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.
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