Awards

Game of Thrones wins award honoring disability awareness

Media Access AwardGame of Thrones has won a lot of awards over it’s three year (and counting) run. But I think this one may just be the coolest. George R. R. Martin writes on his Not A Blog that he was in LA recently to attend the 2013 Media Access Awards, where he accepted the “Visionary Award” on behalf of Thrones.

The Media Access Awards honor “members of the entertainment and broadcast industries for their efforts in promoting awareness of the disability experience, accessibility for people with disabilities, and the accurate depiction of characters with disabilities.”

Martin shares this note he received:

David Radcliff, of the Writers With Disabilities Committee of the Writers Guild of America, West, wrote to inform me of this honor, saying, “Game of Thrones seems a natural fit for this recognition. Since its earliest episodes, your gripping series has introduced us to a paralyzed boy with a supernatural gift, has endeared us to a Little Person defined not by his height but by his wit, and has regularly mined the lives of “cripples, bastards, and broken things” to celebrate their strengths and complexities. In fact, it is a fantastic credit to your work that Game of Thrones is not commonly thought of as a show that “deals with” disability — it is something even better: a show that embraces the reality that no one is easily definable.”

Winter Is Coming: As I mentioned, I think this is a really cool award. One of the great things about this story is how Martin realistically portrays all types of people. From the big to the small, to the physically gifted to those with disabilities, each is given a fully-fleshed out portrayal. It makes the world seem that much more real. This award is well deserved. Congrats to George, David, Dan and the rest of the cast and crew!

69 Comments

  • What a great honor! I’m so glad that show is being noticed for this honest, full portrayal of disabled people. Somehow it makes me feel prouder of the show. That quote above gave me chills!

  • Let’s not forget about Jaime; overcoming the loss of his sword hand by revealing that he’s actually human, to the shock of over a million unsullied.

  • Extremely cool and seriously we’ll done by GRRM and the show runners D&D the note he received was awesome as well

  • That’s fantastic. The portrayal of disability has always been one of the things I’ve loved most about ASOIAF; very glad to see it get recognized for that merit.

  • and let’s not forget those that lived on after head amputations! No, wait…

    Seriously though, that’s a cool award for GRRM to get. I can’t see too many science fiction/fantasy stories recieving such recognition for the reality and diversity of their characters.

    (PS: Am I the only one though that finds it strange that in David Radcliff’s note Tyrion is described as a “Little Person”? To me as a non-native English speaker “little person” sounds rather condescending, especially with the use of capitals. That’s like calling a tall person a “Towering Person” or something. I’d have thought that the opposite of “tall person” would be “short person”, and surely that would be less discriminative, no?)

  • Tar Kidho,

    Little Person is the current accepted proper non-offensive way to describe those who are born with dwarfism or similar conditions. I can see why that would seem weird if you didn’t already know.

  • Turncloak,

    Definitely him too. Just like the statement about Tyrion, the writers (of both book & show) have made sure not to emphasize his condition over his character, particularly the “three tests”. Let’s hope Peter Vaughn (registered blind himself) can last a few more years, even after the show’s over. Same goes for Roy Dotrice, the audiobooks won’t be the same without him.

  • I think that it was an exceptional twist on the fantasy genre to have a central character with dwarfism as opposed to having a central character be a dwarf. And one of the great things about Martin’s writing of Tyrion is how he handles him as a person whilst also acknowledging the real problems faced by someone with disabilities in a harsh, uneducated world.

    A cool award!

  • Let’s not forget that Robin Arryn probably has epilepsy! (Although that hasn’t been made so clear on the show yet.)

  • Well deserved. I would like to throw Hodor in the mix as well. He seems to me like he has autism.

  • This might really be the coolest award the show has won yet. Congratulations to everyone and indeed well deserved.

  • Perhaps it’s the fact that I regularly deal with people with disabilities as a function of my job, but I never really noticed the fact that there are so many characters on the show who have various physical and mental disabilities. I think, more than anything, that that is a credit to how well these types of things have been handled by both Martin and the people involved with the production of the show.

    A very worthy, well-deserved, and humbling award for this production to receive, I’m sure. Cool stuff.

  • Very very well deserved. I began to love the series because of Tyrion, I was just fucking tired of seeing dwarves as clowns in every goddamned show I watched – and hear everyone around me applauding – and when I saw that dwarf that was just as complex as any other character I knew this show was just as badass as they said.

  • Chrysee:
    Tar Kidho,

    Little Person is the current accepted proper non-offensive way to describe those who are born with dwarfism or similar conditions. I can see why that would seem weird if you didn’t already know.

    Some day we’ll just call them people.

  • In fact, it is a fantastic credit to your work that Game of Thrones is not commonly thought of as a show that “deals with” disability — it is something even better: a show that embraces the reality that no one is easily definable.

    Guy just went and spoiled the entire plot of the series.

  • ATG:
    This might really be the coolest award the show has won yet. Congratulations to everyone and indeed well deserved.

    This. It’s a beautiful award.

  • Chrysee,

    *smile* , Perhaps this is local or politically correct language ? I heard the phrase,
    to describe , just I’ve heard the term ” queer ” to describe ” gay or homosexual “.
    Dwarfism is a term that remains socially acceptable to use. However, if one
    truly wishes to demonstrate proper respect, the best is simply to make reference
    as being a man, a woman, or a child. If acquainted and hope to better understand
    their medical condition, then inquire about the genetic nature of their short stature .

    No doubt,” little person” is growing in preferred reference, and I support that.
    Anything but saying ” midget “, which is beyond offensive and is still spoken.
    Speaking as a 4’11” person, I came close to being classified , here in the US.
    However short stature is not summarily ridiculed in lesser developed countries,
    compared to mega-metropolis type settings, where labels really seem to be the
    order of the day. Labels offer no clarification, only further ignorance.

  • cantuse,

    How so? All he did was pointing out a (pretty obvious) theme of the series. The plot of the series (and books) hasn’t even nearly come to an end by now, so he couldn’t spoil the entire plot of the series even if he wanted to.

  • GeekFurious: Some day we’ll just call them people.

    Of course we call them people, but in language we need ways to address the attributes of said people. Nobody says that black people aren’t implied to be people because of the adjective “black.”

  • This is kind of awesome. I think the last line sums it up:
    “It is a fantastic credit to your work that Game of Thrones is not commonly thought of as a show that “deals with” disability — it is something even better: a show that embraces the reality that no one is easily definable.”
    Unless there is a scene in which the issue is explicitly brought up I NEVER think of Bran as ‘the cripple’, or Tyrion as ‘the dwarf’, which shows that the show – and the books -have done extremely well in developing the individuality of those characters, which is rare for characters who have a disability. It is truly an area in which Game of Throne greatly outclasses the competition.

  • Bah, Peter Dinklage is every bit a giant! I wish I had an ounce of his courage and confidence, nevermind his amazing talent!

    Besides, kudos to the show, in that it shows life as is, with all people, of all shapes, sizes, abilities etc. That’s life…not all of us can look like the casts of the various CW or ABC Spark shows!

    Some shithead (I really wish I could find out the identity of the brilliant mind that came up with this jewel!) apparently called the newly premiered show “Reign” , the latest in the nauseating and suggary tv offerings for the Twilight/Sparkly-crowd…”Game Of Thrones meets Pretty Little Liars”…wow…as I was reading that I realized I filled up my depends, as well as throwing up and having my IQ lowered even further…

    I mean what with “Ravenswood” and “The Originals”, plus the myriad of other similarly themed and cast shows, the Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue must be running out of models…

    Nah thank you I’ll stick with “Game Of Thrones” and take Miley Cyrus, her weird tongue and her twerking over any of those shows…

    Ok enough ranting…

    Congrats to the cast and crew of GoT, a well deserved award. Nice one!

    PS I am not sure if “Deadwood” and “Carnivale” also picked up this award?!

  • Yeah, this is GRRM :), although, is it correct to say that little persons have a disability? I don’t know. Anyway, they’ve not even started seeing one-handed Jaime :), I think he started calling himself Goldenhand the Just? something like that :). I really hope, they keep his gold hand :D

  • I was trying to think of all the characters with a disability or long-term health condition and they really are so wide-ranging:

    Tyrion – Dwarfism and facial disfigurement
    The Hound – Facial disfigurement
    Shireen – Facial disfigurement / long-term degenerative health condition
    Jaime – Amputee
    Bran – Spinal injury
    Theon/Reek – Loss of fingers/toes etc – affecting walking and manual dexterity
    Hodor – Learning or communication difficulties
    Aemon – Sight loss (possibly age-related AMD)
    Beric – Sight loss (through injury)
    Sam – Morbid obesity
    Dontos – Alcoholism
    Illyn Payne – Speech problems
    Lysa – Unspecified mental health problem
    Seylse – Unspecified hormonal disorder (?) in the books she has facial hair
    Robin – Epilepsy and/or some kind of neurological condition
    Doran – health problems as the result of morbid obesity, probably complications of diabetes
    Wyman Manderley – Morbid obesity
    Patchface – Likely neurological damage

    There are probably more, especially in the books

  • Paul Rymer:

    Doran – health problems as the result of morbid obesity, probably complications of diabetes

    Doran isn’t and has never been obese. He suffers from gout, but not as a result of obesity.

  • WildSeed,

    I agree with you. I can kind of see what they were going for with “Little Person,” but it doesn’t quite seem to hit the mark with regard to people-first language. In this context it makes sense to refer to a specific sub-group, since that is what pertains to the award, but I don’t see why they couldn’t have said “people with size differences” or something.

  • William,

    Black Walder closed the doors and killed Catelyn. Lothar limped out the door in episode 6 after the Riverrun negotiation where he played the “good cop” to a Black Walder’s “bad cop”. Lothar also sat next to Talisa and looked to be making pleasant conversation with her until…

  • This is definitely a well-deserved award. I’ve often wondered how ASOIAF was received by disabled people since it does provide a tapestry of people dealing with different disabilities and of varying characters.

    I’m glad to see it recognized as a great piece of writing with complex and realistic portrayals of people living with disabilities.

  • I’ll bet GRRM and the showrunners are happy that they edited out the dwarve-tossing scene.
    j/k

    Congrats.

  • Meera’s line to Osha “Some people will always need helping. That doesn’t mean they’re not worth helping.” That line 100% justified the inclusion of the Reeds to me. It’s a lovely sentiment. I also think GRRM deserves credit for his clear work to show that physical beauty is worth nothing as an indicator of character. And that being disabled or different in some manner doesn’t mean the character will have a heart of gold. People are people with their own burdens to carry and their own ways of dealing with things.

    One of the best things about the world Martin created. I agree this award might be the best yet.

  • Shannon:
    WildSeed,

    I agree with you. I can kind of see what they were going for with “Little Person,” but it doesn’t quite seem to hit the mark with regard to people-first language. In this context it makes sense to refer to a specific sub-group, since that is what pertains to the award, but I don’t see why they couldn’t have said “people with size differences” or something.

    Yes. However , to end doubt, completely, gender or age still remains the best
    method. Labels are full of secret language, and confusing anyway, to the general
    public. There is always proper term usage in medicine ( not entirely appropriate ),
    however there is an absence of ” judgment ” mixed in, to confuse the patient
    rounds.

    Labels, to me, are really political designations, in how
    society regards or treats, certain people. These terms come to
    abridge , not help in understanding.

    In the US, people of African descent have had no less than 5 designations, even
    if they were immigrants from other countries .

  • Has anyone been watching the Tunnel? Stephen Dillane is the lead. Its a British/ French remake of the Danish series Borgen. Only watched the first ep but it seems pretty good. It’s weird because Dillane is the jovial cop and his partner is dead serious.

  • WeirwoodTreeHugger:
    Well deserved.I would like to throw Hodor in the mix as well.He seems to me like he has autism.

    No not autistic, he is way too social for that. Mentally disabled perhaps….or with a significant language delay. Anyway, the point of the award, which I applaud, is that these character’s disability isn’t what immediately is apparent – its their character who happens to have some challenges as we all do. As a long time teacher of children with disabilities, the portrayal of these challenges and these characters does my heart good. Hopefully other shows will follow suit – not with characters that you pity, but with strong characters that you come to like and respece.

  • The only ‘disabled’ person in this story who is not a privileged noble is Hodor. Apart from having a fictitious mental illness in a smurfy way, he’s a faithful dog with no special needs or appetites. There’s a reference to Hodor in this post, in the first response.. There’s your awareness.

    As for the super rich crippled nobles with or without magical powers, awareness is not so hard a pill to swallow. Having said that, I’m continually impressed how D&D made the entire Greyjoy family mildly retarded and with a touch of down syndrome on the Theon character.

  • BTW I am obviously spelling challeneged – my apologies

    I will add that I don’t think Robin has a neurological condition. Think of what his mom was like; Im surprised he doesn’t have more problems, frankly. In fact that being said, Joffrey probably could blame some of his mental health on his upbringing. But thats another whole loaded topic that Id rather just skip over…

  • OT: Tom Wlaschiha doesn’t exactly do many interviews in English, so I thought I post that here. Nothing new, just a nice little chat.

  • Surprising and cool.

    However, I wonder if the MAA will revoke the award after the PW, given the dwarf jousting/hog riding and subsequent ridicule by Joff. Then, in S5…folks in Essos don’t really treat the “handicapped” especially well either.

  • Hodor’s Bastard,

    No one ever said Westeros was pro-handicap, quite the opposite. The reward was given for accurate representation of many handy capped characters and how that handicap affects their lives. Clearly, the dwarf joist is a moment meant to spite Tyrion, and not really meant for the entertainment of the TV viewers, and that (if anything) will make GoT more deserving of the award.

  • I fell in love with the series precisely because of “cripples, bastards, and broken things.”

    Probably all of us should admit that everyone is a cripple in some way or another. It’s just not always immediately visible.

  • Jentario:
    Hodor’s Bastard,
    No one ever said Westeros was pro-handicap, quite the opposite. The reward was given for accurate representation of many handy capped characters and how that handicap affects their lives. Clearly, the dwarf joist is a moment meant to spite Tyrion, and not really meant for the entertainment of the TV viewers, and that (if anything) will make GoT more deserving of the award.

    I appreciate the positive perspective that you and Abyss and others have put forth as the rationale behind the award and I absolutely agree and support it. I only voiced my concern knowing how quickly something onscreen could be “reinterpreted” or even “misinterpreted” by various groups. All it takes is one instance of insensitivity and poof, no one remembers the positive spin. It’s a political world, and all good deeds, like statistics, can be spun in many directions. Remember the final “Mhysa” scene from S3? There was a very public racial reaction to the “winning” scene that probably was unexpected and nowhere near the intent.

  • Show writers also made Jaime dyslexic, which was a nice touch.

    Congrats on the award, totally well deserved!

  • Meggan:
    Show writers also made Jaime dyslexic, which was a nice touch.

    There are some hints in the books that point to Jaime’s dyslexia too. Like the fact that he doesn’t read the letter Cersei sent him, instead he tells a guy to read it aloud for him. He also doesn’t write letters but tell people to write for him while he dictates it. He writes with difficulty in the White Book but that could be justified as he lost his right hand.