my first exposure to the series had been an article saying “YAY BOOBS AND GORE”, though, then I would probably have written it off. Yes, there’s a lot of sex and violence, and yes, some of it is arguably gratuitous, but there’s so much more range and depth (to the novels, and, I hope, to the show) as well.

  7. I want to add to my previous post, that I’m really looking forward to an objective review. I like learning about the negative things, but they need to be presented with a better reason than simply something on the lines of “if you like this crap, I’m way better than you”…or the other way round…I actually got pretty bored with the extreme excitement everyone had over every new sentence about GoT. The tiniest, dullest thing got several posts full of exclamation points!!!!! ( 😛 )

    I admit that I have been playing up some of my enthusiasm on my posts, simply to make the post less dull, but I’ve also always told my views on the things I didn’t like (the poster taglines, the (so far very few) scenes that I’ve seen that were changed for no apparent reason, the way every single new teaser had the same lines over and over and we got several teasers every week)

    I’m a huge fan of the books, and most likely I’ll love the show too, but I’m sure there will be things I’ll dislike or even hate about it. I seriously doubt it will be the fact that it’s hot in a climate that has deserts… It would be nice though to know what parts I actually can expect to cringe about.

  8. Coltaine777

    I personally don’t have a problem with negative reviews of the show ….but when there incoherent and absolutely silly I have a problem….there were a couple negative reviews I read that were just ridiculous ….pretty much ” I didn’t like it cause it’s fantasy” type reviews…they deserve to be ridiculed IMO

  9. Cardus

    Anyone want to comment on the fact that this batch of three “negative” reviews contains very few negative comments? Two of the three highlight various strengths of the show whilst dismissing it for its genre trappings (Caryn James) or for bizarre personal meteorological and paleontological reasons (Ms. O’Hare).

    The WSJ piece is such a joke as to be unworthy of comment, but we should expect nothing else of that reactionary rag when it comes to the Opinion section…

  10. Schlafmohn

    Thank you for this great write-up. I also felt uncompftable reading some of the comments on WiC, while thinking about wether things said could also be said about some positive reviews that were not complaint about so much. But I figured I was being oversensitive because (1) I’ve seen much worse flaming and trolling on the internet and (2) because I love the books and want it’s fans to be ‘classy’, genuine and free-thinking (yes, a very overbearing whish, but I can’t help it). So my initial second hand embarassment was not really appropriate, I told myself.

    Many comments probably were (like you all already said) made out of a spontanious emotional reaktion. I blame this mostly on the anonymity of the internet. If your going to criticize a person face to face you tend to be more diplomatic and think before speaking. Flaming the reviewer kind of satisfies you in your (not fully inappropriate) anger, especially if you’re not facing any personal consequenes. And if a review is positive, but written poorly why bother picking it apart and risk seeming to be a ‘party pooper’ and equally flaming someone who is enthusiastic in their own way about what you hope to love?

    However on Westeros and WiC, I think the percentage of people who try to have a diffentetiate opinion and are able to realize when they’ve gone overboard with some comment they made (or at least are willing to discuss it) is higher than on your average fandom-forum.

    But that just means an article like yours will get some people thinking and is not wasted. I actually hope it gets linked by at least one of the sites, perhaps when an other negative review will come up. Perhaps some more people will realize that offencsive comments will not shed a good light on you.

    (My response is not so well written as the other’s because I’m simply not as ‘well-spoken’ and I’m not a native speaker. But I hope I got my points over well enough.)

  11. elZoido

    Thank you very much for this thoughtful post about the ongoing debate. I would love to contribute something useful, but I agree with your entirely. While being a little upset with the hodge-podge nature of the negative reviews, I felt even more irritated by the poison that was instantly spreading in the comments.
    Btw, metacritic is listing the WSJ review as mixed review. How should a negative review top “But then we’re back to the familiar favorites of the infantile” and “One way or another, it was always about the thong.”?

  12. cyloncaprica

    Talking about gender issues regarding professional critics is one thing. But including the commenters is a different one and quite far-fetched, because you can’t always tell which gender those commenters are. For instance my personal Game Of Thrones online/RL fandom network consists of 90% females and most of them laughed at the poorly written negative reviews, too.

    • I take your point, but I also would disagree that the gender of the commenter makes any difference – the anonymous nature of internet comments means that the text itself can be interpreted any number of ways, and my concerns are not espoused on the impression of male fans “attacking” female critics. Regardless of the gender of the commenters in question, the discourse stumbles into some troubling spaces, and I that does a disservice to both the series’ fans and the critics in question (regardless of their gender on some level, but in other instances specifically related to their gender as can be seen here).

    • Sard


      1) Female people can be sexist, and
      2) It is possible to ridicule a low-quality review without being sexist.

  13. Knurk

    It would be interesting to update this artice with Mat Fowler’s second review which is very different and more down to earth than his first one. Is it a response to some comments saying the first review was an ‘abomination’ or was the first review ‘just’ to excite a lot of IGN-readers who aren’t familiar with the books and want ‘gore and boobs’.

  14. Theano

    Thanks for this piece.

    I always have a problem with highly negative responses by fans to negative reviews (whether the reviews are coherent or not), because those responses reflect the quality of the fan base, to me. Will newbies want to read or watch a series whose fans react in such a knee-jerk way?

    We can never tell who’s reading our responses to reviews. As “evangelical” fans who love to get more people involved in our obsession, I think we have a responsibility to watch the impressions we may make with our own responses.

  15. OldDarth

    Hell hath no fury like a fanboy spurned.

  16. rosengje

    I completely agree that it’s troubling for those negative reviews to seem more oriented toward dismissing fantasy as a genre. However, as someone who has become increasingly disillusioned by the overwhelmingly dominant male perspective in television criticism, I have to wonder why such issues haven’t been broached before. The past year alone has seen series like Huge and Downton Abbey completely ignored by many upper-tier critics for reasons as rote as “it’s not in my wheelhouse” or comparable genre-dismissing comments. It’s hard not to notice that both series occupy traditionally female-skewing spaces.

    Mildred Pierce was also subject to concerning biases. While I have loved to the series thus far, I would never deny that it is flawed. However, many critics seemed put off by the very time and attention devoted to such an obviously feminine text by HBO. I don’t remember hearing any such complaints about length last year when The Pacific arrived. Now I don’t want to necessarily get into a discussion comparing the merits of the two– my problem is that many people seem to find Mildred Pierce inherently less worthy of the HBO treatment than The Pacific, and it’s hard not to see a genedered argument therein.

    • All compelling points that I agree need to be examined on some level – I realized in writing this piece that I couldn’t tackle the larger gender issues without getting losing focus on the situation at hand, but this remains something I feel needs to be addressed in greater detail.

      As for Mildred Pierce, though, I will say that I think the length issue compared to The Pacific is a question of scale. The Pacific is very clearly delineated into ten parts, and tells a wide range of stories – by comparison, Mildred Pierce is more accurately a 5 1/2 hour movie divided into five parts somewhat arbitrarily, which puts it in that strange space between TV Movie and Miniseries and is more likely to raise concerns over length.

      But, that doesn’t disprove your larger point, and I really do intend on addressing this in the future.

  17. Nic

    Culture today is so committed to the rational, the scientific, and cold description-less writing, and to the extrovert. There is such a commitment to post-modernism, that a work such as Martin’s, which is in essence a good old fashioned romantic adventure story, often in some quarters is not well received. However, the fan base for this series is at heart, I think, romantic and passionate AND intelligent, which some do not seem to be able to equate with fantasy literature. But generally they are the people who haven’t read the books and dismiss them out of hand, because they are a bit “old fashioned”, or just plain weird. But to me they are Dickensian, Shakespearean almost, in the sense of human conflict, tragedy, and characterisation. And they have great depth. Apparently, there is a widespread view that daydreaming, fantasising is just not a very productive way to behave anymore. This is saddening. Fantasies deepen us and our connection with reality. They are important. They stop us from being mentally impoverished, even though as you grow up you should know when to control them. But, A Song of Ice and Fire is totally about the clash of our fantasy lives with reality.

    That’s why a fan base such as this takes offence so much. There is so much shallow, adolescent, lowest-common-denominator targeted dross in cinemas and on TV nowadays that when, on the rare occasion, those of the more romantic, deeper and intelligent, and introverted persuasion, get tossed a bone, it’s always nice when it gets panned! Not. Why shouldn’t we fight our corner? We don’t get this kind of stuff very often…

    Caryn James doesn’t have to like something, but it is offensive to call someone a “geek”, which to my mind means degenerate. My mind certainly hasn’t degenerated to a lesser mental state. The use of that word is a disgrace. I’m always offended when introverted people are put into boxes.

    • erin

      Thank you. I’m a woman, and I agree- I don’t want to be dismissed as a geek and the story I like as irrelevant and immature.

      Would I bash the reviewer for a negative review? No. But I would rather they have issues with the show and be somewhat unbiased, rather than dismiss it as silly and immature. What I think most people have a problem with is that some of negative reviews seemed just personal bias, without actually watching the story with an open mind. I’m absolutely ok with someone who just couldn’t connect with the story, who finds it too much for their personal taste- but then as a critic you should say that! They should say- “I found the acting, script, cinematigraphy, set design, etc.., to be top notch, but I personally couldn’t get into the story.”… This type of review would be accepted and understood. I feel the same for positive reviews BTW. I don’t want or care for a positive review because the writer is a fan of the novels, I want a positive review because they saw a few episodes and thought they kicked ass on every level… 🙂

  18. Kilroy

    It would almost be better to simply have a tag on certain reviews and which genres they dislike. Obviously a reviewer who doesn’t like science fiction would give a show such as Stargate Universe a less than average review but then we should ask the question, “Why are you reviewing a show in a genre you dislike?”. What’s the point of even reviewing something you don’t want to watch? Now as for the gratuitous nudity (male or female) shown in the series, if the nudity is warranted then I say it’s not gratuitous. If a sex scene is inserted outside anything written in the books then it’s completely gratuitous and put in for some other reason such as “Sex Sells” or “Eye Candy for Fans” or it’s additional writing via the show writers for some other plot reason. I would like to also point out that nudity has been edited out of the series as well. Catelyn Stark is nude in the book when she gets out of bed with Ned after their Maester comes in the room with a message from her sister. It specifically states that in the book. However in the Game of Thrones series she is fully clothed in a sleeping gown. So I suppose it goes both ways, more or less. Every review should be critical of opinion simply based upon personal likes or dislikes, both positive and negative reviews. Obviously fans will be more emotional in their discussions on negative reviews because they have a very positive outlook on the series. That’s the factor more than anything I believe. Emotional investment will almost always initially lead to irrational action or reaction over logical and calm response. Many will then take a deep breath and respond more rationally but we know that sometimes you just can’t help yourself and your fingers type faster than your brain can tell you to stop. Anyways, great article and it’s certainly food for thought.

    • rosengje

      Having critics review only the shows that fit comfortably within their favorite genres seems like a problematic mentality to me. I’m not naive enough to think that critics should be “objective” in their reviews– I enjoy getting to know my favorite critics’ points of view and learning to recognize trends in their writing. However, I do think the recap/episode review format has promoted a culture wherein critics become too tied to their own preferences and lose some distance/perspective about the shows in question as well as a sense of the bigger picture.

      • Kilroy

        As long as reviewers are open to other genres outside their own favorites then there will be a wide breath on what they are able to review. However they will most likely always review genres they dislike in a negative way. For example if I were a reviewer of music and I extremely dislike Rap and I listen to a Rap album, the chances of me giving it any sort of decent mark is pretty much less than average. The same no doubt goes for movies, TV, books etc. Regardless of their fan base, a reviewer has some sway with the public. Unfairly reviewing a show may chase away a certain number of possible watchers. So there is some kind of outcome that may negatively effect the show. – I also completely agree with you on the episodic nature of reviews. Each episode in their own may not be the best episode. Much like a single chapter in a book or the first chorus in a song might not be all that grand either. So to judge a book or song or TV show by a single element within it seems myopic and lazy. However if someone reviews these things based upon a larger segment, perhaps reading half the book or watching half an entire season or listening to a few songs of an artist, then perhaps I would take their opinion into greater account. Besides is this discussion even relevant due to the sheer number of reviewers? With anyone being able to start up a blog and with so many blogs out there, I suppose it’s fair to say if a reviewer is not your style then choose one of the hundreds out there that might be better suited for you. I’m rambling…

        • Kim

          yeah, if you review rap, you do need to give it a disclaimer if you hate rap. But if you can’t be fair, and judge it based on its own merits, and not preconceived notions – you gotta decline the paycheck.

          One of the “negative reviews” had reasonable points to make — “I didn’t care” among them. She also put in some not so reasonable points to make, or expressed good points too crudely.

  19. Sareeta

    I have a handful of reviewers I trust and those are the only reviews I pay attention to. Therefore, the Zap2It & WSJ articles really didn’t bother me because I am not familiar with either reviewer. Critics can’t help but be influenced by what they like or don’t like. A person who finds fantasy completely silly is probably not going to like Game of Thrones regardless of how good the acting and direction is. A person who loves Game of Thrones and has been following the production since the beginning is probably going to be more forgiving of the show’s faults. Of course my hope is that people who don’t like fantasy will still enjoy it.

    Also, I think the other TV interests of the reviewer are absolutely open to discussion. I hate pretty much all reality TV series and lean towards TV dramas. So a reviewer who is really thrilled with Dancing with the Stars but puts down Game of Thrones because she doesn’t like fantasy to be begin with loses validity…meaning, it’s clear from the get-go this is not her type of show. What’s the point of reading further? Why did she even bother reviewing something she knew she wouldn’t like?

    Also Winter is Coming is a GoT fansite. Many of these fans have been anticipating this series for several years and obviously get emotional when their most anticipated series is getting poorly written negative reviews from critics who seem to not even want to enjoy the series.

    While I don’t like the sexist aspect of some of these “Reasons you should watch” articles, HBO did market this as a series with sex. Most of IGN readers are male, so it’s not surprising that boobs and sex are cited as reasons to watch. Game of Thrones needs to have a large audience if it is to be a success, so even though I know there is more to this series than those aspects, if it will get people interested enough to watch, I will not complain.

  20. Pingback: Quick Hits: Big and small - Winter Is Coming

  21. Benedict

    Some fans have a tendency to dismiss these negative reviews because they desperately want to believe in the quality of the show. I don’t know if this is simply because a successful series will give us a long running series (something many of us want for Thrones), or if they feel the need to validate their own love of the books. Either way, this projected vanity is detrimental to the overall success of the show; better to discuss with the negative reviewers in attempts to change their mind than to dismiss their opinion and turn them off entirely by showing ourselves as a mean, narrow-minded fanbase.

    While all of the reviews mentioned in this article warrant critiquing (O’Hare did herself no favors by being so incoherent), none of them should be invalidated. I suspect they might be more indicative of how the masses might respond to Game of Thrones. Some people will tune in to see the blood and the boobs–and hopefully discover so much more in the viewing–while others will never get into a fantasy regardless of how many cliches it blows out of the water.

  22. TheMagus

    Wonderful read. I have been a huge fan of aSoIaF(A song of Ice and Fire) for years, and I have been excited for this series. This article is awesome as that it shows the blatant immaturity that IGN is doing to misrepresent the series. See the thing is that it as bad as the bad reviews that dismissed for it being fantasy. IGN make Game of Thrones look like something it is not. As an immature blood and gore show like Spartacus(I like Spartacus, I just enjoy it for what it is) but GoT is not that. It is a very human story, and has complex characters that are very human. There is sex, violence and all that but at its a core is its mature story. And I mean mature as that it handles themes that are beyond just sex and violence. IGn makes it look like a 300 wannabe, which GoT is not!

  23. Sard

    I’d hardly call those comments borderline sexist. Nevertheless, I’m glad someone else has picked up on the seriously disturbing tones in (cis male) fan reactions. Neither was the marketing entirely unimpeachable, but even if it was for shallow, image-conscious reasons, at least it wasn’t as bad as some of these articles and comments.

    In one interview clip, either Benioff or Weiss acknowledged that at least half the fans were female. I’m hoping that this is something they’ll bear in mind as they continue (knock on wood!) to work on the series; the atmosphere on the big fansites, which get all the attention, is male-dominated and extremely unfriendly to… well, most marginalized groups, really.

  24. Jac

    i have been a long time reader of the WiC site and there has been a definate increase in the nastiness of the comments particularly towards the negative reviews, before last week though the commenters on the site have been quite civil

    i think it’s coming from a place of increasing anxiety about the shows premiere and wanting big numbers etc we know that we need non AGoT book lovers to watch and stay with the show and found the WSJ and the O’Hare articles extremely frustrating and like a commenter said above some people typed with emotion before thought.
    both the writing of the “i don’t like/won’t watch the show because it’s fantasy” in the articles and the “you watch Dancing with the Stars therefore your opinion isn’t valid” response are equally unhelpful to the show

    i am pretty sure women who haven’t read the books weren’t the target of the IGN article and like myself they would hopefully trust the excellent Mo Ryan’s opinion before the WSJ reviewer – Mo’s writing about the books and the show was actually the reason i starting reading the series late last year

  25. Pingback: Boob Tube Dude » “Game of Thrones” Review: Boxed in by the weight of its source material

  26. Canary

    Honestly, I think you’re naive if you’re telling yourself, “Whew, these negative fan responses to the negative reviews aren’t gendered at all!” It’s pretty damn troubling to me that a lot of the criticism-of-the-criticism is so explicitly gendered, and I don’t think you can say that you’re being overly sensitive at all. Granted, I’m sure you’re hedging your bets here to try to soft-sell this, but ASOIAF fandom in general runs about as sexist as nerd culture in general, which is to say – quite a bit. I’m not remotely surprised by the response and the creepy tone of it.

  27. Myles, I’ve spent the last year or so being troubled by what seems to me a vaguely sexist idea of what constitutes a “good” TV show (particularly in the field of drama) over the past year or so. But I have trouble separating what critics–whom I generally hold to be responsible–write from what is written in their comments sections (and I have a harder time separating AV Club comments from other comments because I read so many more of them). So I haven’t really written anything about it because, well, people can think whatever they want, and a few jerkasses in a comments section on the Internet aren’t representative of “the Internet” or of anything other than the fact that they might think it’s funny to deride one of the writers I work closely with for enjoying, say, a Real Housewives show. And, honestly, it’s hard to say to people, “YOU SHOULD HAVE LIKED HUGE, AND YOU WERE WRONG NOT TO!” when it’s all a matter of taste anyway. But there is a weird tinge of oddness to a lot of Internet discussion about TV that rubs me the wrong way much of the time, and it’s something I sometimes can’t put my finger on.

    Put another way: I think there are a lot of people who don’t like Glee because it’s a confusing mess of a program, but I think there are MORE people who’ve never watched or given it a chance because it’s a musical, and a musical could never be good, right? Because girls like it, amirite? High five! (Rosengje has some very good points above about the reaction to Mildred Pierce in this regard. The refusal in some quarters to take a Todd Haynes film starring an all-star cast seriously because it’s about a woman is really shameful. Doesn’t mean you have to like it, but at least engage with it. Again, though, this isn’t critics. It’s “the Internet.” And who the fuck knows what that means anymore?)

    This is an interesting parallel with GoT, which does seem to be running into some, “Ew, this is fantasy?” reactions. At the same time, liking it DOES seem to be precipitated on at least having a certain openness to the genre, and some people just aren’t going to be able to make that leap, even if the fantasy elements here are extraordinarily muted (and all but non-existent). It’s a talky, talky show about the brutal nature of life in medieval Europe, and that’s never going to be for everyone. (One of the smartest things I’ve heard in recent years was when Matt Zoller Seitz said–of Inception, I believe–that any time you respond to something so heavily as to LOVE it, you have to accept that there is someone out there who will respond to that material in the exact opposite fashion. A lot of people have trouble working within this framework. I know I did for quite a while!) A lot of the reception of the project reminds me of the reception of The Dark Knight and Inception, in some ways. The love for those films from certain groups was seen as a validation of the TYPES OF THINGS they liked. (I should clarify and say that I like but do not love both films.) The Dark Knight’s success, in particular, became a stand-in for respectability for comics projects in general, and its greatness was accepted to be so self-evident before release that anyone who didn’t like it had to have something wrong with it. (I know one writer who criticized the film and received death threats for what was a very mild pan.) The reaction was way, way over the top because some folks needed that film to be good to justify their love of something that society often finds disreputable. Some of that is going on here, I think, though I do not think the fervor here is nearly as bad, and the GoT super-fans seem much less angry at people who don’t like the series than the Dark Knight fans were. (That said, it’s still early, and TV tends to mute these reactions since critics often see so many more episodes than viewers do.)

    Lord, where am I going with this?

    Right. I’ve been working my way through the first six, a bit more slowly than some critics (because I seem to have an insane amount of stuff to write this week and I got the screeners later than most critics), and I’ve been offering very general opinions on Twitter. Based on the first four, I’d write a recommendation, but not an outright rave. (I’ve heard from enough people that five and six really seal the deal in the way, say, Sopranos’ “College” did or the way The Wire’s “Old Cases” did that I’m definitely watching the rest before writing my review.) But when I said something about enjoying the episodes more as they went along, someone asked me on Twitter, “So you like GoT now?” This struck me as mildly ridiculous. I’d never done anything to indicate that my concerns with the series were anything but minor ones in the sweep of the series’ scope and ambitions, simply things I didn’t find as well-realized as other aspects of the show. But all too often, a B or B+ gets turned into an F in Internet discussion. You either absolutely love something or you’re a hater. And the lack of nuance drives me a little nuts. That, again, is some of what I’m seeing happening here, where very real criticisms of the show are being written off as people not being willing to engage with the material.

    As an example: One of my bigger problems (and one of the things keeping my podcast co-host from embracing the project as much as I can) is the sheer amount of female nudity on display with little to no equivalent male nudity. It’s one thing when a character is on display for story reasons, as one woman is in particular. But in a lot of cases, it feels like random objectification, done because the audience would like that sort of thing. It’s not something the series terribly needs, and it doesn’t feel like it ties into the series’ larger thoughts about women’s roles in the Middle Ages in any real way. It’s just kind of THERE. But this doesn’t mean I’m not really enjoying what I’m seeing. It’s just a criticism. Yet I’m sure when I write it down, there will be plenty of folks who suggest that I either don’t get the genre or don’t like breasts because I’m some sort of slur or something like that. Again, I know I shouldn’t care, but the fervor around this series strikes me as unlike anything I’ve seen on TV ever before (even the last season of Lost couldn’t really compare in terms of naked need for this to be good), and it’s both interesting and a little scary.

    • Oh, I’m bringing up the boobage because it does seem to inform the WSJ negative review, at least.

      • rosengje

        This. I’ve been secretly hoping for an entire podcast devoted to this subject. It was actually Todd and Myle’s coverage of Huge this summer (as well as a few comments on the TVOTI podcast) that first made me reassess how critics defined good and worthy television shows, and the gendered undertones that accompanied those definitions. So thanks for jading me, guys!

        Again, I’m not trying to imply that the shows that these female-skewing shows are perfect. Many critics raised legitimate objections to Mildred Pierce when they weren’t busy making pejorative comments about the time spent watching Mildred learn the intricacies of the restaurant business. Similarly, I am the first person to say that Glee is a mess. But many comment sections a general disdain for the mere concepts of these series. For a surprisingly vocal segment of the commenting internet, The Good Wife is incapable of ever being a good tv show by the very nature of its title.

        Perhaps even more worrisome is the fact that these biases are not limited to the comments. Alan Sepinwall has been my favorite television critic for years, but this is how he chose to start his belated review of Downton Abbey:

        “Other US critics reviewed “Downton Abbey” and swooned over it, and I didn’t doubt it was a very effective example of what it was. I’ve just never cared for what it is. ”

        Does that really not bother anyone else? Really?

        • Danny

          I’m confused (genuinely) by your beef with what Sepinwall wrote. He goes on to IMMEDIATELY acknowledge that “We all bring our own preconceptions and prejudices to entertainment.” It’s simply true- we are all predisposed to liking stories from our favorite genres. Why is it suddenly wrong to admit it? If anything, it helps to accurately contextualize the review- he liked, but didn’t love, the show, and he implies that he didn’t respond well to some aspects of the show largely due to the fact that he simply is not very engaged by class-based British period pieces. I can’t believe anyone would complain about that level of honesty.

          • rosengje

            ITA that I like knowing critics’ preferences. I like knowing that Fienberg dislikes cop shows, and that unresolved sexual tension is the bane of Sepinwall’s existence.

            There’s just something about the wording of parts of that review and aspects of a dismissive tone that really rubbed me the wrong way. Shrug.

      • rosengje

        And on the issue of boobs. I’m a lady, and while that has never prevented me from watching a show, it definitely bothers me. Frankly, it kind of soured me on parts of Boardwalk Empire by the end of that first season.

        • Cat

          I probably shouldn’t comment on this but I am also a female and I have no objection to nudity when it creates a story atmosphere. There is gratuitous sex that can be slightly uncomfortable in some shows like Boardwalk or even True Blood that’s meant to keep the interest of it’s viewers but have no relevence to the story. In GRR Martins writing, I never felt that his sexual scenes were there just to keep a horny audience lucid. They were raw and intense and very rooted in reality that no one wants to admit to. Martins prose about virginity, rape, incest, flowering, whoring…never felt gratuitous in his writing. It was more real than most writers have ever put on paper due to it’s honesty. Don’t feel uncomfortable about the nudity. When Martin wrote it, it was meant to be honest and there are very VERY few MALE writers, who can write women the way he does. He get’s us which makes him gold.

          • Cat: There are absolutely places in this series where the female nudity is necessary to the story. But the vast majority of instances just seem to have breasts for the sake of having breasts.

          • Cat

            Todd, I’m not disagreeing with you. Most shows do that. I’m going to say this one most likely won’t do it just to do it. I already know that 2 scenes in Game of Thrones the book had the characters nude. The show chose to clothe the actors instead.

        • Kim

          Inuyasha had a hilarious bit with boobs. Sometimes it’s awesome, and sometimes it’s… horrid. The new Evangelion’s use of panty-shots is tongue-in-cheek funny (check out the watermelon scene!)

    • Damn, Todd, you brought in like four different excellent topics of conversation there. I think your initial point – that criticism is weighted towards males and male-oriented shows is worth exploring – although it might be worthwhile to look at it compared to television as a whole.

    • Dan Mulhern

      Todd, I think female nudity can be gratuitous, but it’s not always just for men. And nobody really likes to see male ffn.

  28. patrick

    You don’t like breasts? What’s wrong with you!

    Oh, and agree. Why does everything have to be so “team” based. You’re either on our team, or your against us. “Everyone who isn’t us, is an enemy.”

    Don’t be like Cersei!

  29. Cat

    Myles, Thank you for your perspective on the series regarding the fereved responses we fans sent en masse to the writers of the negative reviews. I was one who did comment on Ms. James review and I have no regrets for doing so. Her review was, no question, hostile towards the fanbase where she assumed the only fans of the series were young, immature, unintelligent and dominantly male. Her tone was haughty. She distanced herself by declaring she was a grown up while rest of the ‘fanboys’ and writers of the series were evidently the opposite – Geeks that lacked intelligence. She needed to know how wrong it is, as a journalist, to insult one’s ‘audience’ while trying to direct them in one way or another.

    It never occured to me that I was reproaching a ‘female’ critic. I was voicing my irritation to a critic who was attacking my identity. I am a 37 year old female System Engineer who picked up GRR Martins first of the series when I was 23 and had my heart stolen away by the Stark family and their Direwolves. I saw my quirky geeky self in Arya. The girl who didn’t fit it. The one who wanted to do the things the boys were doing. The one that was made fun of, called names and the review triggered my need to defend those Ms. James was trying to undermine which, in all sincerity, was me.

    Regarding Kate O’Hare, her review was all about her misguided philosophy about how fantasy should be written. Why she brought Sci-fi, Horror and Comics into the mix is a mystery to me. I was not offended by her ‘alleged’ review because she was honest about it and I did not feel provoked like I did with Ms. James.

    I have no intention of defending the personal attacks directed at all three critics, but I believe the majority of those who commented were trying to defend GRR Martin, who deserves an immense amount of respect, and their personal passion for the series. Some just handled it better than others. I guess my point is that, there is a huge female fantasy fan base out there that is under-represented and I just wanted to let you know that we are out there, you just need to look for us. Oh, and we don’t like being trashed as a ‘culture’. Judge the show, not the people who want to see it.

  30. Perspy

    Love this, thanks for posting it. 🙂

  31. Alice

    I think male “geek culture” is caught up in feeling indignation for how they were treated in high school and utterly lacking in empathy for far more marginalized groups.

    • EvilClosetMonkey

      This is exactly the sort of comment that drives me insane and not just because I happen to be a male geek. I’m not going to try to make the argument that geeks are/have been more marginalized than a host of otehr groups because that would be ridiculous. Besides, even if I were to be successful in making that argument, it is just offensive to another group to try to claim that my pain/anger/whatever is greater/more important/more valid than theirs.

      In fact, your statement is exactly the sort of thing that so many of “us” reacted to in those negative reviews. Most of the people I know in geek culture weren’t offended by the fact that those reviewers didn’t like the show; rather, what offended us was the implication that if you’re a geek you are somehow less than “normal” people. Between the insults, the at times incoherent writing, and that some of the “reviewers” not only seemed to make no attempt to move beyond their genre prejudices but they didn’t actually seem to bother to watch the shows in question (or if they did, they surely were not paying attention) it is really no wonder that people got bent out of shape. Did some people overreact and go WAY too far? Absolutely. However, there were also many well reasoned responses that addressed the review in question without attacking the reviewer. Let’s be honest, there are nutters in every group and they tend to be more vocal than your average person. But, just like I wouldn’t judge football players by the actions of Michael Vick or women by the actions of Elizabeth Bathory, please don’t judge geeks by the actions of some of our less savory members.

      For what it’s worth, I’ve found that at and people that express racist, misogynist, etc views tend to get shouted down by the majority that most certainly does not approve of their views.

      • Cat

        Thank you! You beat me to it but darn it if I don’t appreciate what you had to say AND you said it better than I could have.

    • Cat

      What a silly thing to say. What marginalized groups are you talking about? We geeks except all and everyone who appreciates the unique culture we have created.

      Male Geek Culture is still not taken seriously by many non-geek adults. Only in the last 2 decades has ‘Geek Culture’, male and female alike, embraced their creative and inventive minds and become a powerhouse. The world has changed because of us. Yes, sometimes our past finds a way in creeping back into our lives but only because we are still undermined on a social level. The last thing we lack is empathy. I honestly have seem more empathy and companionship from geek strangers standing in line for a book signing, or the newest gadget or in a blog about a well love series than from your average person who cares nothing for our interest.

    • Cat

      I’m still trying to figure out who these marginalized groups you’re talking about are, Alice. So I’m going to try to break this statement down and to discover them.

      What does this statement say about you? Since your signature is Alice, you are most likely a female. Also, your mention of male geek culture sort of confirms that you are. You separate yourself by calling male geek culture by using the word ‘they’. So again, still female, most likely not a geek.

      So, in high school, you either witnessed geek bashing which means you were either an enabler, in another sub-culture not geek like goth, punk or metal, or you were the bully that did the geek bashing.

      “Utterly lacking in empathy”, tells me you may not have any close friends that are geeks, or you have children that are geeks and have no clue how to communicate with them, or just don’t know any geeks personally. Except the IT guy that comes and fixes your computer when you break it but that doesn’t count unless your go to lunch or happy hour with him/her on the occasion.

      Now about these more marginalized groups. My co-worker and I, another geek, are trying to figure this one out. Who is more marginalized that the geek culture? He is our list of who we think that is: Furries, Vampire Goth, Asian Manga, Steampunk, S & M, Skaters and the debatable Hipster movement.

      My goal here is to provoke you to figure out who these marginalized groups are that you claim ,we geeks care, nothing about.

  32. Dan Mulhern

    Myles, it’s clear to me now that with language like “fanboy silly” (Caryn James), “adolescent-boy-action-show” (Nancy DeWolf Smith), and “boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half” (Ginia Bellafante), the critics are the ones guilty of bringing gender into the debate. The fans are alright.

    • poggy

      True, but when the (male) fan response is “OF COURSE all those reviews were written by women! women don’t get fantasy!” you’ll agree that’s hardly helping.

      • Dan Mulhern

        I’m sorry, read Ginia Bellafante’s review .

        SHE is the one saying women don’t get fantasy!

        “While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first. “Game of Thrones” is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half.”

        The same sentiment is found in Nancy DeWolf Smith’s and Carolyn James’ reviews. I think it’s ludicrous to be accusing fans of being out of bounds attacking clearly gender-biased reviews for being gender-biased.

      • Dan Mulhern

        Also, nobody is dismissing Mo Ryan’s B- review. Some more paranoid commenters were worried that she was putting a bad face on a show she liked, by overexplaining her misgivings. Like I said, paranoid. Noone said she didn’t get it because she’s a woman.

        Also, I really didn’t see any of the fans saying “OF COURSE all those reviews were written by women! women don’t get fantasy!”. I saw premature kvetching by critics anticipating this kind of backlash.

        • poggy

          Read the comments to’s post about GoT getting its first negative reviews and you’ll see what I’m talking about – which was before the (indeed appalling on every level) NYT review and Mo Ryan’s.

  33. Adam


    Someone might want to tell the folks at the New York Times that we’re trying to avoid genderizing the discussion surrounding A Game of Thrones.

    “The true perversion, though, is the sense you get that all of this illicitness has been tossed in as a little something for the ladies, out of a justifiable fear, perhaps, that no woman alive would watch otherwise. While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first. “Game of Thrones” is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half. “

    • poggy

      I facepalmed so. Hard. When I read that review. As a female ASoIaF fan I feel like I can’t win – mainstream critics assume I cannot possibly exist, and certain vocal groups of rabid fanboys are all “girls don’t get fantasy and if they do, they have to do it according to OUR RULES” (i.e. no pesky discussion of gender issues – that’ll spoil the fun!)

      …sigh. And to think that 90% of ASoIaF fans I know are women.

  34. Pingback: On Winter’s Doorstep: An Open Letter to the Game of Thrones Fandom | Cultural Learnings

  35. Kim

    No kvetch from me about any bad reviews [Not everybody needs to luv my show, honest! I threw a few hearts at Popcandy, cause she seemed on the edge…]. Except Bellafonte’s, which was a glove thrown down at fantasy readers in general, and female geeks in particular. She shouldn’t be surprised at being raked over the coals. Lady threw down a challenge.

  36. Johan

    I think it is very brave of you to bring this up. I brought up the issue of misogyny in A Game of Thrones on a large gaming forum (tabletop, thousands of users) and I was literally overwhelmed by dozens of hateful, aggressive posters going all out to discredit me. It wasn’t that they simply disagreed. They’d dismiss arguments out of hands, scour the forum for any previous post I’d made to use against me, gang up on me with successive posts reaffirming the mob mentality at me for having, apparently, perpetrated a felony thoughtcrime straight out of 1984.

    There’s a fairly obnoxious atheist fridge magnet that states “I don’t have a problem with God. It’s his fan club I can’t stand.” I only wish that they’d make one substituting GRRM for God.

  37. Pingback: Week 6: Matters of Taste – Yum Yum Yum Yum « Me and TV

  38. Pingback: Week 6: Fantasy Furore – The Reception of HBO’s ‘Game Of Thrones’ | Tomorrow Comes Early

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  41. Pingback: [Showcase Post Two] Matters of Taste: Fandom and Reviewing | Tomorrow Comes Early

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