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We're Number One...

greyjoy
... in graphic novels.

The second volume of the GAME OF THRONES graphic novel debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list:

http://www.nytimes.com/best-sellers-books/2013-06-30/hardcover-graphic-books/list.html

(And, hey, the following week's list is out, and we're still number one).

My thanks and congratulations to Daniel Abraham (who wrote the script) and Tommy Patterson (who drew the pictures) and Mike S. Miller (who did the covers). They do all the real work on this one. This is their triumph, much more than mine.

I'm glad so many of you are enjoying the funny book.

Comments

grrm
Jul. 4th, 2013 07:01 am (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
I wasn't present for Pedro Pascal's audition, but I understand that he really killed it with his reading. And since his casting was announced, the producer of another TV show on which he appeared recently has written me to say how terrific Pascal is, and to congratulate us on the casting. So I suspect that he will turn out to be a wonderful Red Viper.

I do know that David and Dan and HBO do favor having a racially and ethnically diverse cast on the series. It is true that we've lost several black characters who appear in the novels (Chataya and Alayaya, Jalabhar Xho, Strong Belwas), but to balance that, characters like Salladhor Saan and Xaro Xhoan Daxos, both white in the books, have been played by black actors. Missandei as well, though in the books the Naathi are golden-skinned, not white.

As for the Dornishmen, well, though by and large I reject one to one analogies, I've always pictured the "salty Dornish" as being more Mediterranean than African in appearance; Greek, Spanish, Italian, Portugese, etc. Dark hair and eyes, olive skin. Pedro Pascal is Chilean. (Check out Amok's version of the Red Viper, that's how I saw him. Or Magali Villenueve's beautiful and sexy portrait of Princess Arianne).

When and if the show introduces Prince Oberyn's daughters, the Sand Snakes, I expect we will see the same diversity as in the books, ranging from Tyene (blond and blue-eyed) to Sarella (light brown skin, as her mother was a Summer Islander). And I expect that the crew of the CINNAMON WIND will all be cast with black actors... assuming, of course, that Sam's voyage remains in the story.

Edited at 2013-07-04 07:02 am (UTC)
jayuk83
Jul. 4th, 2013 05:15 pm (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
Great to hear your views on the casting as it has been discussed in great length on the fan websites.

As an actor myself who is obsessed with your books, there's barely a day goes by where I'm not envisaging being a part of the show. I made my own audition video and put it on YouTube, but whilst the fan response has been fantastic, it seems being proactive in this way is actually frowned upon a little in the industry. Which, frankly, sucks. And is counter-productive in my opinion to a thriving and open-minded casting system.

It's a horrible situation because actors know that if they're not represented by one of the top ten agents, they're unlikely to be called in for an audition (unless they're a child) and so in order to fight the system I created my own audition video... every single person who's watched it has been hugely encouraging (including certain members of the cast themselves who tweeted about it), but what use is that? There's absolutely no scope for an actor to be productive and creative because when they are, it's sneered upon, regardless of the actual quality of the product. (I didn't film so I can safely say my audition video is of great production value - I won't big up my own performance however).

I know it's similar in all creative industries but nonetheless it's frustrating when you've taken the proactivity levels to as far as they can possibly go without setting up camp in the casting director's office! :)
Marino Santirso
Jul. 5th, 2013 09:37 am (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
I'm sure you are familiar with Magali Villeneuve's own version of The Red Viper. Which is IMHO the best illustration ever of Oberyn:

http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20130129172145/hieloyfuego/images/thumb/b/b4/Oberyn_Martell_by_Magali_Villeneuve,_Fantasy_Flight_Games%C2%A9.jpg/575px-Oberyn_Martell_by_Magali_Villeneuve,_Fantasy_Flight_Games%C2%A9.jpg

Warm regards from Asturias, Spain (you know, Celsius, Black Week...)
miss_creant
Jul. 5th, 2013 09:23 pm (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
I thought Sarella Sand's skin was described as "dark as teak"?
grrm
Jul. 6th, 2013 04:24 pm (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
Yes, that's true... but Sarella's mother was a trader from the Summer Islands. The four eldest Sand Snakes each have different mothers, and their appearance varies considerably as a consequence. (Their younger half-sisters, the daughters of Ellaria Sand, are a different matter).
miss_creant
Jul. 8th, 2013 02:22 am (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
Thank you for answering. I misunderstood something and was confused for a moment.

If you don't mind (and you can always choose to not approve this message if you don't like it) I'd like to take the opportunity to say something: I've been a fan of this series for maybe a decade, it's given me a lot of joy as well as a lot to think about in terms of the real world and in terms of the power of fiction. I'm also a female person of color, and a politically aware one, I like to think.

Up until very recently, Arianne Martell was as close as I ever got to seeing myself in fantasy in a three-dimensional, significant and meaningful (meaning not Minor Character X) way. Ever. I've been on the earth for three decades, I've been told we live in a post-racism world, and yet she was the first, so I thought. It doesn't make me like her any less to "know" (I know you left the issue of the Martells' appearance open to interpretation, so I use the word loosely) that she's maybe not like me after all. I'm not soured on the story, and I don't go around having high hopes about this sort of thing anyway, seeing as how it's usually futile. But it does strike me as strange that people can be so dismissive about why people would like to "see themselves" in their fiction.

To give a notorious geek example, Whoopie Goldberg talked about how inspiring it was for her to see a black woman on the bridge of the original Enterprise on Star Trek, working in a trusted position of competency alongside all her male and mostly white colleagues. These things do touch people, these issues do make a difference.

I want to thank you for expressing your sympathy for people who care about issues of representation in the media. It honestly means a lot to me.

I also want to say that from my perspective, anger over the lack of representation on such important issues as race is qualitatively different at anger over anger over the lack of representation on race. Those fellow fans whom I do know that are disappointed don't derive any pleasure from being indignant or righteously angry, they feel disenfranchised. Your story is one piece of the puzzle, but for some, it was a piece they were hoping would stand against the tide. In contrast, those who are so upset that some fans are upset about this issue are angry because -- why? Because a book or a show they love has detractors? Those are not on the same level of human significance. I don't know everything that has been said and don't condone mudslinging, but this issue is important enough to me to go the process of potentially and regretfully wasting your time to say it.

And while I don't talk about the show very much there, I do have a Tumblr. I like to think we're not all cesspool dwellers. I have been in many places in this fandom, and there are awful people everywhere. There are also amazing people everywhere. Every place is a mixed bag, because that's a reflection of the human condition. Having read your books, I think you would agree, although I do not mean to be presumptuous. Perhaps your information is second hand, I don't know, I always assumed you kept largely away from your internet fandom (I know I would if I was an author), and I don't mean to put you on the spot to Explain Yourself or anything like that. But since it came up perhaps you might find another perspective interesting. Tumblr and twitter users are also not mutually exclusive from, for example, people who blog on Livejournal, post on westeros.org or comment on WICnet. You have a lot of diverse fans in diverse places.
grrm
Jul. 11th, 2013 02:52 am (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
I do "keep largely away" from my internet fandom. For one thing, there is so much of it. Which is great, but also means it would be impossible to keep up. Also, while 99% of my fans are great, there is always that last percent, the ones who are nasty, abusive, etc. And some of them can get VERY abusive.

I am aware of how Lt. Uhura helped to inspire Whoopie Goldberg. The original STAR TREK was a ground-breaking series in many ways, and for that I applaud them. Permit me to point out, however, that Uhura was always a secondary character. Kirk was the hero of that show. The others were supporting characters. A supporting character can, I think, be a good character... interesting, vital, intriguing... and yes, even inspirational.

Depending on which book we are discussing, I have anywhere from seven to sixteen POV characters... but hundreds of supporting characters, in varying degrees of importance. And some of them are HUGELY important, and very popular as well. Varys, Littlefinger, Bronn, the Hound, the Queen of Thorns... none of them are POV characters, but all of them have more fans, and more "screen time," than such POV characters as Quentyn Martell, Arys Oakheart. Areo Hotah, Damphair, and so forth. Just because a character has a supporting role does not mean they have no worth.

Yes, I do understand the desire of some readers to "see themselves" in books, television shows, films, etc. At least I understand it intellectually. Emotionally, maybe less so. As an old time comic book geek, I know that Robin was added to Batman so kids would have someone to identify with... but even I was a kid, I never identified with Robin. I identified with Batman. Like every other kid I knew.

That being said, I do my best to include a diverse cast of characters, of all races, colors, and ethnicities, and will continue to do so.
jedifreac
Jul. 6th, 2013 12:45 am (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
My racial background is one that is not represented in "western fantasy" often, if ever, and I don't expect characters with my own racial appearance to exist in ASOIAF. But the reason why I write is because I do know a lot of fans who saw themselves visually in the Rhoynar and yes, in House Martell.

Many of your readers of color (from all sorts of racial/ethnic backgrounds) read that Oberyn had olive skin, black hair, and "saturnine" features. They read that Joffrey japed about "a Dornishman and a cowflop." From Oakheart they saw the Dornish described as hypersexualized with "peppers and strange spices." They read about Alleras and how she was "dark as teak" and "brown as a nut" and disparaged as a "monkey." . (If she's part Summer Islander, why qualify brown with 'light'?) We related to those experiences and those misunderstandings. We read interviews where--while cautioning against direct analogies--you noted Palestinian, Moorish, and Welsh influences. We identified with the concept of a Targ king sorting the Dornish by phenotypical traits as part of the conquest. We saw that portrait of Arianne and we recognized that perhaps she would be the only PoV who is a woman of color.

Maybe we were just imagining what we wanted to see: a more diverse Westeros with a level of verisimilitude closer to that of actual medieval Europe rather than modern fantasy's monochrome. Dorne gave your readers of color hope that they could be seen as a part of a medieval fantasy world, just as people of color were a part of medieval history and lore. Sir Palamedes, Safir, and Segwarides sat at Arthur's roundtable--surely nonwhite characters could sit on a Westerosi Small Council. If Alessandro de'Medici was the Duke of Florence, why not a brown man as the Prince of Dorne? Even now, with your description of Dorne as "Mediterranean," I immediately think of the vastness of the region, which saw so much North African and Middle Eastern influence.

When I asked about the Martell casting, I wasn't asking that black actors specifically be cast as Martells, and I was thrown off guard when you made such a distinction between "Mediterranean" and "African." In addition to the countries you mentioned (all regions with Moorish influence), there are coastal countries like Libya, Syria, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, and even Morocco (GOT filming site.) Many of these countries are peopled with dark hair, dark eyes, and olive skin. Why limit Dorne to Mediterranean countries in Europe?

I am relieved to hear that D&D/HBO favor having a diverse cast. They've explored opportunities to cast characters differently from your text. But please, please understand that these characters don't carry the same meaning as having a noble house with leaders of color. I, too, hope for black actors for the Cinnamon Wind, but ultimately, these characters--Dothraki, Sallhador, Missandei, Kojja, etc. all function as otherized supports to the stories of white PoV characters (Dany, Davos, Sam, etc.) With Dorne, with characters like Oberyn and Arianne, it was different, it was incredible, to imagine characters of color as players of the Game of Thrones.

A huge part of reading fantasy is being able to imagine yourself in another character's experience. I don't deny that, but I also think it is important to acknowledge why it might be refreshing and relieving for someone from an underrepresented group to see themselves reflected in literature or on screen.

Mr. Martin, I really wanted to see major characters of color in Westeros. I really wanted to see an actor with brown skin play Oberyn, since I don't think your story necessarily affords this kind of big role to actors of color anywhere else. There was just something soul-crushing, something heartbreaking, for me when I read what you wrote. (And I know that by writing you again here I am continuing to open myself up to vitriol from my fellow fans.)

I can't argue with your authorial intent, vision, or fiat. I can express, though, that after reading your comment, my view of Westeros has changed. Some of the verisimilitude has faded, the world of Ice and Fire feels more plastic and shiny.

So again I ask: what can fans like me do to encourage the show to cast the upcoming Martells diversely?

Respectfully yours,
ML
grrm
Jul. 6th, 2013 10:57 pm (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
I hear what you're saying, and I appreciate knowing your thoughts and feelings on these issues, which you've stated very eloquently.

No one meant to break your heart or crush your soul, certainly. There are a number of complicated issues involved here, and I don't have the time or the energy to address them all. ((Might make for an interesting discussion at a con, if we had a hour or two and a good cross-sample of people of good will and differing viewpoints)).

I understand that Salladhor Saan and Missandei and Xaro Xhoan Daxos are not major characters, certainly... but it does trouble me to have them dismissed as "otherized supports to... white PoV characters." Yes, they are supporting characters; they're not protagonists, they don't have chapters from their own viewpoint. But Oberyn Martell is a supporting character as well. Which is not to say he is unimportant. Robb Stark never had a viewpoint chapter either.

I try to make ALL my characters fully-fleshed and human, whether they are secondary or tertiary characters, minor players, or spearcarriers who only have one line. I grant you, I may not always succeed, given that I have literally thousands of characters, but the intent is there. I should also point out that I am not done writing the books. If you've read my novels, you'll know that sometimes a character who seems very minor in one book assumes great importance in later volumes... and sometimes even becomes a POV. Let me hasten to add, this does not mean I am promising to make Salladhor Saan a POV character... but it does mean I am not done with him. (Of course, in the books Saan is white, a Lyseni of Valyrian descent, so that may not help much).

Speaking of Valyria... right from the start I wanted the Targaryens, and by extension the Valryians from whom they were descended, to be a race apart, with distinctive features that set them apart from the rest of Westeros, and helped explain their obsession with the purity of their blood. To do this, I made a conventional 'high fantasy' choice, and gave them silver-gold hair, purple and violet eyes, fine chiseled aristocratic features. That worked well enough, at least in the books (on the show, less so).

But in recent years, it has occured to me from time to time that it might have made for an interesting twist if instead I had made the dragonlords of Valyria... and therefore the Targaryens... black. Maybe I could have kept the silver hair too, though... no, that comes too close to 'dark elf' territory, but still... if I'd had dark-skinned dragonlords invade and conquer and dominate a largely white Westeros... though that choice would have brought its own perils. The Targaryens have not all been heroic, after all... some of them have been monsters, madmen, so...

Well, it's all moot. The idea came to me about twenty years too late.

In any case... I hope no one heaps any vitriol on you for stating your views. I may not agree with all you've said, but I respect where you've coming from, and you've been nothing but polite. You do not deserve abuse for that, and if anyone tries to heap some on you here I will delete their posts (I have no control over what happens elsewhere, alas, but I can at least keep my own blog civil).

FWIW, though, I do not think David, Dan, HBO, Nine Gold deserve the vitriol being heaped upon them elsewhere on the internet either (NOT in your post, let me stress). And I especially don't like to see poor Pedro Pascal getting abused, before he's even delivered a line. By all reports he is a terrific actor who gave a great reading at his audition. THAT's why he got the role.

nekonekox
Jul. 8th, 2013 05:29 pm (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
I can't agree with people always asking authors to create characters tailored to satisfy their needs of representation. One of the things I like about Game of Thrones is that it really has a really solid background based on historical reality. Thus, having your work tainted by the wants of others who are not intimate with the creativity and workings of your mind and world would really be disgraceful. Just like when people complained when a white woman was cast to play Cleopatra in a recent work, even though she is white according to historical records. People just need to being to feel represented in the ideas and not in the color of skin, and perhaps then we might be able to overcome racism and other serious problems the world suffers nowadays.
natakamani
Jul. 12th, 2013 04:17 am (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
Nobody is asking anyone to tailor anything. People are simply asking for authors, directors, whomever to reflect the world in which we live in. I don't see the harm in that. People act like diversity is such a chore. It should be embraced instead of maligned all the time.
nekonekox
Jul. 17th, 2013 04:28 am (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
"Nobody is asking anyone to tailor anything. People are simply asking for authors, directors, whomever to reflect the world in which we live in. I don't see the harm in that."

That is exactly the meaning of "tailor made". The author has one responsibility and one responsibility only: to reflect his own world. And seriously? You ask George Martin to reflect the world you live in? You might start by killing off some dragons and direwolves as well!
jedifreac
Jul. 14th, 2013 10:24 pm (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
I hope I made it clear in my earlier comments that I was not trying to satisfy any personal need for representation (as I would never be seen as Dornish no matter how you slice it). I also tried to make it clear that I can't argue with the "creativity and workings" of GRRM's mind and I that I'm not in the business of tainting it--though I don't consider including people of color to be "tainting."

I do think it is important to address the notion of "historical reality" and how our exposure to media can impact (taint?) our assumptions about "historical reality." This is is why I noted the Saracen knights, Moors of al-Andalus, etc. The truth is that the ancient world was less white than is traditionally depicted in literature and TV. The Mediterranean Sea easily facilitated trade interactions between Southern Europe, Northern Africa, and the Middle East. Carthage was in northern Africa and they had a huge war with Rome. The Roman Empire spanned past Judea. (As for Cleopatra, it's rather nebulous...the race of her mother is unknown and Cleo was the only member of her entire family to bother to learn Egyptian. As a Ptolemy she was at least half Egyptian Greek, but we will probably never know how exactly she looked, so I don't fault people for wondering why she's always alabaster white.)

Still, to me, the distinction should be "tradition," not "historical accuracy." (After all, Mr. Martin notes there are no direct parallels to culture/history in his story.) Our notions of historical accuracy are often driven by our storytelling traditions.

Part of what I love about ASOIAF is it's willingness to subvert fantasy traditions. I guess I just thought that also extended to including brown people as major players in the Game of Thrones. I don't think it is at all unreasonable for fans to look at what we know about history in the Mediterranean region, to read the books (and see characters described as having darker features, from a desert region, where blondes are apparently hard for a guy like Oberyn to find) and assume and even expect that these characters would be represented by nonwhite people. Or unreasonable to expect for Dorne to be represented visually by groups we don't see often in traditional fantasy, since these groups did engage with Europeans historically. (When I saw Tyrion on the show exoticize Dornish girls as the "strangest thing he's ever eaten," I didn't think Tyrion was just referring to brunettes.)

I do want to say though--if people of color, if women, if LGBT people, were unable to feel represented in "the ideas" and not in the color of skin or other trappings of social identity, then there wouldn't be much for us to enjoy in mainstream media at all. So of course people from underrepresented groups are able to feel represented in "the ideas." We're great at it! We have to be, if we want to have as much fun as everyone else.

People relate to "the ideas" for these characters or there wouldn't be such a diverse fandom. What we lack, where there is a disparity, is representation in those other ways. Gender. Skin Tone. Sexual orientation. and so on. It is so easy, for example, for men to find relatable examples of strong protagonists in fantasy lit who share their gender. It is much harder for women--which is part of the reason why ASOIAF is so respected. Telling a woman fan of The Avengers who wants a Miss Marvel movie "You just need to feel represented by the ideas of Iron Man and Thor, perhaps then we can overcome sexism and serious problems" would not address or overcome the gendered issues in Marvel movies at all. These fans are not the reason why the world can't overcome systemic inequalities.

I'd also hazard to say that telling readers of color--particularly the segment that was invested in seeing the Martells as PoC--that they should feel represented by "the ideas"--when white readers are represented both by "the ideas" and by the all-white PoV characters--doesn't tell us to do anything different from what we were already doing. Sometimes it's nice to have a little more than just "the ideas." With the Martells, before this week, a lot of fans thought we had that.

You don't have to agree, but please try to understand.
juliette666
Jul. 8th, 2013 01:30 am (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
ML: I just wanted to say that I thought your post was really beautifully written.

(And of course, I appreciate the fact that GRRM took the time to read it and write a thoughtful response.)
syfer_diaz
Jul. 10th, 2013 03:01 pm (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
Good day. I started watching the show because I work at a telecommunications company & representatives from HBO came down to promote it before the first season premiered. After the first season, I got into the books & loved them ever since. I have to say I have been reading (not)blogs from this site for a long time, but your post made me actually create an account.

I have to admit this is a concern I share as I myself am a person of color. I felt the same way about Avatar: The Last Airbender when he-who-shall-not-be-named decided to alter the cast radically when fans of the cartoon series grew up with a specific cast type in mind. There was a huge uproar on the ASN forums when the cast was shown.

It appears that the cast of GoT is hardly going to have a colored character of worth or substance, if at all. SS was a pirate who wanted to rape the ruling (white)queen , Missandei is a translator & XXD is a con man who wanted to trick the rightful(white)queen. The Dothraki are savage brutes; The Horde of Westeros akin to the Huns or Mongols.

The same way I wanted to know how Prince Zuko who was Chinese in the ATLA cartoon series was turned into an Indian for the live action movie & how Aang (Chinese in the cartoon series), Sokka (Inuit)& Katara (Inuit) became white in the live action movie, I also want to know how this pale man is the Red Viper. I imagined someone along the lines of Oded Fehr not necessarily black (although I would not be opposed to someone "brown as a nut").

GRRM himself admits to the lack of serious colored characters from the books (Strong Belwas was a kick in the balls). I mean what is going on? Are they trying to prevent the backlash of people who do NOT want people of color on the show? I remembered the racial fury from Hunger Games when viewers saw specific characters portrayed as colored actors/actresses on the show even though they were described as being colored/black IN the book.

http://jezebel.com/5896408/racist-hunger-games-fans-dont-care-how-much-money-the-movie-made

Come on D&D.
kyojintitan
Jul. 6th, 2013 01:34 am (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
I hope you won't mind me saying something critical: I'm only saying it because I really respect the things you've had to say about gender and race and social justice issues, and so I want to urge you to give a little more thought to this one.

I don't know if you've been following any of the kerfuffles that have been going on for months now related to the Martells' casting, but some fans of color have written really eloquent stuff about how rarely they get to see themselves represented in media, especially in the fantasy genre, and how that's affected them. People who burst into tears when they realized the hero of A Wizard of Earthsea looked like them, that sort of thing.

For a lot of those people, the portrayal of Dorne was really important. They're reading this series that's totally grounded in European history, so understandably most of the main characters were white and they're OK with that, but they could at least see themselves represented as cool, proactive characters in the Martells and the Sand Snakes. Maybe you meant for the Martells to be Greek/Italian/etc., but a lot of South Asian, Middle Eastern, North African and dark-olive-skinned Latino fans interpreted salty Dornishmen as looking like them, which I think is a reasonable interpretation of the text if not the only possible one. (I personally didn't link salty Dornishmen with any specific real ethnicity, but I did think it was pretty clear they were visually distinct from other Westerosi, which is why I was disappointed to see HBO cast a guy who wouldn't look out of place playing an Andal from the Vale, Chilean or not.) For those people, the Dornish characters were the one place they could see themselves in the text, and they were really hoping to see that reflected onscreen. The fact that a couple of other characters have been turned black who weren't in the books isn't much consolation – Salladhor is nowhere near as prominent, Xaro's being turned into a black guy coincided with his also being transformed into a traitor who betrayed Dany and was killed, Missandei's a servant. So for a lot of people it's really important to see people of color as the major Dornish characters.

The thing that makes this all tenser is that a lot of other fans who aren't sympathetic to the desire for diversity have reacted to this with really astonishing hostility and, TBH, racism. I have seen a lot of flat-out racial slurs hurled at fans who said that they aren't white and it's important to them that Oberyn isn't either. I've seen people claiming that anyone who thinks it's problematic to cast white actors in the roles of non-white characters is racist against white people. It's really, really sickening. And the disappointing thing about what you've posted is that, while it's perfectly reasonable on its face, I've already seen a lot of those people seizing on it as some kind of vindication of their racist point of view and using as it an excuse to gloat – see? Oberyn was always supposed to be white! People who wanted him to be Middle Eastern were the real racists all along!

So I'm not trying to convince you to recant what you've said here – obviously if you pictured the Dornishmen as Mediterranean there's nothing wrong with that in itself (and North Africans are also Mediterranean, you know!). And I realize you're not going to want to directly criticize the makers of the show, who've done a fantastic job with most aspects of your work. But I would urge you to spend some time looking into some of the criticisms people have had, especially that written by fans of color about why having dark-skinned Dornishmen on the show is important to them. The podcast Fat Pink Cast has had some great stuff to say on this, as have Racebending, ASOIAF University, nobodysuspectsthebutterfly and allerasphinx over on Tumblr.

Anyway, whatever you think on all this, I hope it hasn't offended you, and all my love and gratitude for the amazing work you've done.
grrm
Jul. 7th, 2013 01:11 am (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
You haven't offended me, though obviously we have some disagreements.

About "Mediterranean," for sure. Yes, one can argue that anyone living in a country that borders on the Mediterranean Sea is a Mediterranean, but that's not the way the word is usually understood. In common usage, it refers to the countries of southern Europe, and not even all of those. France is not usually spoken of as a Mediterranean country, despite the Riviera. Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, and Morocco are usually spoken of as North African countries. Egypt, though it is also in North Africa, is more often referred to as Middle Eastern or Arabic. I live in New Mexico, which is about as far south as a state can be and still be part of the United States. And yet New Mexico is not part of "the South," not counted as a "southern state." Virginia, considerably further north, IS a "southern state." These terms are not meant to be taken literally.

Yes, I pictured the "salty Dornishmen" as looking Mediterranean (I also had the 'sandy Dornishmen,' fwiw), but if some of my readers want to picture them with darker skins, that's fine. The picture in the author's head and the picture in the reader's head don't always match, and really, there's no reason they should. That's one of the great things about books. The reader is part of the process. No two readers see the character the same way.

That does not work in television, for reasons too obvious to belabor. Casting is a long, tough process, and all kinds of factors come into play. The important thing is finding the best actor. Now, granted, there are a lot of good actors out there. You try to pick the best one for your own show, from the pool of those you can actually get. (A much smaller pool than the ones the fans draw their wishlists from). We have had many casting controversies with GAME OF THRONES. Nikolai Coster-Waldau's nose was too big to be Jaime. Lena Headey was insufficiently blonde to be Cersei. Peter Dinklage was too tall to be Tyrion. Gwendoline Christie was too pretty to play Brienne. Yet here we are now, and it's impossible even for me to imagine any one else in those roles.

I expect the same will be true of Pedro Pascal. A year from now, I hope, Pascal will BE Oberyn Martell.

I do agree that the hostility and anger that this issue has triggered has been deeply disturbing. Mind you, I have seen it from both sides. Some pretty nasty things have been said about David, Dan, me, and even Pedro Pascal, who hasn't done anything more than audition for a role and win it. Which doesn't excuse the crap being thrown the other way by those who support the casting. It would be nice if we could discuss these issues calmly and reasonably, in an atmosphere of mutual respect, without the vitriol... but in this age of the internet, that's more than anyone can expect, especially on cesspools like twitter and tumblir.

Let me conclude with this. While I stand by my previous descriptions of Prince Oberyn and the salty Dornish, and support the casting of Pedro Pascal, I hate to disappoint any of my readers, and I am sympathetic to their desires to 'see themselves' in the text.

The text -- the NOVELS -- are actually the only thing I control, but I can say, with some certainty, that there will be people of color therein. Salladhor and Xaro are white in the books, true, but I have some interesting new characters coming forward (not viewpoints, admittedly, but cool, I hope) you may like, and there will be more of Strong Belwas, Moqorro, Missandei, Irri, Jhiqui, the bloodriders, many other Dothraki, Chataya and Alayaya, Jhalabar Xho, and the captain and crew of the Cinnamon Wind.

They may not all come to good ends, mind you, and some will be deeply flawed, and some will be minor players... but they will be there, in living color, for good or ill.



polkadotsnplaid
Jul. 8th, 2013 02:47 am (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
Many ASOIAF fans on tumblr are women who don't feel comfortable at or have been driven from less inclusive ASOIAF forums elsewhere. It's unfortunate and disheartening to see you dismiss us all as just part of "a cesspool."

The tumblr-based ASOIAF community is far from perfect - what social media platform, Livejournal included, doesn't have its fair share of rude/disrespectful people? - but it is, for the most part (I say this as someone who got into your series BECAUSE of Tumblr and has spent nearly 2 years on that site almost exclusively to celebrate and talk about the series) inclusive, positive, and a great place to go for in-depth discussion of characters major or minor, plotlines, your love of a certain House, theories, etc.


grrm
Jul. 8th, 2013 06:54 pm (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
Well, I am not on tumblir, as I said, so perhaps I have the wrong impression of it... but whenever anyone sends me screencaps or quotes from the discussions there, I see a level of ugliness way beyond what I see on LiveJournal. Are tumblir discussions moderated? My own experience has taught me that unmoderated sites inevitably bring out the very worst in people.

Are you telling me that the tumblir community is largely made up of women? If so, that's something I didn't know. There are, of course, many female I&F and GOT fans on Westeros, Winter Is Coming, Tower of the Hand, and the other major sites... are you saying that tumblir is made up of women "driven" from those sites?

These are not rhetorical questions. Honestly, so far as I know, the only people being expelled from Westeros of the other sites I've mentioned are ones who have engaged in trolling, spamming, or abusive behavior of one sort of another.
Re: House Martell Casting - polkadotsnplaid - Jul. 8th, 2013 08:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: House Martell Casting - ashayatara - Jul. 9th, 2013 01:15 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: House Martell Casting - Bobby Schmidt - Jul. 9th, 2013 09:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: House Martell Casting - nightlysparks - Jul. 8th, 2013 08:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: House Martell Casting - suethepirate - Jul. 9th, 2013 12:05 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: House Martell Casting - yagathai - Jul. 9th, 2013 08:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: House Martell Casting - qasr_e_shirin - Jul. 10th, 2013 04:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: House Martell Casting - grrm - Jul. 11th, 2013 01:48 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: House Martell Casting - TopherOuta518 - Jul. 11th, 2013 06:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
nocuzzlikeyea
Jul. 9th, 2013 02:08 am (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
I was a sad and lonely Sansa fan for years until I found Tumblr. There is a lot of victim-hating in the fandom when it comes to Sansa, and many people on Tumblr vocally support her and place the blame on her abuser, Joffrey.

Much of what I've found in the Tumblr GoT fandom has a "feminist slant" by which I mean "interprets female characters as fully realized human beings rather than objects to be manipulated by male characters, and then hated when they fail to adhere to those manipulations perfectly."
grrm
Jul. 9th, 2013 05:42 am (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
I had no idea. Thanks.

That being said... if readers want to hate my characters and argue about them, I take that as a compliment. It means I've made them real enough to evoke strong emotions.

It's when the attacks move from my fictions to actual living breathing human beings that I get troubled.
Re: House Martell Casting - nocuzzlikeyea - Jul. 11th, 2013 11:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
ImAJuicyGirl
Jul. 7th, 2013 03:48 pm (UTC)
Re: Castings
I'm fat, so I've grown up seeing how everybody like me (fat) was considered either stupid, meaningless or stupidly meaningless in most books, films and tv shows. In fact, I read the ASOIAF novels and I kept seeing how many fat characters (Sam, Lysa Arryn, Hodor, Robert Baratheon...) are either stupid, crazy or even mentally deficient.

But I feel even worse about reducing the number of fat characters in the show. It's bad to have so many stereotypes around, but not even having a decent amount of overweight and obese people is even more insulting. You even made Lysa Arryn super skinny!!! I'm not gonna forgive you just because the actress was fucking amazing and she WAS Lysa Arryn, I would have preferred to have a mediocre fat person!

Also, when I was reading the books I thought about how some characters would be amazing as fatties. I mean, I know Daenerys is supposed to be in shape and all that, but I like her, so I imagined her morbidly obese. Iit would have been nice of the producers to have chosen an obese actress to play her, that way all of us fat women who suffer discrimation because of our weight would have an amazing role model, and we would have been represented in the show.
However, you chose to stick to the book instead of my imagination, which I think is DISCRIMINATORY.
Therefore, I HATE YOU SO MUCH.

P.D.: the only real problem with Pedro Pascal is that he's hot when Oberyn is supposed to be SUPER ULTRA MEGA BEYOND BELIEVE hot. But I trust you, guys.
nocuzzlikeyea
Jul. 9th, 2013 02:01 am (UTC)
Re: Castings
I thought Wyman Manderly, Fat Walda, and especially Sam were excellent examples of people with different body sizes being well-represented in the books. While they experience discrimination within the world they live in, they certainly aren't written as living up to those stereotypes. People assume Wyman is weak, an assumption that he uses to his advantage in his undermining of Bolton and the Freys. We don't see as much of Walda, but she seems to have a healthy body image. She also has what seems to be a successful marriage (as much as anyone can have with Roose Bolton), and it is explicitly stated that Roose enjoys their marriage on a level beyond the gold he received for her.

Finally, this really goes without saying, but Sam is portrayed as pretty much the opposite of stupid and meaningless.

Edited at 2013-07-09 02:02 am (UTC)
rplantain
Jul. 9th, 2013 01:49 am (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
I think the misunderstanding here comes from the term 'olive skin'. People may have imagined the 'olive' description as referring to a black olive, but 'olive' is an actual term used to describe people with a tan, yellowish complexion (Greek and Southern Italian for example), the 'olive' here being a green/yellow olive. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olive_skin
myqueensansa
Jul. 10th, 2013 09:08 pm (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
(cont., post 2/2)

All in all, this decision has created an ensemble cast with rotating points of view, but still only told through white eyes, although the everyday experiences of POC are transferred to some of these white characters. The diversity in medieval Europe, and indeed the world we live in, seems to be incredibly downplayed. Whilst I enjoy many of the series’ characters of color (particularly Missandei, Alayaya and Chataya), they are only ever used as supporting characters to a white POV. This is something that is understandably very disappointing to many fans hoping to see characters of color in just as much detail, and that have just as much plot significance, as the white protagonists. It seems to many, that in a world that doesn’t deny the existence of POC, they’re simply not important enough to be central to the key plot points of the series.

I don’t think this is intentional, at all, but it has come across to many of your readers who still face racial discrimination, and who understandably want to relate to the wide-ranging points of view offered in the series, that the issues that they still face, most generally of exoticisation and otherisation, have simply been appropriated for white use in the novels, like so many POC cultures and heritages in history.

I’ll close this reply with an obvious disclaimer that I cannot speak for every fan of color, and I may have neglected to mention some aspects which others may be better equipped to deal with.

Thank you again for your time.

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