Martin Struggles to Explain GoT’s Race Problem
It’s been obvious for sometime now that Game of Thrones has a race problem. HBO, embarrassed by the audience numbers that reflect the lack of persons of color on the show, has made feeble efforts towards trying to close the gap. But they have been about as effective as they are authentic.
Every time this subject comes up, I say the same thing: the problem is baked into the text. Not that the producers have done much to solve the problem in their casting choices. But when you start off televising a story where the continent where the main part of the story is set has no indigenous black populations, you’re already working from a deficit.
This is why it was so interesting to have someone go straight to the source of the problem to have it addressed.
For those that may not be aware, Martin is still a LiveJournal user, having not made the transition away with the large majority of the American Internet population in the latter half of the last decade. On one of his many update posts, a commenter–identifying herself as a black woman–pointed out how hard it is to have one of her favorite fantasy stories with no one like her to identify with.
This is, of course, a problem across all factions of entertainment, not limited to GoT. For instance, Marvel just had a movie featuring a Talking Tree and a Raccoon. Yet there is no Falcon movie on the horizon, let alone one that stars a woman of color. (Unless of course, that color is green or blue.) But it’s rare that someone can walk up to the source of the problem and say “Hey, this hurts.” It’s even more rare for there to be a response.
Westeros around 300 AC is nowhere near as diverse as 21st century America, of course… but with that being said, I do have some ‘characters of color’ who will have somewhat larger roles in WINDS OF WINTER. Admittedly, these are secondary and tertiary characters, though not without importance.
Of course, I am talking about the books here, and you are talking about the show, which is a thing apart. I do think HBO and [showrunners] David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] are doing what they can to promote diversity as well, as witness the casting of Areo Hotah, which you mention. Of course, Hotah IS a guard… but he is also a viewpoint character in the novels, a brave and loyal warrior.
This pairs with another response to someone asking about the amazing lack of an Asian like populations on Westeros.
Well, Westeros is the fantasy analogue of the British Isles in its world, so it is a long long way from the Asia analogue. There weren’t a lot of Asians in Yorkish England either.
That is not to suggest that such places don’t exist, however. You will want to get THE WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE when it comes out in October. In the “Other Places” section you will find a lot of material about Yi Ti, the island of Leng, and the plains of the Jogos Nhai, which you may find of interest.
These is a little painful, and probably a good indication why most people would not be responding at all. Because the answers–especially the second one–should set off all bullshit meters. There were no Asian people is Yorkish England. Yes, well, there were no Dragons either. The choice to keep everyone white (or moorish Hispanic white in the case of the Dornishmen) is because that’s what Martin is comfortable with. Clearly he’s not comfortable writing minority characters, as the ones that do appear in the books wear feathers, or are incapable of forming full sentences.
Of course he’s going to stick up for Benioff and Weiss, as he has done in all cases, including when they accidentally turned a sex scene into rape. But the fact is, they’ve stuck faithfully to his text in most places, cutting what does is not integral to the plot. What does it say that that happened to include all the black characters? Not to mention Arienne, the closest thing to a woman of color that had POV chapters? Secondary and tertiary characters, indeed.