April 15, 2011

Response to the NY Times Game of Thrones Review

When I sat down tonight I intended to write about my experiences with the Game of Thrones food truck last week and meeting George R. R. Martin. Instead I clicked on a review from The New York Times about Game of Thrones.  It sidetracked me.  The review by Ginia Bellafante feels like a direct slam against a woman like me. A woman that loves Game of Thrones. It feels like a flaming insult to geek girls. It was such a direct contrast of an article from Wednesday that Susan Young wrote for MSNBC about geek girls powering viewership for sci-fi/fantasy TV that I was jarred. Then I was angry.

Why did the article get my geek girl knickers in a twist? I encourage you to go read it, but I'll pull out some highlights:

“Game of Thrones” is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half.”

“...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."

At least she concedes that there are women in the world who read Mr. Martin's books... right after she states that no woman alive would watch the show without the added "illicitness."

Ms. Bellafante: How about you, I don't know, get crazy and try to seek out a female fan of Game of Thrones? Trust me, there are thousands of them! Then you could have asked her why she likes the series. Or you could have been more scientific and asked lots of female fans. This is better than simply making the arrogant claim that this is boy fiction.

I am a woman. I read and adore A Song of Ice and Fire (the series of which A Game of Thrones is the first book), and I will be watching the show. Another woman recommended the series to me. In my personal experience, I have seen more women showing excitement about Game of Thrones than men. I've seen this on blogs, on social media, at Game of Thrones events, and at conventions. I've sat on the Iron Throne, I've watched every trailer and making of for the series, and I've chased down the food truck and met George R. R. Martin. I am insanely excited to watch one of my favorite series brought to life. And not because of the sex scenes.

The series is hardly “boy fiction.” Where does this phrase come from?  Is it automatically for boys because there are swords and mutton?  The series weaves an intricate tale of power spread across a vast kingdom. The major houses play the game of thrones, and the lesser houses and peasants deal with the fallout. A vast Wall to the north keeps out Wildlings and supernatural beings. The seasons have no determined length and winter is coming. The characters are rich and layered (and yes, numerous), and none of them are safe. There are also a lot of kick-ass women and girls. Daenerys Targaryen, Cersei Lannister, Catelyn Stark, Arya Stark – they all survive hardships and fight in the best ways they know how. They fight for power, their families, and for their lives.

I will say that the fact that there is sex in the series does contribute to one of the reasons the series stands apart – it's gritty.  It is not your average fantasy tale full of squeaky clean Legolas-like characters (I do love Lord of the Rings, but it's a very different sort of story). The pages of the series are stained with blood and gore and lust. Do I pick up the books specifically for the sex scenes though? Not at all.

I'm not tuning into the television show to see sex either. I won't lie – I'm not unhappy about seeing Jason Momoa shirtless as Khal Drogo, but that isn't the primary reason I'm watching. I want to see Westeros on screen. The detailed, harsh world that George R.R. Martin created is bound to be visually incredible. I want to see the Wall and the White Walkers. I want to watch Cersei Lannister and Ned Stark exchange words like they are weapons. I want to see Arya learn how to dance. You get the picture, right? I'm not saying, “Wow, I can't wait for that Dothraki orgy scene.”  Of course, I can only speak to my feelings. Other women could be tuning in just for the “illicitness” but this woman would watch even if Jason Momoa kept his clothes on.

All this said, it is a review and Ms. Bellafante is entitled to her opinion (though I don't think it's much of a review - as Daniel Fienberg points out, it doesn't mention a single actor, character or plotpoint). The purpose of reviews is for stating opinions. She didn't like the show, so what?  But reviews are not for making sweeping generalizations about women. Generalizations that also happen to be incorrect. I understand that she may not personally know any geek girls. That doesn't mean we don't exist. One giant brush cannot paint all women the same color. It's presumptuous for anyone to think they can do so.

How dare anyone say that Game of Thrones is “boy fiction.” What a crude and useless phrase. I am proof that it is not the case, and I am not alone.

Also?  I love The Hobbit.

If you feel so inclined, you can submit a letter to the editor of The New York Times about the review.

113 comments:

  1. Poor pet; I think she's a bit perplexed by the idea of dealing with more characters than she has fingers to count them on!

    Let's hope there's someone to tuck her in on the couch with a nice glass of wine so she can enjoy a Sarah Palin documentary while the rest of us get down and dirty with Westeros ;)

    Also; she clearly had a traumatising childhood if she hasn't read/has issues with The Hobbit. Perhaps we can start a fund for counselling?

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  2. I cannot agree with you more. For a reviewer to believe, or claim, that female fans of this genre don't exist shows a lack of information. If anything, geek girls this year seem to be the most vocal about many things. Smallville, Supernatural, Game of Thrones, Doctor Who...shall I go on?

    While "traditional media" continues to wonder where all their readers have gone; fans have gathered together on the web to discuss, and debate all forms of entertainment. They want to know that people talking about what they are fans of actually are fans themselves. They don't need to be told that they aren't supposed to like it. It's like going back to being told, "Girls play with dolls and boys play with everything else."

    Thank you for writing this. Thank you for being excited about GoT. Most of all, thank you for being a geek..girl.

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  3. Thank you for writing this. My reaction to Bellafante's piece was a lot of swearing and sputtering. Your articulate response is much better.

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  4. Next thing you know, she'll tell us that "Star Wars is for boys."

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  5. I'm not female, but I was absolutely shocked to read such an article, especially on the NY Times website. The "review" itself seems based on the first episode, instead of the entire show. The reason AGOT has so many fans, male and female, is that it tells an intelligent story about struggle for power and the effects it has on everyone; the people that are involved directly and those that are only standing on the sidelines.

    And to make things worse, a lot of assumptions are made about the women that want to watch this show. Where I would expect that men would be found guilty of wanting to see the 'illicitness', I'm surprised to see women being the target of the accusation.

    Let's quickly forget about this presumptuous review, and look forward to the first episode of GoT!

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  6. I am *still* swearing and spluttering. Thank you for your response that says everything I'd like to (with far fewer four-letter words.)

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  7. Can't agree with you more!

    I read the review, and while I've seen a lot of people who do not understand fantasy at all, or it's readers, Ms. Bellafante's "review" was still appalling. Perhaps because it felt very offensive towards me, amongst all other "geek girls".

    I'm not complaining about shirtless males (or females, either), but it really is not a reason to watch this series. I, too, want to see this world other than only in my mind's eye. And that's because it's not prettied up, but very realistic.

    Thank you for a great read!

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  8. I couldn't agree with you more and I haven't even read the series! Yet. It's currently on my to-read list and *gasp* it was recommended by a GIRL!

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  9. Funniest quote: "HBO has distinguished itself as a corporate auteur committed, when it is as its most intelligent and dazzling, to examining the way that institutions are made and how they are upheld or fall apart... When the network ventures away from its instincts for real-world sociology..."

    Au contraire, dear Ginia. HBO is a morass of high-production, low-intellectual-content dramatic series. "Rome" as "real-world sociology"? That's a riot. Let's not forget the nature of TV, an art in the service of commerce. Sometimes it's still worth watching.

    Simply put, this reviewer doesn't grok the genre. Moreover, she's a typical low-brow HBO fan-girl, imagining that her consumption of historical drama (replete with errors and anachronisms) is somehow filling in the gaps in her education. Her snipes at women are just silly. This is a writer who mistakes snark for substance.

    It's not worth getting insulted about such silly reviews.

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  10. While i thinkmthe sexisim was terrible in this review. I was just as appalled at not reading an actual review. It was almostnasmif she was offended by something but didn't have the skill to pull off the snarky response.

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  11. Thanks for this- I think I sat wide mouthed for a few minutes after reading that review. If you don't like it, then fine, but the generalization about women? Insulting! Reminds me of that story of the little girl teased by little boys for liking Star Wars. Too bad this reviewer is really an adult- you'd never know it by that review, that's for sure.

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  12. I get the distinct impression that the NY Times reviewer has not read the books. It sounds like the illicitness is in keeping in line with the books and I believe she thought this was supposed to be more fantasy-like, something closer to the Lord of the Rings series. I just started reading the books myself and going in, that's exactly what I expected, but I discovered the story is much more than that, and much bleaker.

    And it's 2011, the whole prudish American sex thing? GET OVER IT ALREADY.

    And if the reviewer had problems keeping up with the characters, she probably shouldn't be a reviewer. How did she actually get a job?

    I also wanted to kick her in the teeth for her D&D reference, because it's so very obvious that she has no idea what she's talking about.

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  13. Loved your post. I just wrote my own (linking to yours :) on GeekMom :
    http://www.geekmom.com/2011/04/a-live-woman-whod-gladly-watch-a-game-of-thrones-even-without-the-sex-scenes/

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  14. Oh goody, yet another female journalist who doesn't seem to comprehend that not all girls like Sex in the City or the latest romantic comedy and that some of us might actually prefer sci-fi and fantasy.
    This is probably why I don't belong to a book club. They never read good books like The Hobbit.

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  15. Thank you. I read the review and was immediately bothered by the tone- since she seemed to be more interested in condemning anything related to sci-fi/fantasy than actually reviewing GoT itself.

    Frankly, it amazes me that she's a reviewer at all. What with having a hard time keeping up with a lot of characters.

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  16. Great post! I saw this one twitter, just after I had read that horrid article and was still steaming over it. I mean wtf! I have watched all the trailer and hoped that this would be awesome, since I love fantasy.

    If I want a silly show where there a shirtless guy every other second I would watch Legend of the seeker where they totally dropped the ball. Sure I like it, but it's not the reason why I watch.

    And I have no idea who the author she mentioned it

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  17. Well spoken ma'am. It takes a willful ignorance to toss that many generalities into a piece and call it a review. Thank you for calling her out and providing a counter point to her, well, not much of a point at all...

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  18. I concur with all above, and have nothing original to say other than I wanted to add my voice to the overall spluttering.

    I get this all the time, though. It's a surprisingly, depressingly widespread view. Apparently I shouldn't like Sci-Fi either, because i'm not a socially challenged teenage boy.

    *weary eye roll*.

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  19. Hear! Hear! I'm also a woman who's a huge fan of the books, and I've loved all the little clips and features on the show so far. I'm offended by this reviewer on behalf of both male and female fans because she basically dismisses us all as stupid, immature boys. I'm stunned to learn that fantasy is only suppose to appeal to guys. :P

    (BTW, I'd much rather participate in a book club discussing The Hobbit than something by some apparently popular author whom I've never heard of before.)

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  20. i haven't read the series and i'm not a geek. but hell...i've read the Hobbit, i occasionally enjoy Dr. Who, and i plan to watch Game of Thrones. why? because i know a lot of people (including women OMG) who are excited about it. you don't need to be a boy or even a geek girl to enjoy good fiction. Bellafonte has proven herself quite limited. maybe she should just keep watching reruns of Sex in the City or something. not that there's anything wrong with that either. its just that most of us cool chicks have room for both.

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  21. YOU HAS GET A NEW FAN!

    Great and inspiring speech... i guess that miss still live in a world where woman do neddle wroks and sharing gossip in the kitchen... but that make me wonder how she didnt get identify with Sansa!

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  22. I can not understand why such a review would not only be written, but submitted, approved and printed. From the first words it's nothing but a slam against anyone who likes the genre. Male fans can only be boys and women can't even exist? Perhaps Geek Girls are a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, but that doesn't negate the fact that we do exist!

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  23. This is not the first time Ginia Bellafante has written a "review" of something she obviously neither saw (at least not attentively) nor knew anything about. Seriously - do a google search for her, she's pissed off nurses, geeks, and a whole load of other people - usually the women she's supposedly writing for.

    Oh yeah, and I'm a woman who loves the series as well.

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  24. Well written response. I, too, am a girl who loves "A Game of Thrones." I am reading it currently for the first time, but I have already been enveloped by this world that George R.R. Martin has created. I'm appalled by the NY Times review and think that she should write a retraction or some sort of apology to all the women that she has insulted.

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  25. WHAT????!! Is she for real??? There are plenty of fan girls that LOVE this series and I for one have been pysched about this show since the very first trailer that lasted all of 22 seconds!

    I guess he forgot about the fact as a whole (not just the fantasy genre) a whole lot more women read books than men.

    I'm insulted by this and I'm very glad you took this lady on! Well written post!

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  26. On the one hand I am very surprised by the original article and the gender stereotypes. On the other it just highlights how much ignorance there is out there and how other stereotypes continue to exist and be perpetuated by these sort of reviews. I'm pretty saddened by it too, because the NY Times isn't the News of the World or another crappy newspaper stuffed full of stories about Elvis being alive and aliens.

    This sort of article will only reaffirm wrongly held stereotypes such as all fantasy books are for and read by boys, only girls like rom-com films, and my own personal bugbear all comics are superhero comics and all of them are for children.

    *Commence gnashing of teeth*

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  27. More women than men that I have recommended aGoT to have liked it. AGoT in my experience is more likely to appeal to fans of Phillipa Gregory than fans of Robert Jordan.

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  28. I'll just copy/paste what I wrote at the Jezebel website:

    I'm tempted to argue Ginia Bellafante hasn't read a fantasy book nor belongs to a book club. Sounds like she was forced to watch the first few episodes of Game of Thrones, despite her lack of interest in the genre, and thought to give a blanket assessment of a genre she knows nothing about and give a shout out to one of her favorite writers, Lorrie Moore (who?).

    Us fantasy fans apologize to Ms. Bellafante for enjoying a genre which often times is more designed for boys than women, but surely no one is about to apologize to men for making millions of women think all men should be hunky sex gods due to the often-more-fantasy-than-fantasy romance genre. The Song Of Fire and Ice series is fantasy but it's as much filled with the realistic nitty gritty of a medieval society as historical fiction novel, from the suffocating entrapment felt by both the meager peons and (who knew they suffered!) the royals and privileged, the fact royal houses do indeed breed incestuously, to the dirty truth of life that (as added into the series and not found in the books), a man defecates onto a future king after having his chest crushed by a giant war hammer.

    Perhaps if Ms Bellafante would pick up the A Song of Fire and Ice series, she'd realize it has plenty of the kind of misery she enjoys to read: you know, all that "failing relationships and terminal illness". Not every story can be a tragic romance of failing relationships due to syphilis in the Midwest.

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  29. Well-written rebuttal to the NYT piece. Nicely done.

    Here's my review/preview of GoT (I think you'll like it better):
    http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/hiner/game-of-thrones-new-hbo-series-is-a-feast-for-geeks/8133

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  30. I got started on A Song of Fire and Ice by recommendations from many geeky friends of both genders. I have been reading it along with 2 other women I know IRL (not a book club, more of a talk about it a lot when we see each other club). And a third female friend has bought HBO specifically to watch it and invited us to come and see it with her. So not only do my female friends online seem to love it, but 3 of the women I know IRL do too. Your move, Ms. Bellafante.

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  31. Times I've read The Hobbit: 6
    Times I've read Lorrie Moore: 0

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  32. Couldn't agree more! At first I found the article laughable and then the more I thought about it the angrier I became. I could ramble on for pages on my thoughts, and I did over at my blog, but for now I'll just say "here, here" and "I second that" to your entire post.

    http://areadersramblings.blogspot.com/2011/04/color-me-offended-and-resulting-changes.html

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  33. Although, I have not read the books YET ( so much on my plate to read in the form of graphic novels) - I am really looking forward watching the show. It looks amazing! I'm tired of what people think women should be watching whether on tv or in the theater. They need to realize you can't fit people in boxes. So, Gina "Has no Clue" Bellafante doesn't want to watch it - that's her problem. She isn't lucky enough like us to be a geek girl.

    And my I add who is Lorrie Moore?

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  34. Wonder what Ms Bellafante would think of me, I am a 55 year old woman and a huge fan of the books. They were recommended to me by my son, I read all four, and so looking forward to watching GoT Sunday. Come July 12th I will be on line to buy A dance with Dragons. Fantasy isn't only for boys.

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  35. "Boy Fiction"?? It's clear that Ms. Bellafante has no clue about the plot- it must have totally went over her head. I bought GoT the day it was released in 1996 after awaiting its release for months. I was dying to read more after I encountered the "Blood of the Dragon" teaser novella. Why was I hooked? Daenerys stormborn! She is one of the strongest, coolest, most intriguing female characters ever.

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  36. Hmm, I watched Rome sometimes for entertainment, not history. Does that make me low brow Opal? Sounds like you're stereotyping HBO viewers.

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  37. I'm not going to agree with Ms. Bellafante, because she clearly has an opinion that is fundamentally unsupportable, and that ought to be avoided as a professional reviewer. That said, I'm also going to disagree with a lot of the reactions to her review I have seen here. While she might have resorted to hyperbole at points, Ms. Bellafonte never came close to actually insulting anyone except, arguably, the show's creators (let's remember here: there is a difference between someone actually insulting someone else, and someone choosing to be insulted by someone's well-intentioned words). Here, however, I have found DOZENS of insults leveled at her, many of them quite hostile.

    Why can't we simply disagree with her opinion, instead of seeing this as an opportunity to personally eviscerate her? I mean, let's be honest: her piece wasn't pretty, but the reactions seen here are FAR uglier.

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  38. For someone who thinks that fantasy is for boys only Ginia Moore clearly displays all the signs of living in her own fantasy world. Her "review" of Game of Thrones is more of a diatribe against women and genre fiction than an honest opinion about the content of the upcoming HBO series.

    I'm curious to know if the New York Times is so lacking in reviewers that they have to force poor Ginia into watching (or pretending to watch) a genre that she clearly detests. If such is the case I'd be very happy to offer my own services as a reviewer of fantasy and scifi materials so that Ginia doesn't have to step out of her pink soap bubble world where girls only like vapid, shallow, sex-filled "normal" fiction. It would spare her delicate sensibilities and spare us the pain of having to read her non-reviews.

    At the very least maybe the New York Times could send a memo reminding her that she's supposed to discuss the actual content of the show and not the kind of people who watch it or what network it should (or shouldn't) be on. Based on Ginia's "review," all I can tell about Game of Thrones is that it has wacky weather and wackier sex. I'm pretty sure there's more to it than that. LOL!

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  39. @Emily - My question exactly: Who is Lorrie Moore?!

    I feel bad for Gina Bellafante for not having any geek girls as friends. We rock.

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  40. Thank you for your articulate response. Mine mostly consisted of swearing and shaking my copy of A Game of Thrones at my laptop. Also looking at train tickets to see how expensive it would be to go to nyc and show Ms. Bellafonte how many girls read George R.R.Martin.

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  41. Ms. Bellafante's review manages to be both insulting to fans of romance (and other so-called women's genres) and fantasy. Her implication being that only stupid adolescent boys read fantasy, whilst we women, well, gosh, we can't get our wee little minds around a storyline that doesn't feature Teh Sex.

    This wasn't a review, but a stupid scree against both fantasy and romance. As a writer of both, I find it incredibly insulting.

    Great blog, btw.

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  43. *applause*

    Having read some of Ms. Bellafante's other reviews (before writing a response to this one elsewhere), it seems that she in fact truly hates the entire fantasy/sci-fi genre in its entirety. She made remarks that only a 15-year-old would like Supernatural, on top of the clear "boys=fantasy, girls=chick lit" mentality. If that's what passes for "reviews" at the NYT, I'll pass, thanks!

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  44. Maybe the NY Times shouldn't have handed the review off to some quasi-juvenile who obviously still views the world with a high school clique mentality. The paper needs to move on from the 80s and hire someone who isn't a boring caricature of the stay-at-home-mom of yester-year. The entirety of pop culture is being taken over by properties that were once "only for geeks" ... a reviewer who can't stand fantasy/sci-fi/comics/(fun) shouldn't really be employed by anyone but the Vatican.

    Hell, I'm a 29-year old geek-guy who hasn't even read A Song of Ice and Fire yet, and my mom has been grilling me to read it for a couple years now!

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  45. Nicely done. I wrote something to the NYT... I hope you don't mind that I linked to you in my email to them.

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  46. Well said! Since the show has yet to come out, I cannot comment on the show itself, but I am a fan of the books and female fantasy lover as well. Ms. Bellafonte's poorly writen article was so incredibly offensive. Thank you so much for writing this. It is so important that us geek girls have our voices heard.
    I similarly commented about the article on my own blog, which you can find here if you would like to check it out: http://princessandwarlock.blogspot.com/2011/04/princesss-garden-open-letter-to-ginia.html

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  47. Amy, love, you're fracking brilliant and well spoken. I <3 you, girl!
    KK

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  48. I can only assume Ms. Bellafante gets a new laptop when her current one gets "too full". Wouldn't want to be too geeky and maintain it herself or thus "demean" a woman, or kowtow to a man for help.

    And this is in *no way* a slight against Lorrie Moore (looked her up on Wikipedia), but what book club would discuss "Who Will Run the Frog Hospital" AND "The Hobbit"?

    The review served to show Gina's overall ignorance, in addition to insulting women in general.

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  49. I can't freakin stand people like that, who automatically assume no woman will ever be way more into fantasy than women's fiction.

    Give me The Hobbit over whoever Lorrie Moore is any day!

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  50. Thanks for a proper review. I read the link from my Facebook and added my curses to the mix. When I saw the trailer come out I wailed - literally. I don't have HBO :( But damn the show looks cool and not because of the sex scenes. If I want to read sex scenes, I'll read a romance or erotica - the series is so much more than that. It looks like the "review" was based off the trailer alone.

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  51. Consider an analogous review of a television adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice" by a stereotypical male reviewer:

    "None of my poker buddies read these books! It needs more explosions! *belch*"

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  52. I've been reading this series since I was 17 (I'm now 31) annnnnnnd I just got Comcast to add HBO to my subscription for free. Can't. Freaking. Wait!

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  53. Thanks for this great response to the NYTimes review...I'm on the same page as you! I loved the books and am really interested to see how a TV series will turn out. Let's hear it for geek girls.

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  54. A well written response for the geek women of the world. I dislike the notion that "all of this illicitness has been tossed in as a little something for the ladies" was the reason for adding it into the scripts. Well...no. That's not why women are going to watch the show. We care about story and plot lines too. >.>

    @Queen Bee: What? Star Wars is for boys only? Well crap. Someone could have told me before I spent a month on a costume (that won an award from Lucasfilm). Crazy universe we live in. lol

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  55. Ginia Bellafante wrote the TV review version of the Barbie doll that said "Math is hard!"

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  56. I'm male, but I was indignant on behalf of all the fantasy-loving women I know when I read that review. Wow. Isn't one of the basic principles of writing a good review that you should consider the work, not focus on the reaction of a group, lifestyle, etc.? This wasn't a review -- it was an excuse to complain about a genre the purported reviewer simply doesn't like. And why did the editor choose someone who hates fantasy to review fantasy? It's a worthless review to any reader actually trying to find out whether the show is worth their time, because that reader is going to be someone who at least likes the genre, and a review from someone who hates the genre is unhelpful.

    Incidentally, Ms. Bellafante ought to meet my wife. My wife is no geek girl -- she reads the women's magazines, disdains roleplaying games, and has never set foot near a con -- but she loves fantasy movies intensely. I'm pretty sure Ms. Bellafante thinks my wife doesn't exist, notwithstanding the review's protestations to the contrary.

    By the way, this isn't the first time the NYT (a paper I generally revere and don't join in the common bashing of) has published a moronic review of a fantasy work by a woman convinced that, deep down, everyone of her gender either (a) dislikes fantasy or (b) is secretly hiding a Y chromosome she desperately wants to keep her sisters from finding out about. In fact, almost the exact same tripe was written about "The Return of the King" when it came out. Look here: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/21/movies/film-are-women-just-bored-of-the-rings.html

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  57. I commented (but I don't know if it cleared) so I sent her an e-mail.

    This is so insulting.

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  58. Every time a new George R. R. Martin book is released, my husband and I have a battle over who gets to read it first. (Admittedly, it's been a while since we've had the chance to battle. *checks watch, taps foot*)

    I was irked when I read her "review," but the more I think about it, the more I feel bad for her. She's never daydreamed about being Aerin wielding her magical blue sword against Maur and saving Damar. She's never imagined what it would be like to explore the cosmos with the Doctor. And she'll never know what she's missing when she refuses to sully her narrow little mind with "Game of Thrones."

    P.S. She better believe I'd fight to read The Hobbit in any book club I joined!

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  59. The thing I found most insulting was her insinuation that since she couldn't keep up with the plot, no female would be able to.

    Please, lady, don't bring the whole gender down to your level.

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  60. Please keep in mind that the New York Times seeks an audience who is more impressed with hating everyone and everything than who want an unbiased, literate review on the merits of a book or show. Anything published in the NYT is the literary equivalent of a 5-inch diameter tailpipe extension stuck on a Honda Civic; it exists only to impress the brainless.

    By extension (no pun intended), you may safely assume that NYT writers have the approximate intellect of a rutabaga, and the critical faculties of a Bronx back-alley rat.

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  61. You know what other book/movie has a lot of characters to keep track of? War and Peace. But Tolstoy just threw in the illicit sex to appeal to the ladies out there. Sheesh, this review is insulting to women, fantasy fans, men and well anyone with an imagination. Great rebuttal.

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  62. My mom wants to watch the show because she loves Sci-Fi/Fantasy Shows.. if My mom could want to watch the Game of Thrones, because it's a Fantasy show, before my dad ( who is fan of the books) and I( who should have known about it because of all of my friends who are into it), then I think that rests the case that this woman is just out and out living in a sheltered box.

    Bring It lady, we will amass a geek gal Army, and write letters to the Editors.

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  63. As a bloke, I was insulted. Nice responses ladies, and I hope you don't think I'm being patronising calling you ladies, I mean I have to conform to the stereotypical male.

    It's reviews like this that make me really mad - infact I think the word Review should be taken off the page, it's more of a diatribe. Incidentally my fiancée is looking forward to the series as is my mum.

    The other thing that points to her not a thallus watching the show is just how many strong female characters there are and one of the youngest Arya is possibly the best character in the entire series (in my opinion anyway)

    But hey, keep putting this woman down - she deserves it for her patronising article

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  64. This review is unbelievable. Insinuating that women watch programs for illicit sexual renderings? Are we really that bad? Does our sex ask no more of our entertainment? Or that women would have no reason to read intelligent, complicated, weighty stories woven with history and culture (heaven forbid we speak of the Hobbit). Now, I did quit reading the first book because of the moral improprieties (a personal sensitivity and choice), but it was certainly not because of the lack of adult material. This review just offends me in all kinds of ways--even if it is about a program I refuse to watch. Ugh.

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  65. I'm so glad you wrote this. I was seething after reading that "review." Was it even a review? It seemed more like useless spouting off about...actually, beyond that infamous paragraph, I didn't really understand her point, anyway. Something about illicitness.

    I'm also an Ice & Fire fan, have been for years. I don't get HBO, but I'm going to make friends with my neighbors, who do. Might bring them lemon cakes as a bribe...

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  66. I don't even think Bellafante really watched the series - she just fast forwarded through anything that wasn't a sex scene. A very amateur job of reviewing what is a very important series for HBO. The NYT now expects me to pay for this lousy content? I'll stick with USA Today.

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  67. What was meant to be a small comment
    about this ended up being a full-blown blog. I hope it is alright that I leave a
    link to it
    here
    . Thank you

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  68. Ha! A review of this review:

    http://www.orbitbooks.net/2011/04/16/reviewing-the-reviewers

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  69. I agree with the other comments above that Bellafante clearly has a bias against fantasy and couldn't seem to get beyond that when screening AGoT. Her bias is so... outdated! Fantasy and Sci-Fi have really gotten so much more cred in the mainstream in the past few decades. It's not just for geek boys anymore! Hell--my mom gave me AGoT to read when I was a freshman in high school--my MOTHER (who happened to publish quite a it of sci-fi, fantasy, dark fantasy, etc. short fiction in the 90s). *shakes head* Some people are just so irritating...

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  70. Your love of the series could have been written by me, so much do our views agree! I am a 46-year-old life-long geek girl who, like you, takes offense at SoIaF being called "boy fiction." Like we're not girls if we like it?? I have never met GRRM and I missed out on the Iron Throne in NYC, so I am totally jealous of you there! I take my geekness seriously and probably would not belong to a book club that wouldn't read the Hobbit...

    Keep on keeping on and thanks for sticking up for us girls who have a taste for the fantastic!

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  71. I agree completely with your love of the fantastic as well as your belief that the words "boy fiction" don't really mean anything in this day and age! I have been a lifelong fan of GRRM and since I am 69 that isn't a meaningless statement. As Kymry says, "I ... probably would not belong to a book club that wouldn't read The Hobbit!

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  72. Typical high-brow snobbish remarks from a NYT staff member. Bellafante probably got her job through her mob connections, because we all know all Italians belong to the Mafia.

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  73. Amy, you need a fansite on Facebook!

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  74. Thank you! Your post hit it all on the money. I am a huge fan of these books and, like you, I cannot wait to see it on TV. I am a geek girl and I am proud of it! :D

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  75. Shame that such a good newspaper hired such a short-sighted journalist and ordered her to write reviews. She seems to be a great choice for celebrity gossip -- as it looks like she's all about raising controversy. Well, by all means..

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  76. Thank you for posting exactly my thoughts on that NYT "review." As a SoIaF/Wheel of Time/LotR/etc fan, the condescension and lumping together of women readers really ticked me off. It's fine if she doesn't like fantasy/sci-fi; maybe the NYT should have a reviewer who does take a shot at GoT.

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  77. Huh. And here I thought of "Conan the Barbarian" as a wonderful "chick-flick." Or maybe I'm just one weird chick (who is an "old-skool" D&D gamer.

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  78. Really great post. Thank you for so clearly stating what I'm sure many of us were thinking when we read this.

    Is she living in the now. If I went with her theory of what women like I guess I'm really wrong because among other things I love scifi (10 will always be my Doctor), technology (Android for life), garage rock and dislike Sex and the City. Oh wait, I also like shoes, beauty products and fashion. Why oh why must you pigeonhole in this day and age.

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  79. According to Wikipedia: :)

    Bellafante's writing has been criticized for its superficial treatment of gender issues: Bellafante's 1998 Time cover story "Is Feminism Dead?" was critiqued by Erica Jong[4] and described by Salon.com as "poorly thought-out",[3] and Bellafante's 2011 New York Times review of the TV series Game of Thrones was widely criticized as sexist for suggesting that only sexual content might motivate women to watch a complex fantasy story.[5]

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  80. Adding my own hear hear. I can't get my boyfriend interested in reading or watching Game of Thrones, even with the sex scenes. But he can't get me interested in reading John Updike either, even with all the sex, so that would shoot down that argument about the appeal of sex for either gender.

    What an ignorant and offensive review.

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  81. I agree completely. I am a teenage girl, and my entire life I have been plagued by gender/genre stereotypes.
    When I was 10, they changed the Borders children section to divide it into girl and boy sections. Guess where all my favorite series were? The boys section. After that, I felt embarrassed to go into borders with my friends because I didn't want to be the only one in the boys section looking for new installments while they were looking for girls books.
    More recently, I have started liking manga. (on a related note, the stereotypes that comic books are just for kids annoy me too. There are even specific genres for adults with a lot of great manga in them that aren't for kids.) However, I hate it when people ask me what kind of manga I like because my favorite is Shonen, which is for boys 10 to 18, and I like extra extra emphasis on fantasy, supernatural, action, and adventure. Shojo, the manga for girls 10 to 18 rarely appeals to me. I currently keep up to date with 17 manga, 12 of which are Shonen, 3 of which are gender neutral, and only 2 of which are shojo. A lot of my girl friends like shonen a lot too.
    Thank you Ginia Bellafante for making me feel insecure about my genre choices once again and perpetuating gender stereotypes that keep kids like me from reading what we like.
    Also, real thank you to Geek with curves for making me feel better by speaking my mind and giving me a place to rant.

    P.S. Guess what Bellafante? My best friend INSISTED in book club that we read The Hobbit instead of some romance novel that I could predict the plot of by looking at the cover. TAKE THAT.

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  82. Dude, I don't really have time right now to be getting into a new show (currently drowning in a research paper the size of the entire fantasy section in a bookstore) but that article makes me want to drop everything I'm doing and start watching Game of Thrones, simply because I'm a geeky girl and I feel like if I'm not watching "boy fiction" and actively proving that idiot at the New York Times wrong, I'm doing myself a disservice.
    She mentioned beheadings and slashed throats! I'm excited!

    (Ew, who got all this sex in my epic fantasy series? Not everything has to be like 'The Tudors' ...)

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  83. I have read every comment - thank you all for reading and taking the time to comment. It was a pretty ridiculous "review," and I was happy to see so many people take a stand against the statements Ms. Bellafante made.

    We're fantastic. :)

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  84. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  85. "Wow, I can't wait for that Dothraki orgy scene.”

    Is there a Dothraki orgy scene in the book?

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  86. I love you for this. I was so incredibly outraged by that review and so didn't have the time or the words to respond before they closed comments. This is pretty much everything I wanted to say rolled up in a very lovely package. Thank you very much.

    Also, I have to add in one moment of snark to the unfortunate New York Times writer. If you can't keep track of the characters when you can see them, hear them, and have safe scene cuts, I understand why you wouldn't read the book either. I have a recommendation for you. Try If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. It's well paced and only has two characters. You should do well with it.

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  87. Although I don't agree with what she wrote, it can't be denied that A Game of Thrones is very bad TV. The casting is partly to blame. Particularly bad are the actors playing King Robert and Tyrion - both nothing like they're described. The production values, too, are pretty shoddy and reminded me of those Hercules TV movies with Kevin Sorbo. Budget is no doubt a big problem. If you doubt any of this, look in particular at the Dothraki wedding. Rome and Deadwood were both able - through great casting, writing, and big budgets - to create realistic historical periods and realistic three dimensional characters. But, of course, there are "geeks" out there who just love anything they're handed, who are seemingly unable to be critical of anything. I'll stick to the books. At least as long as the next one is in quality more like A Storm of Swords than A Feast for Crows.

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  88. Where as I agree with everything above, you'll have to excuse me because my reading experience was "blah blah blah" OMG YOU FOUND THE FOOD TRUCK!?

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  89. following your blog purely for this post, jeez women like her give the rest of us a bad name. Thanks for reminding me of the great strong and wonderful ladies that read ASOIAF and the rest can just do back to their narrow minded little worlds.
    Anyway do men read these? seriously all the fans i know are women!

    ReplyDelete
  90. Thanks Sallymet! Most of the fans I know are females too. :)

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  91. Thank you for writing this. My reaction to Bellafante's piece was a lot of swearing and sputtering. Your articulate response is much better. you cant visit http://gamesforkids.name

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  94. Awesome, love the show. Just found a parody for Game of Thrones, called Game of Toilets, bwahahah :D http://soc.li/ciQs32W

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  95. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  96. I know plenty of women in my Google + circles that are fans of the show. I sell Game of Thrones Beer coasters, and I would say most of my customers are women. Who knows, but maybe they are just buying it for their boyfriends.

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