Sunday, 24 September 2017

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (WHY I QUIT WATCHING GAME OF THRONES)


I've been sitting on this post for quite some time, wondering whether to publish it or not. This is not going to be a typical outfit post talking about fashion per se, this being primarily a personal style blog and all, I keep glancing to the right at my bio and I can't help the feeling that something's completely off. I'm going to have to change it. A lot of you guys, my wonderful readers, know my past obsession with Game of Thrones (past? Yikes, straight to the bat then), heck, a lot of you probably found me through mutual interest of the television show... and when I tweeted a couple of weeks ago that I was going to stop watching the series once and for all, I received quite a few confused replies. To be honest, this was a long time coming and this penultimate season was just the straw that broke the camel's back so I decided to talk about it in more depth in this blog post, if not only to explain myself more clearly but it's also something I feel the need to get off my chest to close this chapter in my life. Game of Thrones has been part of it for seven years after all. So for today's post we're going to tap into my nerdy fandom side, and discuss how I really feel about the most popular television show in history.


I started watching Game of Thrones straight after the first episode of the first ever season aired, if only out of a lack of shows to watch at the time and a mild interest in the fantasy genre. I vividly remember being thoroughly confused after that first hour and resorting to drawing up a family tree on paper for myself to remember all the names and who was who. Once I'd established the Lannisters from the Starks, it was relatively easier to follow and I found myself hooked. I recall my dad asking me what was so good about this show that I'd become glued to the screen 24/7 and I replied with this:
"There's no clear line between good and evil. It's grey because the characters are all so complex and multi-dimensional. It makes the story so interesting because you never know what someone is going to do next, and in addition it makes the world of Westeros so rich, you almost believe it's real and you're sitting in it for an hour."


When the first season ended, I had become so invested in the world and characters invented by George RR Martin that I went out and bought the A Song of Ice and Fire books the show is based on. I completed reading A Dance with Dragons just as the second season of GoT started airing. It's interesting because all throughout watching the first season I was definitely most intrigued by the Targaryen storyline, a silver haired princess with the promise of dragons. Upon reading the novels however, a different strong female character resonated deeper within me, one I had thought very little of whilst viewing the first season: Sansa Stark.

"I loved a maid as red as autumn
with sunset in her hair."
- The Seasons of My Love

When I heard others complaining about how useless and weak she was, I literally felt my blood boil. Her strength was in her femininity and I'd barely ever seen a female character written that way before. I'd always witnessed that popular female characters succeeded and became heroes by fighting and becoming physically strong, something that I admired but could never really relate to. Growing up I was a painfully shy girly girl, who excelled at her studies at school without ever raising a hand or taking initiative. Sansa Stark was proof to me that wisdom and inner strength could get you through life, she was still alive in ASOIAF after all, which was a huge feat in regards to the speed at which Westerosi characters drop like flies. Her character inspires me every single day.

"My skin has turned to porcelain, to ivory, to steel."
- Sansa Stark, A Storm of Swords



"Is it all lies, forever and ever, everyone and everything?"
-Sansa Stark, A Storm of Swords

"Almost everyone. Save you and I, of course."
-Petyr Baelish, A Storm of Swords


One character who is so intrinsically linked with Sansa is Petyr 'Littlefinger' Baelish, another that I initially paid no mind to when I observed the first season but soon became the most riveting character in my eyes through the pages of Martin's writing. I've always regarded him as more of an anti-hero than a villain so tend to disagree with many others' opinions of him. The show did turn him into a rather one-dimensional, moustache twirling creep though... I digress as I'm usually drawn to darker characters anyway (put it this way, I wanted to be sorted into Slytherin as a kid). I would never have guessed that the pair would end up together from watching the first season but looking back the signs were all there. For example, Sansa's direwolf was executed quite early on and she got separated from her family in Winterfell to live in King's Landing where she was often called "little bird" or "little dove" by the Queen / House Baelish's sigil being a mockingbird. Both of them were hopeless romantics turned cynics by the harsh reality of the world: Sansa used to dream of falling in love and being swept away by a knight in shining armour when in reality, her own prince charming (Joffrey) shattered those dreams / a young Baelish nearly died losing a duel to win the hand of the woman he loved. Petyr must have seen a shadow of his past self in Sansa when they first met. It's interesting that the similarities could indicate that Littlefinger is someone that Sansa could very well turn into as the years go by... even though I know a lot of people, me included, are still holding out on her tender heart. On the other hand, Sansa could be Littlefinger's last chance for redemption. Even if he initially saw her mother in her, I believe that he truly cares for Sansa, and her alone. In the end it all boils down to which is more important to him: the game or Sansa.

"Life is not a song, sweetling.
Someday you may learn that, to your sorrow."
-Petyr Baelish, A Game of Thrones

"There are no heroes; in life, the monsters win."
-Sansa Stark, A Game of Thrones

In one of my earliest YouTube videos I did the TMI tag (shameless plug for my channel), and answered the OTP (One True Pairing) question with: Sansa Stark and Petyr Baelish. People commented with "are you serious, you ship them?" and I completely understand how controversial my opinion is. Their relationship is toxic, there's no doubt about that, but this is fiction. My favourite fictional relationships have always been the dark, twisted romances: Hades and Persephone, Koschei the Deathless and Marya Morevna, the Phantom and Christine etc. all offer so many parallels with Petyr and Sansa. I truly think that at this point in time in the GoT-verse, there are no two characters better suited to one another. Sansa is receiving tutelage from Baelish, the very best in the game whilst she is also unconsciously chipping away at the walls he's built up over the years to protect himself.

"Littlefinger was only a mask he had to wear. Only sometimes Sansa found it hard to tell where the man ended and the mask began. Littlefinger and Lord Petyr looked so very much alike."
- Sansa Stark, A Feast for Crows


I could go on and on about my fascination with this "gruesome twosome" (thank Sophie Turner for that name) but we're not here to talk about their relationship today. I just thought it would be helpful to get a bit of insight into where I stand. There's just something I find so very interesting about that power struggle between them: Baelish may think to control Sansa but in fact she is his one weakness. I predict (in the books not in the show because we all know how that complete and utter travesty went down) that Sansa will be the one to bring Littlefinger down. Which leads us (finally!) to the main reason why I have been gradually turning away from the TV show since their fifth season and why right now, I've decided to completely stop watching. The simple truth is that I'm just not enjoying the show anymore. It's one thing for plots and actions to change but for characters to without any evident or plausible development? I don't understand. I do understand that the show was going to overtake the books in terms of story material sooner or later and when that happened at the end of season 4, I trusted the fact that apparently the writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were given enough information and a vague outline of where the story was going to form the rest of the TV series. I have no idea what on earth went wrong but either D&D don't truly understand Sansa & Littlefinger's characters or they just don't care about them enough because they only see them as supporting characters. If you only watch the show and have never read the books, can I ask you an honest question? Did Sansa and Littlefinger's storyline continue to make sense after the end of Season 4? She dyed her hair and transformed into "Dark Sansa", only to be pointlessly married off to a monster (again!) and to subsequently wash out all the dye mere episodes into Season 5. I fail to see what they were thinking when they simply swapped another character in the books' storyline with Sansa's (yes the whole selling a Stark to Ramsay thing did happen to a different character called Jeyne Poole in the novels). Did D&D think that book Sansa's potential storyline scheming with Petyr Baelish in the Vale would be too boring for TV and they needed to throw in torture and rape to spice things up? Do they really think that Sansa's character is so unimportant they can simply just place another character's arc over her own? I don't think I'll ever know what possessed D&D to f*ck things up as much as they did but alas the damage is done. I never watched the episode when Sansa was raped in S5. I am absolutely livid that they quite unnecessarily hurt a character I so very deeply care about and to be honest I just don't think I could sit through it without crying. I vowed to quit watching Game of Thrones there and then.

"It's easy to do things that are shocking or unexpected, but they have to grow out of characters. They have to grow out of situations. Otherwise it's just being shocking for being shocking."
- George RR Martin

Unsurprisingly GoT received a whole lot of backlash after that episode aired. I remember either the director or writers hinting that they were going to make it up to Sansa the next season (which in itself shows that they were in the wrong). My friend was saying the other day that if it only takes one season going off book for them to screw everything up then they really don't know these characters and the true foundation behind this tale. I totally regret getting sucked back into watching S6 from sheer curiosity of how "Sansa's gonna be badass this season!" and everything else I'd heard. Of course she's going to be a different character to the one I fell in love with in the books, she's been through so much sh*t in the show that she hasn't been subjected to in the books. Which also brings me to how much they've changed Petyr Baelish' character since the S5 f*ck up. First of all, how on earth did he genuinely not know about Ramsay? We're talking about the most cunning player in Westeros here, the one who's responsible for starting the whole "game of thrones" in the first place. Not knowing is the most un-Littlefinger-ish trait to ever exist. Due to TV show Littlefinger's mistake, he spends the rest of his time apparently showing remorse and trying to get back into Sansa's good books (which again in my opinion is the most un-LF behaviour ever), before meeting his untimely demise at her hands at the end of this season's finale. Wait a minute Andini, I hear you think, isn't that what you wanted in the first place? For Sansa to be the one to end Littlefinger? Well yes, in my opinion this is the only way this relationship was going to go down but not in the way the show decided to do it. That was purely lazy writing on their behalf and I could not be any more disappointed. Essentially they've dumbed down Littlefinger's character to Sansa's lovesick lapdog this past season anyway, turned her into some sort of ice queen, and then for Bran to be the one to expose him was just downright ridiculous. Bran conveniently knows what Littlefinger has done but can't piece together who Jon Snow's real parents were till Sam tells him? Sansa told Lord Yonce that Littlefinger killed Aunt Lysa but she herself was the one who lied for him at the trial, that's treason? Anyway, I've pretty much fallen into the gaping abyss of plot holes here. It's just no fun watching this show anymore if nothing makes sense and the endgame has become super predictable. Don't even get me started on the whole forced Jon Snow/Daenerys romance, I could honestly puke. It felt like this season was entirely written as fanservice and I could seriously have mistaken it for a parody. 

Self Portrait dress / Mockingbird pin / Regal Rose rings / ASOS heels*


Anyway I don't want to end this post on such a negative note. I just wanted to form something more coherent from the feelings I've had lately (even if this did turn out as a bit of a word vom) and writing this has given me a sort of closure. I loved Game of Thrones and it has been a massive part of my life for so long. I'll forever be grateful for the friends I've made from the wonderful community and the fact that I have been lucky to meet so many of the cast, especially establishing what I have with Sophie Turner now. I still remember following her when she had 9000 instagram followers and the day she followed me back. It feels like a lifetime ago and now Game of Thrones is approaching it's very last season, we've truly come to the end of an era. Hats off to Aidan Gillen too for a pitch perfect portrayal of Petyr Baelish for seven seasons, I've always felt that he was one of the actors who truly did the research and in turn fully embodied his character, knowing him inside out. He did an outstanding job with the writing that was given, in fact both his and Sophie's performances rendered me quite speechless in that final scene. Emmy nominations for the both of them would be well deserved. Unfortunately the show didn't go the way I'd hoped and I won't be watching the final season but I will still be waiting patiently for The Winds of Winter to be released because I have faith that GRRM will do justice to these characters that I hold so dear in my heart. Guess I'll change my blog bio to "ASOIAF fan" for now and re-read the books. If you've gotten to the end of this post, thank you so much for taking the time to hear me out. I'd love to know your opinions on this season of GoT, whether good or bad, you agree or disagree with me, whether or not you've read the books as well, I love an interesting discussion. 

Lots of love,
Andini x
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