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Michael P said on April 22nd, 2014 at 9:06 am

Re GOT: I would put money on it not even being a storyline. It’s just “We made this a rape scene because we like rape scenes.”

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Ian Austin said on April 22nd, 2014 at 10:08 am

Superior Spider-Man SPOILERS

WARNING SPOILERS

SPOILERS

I’m more annoyed about how they handled the Goblin reveal. I mean yeah, it had to be that character… but it’s done in such an anti-climatic way.

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Cookie McCool said on April 22nd, 2014 at 10:45 am

Because there’s just not enough raping out there these days. Jesus.

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… except that it was in the books, and Jaime raped her in that scene in the books too.

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NOTE: GOT Book related talk.

A massive problem is where this Jaime-Cersei scene came in on the line that was Jaime’s “redemption” arc into a character with sympathetic aims. By having him play into every toxic narrative about “implied consent”, viewers have been asked to buy into a character who is now no longer that fellow we started to understand as the novels wore on.

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I mean, he was clearly imagining the words of encouragement in that section.

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@TA: No, he didn’t rape her in the books. George R. R. Martin said as much.

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“Her relative lack of power as a woman, even as a noble.”

But isn’t Cersei one of the most powerful people in Westeros? She’s the queen regent. She has more power than either of her brothers. Tywin akes power out of her hands sorta when he makes Tyrion the King’s Hand but that was because of Cersei’s mismanagement, not her gender. In the books Cersei is certainly frustrated about being a “woman in a mans world” but I always chucked that up to her projecting her failures on others, considering she’s such a narcissist. This is not to say that Westeros isn’t a patriarchy, it definately is and you can see that in every other female character. And yes, even Cersei at times. But Cersei is described as the most beautiful woman in the country. She’s been told since she was a child she was destined to be queen. She has had so much in life just handed to her through simply because of who she is. She has had substantially more power than almost every other character and would never be in that position in a pure merit-based society.

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My assumption with the rape scene was that it was done less to humanize Cersei, and more to dehumanize Jaime. Just like the scenes with the Hound and with Ygritte, they wanted to show that these characters, as much as the audience likes them, are not actually good people.

I’m not sure how I feel about it. It is certainly an unpleasant scene, but ‘bad things happen’ is a pretty core concept of the series. But it has been interesting seeing some of the responses to Jaime’s actions. There is quite a bit of talk about how this ‘irreparably’ changes his character arc, and how this is an unforgiveable act, and derails any possible chance of redemption for him.

And yet, this is character who, in the very start of the series, tries to murder a child. Is that really more ‘forgiveable’?

The big difference is that, as an audience, we first meet Jaime at his most uncaring. We have had the chance to see him grow from there, to gain sympathy for him and grow attached to him. To believe that he has become better than he was before, and so to have that impression shattered feels like a much more personal betrayal than watching him throw Bran out a window.

But I’m not sure it actually changes his long-term arc. Yes, now is a point when he is supposed to be feeling character growth and re-examining his priorities and showing he is better than he used to be. But it also makes sense that now is when he is truly at his worst. He survived his ordeals, but hasn’t found the happy homecoming he expected. His relationship with his family has crumbled around him. His skill with the sword has abandoned him. The sole ideal to which he had decided to rededicate himself – as Commander of the Kingsguard – he utterly, instantly, failed at. He has lost all sense of what his place is in the world, his son has died while under his watch, and the one person in the world he thought he cared about the most has turned away from him.

This isn’t in any way trying to justify his actions, mind you. But in the moment, at the lowest point of his existence, amidst that sense of powerlessness, striking out in such a way to try and reclaim some sense of control… I can see that being entirely in character for him.

Now, as for how this impacts his plot arc from here… whether he can actually be forgiven for what he did? The thing is, I don’t think forgiveness comes into the picture at all.

No matter how much good Jaime does later in life, that doesn’t somehow make up for what he did to Cersei, any more than it makes ok what he did to Bran. Him going on to become a better person isn’t about being redeemed for his past sins, it is simply about wanting to see him become a better person going forward, and working to make the world a better place. It isn’t about rooting for him to succeed, it is about rooting for him to improve.

And so I think his narrative arc remains entirely intact. Now, with all that said – does that make this a needed change? I just wrote a whole bunch of words about the impact a rape had on the character development of the rapist, and that probably hints at a whole host of other issues with the scene.

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tickstander said on April 22nd, 2014 at 1:40 pm

Haven’t read past book 1, but… one thing I admired about GOT was that they actually had Jaime push a child out of a window in the first episode, and STILL managed to make me like him, by giving him a fascinating character arc that reveals hidden motivations and elements of his character, showing him at his best as well as his worst, giving him dyslexia AND one hand (seriously, how often do you find a hero in a work of fantasy with even ONE disability?), and letting us see how differently he behaves when he’s away from Cersei and his father.

Seriously, that was something. Having a villain do something as cartoonishly evil as push an adorable little boy out of window, and then making your audience like him.

And now this.

Fuck writers who write about rape without having experienced it. Fuck writers who don’t listen to survivors talking about how tired they are of this bullshit trope. Fuck writers who think rape is just another plot device. Fuck ‘edgy’ writers.

So tired of this nonsense, Jesus Christ.

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tickstander said on April 22nd, 2014 at 1:43 pm

Also, I would be uncomfortable in the company of anyone who wasn’t able to sympathize with Cersei even a little bit, given that she suffers just as much as any other character, has entirely understandable motivations, and is surrounded by villainous dudes who are at least as gross as she is. Little bit suspicious of how universal the Cersei hate is, when even Tywin has his fanbase.

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tickstander said on April 22nd, 2014 at 2:04 pm

Just realised something; to my mind, of the primary female characters in GOT, two have now been raped; Danny and Cersei. So in GOT, if you are a good woman, rape is something your husband does to you before you fall madly in love with him; if you are a bad woman, rape is a punishment for being a bitch/ a slut/ ambitious.

Isn’t it interesting how the two female characters in GOT who actively desire political power for themselves, not for their husbands or their gods but for THEM, are the two who get raped? What a strange and fascinating coincidence.

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As for it being in the book and the words of encouragement being imagined: Martin claims otherwise, though he could well be trying to use ambiguity to try and dodge the blame for this one.

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Xander77 said on April 22nd, 2014 at 2:31 pm

“@TA: No, he didn’t rape her in the books. George R. R. Martin said as much. ”

And I suppose that he didn’t rape her in the show either, because the show runners have said as much?

“There was no tenderness in the kiss he returned to her, only hunger. Her mouth opened for his tongue. “No,” she said weakly when his lips moved down her neck, “not here. The septons…”
“The Others can take the septons.” He kissed her again, kissed her silent, kissed her until she moaned. Then he knocked the candles aside and lifted her up onto the Mother’s altar, pushing up her skirts and the silken shift beneath. She pounded on his chest with feeble fists, murmuring about the risk, the danger, about their father, about the septons, about the wrath of gods. He never heard her.”

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tickstander: In the books, Dany’s rape is of the statutory kind which may’ve been horribly common in the historical period the setting is loosely based on (she “consents”).

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I really don’t know why people would conclude Jaime was imagining the words. Martin sometimes writes POVs whose memories are selective or mistaken, and his characters have distinct interpretations of other characters and event, but he’s never written POVs where characters outright imagine dialogue that isn’t happening right in the present.

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Cookie McCool said on April 22nd, 2014 at 3:33 pm

I can sympathize with Cersei sometimes, but book-version of Mrs. Stark (can’t remember her name, I just think of Super Shitty Stepmom Mrs. Stark as her full name) can just eat a dick.

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You could remember that Catelyn isn’t Jon’s stepmother.

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@xander77

Worth noting re: the books, what went down between Jaime and Cersei doesn’t really boil down to consent to the act, but to consent to the place. Sex was going to happen; they were both certainly into it. The only question is if it’s going to happen someplace discreet or if they’re going to, you know, do it five feet away from their sons corpse. Cersei would prefer they not; her objection, as your own passage demonstrates, is not “No.” It is “No, not here.” Jaime doesn’t give a damn, and Cersei doesn’t really care enough to press the issue.

Negotiating time, place, and manner of sex is fairly common in any relationship, although “do we do it in front of our dead kid” is significantly more fucked up than “do we do it on the kitchen table.” And that scene also exists partially to be juxtaposed against Cersei’s later attempt at seducing Jaime in a context that he finds inappropriate, in the Lord Commander’s chambers. In that case, Jaime’s objection to the place and circumstances was sufficient to transition the discussion from “where are we going to fuck” to “we’re not going to fuck.”

@Cookie

I would say, with all due respect, that whatever her many shortcomings (Catelyn is sort of a poster child for “trying to do the right things for the right reasons and getting it breathtakingly, startlingly wrong anyway”) if you find yourself with sympathy for Cersei of all people and none at all for Catelyn, you might be doing it wrong. :)

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Cookie McCool said on April 22nd, 2014 at 6:19 pm

I’m pretty sure the lady who isn’t your biological mother and doesn’t formally adopt you who marries your dad is your stepmother. I could be misremembering all the relationships but I’m like 99% certain that’s what it is. And while I’ll allow it may say more about me that I’m less unsympathetic to Cersei than to Catelyn, as a both as bastard AND a stepchild, I can’t like anyone who is shitty to their bastard stepchild for no other reason than that kid is a bastard stepchild.

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RobotKeaton said on April 22nd, 2014 at 7:26 pm

One thing about the Return of Peter I LOVED is how GG realizes Peter’s back because he makes fun of him for having a purse. Perfect.

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@Murc: On the other hand, many times women use deflection in place of active refusal because they’re uncomfortably aware that they’re not in a position to forcefully refuse. So they say something like, “I can’t right now,” hoping that they can put the question off indefinitely, because they know that if they say “No” outright then there’s a chance that the man in question could react with aggression. I’d be cautious about assuming that negotiation is a precursor to consent, at least in general.

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DistantFred said on April 22nd, 2014 at 9:08 pm

@Cookie McCool: But Ned isn’t Jon’s dad. He’s Jon’s uncle.

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William O'Brien said on April 22nd, 2014 at 10:27 pm

I imagine the idea with Jaime is to show that his relationship with Cersei is toxic for him, and that he can’t really be a good man until he ends it. I think one of the season trailers had him sitting next to Tyrion in a court scene. If that is the case, that would be a pretty clear sign of a break from his sister.

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@Cookie

Keep in mind that Jon represents both a physical living reminder that her husband fucked around on her the very instant they were married, and is also a legitimate threat to Catelyn’s flesh and blood. Catelyn lives in a world where murdering your way into power is de rigeur and power flows through the bloodline. There was also a real famous war about a hundred twenty years back where all the royal bastards teamed up to try and kill all the royal non-bastards. Given that, I would be wary as hell of Jon. If he somehow manages to trick or stunt his way into legitimation, all he’d have to do is take out Robb to be next in line.

None of that excuses Catelyn generally treating him like shit, but in my mind, worrying that you’re living with a loaded weapon aimed at your children is cause for some benefit of the doubt.

Also too: I don’t think the term “stepmother” is a thing in Westeros.

@John

Oh, absolutely. But we have to consider both the general and the specific when it comes to Jaime and Cersei, do we not? And in their specific relationship, personality, and histories, Jaime is the one so committed to it he’s remained monogamous, and has an established history of being repelled on a personal (although not professional) level by rapists. Cersei also has a history of being the more sexually aggressive and, indeed, the sexually manipulative one in that relationship.

Given all that, plus the definitive statements coming from Martin, I think it is therefore logical to assume non-rapeyness in that scene, and also to assume Martin isn’t lying.

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Scavenger said on April 22nd, 2014 at 11:26 pm

I thought John was Ned’s son by way of an affair? (I only read the first 1.5 books and not seen the show).

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@Scavenger

There is widespread belief in the fan community that Jon isn’t Ned’s son at all, but is his sister Lyanna’s son by way of Rhaegar. I’d provide details, but this post would then run to several thousand words and anyway Google can fill you in if you really care.

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Death of the Author. It doesn’t matter if GRRM says it’s not rape if the scene still reads like one.

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Re: The Goblin reveal. I think what Slott was going for was a callback to original Ditko idea, that the Goblin is someone Peter doesn’t know. On that level, it’s a potentially cool concept that isn’t executed very well.

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Cookie McCool said on April 23rd, 2014 at 2:30 am

None of that is untrue, Murc, but one way to foster deep anger and resentment in a loaded weapon is to treat it like a loaded weapon instead of a child. And if Jon can’t be expected to have any loyalty to his actual blood and could run around killing his father and brother, how reasonable is it to expect Ned to treat his arranged marriage with 100% faithfulness at the very start, given that 100% faithfulness doesn’t seem to be expected of noblemen? If Ned is assumed by his wife to be an honorable guy, in other words, wouldn’t he raise even his bastard to be an honorable non-brother-murderer?

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Wolfthomas said on April 23rd, 2014 at 7:33 am

Well I can no longer complain about what the shows does to Stannis anymore compared to Jaime’s treatment.

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Nurture isn’t foolproof, and in any event, it’s not just Jon himself, it’s any children, etc. that he might have (one of reasons she’s glad he goes to the Wall). As she says, the Blackfyre pretenders troubled House Targaryen for several generations, until Barristan Selmy killed the last one over sixty years after the initial rebellion.

Catelyn isn’t his stepmother. Jon is the product of an illicit affair (supposedly); she has no responsibilities toward him in her society, and it’s unanimously considered an insult to her that he’s even being kept in the family house (unlike other noblemen’s bastards when they have wives; the only other person who does that in Westeros is Walder Frey).

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Enlight_Bystand said on April 23rd, 2014 at 3:41 pm

@Murc the problem with raising the Lyanna theory is that in world the only person alive within the frame of the books who knows about it is Ned, and he’s deliberately lying about it. The fact that Ned might not be (probably isn’t) Jon’s father doesn’t affect the fact that everyone believes that he is as far as other relationships with Jon are concerned.

Sean C – Doesn’t Bolton keep his Bastard in house as well?

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so glad someone said that about Superior Spider-Man. I really liked pretty much every issue of Superior (and went back and read them all in preparation of this one) and really thought that the last issue was a let-down. It just seemed to lack the proper scope. If Peter was going to come back, I thought he needed to come back for something as epic (for lack of a better word) as “Ends of the Earth”

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Enlight Bystand: I think Bolton’s wife had already passed when Ramsay came to the Dreadfort.

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“One thing about the Return of Peter I LOVED is how GG realizes Peter’s back because he makes fun of him for having a purse. Perfect.”

And thus revealing the central flaw in the Superior Spiderman conceit; that in a world where people have legitimate reason to be wary of shapechangers infiltrating their society, and where telepaths are a thing (and a pretty common one at that), that someone of that level of power and importance could exhibit such wild changes in behavior, and get away with it for an entire year or more. The entire house of Superior Spiderman is build on sand.

And yes, I know about the Avengers “we’ll scan his brain and then let the matter drop, because…um…PLOT!” If Green Goblin can notice that Peter’s back because he makes a crack, then why does no one else notice that he’s gone because of lack of normal jokes? And that’s the tip of the “legitimate reasons to think something is seriously wrong with Peter” iceberg. This should have been a mini-series arc. Not a 2 year story line.

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@Myth: intelligent, thought provoking analysis all around. Personally, I’ll wait and see what the fall out of his actions are and what (if anything) the show will do with the two after the rape.

On a side note: I’m starting to think that it’s highly hypocritical to say “murder and torture are okay, but rape is where we should draw the line”. I respect that we as a society are jaded towards rape and murder and want to prevent people from becoming similarly jaded to rape, but maybe the people who are truly against rape should be taking a stand against violence against people in general. You know those people who say “why don’t you complain about other forms of violence the way you do about rape”? Maybe they’re actually on to something?

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@Anon: The difference with rape is that you can on occasion justify torture or murder. You can argue ‘rape’ as a form of torture perhaps but it’s a very gendered form, and to the audience, it is a very gendered assault. Half the audience is affected by the depiction far more than the other half, and their feelings on the matter are often dismissed. Rape is also used cheaply, as a way to show a villain is evil/motivate a hero–in which case it’s all about the men and their feelings and not about the victim and her experiences. As MGK noted, the show isn’t likely to dwell on Cersei’s experience or even try to use it to genuinely humanize her.

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I enjoyed Superior but the ending was beyond terrible.

JJJ as mayor is the best idea they’ve had since the OMD mess started and they threw it away.

The Goblin King reveal wasn’t just bad; it was lazy. My personal fanon is now that Liz is the real mastermind and the “Goblin King” is just some guy she brainwashed* into thinking he was Norman with plastic surgery. It makes more sense within the context of the first 30 issues (and EVERY COMIC showing how bad Norman is with teams) than what we got in 31 and wanting to ensure that her son is taken care of is as good a villain motivation as any. Plus it permanently removes another longtime friend from Peter’s support network and that was clearly the real point of Superior anyway.

*We just saw the Hobgoblin using the Winkler-device so it’s actually less of a stretch than what happened in Slott’s story.

The brain swap was such a confusing mess that Slott had to go online to explain why the story seemed to contradict the rules he’d already laid down in the series. His explanation still makes no sense. How can “Peter” be Otto’s memories of Peter’s memories when Otto removed all but a handful of Peter’s memories early into the Superior run?

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Ian Austin said on April 25th, 2014 at 3:11 am

Lindsay – The difference with rape is that you can on occasion justify torture or murder.

I get where you’re coming from, and I don’t think ‘then rape ensues’ is a particularly pleasant story beat, BUT… I think GOT is a stunningly messed up universe, and people going ‘oh, Jamie wouldn’t rape’ seems weird to me. In the first episode he bangs his sister and pushes a kid out of a window to, what he assumes, is his death. Regardless of his reasons, he’s clearly not a sane person in general – and that’s before he undergoes intense tragedy of his own.

I’m not defending the scene by the way, just pointing out it’s weird people are acting like GOT is doing something outside of the norm. The show had a main character rape another main character, before they ‘fell in love’ so clearly it’s always had a… warped idea of rape. But given the way it’s loosely inspired by certain historical periods, maybe they figure it’s showing a point of how fucked up humanity once was.

Also, no; I don’t think you can justify torture or murder.

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DensityDuck said on April 26th, 2014 at 3:18 am

Re: Plague Inc. I think your description of “how to win” is almost exactly how Walter Jon Williams describes Viral Huntingdon’s Disease in “Hardwired”.

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“you can on occasion justify torture”

No. You can’t.

FFS, we’re not ten years past the US government being revealed as a torturer, I thought we all collectively covered this shit then.

A lot of people have come up with a lot of gross rationalizations for how this atrocity in GoT is the one true atrocity that we all have to be super cereally upset by, but this one really takes the horrorcake.

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“Seriously, that was something. Having a villain do something as cartoonishly evil as push an adorable little boy out of window, and then making your audience like him.”

Jaime raping Cersei was a great creative decision specifically because of every single reaction like this.

MGK can keep calling it a “cheap plot point” if he wants but what it actually was is the one thing that was ever going to get through the audience’s deluded idealization of the show’s horrendous characters and make them recognize the horrifying reality of the moral wasteland they’re watching where every other Heroic Sociopaths series (sopranos, breaking bad, mad men, house of cards, the wire) has failed.

I don’t know whether the scene in the books was a rape or not but I do know that if it was that’s perfectly in keeping with every other thing I’ve heard about the books being a weaker and more self-indulgent piece of storytelling.

Jaime can continue on and do all of whatever selfless (lol) acts of noble (lol) redemption (lol) he’s supposed to be doing everyone can remember that the selfless noble redemptioning knight in front of them is a piece of shit rapist.

Or they can just tell themselves that scene never happened and, gosh, what does that say about the audience for this series?

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Walter Kovacs said on April 28th, 2014 at 11:07 pm

The show and the books are different in that ultimately, characters are given internal narrative chapters and, even at their worst, become sympathetic as a result. In many cases, this is done near the start of an arc that also makes them more sympathetic.

As far as the scene goes, it does sort of make sense in that, by changing the timing of Jaime’s return, it does play out a very different way. Cersei is not reuniting with her brother-lover at a very emotional moment, one where she would be more likely to consent (or put up less of a fight if one reads the book as being a rape).

It makes it much harder for Jaime to be a sympathetic character, but the series doesn’t actually need him to be one since it’s not tied to the narrative conventions of the book. It’s possible to read this as an extremely low point for Jaime, that in his self loathing (which had been building since his return), he’d force himself onto his former lover. A bad person, in a bad place mentally and emotionally, does a very horrible thing.

Again, there’s questions as to how people will react to it, and if it will be possible for anyone to get back on board with Jaime in the future, but as far as what that character would be possible of in the situation he was in, it doesn’t seem out of character or implausible.

As for Cersei, while she does seem a bit bitter about being a woman in a man’s world, especially in terms of forced marriages, but her main motivation has been wanting to protect her children, and that is very much her one redeeming quality. Her being made more sympathetic has more to do with that than anything else. Hell, she was basically raped by Robert any time they had sex, and that didn’t really seem to make her a sympathetic character. She is in many ways a mirror of Caitlyn, forced to marry a replacement for the person she was originally meant to wed, fiercely protective of their children, etc.

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Walter Kovacs said on April 28th, 2014 at 11:21 pm

re: wat

In a fictional setting, a lot can be ‘excused’ that doesn’t fly in the real world. Torture, murder and the like fit into those categories. Even if it’s inexcusable, it isn’t necessarily irredeemable. Someone that tortured may at least realize it was wrong, and try to become a better person. Rape is one of the things that even fictionalized is irredeemable.

The goal of ‘heroic sociopath’ shows isn’t a big game of “gotcha, your a bad person for treating this horrible person as a hero”, it’s that things aren’t as simple as just good and bad. Good people can be jerks, bad people can be charming, good people can sometimes do bad things, and bad people can do good things. Some people can change, and some people can’t.

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Ian Austin said on April 29th, 2014 at 8:58 am

Walter Kovacs – well, firstly, in this case that isn’t relevant given Jaime pushed a kid out of a freakin’ window for an utterly selfish reason, starting a chain of events which led to innocent people being killed.

Secondly, yes people can change. But in this case the Jaime story is a case of ‘he’s always been a piece of shit, but he’s charismatic and pretends he’s an honorable man.’

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Ian Austin – Honestly, I think the point of the series is that the line between being honorable and terrible is just not that distant. Jaime is looked down upon for being the Kingslayer, even though that act of betrayal was in the interest of saving countless lives. But you then extend that same logic to what happened with Bran – in order to protect the life of his sister, and his children, he decides to sacrifice the life of an innocent child, and even if that act is understandable, that doesn’t make it forgiveable.

Even at its worst, Jaime’s story isn’t about pretending to be an honorable man, it is about trying to be one, regardless of his flaws. He’s not a good man, but he wants to be a better one than he is.

As for the ‘chain of events’ triggered by Bran’s fall, I’m not sure Jaime is to blame for them. If Bran doesn’t fall, and reports what he saw, that doesn’t stop a civil war from happening – it just causes a different one (Baratheon vs Lannister). The seeds for the current crisis were sown long ago, and trouble was going to fall regardless of the specific path it takes to get there.

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GoT – Yeah, that was pretty clearly a rape. The arguments against it being a rape seem to assume that all rapes have to be overtly violent in order to “count.” And yeah, it DOES pretty well derail Jaime’s upward progression IMO (at least on the show).

As for engendering sympathy for Cersei, I think that the punishment she receives in book V (IIRC?) does a good job of that. Actually, that whole arc does a good job of that, even if it is borne from her own lack of oversight/stupidity.

Superior Spider-Man – I generally dug it. Yeah, Ock’s deferral/resignation rang a bit hollow, and the ending felt a bit rushed, but I thought it was a decent end to the series overall. Not great, but not a wet fart either.

Plus, let’s face it, the last issue was pretty much a clarion call to fanboys that the “real” Spider-Man was back in town.

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