novin_ha: Buffy: gotta be a sacrifice ([got] cersei)
[personal profile] novin_ha
My second installment in the Women are Love fest.

Q&A type meta about Cersei. Spoilers up to ADWD.



Q: Why did I expect better treatment for Cersei?

A: Because Martin is supposedly famed for his ability to write three-dimensional characters who possess redeeming values. Among those sympathetic characters we have numerous rapists, who are clearly supposed to encourage sympathy, and who are in fact well-liked characters. That includes the fan-favourite Tyrion, as well as Drogo, Theon, Robert (and even Tywin, whom I like). The same is not extended to Cersei.

Q: What do I mean by supposed to encourage sympathy? After all, Tyrion is humiliated and beaten up, Drogo, Robert and Tywin die, Theon… you know.

A: Tyrion gets sympathy points by his sob story of an evil father and wife lost to him, not to mention he gets to crack the jokes. Drogo is viewed with Daenerys’ eyes and he is the romanticized, fetishized sex machine Other. Theon has his funny moments, even if he is the comic relief. Why people think Robert likeable is beyond me, but I’ve heard that a million times, so apparently he is. I guess because he likes sex, parties and alcohol and so do we? Cersei, on the other hand, is shamed for having a woman’s body, shown making one bad decision after another and generally the butt of everyone’s jokes. Baelish is like ‘I thought it’d take her longer to fuck the kingdom up o_O” and Varys is like “We can’t have any other Lannisters holding power! That could ruin my brilliant plan of Cersei preparing the kingdom for Targs’ return yay!” and somehow everyone is a better strategist than the woman who was the queen for years and years, who’d successfully schemed about a number of things, who had the opportunity to watch and learn, and who is not unintelligent. Yet, she can be trusted to make the worst choice time and again, and her narrative punishment is as sadistic as it is, well, not very much designed to make us sympathize.

Q: So why do I like Cersei? It sounds like there’s not much to like!

A: I don’t think there is if I read the book the way it’s probably supposed to be read, no. I mean, she can evoke pity – she makes bad decisions, she fucks up constantly, she continues to dig holes for herself, she is shallow and paranoid, with a drinking problem and tendency to fuck people for favours. At the same time, on the surface, she is pretty much monstrous. She gives people to Qyburn to be raped and taken apart, for pete’s sake. There’s good stuff as well – she is proud, very much in love with her brother (that always gets characters points. Not brothers, True Love) even if that love is narcissistic, she is ambitious. As long as we don’t get into her head, we can even interpret her as sensible, pragmatic and merely impeded by circumstance.

Q: Why not read her as she’s written?

A: I refuse to have more sympathy for rapists than I do for a survivor of domestic violence who articulates feminist agenda. Even if later she turns out to hate almost all women. And almost all men. And if I were to hold everyone in these books to my own moral code while reading them as they’re written, I’d be left with… pretty much Brienne, Davos and Jon. If so many people are so willing to think it’s okay that Tyrion killed his ex because he was in shock or sth., I can definitely go ahead with creatively re-interpreting Cersei to be more savvy than she is written to be. And also not focusing on the Qyburn shit, because honestly, that part of the novel I’m just denialing as a whole.

Q: I still don't get why you like her.

A: I really empathise with being villified, overlooked, while, because she is the epitome of the evil woman stereotype, I cannot take the evil of her seriously.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-10 07:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cala-jane.livejournal.com
...

It was probably not intended, but this post just ensured that I will not read the books for sure. And it also made me worry about seasons of the show that are still to come.

If what you just described happens in the show, I don't think I would be able to handle it. I mean s1 Cercei is powerful and strong and amazing. To have that destroyed because the show seems to be following the books to the letter... Well I don't think I want to witness that.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-10 07:24 pm (UTC)
ext_13247: ([sailor] destruction girl)
From: [identity profile] novin-ha.livejournal.com
It doesn't follow the books to the letter, it's already done some changes that I was less or more happy about. I think the TV writers are slightly more sensitive about the gender stuff than Martin is.

I don't think the books are impossible to enjoy. I mean, I've enjoyed them tremendously - but if you read with a certain level of cultural / critical awareness (as I didn't at first and do now) and if you need to have some basic decency levels met before you enjoy a text, then it can be problematic.

I creatively re-interpret. And this is far from a complete picture, of course.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-10 08:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cala-jane.livejournal.com
I do have a certain problem with characters with little to no redeeeming values and from this post, and from various conversations, it doesn't look like there are many actually positive characters there.

(I lost my train of thought because my mom turned on the TV and Alaric Saltzman broke up with Elle Woods. My brain exploded)

Since I can be judging the character based only on what I've seen in the tv show, I can't find a male character I love (I have problems with each and every one of them, apart from Jon. even Jason Momoa's Drogo was problematic for me at the very beginning), and even though Dany went through a lot of changes, Cercei and Catelyn were the only women that I truly appreciated for being strong and confident and making their own choices... show writers might be more sensitive, but I don't think they can spin that giving people to be raped... :/

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-10 07:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shiv5468.livejournal.com
And this is why I can't read the books. I really don't see any of the characters as being fully realised / 3D, or it being that edgy / pushing the boundaries of fantasy.

And it's shit to women. You can argue it's better shit to women than Tolkien because the women get to do something rather than be absent, but it's still awful. And if it's based on the War of the Roses, women were active in that time period, and had rather more ooomph about them. It's written by a man whose grasp of history and women's place in history is not as good as he thinks it is.

I can't work out whether Cersei is supposed to be Elizabeth Woodville or Margaret of Anjou. Either way, it's not going to end well for her. Which is a shame.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-10 07:36 pm (UTC)
ext_13247: ([got] hipster icon)
From: [identity profile] novin-ha.livejournal.com
If I were to start reading now, I'd probably throw the book across the room and never get into it. As I read them before these things were apparent to me, I am involved in the story whether I want to or not, and I've developed strategies of dealing with things I cannot but hate about these books.

One of which is calling the writer an asshole in my head as I read. A lot.

I think it tried for edgy with the surprise protagonist death in book one, and then it settled for porn-as-edgy. As though boobs somehow made it artistic. Worked for all those classical painters, amirite?

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-11 02:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ellestra.livejournal.com
I generally think the past was an awful place, especially for women. I don't really mind showing the misogyny of the time period. Deep inside I'm kind of glad when books do that as I think there way too much people glorifying it. I remember that reading the first book that what happens to both Cercei and Dany was hard to read but it also made me think "This is why it was no fun to be a princess".

I'm also for women being the villains. I don't even mind them doing the repulsive stuff so I wasn't that angry about Cercei at the beginning. However I did start to mind when we got her POV and she turned out to be not only evil but also stupid. I minded when all the men got redemptive qualities, especially in their POVs and she turned out to be everything her detractors said she was and worse. I caught myself skipping her POVs in Feast of Crows because it was just to much to take. The only good part was seeing the roots of her paranoia. Everything else was horrible. Even her most redeeming value - love for her family was being devalued.

And I do mind that our she and Lysa Arryn are made to be the least likable villains of the series. The villains can sometimes be awesome, badass or scary beside being evil. Martin's man villains often are. The two women - they are just pathetic. And I do blame Martin for that.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-11 08:12 am (UTC)
ext_13247: ([mm] princess)
From: [identity profile] novin-ha.livejournal.com
I agree that there's a point in showing the past non-nostalgically, but I think it doesn't really need to be either nostalgia or likeable rapists. Overall, I think the books do have two (main) disturbing tendencies, and those are the rape apology and the women being revealed as very ineffectual, incapable rulers. Daenerys is a good leader, but can't rule her way out of a sack, and Cersei is unbelievably erratic. And while Stannis, for instance, can also make very bad decisions, his are motivated by his sense of fairness; even his pettiness about being the least liked of his siblings (which could be compared with Cersei feeling left over compared to her brothers) is given a more pleasant twist.

I think it is possible to find redemptive qualities about Cersei - I was, for one, really sympathetic about her efforts to use sex as currency while only ever enjoying it with Jaime. It felt tragic to me, and I thought that made her more interesting; but there's no indication that we're supposed to find her 'betrayal' forgivable, or that Jaime will. His obsession with her cheating was just... meh :/

And I do mind the bodyshaming.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-12 02:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] inti-chan.livejournal.com
I'm pretty much of your opinion here. If I remember correctly didn't Jaime more or less rape her once? Not sure about it though.
As for her using sex... there are people saying it is okay to use sex to get better jobs in the present so why not use it when it might be the only way?
Disturbingly enough I don't know whether I wouldn't do nearly the same stuff Cersei did if I were in that situation.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-12 02:59 pm (UTC)
ext_13247: ([got] armour of a lady)
From: [identity profile] novin-ha.livejournal.com
I don't think I even want to go into that scene - it's Jaime's POV and Cersei clearly says 'no' - and then she says yes, a lot. I don't think it was intended to read as rape, but it sure was not okay.

Then again, that happens in the series a lot, doesn't it.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-12 03:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] inti-chan.livejournal.com
I'm not going to re-read it either... just no. But she does say a lot of yes after the initial no. Whether that means it's not rape, she enjoyed it because it was Jaime and none else or if she had other reasons like the need to be accepted by her brother, I don't know. But you're right it most certainly wasn't okay either way.
And yes that happens a lot in the series. A bit too often I think.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-11 08:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pellamerethiel.livejournal.com
I love the method you chose to create this meta, it's really refreshing. ;) And I liked it very much, especially the last part, about overlooking her faults because if people do that with Tyrion, then why not?

Cersei \o/ Cersei/Jaime \o/

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