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It's not just a game; sexuality in ethics and fiction - The Autobiography of Russell
Life from a different perspective
It's not just a game; sexuality in ethics and fiction
Sunday night while flipping channels I happened across the latest hip show based off a series of books. Most of you have probably heard of it and I'm sure some of you are even watching it, but I won't say its name and give it any more press or popularity than it already has.

The theme of this show is set in olden days with castles, lords, and all other manner of ancient concepts. The snippet of the show that I caught also included a concept certain religious folks like to think of as a recent concept: sexuality. Now obviously this is just a fiction story so it doesn't actually say anything one way or another with regard to real history. The scene shown was intriguing and yet bothered me as it showed questionable ethics at best. Upon discovering this I decided to look up some more information about its usage in the series.

The first clip I came across on YouTube was a scene of two of the male cast secretly getting together behind their wive(s?) backs to have sex. This bothered me, as it portrays homosexuality as something to be hidden, that it's okay to cheat on your wife, and marriages just to create alliances and children to be brainwashed for control is perfectly normal and expected. Ethics? Honesty? Those seem to completely out the window. The entire plot drive for the show seems to be how a bunch of unethical characters interact and who will back stab who first.

My instinct about this show upon hearing other people talk about it was that it wasn't something I would enjoy appears to be correct. As someone who is ethical to a fault it actually pains me to see people acting unethically or intentionally trying to back stab each other. I think I will continue my avoidance of this show and the books it is based off of. Thank you, but no thanks.

Current Mood: disappointed disappointed

12 comments or Leave a comment
(Deleted comment)
zimzat From: zimzat Date: May 1st, 2013 10:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Have you read the books and/or watched the show?

Thank you for that. It's nice to get confirmation that I'm not completely off based from everything I've been hearing. I haven't had to make a big deal as to why I don't watch it to anyone yet, and hopefully it will never come to that.

If the show is such, it makes me wonder why so many people love it. Guilty pleasure? Suspension of reality? Baser instincts/desires? *shrug* Well, as long as I'm not accosted for avoiding it then they're free to watch it for whatever reason they want. :-)
(Deleted comment)
zimzat From: zimzat Date: May 1st, 2013 10:27 am (UTC) (Link)
I can't disagree there. The acting was good and if what I saw was any indicator then the writing was also good.

It's probably the same reason I don't watch certain subsets of comedy movies. I internalize(?) it too much and it makes me cringe.
legolastn From: legolastn Date: May 1st, 2013 11:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Sounds similar to why I can't watch horror movies and don't handle very well movies with tragic endings that I connect deeply with (eg, Boys Don't Cry).
zimzat From: zimzat Date: May 31st, 2013 07:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
There's no two ways about it: Movies with sad endings are just sad. Most of us go to the movies to escape reality, so to have a movie (or book, or anime) end on a completely sad note often leaves us/me feeling unfulfilled.
legolastn From: legolastn Date: May 1st, 2013 11:32 am (UTC) (Link)
There are no ethical people in this universe.

Strictly speaking I suppose that's true but all of the protagonists have some moral compass, and a common trope of the series is for character to make the ethically right choice (or at least what they conclude is the ethically right choice) even in the face of great personal risk (and sometimes in the face of being an otherwise often highly unethical person).
vaelynphi From: vaelynphi Date: May 1st, 2013 10:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
And Martin has a damnable habit of making previously loathsome characters rather sympathetic...
legolastn From: legolastn Date: May 2nd, 2013 08:44 am (UTC) (Link)
legolastn From: legolastn Date: May 1st, 2013 11:16 am (UTC) (Link)
I can see how the story could be unappealing to you given your sense of ethics, but to me the series is interesting precisely because it tells a story set within a different structure of norms, values, and ethics than modern society/my own and (IMO) does a good job of being consistent in this regard. I suppose one could argue that, since it is a fictional setting, it could have been set up so that homosexuality is openly practiced, but given it is a medieval-styled setting I think it makes sense to treat it more like the hidden (if sometimes hidden-in-plain-sight) practice that it was during that period. Likewise, court intrigue and marriages based on political alliance are also the norm - they make sense within the setting but also create interesting tensions between what I might expect and how the characters within the world view things. To create a basically contemporary society with the trappings of knights and dragons might be an interesting project, and I have read/seen such books/movies, but it seems to me quite limiting to only enjoy speculative fiction that doesn't challenge modern sensibilities. Having some insight into the worldview of another time and place can give deeper insight into your own worldview and the worldviews of those around you.

Yet not only that, it appeals because I think the underlying messages of the story are such that ethical, honorable behavior is idealized. A world in which people act unethically/dishonorably, and may even benefit (at least in the short term) from doing so, is a realistic world. But that shouldn't be confused with an endorsement of unethical or dishonorable behavior. For example (SPOILERS), one of the most hated characters, the child king, is basically a sociopath and this is portrayed as being the consequence of his mother's scheming, manipulative behavior. On the other side of the coin, one of the main protagonists of the first book/series strives to act in an ethical, honorable manner - it's a central trait of the character. This ends up leading to his demise. But I don't think the lesson of the book is, "Don't act ethically/honorably or you'll come to a bad end." Those who plot his demise are clearly the villains. Rather, I think the point and power of such a storyline is that an ethical person acting within an ethical world is unremarkable. But a person who chooses to act ethically even in the face of death is remarkable and laudatory. In my mind that's ultimately what the grittiness of the series is about - the protagonists are generally people with integrity trying to act ethically in a brutal, unethical world.

As another somewhat different sort of example (FURTHER SPOILERS), I'm not sure exactly which scene you viewed, but I think (at least if it came from the 1st or 2nd season) there are only two such scenes. In the first, although they are being secretive, neither are married so there is no behind the wive(s) back. With the second scene once you know the full context from the episode to me it becomes much more interesting, in that it is revealed the wife knows about their relationship and treats it very practically. Of course, in the full arc of the storyline this doesn't get explored any further because of other events during that episode (or perhaps the one following?)...
mai_neh From: mai_neh Date: May 1st, 2013 08:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Having read the books and watched the series, I don't think the series is really meant for people who haven't read the books. Just like the Harry Potter movies were not very interesting for people who haven't read those books.
zimzat From: zimzat Date: May 31st, 2013 07:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm... You've got a point. I think the Harry Potter movies are good on their own, but a lot of the feeling and details are still left out despite how good of a job they did in not cutting bits of the story out in the movies. There's definitely a lot higher level of enjoyment having read the books before seeing the movies (even if it'd been years since reading the books in some cases). I still haven't seen the last 2-3 Potter movies.

I can't speak for the series of this topic though. :-)
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