problematic entertainment and good rulers
(Original quote deleted and reposted because my own windy comments started getting in the way.)
Laurie Penny, “Game of Thrones and the Good Ruler Complex”:
None of which is to say the story isn’t exciting. That’s rather the point. A story doesn’t need to be comfortable, realistic or generous towards the downtrodden in order to be gripping; and a piece of art doesn’t have to be perfectly politically correct to be fun, or important. We’re allowed to enjoy problematic things, as long as we’re honest about their problems.
I think this quote pretty much covers stuff like “I enjoy James Bond films even though Bond is a total pig, especially in the early movies and oh god the books”, “Doctor Who is really fun and it’s one of the shows I grew up with but boy howdy is it white and how about that Orientalism in The Talons of Weng-Chiang”, “The Lord of the Rings films totally made me tear up even though it’s a total monarchist fable and yeah I’m not too thrilled about the whole dark-skins-are-evil thing”, and all the rest.
I mean, in many ways it kind of sucks that you have to do so much of this kind of thinking. But babies and bathwater and all that, I think.
That fundamental notion - that if we are just lucky enough to get the right ruler, the ruler who, by might of right or right of might or by virtue of being the richest bastard or simply because their German great-granny happened to marry into the right family of inbred peasant-butchering Saxons, that if we just find the right one everything will still be ok - that’s still a story that we cling to. The Good Ruler. It’s going to run and run.
Which idea she parlays into discussion about the Queen’s Jubilee, and it’s really interesting. Check it out.