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Back From LA

Spain
Just back from a week in LA.

I did Conan (the O'Brien, not the Cimmerian) and the Today Show, and taped a segment for a BBC special about Machiavelli... along with the usual dozen or so meeetings.

Also, while in town, swung by the Bookstar in Studio City and signed all their stock of my books, which was considerable. So if you're an Angeleno or just visiting LA, and want to snag an autographed copy of one of my novels, get yourself to Studio City while the supply lasts.

And now I'm back in the land of wolves and savage dust storms, digging out from under.

Comments

ext_2021805
Jun. 15th, 2013 06:52 am (UTC)
Hey George,
Hopefully it's not too late to comment on this--but with all due respect (this is coming from someone who was so inspired by your work that I went back to school at 35 and recently graduated with an MFA in creative writing), I have to disagree with the above sentiments.

It seems a bit disingenuous to defend the show using the logic of the books--which in my mind are a light-years ahead of the HBO adaption in quality, but I digress.

The deft and nuanced world-building of your novels has for the most part been jettisoned by the showrunners, and without that, the scene is problematic.


Regardless of the financial and logistic production woes of the show--in terms of race and imagery, it was a poorly conceived scene, to say the least. All we're left with is what's there on the TV screen. To deny this is to deny history. Perhaps if we were living in some sort of apolitical vacuum, or on another planet, maybe the scene might have worked (actually, I take that back, unfortunately, it was also saccharine sweet maudlin Hollywood, in all the wrong ways).

A Storm of Swords portrayed this scene powerfully, but the HBO adaption muddied it with the real world baggage of race, colonialism, and lack of all common sense, which ruined audience immersion, yanking us out of Slaver's Bay, throwing us back into 21st century earth.

Though I can understand how you might be defensive, at the end of the day, how could you be blamed for this lazy depiction? You didn't write or direct the episode, and have no veto power in the production.

As you once quoted another author in an interview in Dragon Magazine many years ago--and I paraphrase--"Hollywood didn't ruin my books, they're right over there on the bookshelf."

And for that, I thank the Old Gods and the New.

Fanboy addendum--can't wait for The Winds of Winter and the new novella!

Respectfully yours,
Shawn Crawford

Edited at 2013-06-15 11:30 am (UTC)
grrm
Jun. 21st, 2013 07:28 pm (UTC)
I really do want extended debates about the show on my Not A Blog. There are other places for that -- on Westeros, on Winter Is Coming, on Tower of the Hand, on Television Without Pity. So those of you who want to continue this discussion should take it there.

I will address this issue one more time, however.

I suppose one could discuss aspects of the show in a vacuum, as if the novels never existed. Consider only what is on the screen. That is a perfectly valid approach. But not for me. I am the author of the novels. I have lived in this world, off and on, since 1991. I know what I wrote, I know what I intended... in the books.

Maybe I am too close to the material to consider the show only as a show, without reference to the novels. So, sure, one can say "what is in the books has no relevance to what was on the screen," and that's true enough for you, maybe... but what's in the books is sure as shit relevant to ME, and I will always go back to that.

That being said, I worked in TV for ten years, and I know a bit about how things work. I know the challenges that David and Dan and their crew face. In my last comment on this subject, I tried to explain some of the practicalities of production. Some people have dismissed this, saying in effect that it's the politics that matter, not the practicalities... but practicalities will always trump politics in television production.

In the instance of this scene, David and Dan were adapting material straight from the novel. I have not seen their script, but I would wager it reads something like, "the gates of the city open, and the slaves come pouring out. A few at first, then more and more, hundreds and then thousands." I very much doubt there is any mention of skin color.

Then the script goes to the director, in this case David Nutter. When planning the scene, his first question would be, "how many extras will the budget allow me?" In this case, I am told, about eight hundred extras were used. Some CGI was used in post to multiply those numbers further, make the crowds appear bigger.

So you are shooting in Morocco. You need eight hundred extras. You put out the call, and people show up, hoping for a few days work. Usually you get way more extras than you actually need, allowing you to pick and choose the "looks" you want. That's certainly true when you're using twenty extras, or fifty, or a hundred.

When you are hiring eight hundred, though... well, I have no idea how many turned out, but it is entirely possible that the show hired every man, woman, and child who applied. I doubt that many applicants were turned away. And certainly no one was turned away for reason of race. If the job applicants had been more ethnically and racially diverse, the crowd on screen would have been more ethnically and racially diverse, but they weren't.

As for Dany's whiteness... well, there wasn't much we could have done about that. The character has been established since 1991, and Emilia is playing her superbly

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George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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