He analyzes the show in such great detail, in fact, that I often walk away realizing I didn’t pay nearly enough attention when I was watching it (though in all fairness, Patrick did read the books too).
And he’s inspired me to not only watch the show again, but to share the bizarre insight I had while seeing it a second time:
Male characters in GoT get a lot nicer after having something chopped off.
I’m not judging here, just reporting what I’m seeing.
Because it’s happened several times…
Jaime Lannister started out such a despicable character that he initially made me give up watching the show.
I already wasn’t thrilled with the kidsicle opener and then thepilot episode… the PILOT… closes with Jamie tossing a child out of a tower because he’d seen Jaime knowing his sister. In the biblical sense.
So, he casually tosses a little kid out a tower window while making an offhand joke about it.
And I was just DONE after seeing that nonsense. It took me several months and many glowing reviews from people whose opinions I trust to come back to the show…
When I did, Jaime was busy paying off assassins to kill that kid he crippled in his sickbed and then framing his own brother for the murder (which, luckily, doesn’t work out).
Jaime keeps up this douchey behavior for some time: trying to kill Ned Stark in an ambush, brutally murdering a squire who worshipped him just to create a diversion, and harassing Lady Brienne like any cocky, rich jock in an 80’s flick would…
Until he gets his hand chopped off.
Sure, he’d been hinting at human decency right before that (by talking his captors out of violating Lady Brienne), but it was only after the hand-chopping incident that Jaime truly emerges as one of the “good” guys of GoT’s extremely morally-relative world.
Then, Jaime risks his own life by jumping into a bear pit to help Brienne. He helps the brother he previously tried to frame for murder escape from prison after being unjustly accused. He tries to talk his sister into retiring someplace nice instead of continuing her mass murder spree. All of which is truly noble by, you know… Lannister standards.
I’d almost forgotten what an incredible jerk Theon used to be.
I mean, he actually starts the show of in full sociopath mode by jumping at the chance to slaughter puppies (the dire wolves who eventually became the Stark’s pets). He ironically makes fun of Jon for being a bastard and generally spends his time being a violent, arrogant, pervert.
Theon grew up with the Starks, who are essentially his immediate family. But while Robb Stark (to whom Theon pledged his loyalty) is busy waging his military campaign, Theon takes advantage of the opportunity to betray them. He takes over their house and starts executing anyone who disagrees with him, including loyal servants whom he’s known since childhood.
This includes his adoptive brothers, who are kids. When he’s unable to find them (because they escape while he’s… distracted), he murders two innocent farm boys in their stead and adorns Winterfell with their burned corpses, just to make a point.
Pretty horrible person, right? Well, he then gets captured by Ramsey Bolten and Ramsey is enough of a monster to actually make us start feeling sorry for Theon because Ramsey redefines all our goalposts for crapiness.
That’s when Theon gets… well, we all know what he gets chopped off.
But it apparently did him some good, because it’s only after his time with Ramsey that Theon is ever motivated beyond his own immediate self-interest: he risks himself to help Sansa escape (after finally showing some empathy for his adoptive family), he supports his sister Yara’s bid for leadership of the Ironborn instead of pushing his own (more traditional) claim, and lets himself get beaten to a pulp while rallying the Ironborn to help him rescue his sister.
(Sure, there was that whole unfortunate incident where Theon jumps off the ship instead of rescuing Yara from Euron himself, but being Ramsey Bolton’s prisoner is bound to cause a little PTSD. It’s still an improvement over murdering innocent farm boys.)
Varys was an especially interesting character to watch for a second time because at first, it was impossible to guess his moral alignment.
Like his counterpart Littlefinger, Varys has to carefully navigate GoT’s treacherous world to keep on breathing. He must, like Littlefinger, show skillful diplomacy while working behind the scenes… effectively playing different sides against each other. So, you never knew whether Varys’ brilliant manipulations were ultimately self-serving or not.
But eventually, we figure out that Varys is a good guy. There was evidence for this fact all along, which became more obvious when watching the show the second time around. Though he can’t openly fight the Lannisters, for example, you can see him subtly disapprove whenever Joffrey cruelly harasses someone (like Sansa or Tyrion).
Though he won’t pointlessly sacrifice himself for a lost cause (by helping Ned Stark escape), he will risk himself for a good one (by helping Tyrion escape). Unlike many of the Starks, he has a good sense of when keeping his mouth shut will allow him to fight another day… a long game that ultimately makes him a much more effective player.
When challenged by Daenerys, we get a better sense of Varys’ inner moral code. He describes his loyalty for the common people against brutal despots. He also won’t harm the innocent (revealed when he says he would never hurt children, since they are “blameless”), which puts him squarely on the good team according to murky GoT metrics.
And how did he come by this altruistic perspective? From being castrated by a sorcerer after growing up a slave… again, another relatively-good male character who’s had an important body part hacked off.
Sir Davos Seaworthy
Sir Davos is undoubtedly one of the kindest characters, which is rare within the older set because you have to be pretty Machiavellian to survive long in Westeros.
More humble than most of the players who have drastically risen in rank, Davos still speaks plainly, yet convincingly… moving the Iron Bank or Daenerys or Stannis even after his more aristocratic counterparts could not.
Sir Davos puts himself at great risk to do what is right: standing up to the Red Woman, questioning Stannis the “king,” helping Gendry escape… Davos was sent away before Shireen was horrifically killed because, well, Stannis and Melisandre knew he wouldn’t put up with it.
And, again… Sir Davos had been mutilated. Stannis had cut four fingertips off Davos’ right hand as punishment for his smuggling past. Because Davos was a criminal before getting his fingers chopped off.
Definitely a pattern, right?
I’m not sure of its significance, except maybe GoT characters start identifying more with the underdog after getting mutilated in some way, or maybe it just keeps their hubris in check.
And I can’t think of any female characters who were mutilated to make comparisons.
It’s my favorite season: crisp, but not freezing. The leaves turn pretty colors and the world smells of cinnamon.
Plus, the kids go back to school… yay!
Brontë is a Kindergartener now, and her little sister Bridget really wishes she were too.
I know, because she yells “Too! TOO!” whenever we drop her sister off. One day, Bridget brought her own backpack along, hung it with the other backpacks outside the classroom and quietly got in line with the other kids. She figured that backpack was TOTALLY her ticket in and was SO sad when they turned her away.
And on that note, I was recently contacted by Education.com and asked to review a fun learning activity for kids. It’s called “Octopus Love” and goes like this:
Octopi aren’t the most cute or cuddly creatures, but they deserve love too! Let your child share her love on the legs of a paper octopus.
What You Need:
Construction paper (red, pink, and whatever other colors you desire!)
What You Do:
Draw a octopus head for your child and help her cut it out
Draw a face on the octopus using the markers. It can be realistic or more like a cartoon, whatever she wants.
Ask your child to thing of a few different people and things that she love. Lightly write out her responses, one in each heart. Let your child trace over your writing with a marker.
Help her glue one heart to each leg.
You can post this octopus of love on the refrigerator or display it prominently in your child’s room as a reminder of everything she loves about life!
And here’s what happened…
Well, this was a very cute activity and the kids had a lot of fun doing it.
I did have to slightly modify it because my kid’s skillset isn’t quite up to drawing even limbs or cutting out shapes as intricate as hearts. Maybe if you made a really BIG octopus, it would go better… or maybe if your kid is particularly good with scissors or a year or two older, you could follow it to the letter.
Because, kids do develop at different rates. There’s this little girl from Cambodia in Brontë’s class, for example, who completely blew me away with her reading and writing skills when I was helping her in the classroom last week. And English isn’t even her first language…
Still, the kids still had tons of fun and are proud of their octopi, even without having cut out their feet.
It was also very interesting to get a peek into the things your kid loves right now. Bridget named the various lead characters of My Little Pony, plus baby cows and horses, because she’s all about ponies.
Brontë named me and her sister (aww!) and also cookies, apple juice, playing outside, tag, coloring… and Rainbow Dash. Because unicorn glitter ponies are really big over here.
But so is spending time with mommy doing something creative and talking about the things we love. They’re so proud of the friendly octopi!
So my kids were watching Tom and Jerry this morning when my daughter Brontë finally stood up to announce:
“Well, the mouse won AGAIN. Like ALWAYS.”
And stomped off in disgust.
“But if the cat won, that would be the end of the show,” I tell her.
“Yeah, so the mouse is gonna SAVE THE DAY because he’s always the BIG WINNER,” she said with impressive sarcasm for a five-year-old.
I’m not sure whether she’s more upset by already knowing how a show will turn out, watching what’s clearly an anti-cat propaganda cartoon when she’s a fan of kitties, or her Nietzschean disgust for mindlessly favoring the underdog.
But I’m favoring the latter, because she IS my kid…
And I can remember also being disgusted by how the Roadrunner always won. I mean, here you have Wile E. Coyote, who is undeniably brilliant, inventing elaborate schemes to catch the roadrunner that involve sending away for specialized technical equipment and setting it up.
He’s an outside-the-box thinker who problem-solves from multiple angles. You have to admit that he’s VERY advanced, for a coyote.
Then… there’s the Roadrunner.
Who runs straight into landscapes that are obviously painted-on signs. He eats “birdseed” that’s blatantly rigged up to dynamite.
And he gets away with it. Every. Time.
Not because he outwits the Coyote or had worked up an ounce of forethought or defensive strategy.
No, he just confidently blunders forth, smugly aware that the very rules of Space and Time will bend to accommodate his idiocy.
It always seemed so colossally unfair.
Just once, I wanted to see the Wile E. get that roadrunner. Poor guy must’ve been starving to death.
My five-year-old daughter and I are eating lunch when she casually starts reminiscing…
Brontë: So I really enjoyed seeing the Eiffel Tower with you…
Me: We haven’t been there yet.
Brontë: Yeah, I’m PRETENDING.
Me: Oh, okay. So, we could see the entire city from far above…
Brontë: Because SOMEONE hasn’t taken me yet.
Me: We will go someday. I promise.
Brontë: Can we get a baguette?
Me: Yes–you know what that is?
Brontë: Yeah, a giant bread. Can we see Madeline?
Me: Well, Madeline is pretend, but we can see the places she goes.
Brontë: Can we say “Bonjour” to people?
Me: Of course! They’ll like that… you should always say “bonjour” to people in France.
Brontë: That means “goodbye,”
Me: No, it means “good day.”
Brontë: Yeah, like saying “bye.”
Me: No, it’s more like saying, “Hello.”
Brontë: You’re being RIDICULOUS, mom.
So… color me shocked that my five-year-old already knows about the Eiffel Tower and baguettes and how to say “bonjour.”
I suppose I am taking French classes and watching French films and maybe she’s picked something up. Even if she’s questioning my basic French knowledge and shaming me for not already have taken her to Paris, she seems fairly culturally adept for a toddler.
(That mother is me. I’m the mom in this scenario.)
Scene: It’s lunchtime. Mom has lovingly prepared a princess-pink divider plate with a bean burrito and a handful of strawberries, with the stems scooped out, because her daughter has loved strawberries since infancy and couldn’t possibly reject this particular member of the produce family.
Brontë, the daughter, has wolfed down the bean burrito but is inexplicably looking askance at the handful of strawberries, preparing to make random shows of her Power of Choice by rejecting them…
Meanwhile, her little sister Bridget has wolfed down all of the strawberries while rejecting the burrito outright.
(The child is hovering in a hummingbird blur over her seat, her butt never really resting on the chair and her eyes clearly longing to throw toys in every direction instead of continuing the archaic snooze-fest our society keeps insisting is lunch.)
Brontë: I don’t want to eat my strawberries. Bidgie can have them.
Me: Just eat one.
Brontë: I don’t want to.
Me (picking up one of her strawberries and making it talk in a chirpy voice): “Brontë, eat me and help me fulfill my destiny as your lunch! I’m soooo tasty… Don’t throw me away and make me feel sad!”
Brontë (Taking a bite and shrieking): “OW! My legs are GONE… I can’t walk anymore!”
My 3-year-old daughter Bridget is starting to sting together sentences and have actual conversations, which is when I think parenting starts getting real fun.
I mean, I love them before that and all, but it’s a whole lot of screaming and you-cleaning-up poop before intelligible sentences come into play. Graspable language is when you start getting to hear their hilarious, unfiltered take on life.
Like the other day, when Bridget started nosing around my coffee cup…
Bridget (pointing to my coffee): That COFFEE.
Bridget: I drink?
Me: No, drink your milk.
Bridget (sighing): I smell? Smell good.
Me: Okay, you can smell it.
She grabs the cup, closes her eyes, and inhales.
Bridget: Smells GOOD, mama… I drink?
Me (grabbing the cup back): No, Bidgie.
Bridget (hands on hips): YOU drink!?
Me: I’m a grown-up. This is a grown-up drink.
Bridget (stomping away): This is… POOP!
The funniest part was how she clearly meant to say “This is a bunch of bullsh*t!” before stomping down the hall, but she did the three-year-old version of baby-swearing instead. Given the look on her face, I could practically hear the proper obscenities falling into place.
(Aww, she wants to drink lots of coffee and swear… she is mine.)
Does anyone remember Garbage Pail Kids? They were these nasty trading cards you could get in the late 80’s and 90’s of cartoon toddlers covered in vomit or otherwise being gross or violent.
They were wildly popular. I think they were a backlash against the Cabbage Patch Kid fad at the time, which was all about baby dolls that supposedly grew out of cabbages with levels of cuteness so nuclear that moms actually got into fistfights over them at the time.
Note that I said moms, because their kids were busy collecting trading cards about cabbage spawn exploding their zits or dropping whatever they were doing to go witness the playground fight that just broke out because they suspected this thing we call “life” involves something darker than the perky cartoon facades the adults kept constructing around them while arguing they were 100 percent true…
Somewhere around age 5, if my daughter Brontë is anything to go by, kids start grasping the idea that some things are considered wrong and you’re socially obligated to be offended by them. Girls, at least, like to throw their arms in the air and dramatically shriek upon confronting them.
But I suspect it’s somewhat of an act.
See.. the other day, I was walking up the steps to our house with Brontë and her little sister Bridget when we passed a dead June bug…
Bridget (pointing and shrieking): A bee! A BEE!
Bidgie and I squat and stare at the dead bug for a minute.
Me: That’s a June bug, Bidgie. Where do these dead bugs keep coming from?
Brontë (running away): EWW, GROSS! I don’t want to see that.
Me (watching Bridget poke it with a stick): Whoa, looks like those ants are eating it.
You might’ve noticed that Bubbles and Beebots looks different now.
I may keep on tweaking it until I’m happy. But see, B&B is now getting enough foot traffic to receive advertising invitations and I had to rework its layout into a more ads-friendly theme.
Which is kind of exciting, though I won’t be expecting more than pocket change for a bit. Maybe just enough to get my kids some ice cream at the zoo… don’t you want my adorable kids to be able to eat ice cream, folks?
There. That was my best attempt at salesmanship because I’m so NOT a natural saleswoman. I figured I’d try the guilt angle, since it comes so naturally to parents and as far as I can tell, advertisers usually work their magic using one of a few tools:
Again, a natural selling-point for parents, since we already feel so responsible…
Hey, buy these spoons that tell you when food is too hot, so your trusting baby won’t end up burning her poor little mouth!
Sure, this cereal costs three times more, but there’s a cartoon princess on the box and cartoon princesses make your kid HAPPY. What kind of a monster doesn’t want their kid to be happy?
Using dogs and cats works well too. Aren’t they your best friend?? Don’t they deserve the best!?
Mostly of being socially ostracized because not buying Product X will make you disgusting.
I mean, what if you use a substandard deodorant and end up stinking up the subway? You’ll put your arm up to hold onto the rail, and… BAM! No more invites. You wouldn’t want to gross out your taxicab cab partner, would you?
Or toothpaste. What if that woman you’ve had a huge crush on for ages finally walks up to talk to you and you melt her eyebrows with your jalapeño egg salad breath? Don’t be so GROSS.
It also works with more literal fears about your physical safety. There are always tons of commercials for home alarm systems whenever you’re watching a crime show.
I’ve been noticing a theme here, and it mostly involves our fears of being judged. We don’t want other people to think bad things about us.
And on the flip side, we DO want them to think good things. Like, it’s great to have a fashionable product because then everyone will know you’re on the level. Or if you’re a hipster, you want a product that ISN’T popular, so you can be part of the elite club that actually appreciates it. We don’t want the ads to look too rehearsed or glossy, in that case.
Let’s say you think that girl from the Sketchers ad is pretty hot and you’d like to look like her or date her (or both, depending on your persuasion). So, maybe if you wear those tennis shoes, some of her hotness will rub off on you and then you can rock her awesome figure without having to do any crunches or lay off the Cinnabons.
And hey, Benicio Del Toro is pretty macho and successful and maybe you could also be a world traveler if you tossed back a few Heinekens. At the very least, you’d be cool.
Eh… my terrible natural salesmanship is becoming all too apparent. In fact, I should probably pull this post before any actual advertisers read it.
And go back to being a manic pixie who occasionally mentions poop tantrums. It’s what I do best. 🙂