George R.R. Martin comments on diversity in Game of Thrones; will re-release children’s book The Ice Dragon
By Lightbringer on in Books, Merchandise.

The big Season 5 casting announcement that came out of San Diego Comic-Con was met with equal parts excitement and apprehension. Partly because of some missing characters that were integral to the story told in the last two installments of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, and partly because of the perceived lack of racial diversity in the Game of Thrones cast.

Martin recently took to his blog to address one of those concerns. A fan commented that the lack of diversity in Game of Thrones “really hurts,” and although she applauds the casting of DeObia Oparei she wonders “must all black people in the series be servants, guards, or charlatans?”

Martin offered the following response:

Westeros around 300 AC is nowhere near as diverse as 21st century America, of course… but with that being said, I do have some ‘characters of color’ who will have somewhat larger roles in WINDS OF WINTER. Admittedly, these are secondary and tertiary characters, though not without importance.

Of course, I am talking about the books here, and you are talking about the show, which is a thing apart. I do think HBO and David and Dan are doing what they can to promote diversity as well, as witness the casting of Areo Hotah, which you mention. Of course, Hotah IS a guard… but he is also a viewpoint character in the novels, a brave and loyal warrior.

This is the third time Martin has commented on the issue of race in his story, and it’s television adaptation. Martin responded to another fan’s concern in June over the lack of an Asian race in ASOIAF, and in July of last year after Pedro Pascal was cast as Oberyn Martell.

George R.R. Martin will be re-releasing his children’s book The Ice Dragon later this year, and TOR publishing has recently released the final cover designed by acclaimed artist Luis Royo.

The Ice Dragon tells the story of Adara, a winter child who becomes the first to tame one of the fearful creatures:

Adara liked the winter best of all, for when the world grew cold the ice dragon came. The ice dragon was a creature of legend and fear, for no man had ever tamed one. When it flew overhead, it left in its wake desolate cold and frozen land. But Adara was not afraid. For Adara was a winter child, born during the worst freeze that anyone, even the Old Ones, could remember.

Adara could not remember the first time she had seen the ice dragon. It seemed that it had always been in her life, glimpsed from afar as she played in the frigid snow long after the other children had fled the cold. In her fourth year she touched it, and in her fifth year she rode upon its broad, chilled back for the first time. Then, in her seventh year, on a calm summer day, fiery dragons from the North swooped down upon the peaceful farm that was Adara’s home. And only a winter child—and the ice dragon who loved her—could save her world from utter destruction.

The Ice Dragon appears to takes place within the world of ASOIAF, although the creatures have so far only been referred to in one of the fairy tales that Old Nan would tell the Stark children. The publisher teases that “Actual ice dragons have not appeared in the series. Yet.”

This could be a simple means of building hype, or a hint that an ice dragon may well be in our future. Terri Schwartz over at Zap2it points out that Martin did, however, make sure that one of his characters remembered the tale of the ice dragon more than once in A Dance with Dragons (slight book spoilers), and we know that Bran Stark, currently in the far North, has been told he will fly.

Only time will tell. For now, they’re just really cool to look at.

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97 Comments

  1. Vic
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Black Hodor.

  2. Ren Snow
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Does The Ice Dragon really take place in the world of ASoIaF??

  3. meh
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    There hasnt been 1 asian person on Game of Thrones, so stop complaining about the lack of black characters.

  4. crabber's son
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    suddenly the theories of jon snow leading the ww into battle on an ice dragon against dany dont seem so ridiculous

  5. Sister Wrister
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    My daughter should love this.

    But wait…….. It is confirmed that Bran will fly???

  6. otia dant vitia
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Hmm? There are strange things up North for sure. Superman, for instance.

  7. otia dant vitia
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Sister Wrister,

    Metaphorically

  8. Adam
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    This is the third time Martin has commented on the issue of race in his story

    I love that someone’s actually been keeping track of that.

  9. monsieurxander
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Gotta love how Martin talks about Westeros like it’s a real place and not a fictional setting he has absolute control over.

  10. Adam
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    monsieurxander:
    Gotta love how Martin talks about Westeros like it’s a real place and not a fictional setting he has absolute control over.

    Well, it’s inspired by medieval Europe. But hey, there’s nothing more engaging than a historically-inspired setting which has been carefully modified to be completely inoffensive to modern readers, right?

  11. ENM
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Adam,

    Adam: Well, it’s inspired by medieval Europe. But hey, there’s nothing more engaging than a historically-inspired setting which has been carefully modified to be completely inoffensive to modern readers, right?

    I wish there was an option to like your post. I like your post. I like it!

  12. Renly's Peach
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    I love it when the out-of-touch Tumblr crowd and ones like them go up in arms about a lack of diversity. Because medieval Europe was JUST like New York City 2014. Areo Hotah isn’t even supposed to be black; they made that change seemingly just to appease you, and you’re still mad.
    Stand by for the sassy black otherkin lesbian that becomes the new Lady of the Vale in the next book.

  13. jjp
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Renly’s Peach,

    It’s almost as good as the crowd that gets up in arms over any attempts to diversify.

    I for one welcome our new sassy black otherkin lesbian Vale overlords.

  14. Adam Whitehead
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Ren Snow,

    No. Martin wrote it in 1979, twelve years before he created Westeros, and the similarities between it and ASoIaF are fairly broad. The suggestion it was set in the same world was an ‘accident’ (also pronounced ‘marketing’) by the children’s publisher who reissued it a few years ago.

  15. clk
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    They should have cast a black actor for Trystane as in the books

  16. ENM
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    This reminds me how much I appreciate Jerry Seinfeld’s comments on ‘diversity’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsEr6xNN8Hw

  17. Renly's Peach
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    jjp,

    I’ve never actually seen anyone “get up in arms” because of diversity in this fandom. In fact, it’s the same people clamoring for diversity that continue to take up arms even after the fact. Perfect example is this whole Areo Hotah thing. It’s never enough.

    clk,

    Trystane is not black in any book. None of the Martells are.

  18. jjp
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Renly’s Peach,

    Maybe I shouldn’t refer to a “crowd” (although I’m sure there are more people than the specific person I’m about to refer to who feel the same). One of GRRM’s World of Ice and Fire collaborators is rather vocal on the matter however:

    https://twitter.com/hippoiathanatoi/status/493022649225052161

    https://twitter.com/hippoiathanatoi/status/492802039584268288

  19. James
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    The world of A Song of Ice and Fire is very diverse. It essentially takes place on 2 continents, mainly Westeros, which is home to a bunch of European white people except for Dorne down south which is more cultured. Essos is more diverse with a lot of brown skinned people, including summer islanders which are black people with brown skin and then there’s also black people with dark dark black skin. There’s eastern asian type people and much much more diversity. It just happens to follow a set of characters from Westeros, where most characters are white. There are several characters from different cultures in the books. The show can’t be as detailed as the books and is not as large so they’ve had to get a little creative with trying to show different cultures. Still, both have done a wonderful job. Tv shows, books and movies are usually about the story (when they’re not about money) so it’s ridiculous that people complain about there not being a lot of black people or asian people or people of different cultures. There’s a lot of movies with mostly all African Americans, like the Tyler Perry movies, and there’s movies made in Asia with usually all Asians.
    People don’t complain about those being cultured. Some people just love to complain and be negative when it doesn’t matter if there’s cultured characters or not, it just all depends on the story.

  20. Easteros Bunny
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    People need to get over the race thing.

    And if GRRM isn’t releasing a book that is the winds of winter then I have no interest.

  21. Renly's Peach
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    jjp,

    Well I think I found yer problem — you’re referencing Elio and Linda. They’re never right about anything. Ever. And all they do is rag on the show relentlessly.

  22. jwal
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    I don’t really care how diverse GOT gets, but I think this post is based on the TV show Game of THrones and less about the books. I think people have an issue where the TV show can be more diverse but isn’t diverse enough for them. I kind of get their point. I just don’t understand the anger of fans who defend the diversity issue and try to vehemently squash comment when anyone says or writes anything negative (ie, not enough diversity). It is a bit disconcerting when people are so upset that an Asian actress is Waif or one of the Sand Snakes. The show can change character names and add/take out/combine characters and storylines, but god forbid Nymeria is asian.

  23. Sister Wrister
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    otia dant vitia,

    Yeah, I’m aware of theories on Bran warging a dragon before this is all over…. But didn’t know anything had been confirmed.

    Interesting how in the children’s book the poles seem to be flipped…… Ice dragons from the south, fiery ones from up north.

    Clever marketing on the publishers part, because accidents happen.

    GO HAWKS

  24. Optimator
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    What about History’s Vikings? I only recall seeing whites there. But seriously, who cares? There will always be someone feeling left out or misrepresented. If not the blacks, then the Asians. If not the Asians, then the gays. If not the gays, then the transgenders… Seriously if all the whites were Asians or blacks I would still love the show the same. I don’t see what color has to do with anything.

  25. jjp
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    Renly’s Peach,

    Well we agree on that anyway! But for better or worse, they have a platform and are “of note” in some way, however you want to define that. Their casting review video has a decent number of views and positive comments. I think it’s safe to say they represent at least some small portion of the fandom.

  26. Arash
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    I dont have a single racist cell in my body and Im a brown skin fellow myself but why MUST be diversity in the show? All my friends around me are Asians and I love them all but why there HAS to be an Asian on this specific show? If theres a city/race/group of people on the show/book that Asians can take the role for great, but just in order to have “diversity” makes no sense to have a random character depicted by each and every ethnicity in the world!

    Let me give an example, those who have watched the movie “kingdom of Heaven” which is about crusaders etc. might remember, at the beginning of the movie there is a fight scene in a forest in the middle of europe and one of the knights fighting is a black person! My jaw almost fell! Now There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with having a black actor for any role but as long as it makes sense! An african person in charge of a christian army in heart of europe in like 1000 AD ? that just is not true to the context/history and makes no sense! I certainly wish people in middle ages europe would be open to having a black leader but that just was not the case!

    I wish people would care as much about having real diversity in jobs, income, government, social rights etc and not focus so much on having this nonsense forced “diversity” in things like movies/shows etc…

  27. LymD
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    I feel bad for these SJWs. Can’t enjoy anything without tallying quotas in the back of their minds.

  28. sloosh
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    The thing with Game of Thrones is that it became a show that people love. It has a very diverse fan base, and when you get really obsessed with it you start to wish someone that looked like you was on the show. I don’t blame people for wanting to be represented.
    The first book was published in the 90s, though, when entertainment was way less diverse. Representing what is essentially Europe in the books, GRRM wouldn’t have even thought to switch it up by making, say, the Greyjoys a black family. Representing what is essentially the Atlantic slave trade, he wouldn’t have thought to switch things up by making the slaves from the Summer Isles (Africa) white. He wouldn’t have thought to make the Dothraki (Genghis Khan and the Mongolian hordes) Scandinavian.
    So the show takes from the books and tries to recreate it (golden Lannister hair, Targaryen’s platinum blonde).
    I can’t see HBO execs being in a meeting five years ago and saying they needed to represent anything other than white men in a fantasy show that they didn’t expect to become such a huge hit.
    Now that it’s a hit, the writers are making efforts to be more inclusive. The executives, especially, see that the show has potential in other markets and (like many Hollywood films now) understand that if, say, a well-known Japanese actress plays the Waif then they’ll have a better chance of marketing the show in Japan.
    I think any attempts at diversity on behalf of execs would be finically motivated (sorry for the cynicism). But if DeObia Oparei’s Areo becomes the character that Pedro Pascal created in Oberyn? I think it’ll be a great step in making the GoT world more diverse on a societal level.
    (On a related note, I thought it was a nod to the level of equality between Missandei and Daenerys when they included a scene of Daenerys braiding Missandei’s hair, instead of making it the other way around. I’m pretty sure that queens of the past wouldn’t have done that.)

  29. ArgonathofBraavos
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    Arash,

    That’s a bad example, IMO. Crusaders often crusaded in both the Middle East/Levant as well as Moorish Spain, Sicily (which was held for a stretch of time by Arabs) and North Africa, where there were many black Africans (some of whom were Christian before Muslim armies swept in, and some of whom preferred to remain that way). Plus, the character you are talking about was NOT in charge of a Chistian army, he was just one crusader in the party. There is a lot of evidence of black Africans joining white European crusaders to fight Muslims. Just because you don’t know anything about it, doesn’t make it “PC.”

    The director’s cut of that movie is great, BTW. Much, much better than the theatrical version that the studio butchered, even though Orlando Bloom is a little lackluster.

  30. Cumsprite
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    Arash:
    I wish people would care as much about having real diversity in jobs…

    Acting is a job.

  31. ArgonathofBraavos
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    jwal:
    I don’t really care how diverse GOT gets, but I think this post is based on the TV show Game of THrones and less about the books. I think people have an issue where the TV show can be more diverse but isn’t diverse enough for them. I kind of get their point. I just don’t understand the anger of fans who defend the diversity issue and try to vehemently squash comment when anyone says or writes anything negative (ie, not enough diversity). It is a bit disconcerting when people are so upset that an Asian actress is Waif or one of the Sand Snakes. The show can change character names and add/take out/combine characters and storylines, but god forbid Nymeria is asian.

    I think the issue is that GRRM creates continents and regions that roughly correspond to medieval Europe-Africa-Asia, and find it a bit jarring when someone from Dorne (essentially Spain/ North Africa) is East Asian (as opposed to Central Asian), as it is not likely that many Asians of the Far East spent much time in Spain during the medieval period. Personally, I am 100% okay with having African Sand Snakes, as it roughly corresponds to history, but get a little taken out of the story when considering an Asian Sand Snake. However, if it’s established that she has origins in Far Eastern Asshai, or something like that (her mother was a slave from there, or something) then I will be perfectly fine with it. And if the actress is great, I ultimately won’t care at all.

    IMO, it has nothing to do with race for me. It only has to do with verisimilitude and suspension of disbelief.

  32. Renly's Peach
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    Where are people getting this “Waif is gonna be Japanese” train of thought?

  33. Blind Beth
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    Optimator,

    Huh, so maybe they should do something crazy like, I don’t know, represent everyone?

  34. Blind Beth
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    To all the people who are annoyed at the people who keep clamoring about diversity:

    1) It’s a lot easier to not care about race when your race isn’t a constant issue in your daily life.

    2) Yeah, Westeros is based on Europe but…there are little magical people, people who see the future, people who come back from the dead, people who have telepathic links to animals, but people of color would just be way too crazy for this world? (Yeah, yeah, Summer Islander dude, Areo Hotah, whatever, I mean like a main character. Maggie the frickin’ Frog is a more important character than Summer Islander dude. And he got cut from the show anyway. And, as mentioned, Areo Hotah isn’t actually black in the books. Fingers crossed he has a significant role in the show.)

    I love the books and the show, and left to my own devices I honestly don’t even think about the diversity issue because I am white and it’s really easy for me to not think about racial issues. But I’m not going to stand around saying the fans who wish someone the same color as them were in the show don’t have a point. Because they do.

  35. Blind Beth
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Renly’s Peach,

    The casting call specified that.

  36. Blind Beth
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    ArgonathofBraavos,

    1) If you find that jarring, how do you feel about European dragons in the area roughly corresponding to the Central Asian steppe region? Must be super jarring.

    2) In HBO’s description of her character it specifies that her mother was a noblewoman from the Far East.

  37. Renly's Peach
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    Blind Beth:
    It’s a lot easier to not care about race when your race isn’t a constant issue in your daily life.

    If your race is a constant, serious issue of your daily life (whatever race that is in the year 2014), then being “represented” on a tv show is the least of your problems.

    I think there’s also about six white people for every one actual “minority” bitching about this. Not sure what that says.

  38. monsieurxander
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Renly’s Peach,

    I’d love to know what mythical post-racial utopia you live in.

  39. Thomas Merritt
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Renly’s Peach,

    That we live in a society of guilty, liberal white sissies? The complaints never fucking end, I swear.

  40. Renly's Peach
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    monsieurxander,

    I’d love to know where you live that your race is a constant, life-threatening serious issue you have to dread on a daily basis.

  41. ArgonathofBraavos
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    Blind Beth:
    ArgonathofBraavos,

    1) If you find that jarring, how do you feel about European dragons in the area roughly corresponding to the Central Asian steppe region?Must be super jarring.

    2) In HBO’s description of her character it specifies that her mother was a noblewoman from the Far East.

    Based on that description from HBO, it’s fine with me.

    The origin of these “European dragons,” as far as I can tell, is “Valyria (which seems to sit in an area roughly equivalent to the Eastern Mediterranean)” and not the Central Asian steppe equivalent that is the Dothraki Sea (and BTW, I never understood why the HBO showrunners didn’t go for a Mongolian or Turkic look for the Dothraki, and instead went with a mix of generic barbarian-ness). Plus, I’m not quite sure Dany’s dragons can be described as wholly “European.” The fact that they can act as companions to people, and are not uniformly murderous, seems to suggest that they have some qualities of certain dragons from Asian mythology. Their design in the show is also not “European,” per se. It’s just a pretty standard design created by modern fantasists (though they don’t look much like most Asian dragons, to be sure).

    I’m trying to understand what you’re annoyed about, to be honest. GRRM created a world that entertains a mix of mythological elements, but his geography roughly corresponds to the Eurasian continent, with the Southros (and the Summer Isles) as rough stand-ins for Africa. General consistency with that orientation, in terms of the physical characteristics of the inhabitants, is a good way to maintain a sense of believability, IMO.

    As such, I think characters with African origins are far more likely to live in Westeros than characters of East Asian origin. That said, just as there was some travel between the Far East and Western Europe in the Middle Ages, I can accept that one of the Sand Snakes has a mother from the Far East.

    Controversy averted.

    Man, it’s difficult to say anything anymore, isn’t it? On social and economic issues I am as liberal as the next liberal, and yet I have to endure straw men all the same.

    In the end, fantasy worlds rise and fall based on their ability to capture verisimilitude, and to suspend an audience’s disbelief. If world-creators pay no attention to that, their stories can unravel very quickly.

  42. ArgonathofBraavos
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    Blind Beth:
    To all the people who are annoyed at the people who keep clamoring about diversity:

    1)It’s a lot easier to not care about race when your race isn’t a constant issue in your daily life.

    2)Yeah, Westeros is based on Europe but…there are little magical people, people who see the future, people who come back from the dead, people who have telepathic links to animals, but people of color would just be way too crazy for this world? (Yeah, yeah, Summer Islander dude, Areo Hotah, whatever, I mean like a main character.Maggie the frickin’ Frog is a more important character than Summer Islander dude.And he got cut from the show anyway.And, as mentioned, Areo Hotah isn’t actually black in the books.Fingers crossed he has a significant role in the show.)

    I love the books and the show, and left to my own devices I honestly don’t even think about the diversity issue because I am white and it’s really easy for me to not think about racial issues.But I’m not going to stand around saying the fans who wish someone the same color as them were in the show don’t have a point.Because they do.

    1. My mother is Mongolian, my father is Korean, and I was born in Italy. What’s your point again? That said, I do have an issue with Melisandre being depicted by a white European, as she’s from Asshai, the landmass to the farthest east of GRRM’s world. In my mind, and based on the features of the rest of GRRM’s world, she should look East Asian. So I posit that there are white characters in the show that should have been cast as Asians. Do I still qualify as a victim of your rant now?

    2. All of the supernatural features of the show you describe are quite consistent with elements of European mythologies. The children of the forest can be interpreted as elves, or perhaps as the spirits of pre-Celtic peoples driven from their land by both the First Men (essentially Celts) and the Andals (basically the Angles of the Anglo part of Anglo-Saxon). Skin-changers and wargs are also quite common in Northern European mythologies, though we also see a lot of that in most mythologies, east, west, south and north. But in any event, the wolf (and bear)-centric ones tend to be Celtic, Germanic and Gothic in origin. So these elements all seem to fit into a quasi-European Westeros during the early-midde Middle Ages. In that context, Far Eastern peoples do seem a tad out of place, though I can certainly accept that some Far eastern travelers may have made their way to Dorne (or a Dornishman made his way to Asshai).

    There are loads of films regarding Asian mythology (and fantasy) where it would be deemed ludicrous to have Western Europeans hopping around. Why is it so different in this case? IMO, the best fantasy worlds are those that reflect real mythologies from real cultures. Pastiches designed to check boxes for faux-politically correct reasons end up feeling false and unbelievable.

    That said, I think the explanation HBO gives for an East Asian-looking Sand Snake is perfectly adequate. I just think it would be silly to say that there are East Asians whose origins are Dorne, as Dorne is clearly influenced by a medieval Spanish/ Moorish/ North African culture, with a dose of feminism.

    Please don’t lump me in with the knuckle-draggers that cry foul whenever someone that’s not bleach white enters their fantasy worlds. That’s not me. But please try to imagine that there are far more reasons than “racism” that explain why someone might find something in a fantasy world to seem “jarring.” Internal consistency is important, IMO.

  43. 3eyes
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    Apparently, Africans have been in the British Isles for quite some time: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/north_yorkshire/8538888.stm

  44. ATG
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 2:50 am | Permalink

    Wait the Ice Dragon story is now officialy part of the ASOIAF universe? I remember reading it some time ago and I never seemed to make the connection, and if I remember correctly it wasnt really a children’s story, had some pretty dark moments.

  45. Elizabeth
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 3:18 am | Permalink

    That sentence is so illogical I just…*sigh*

  46. Biter the Gallant
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 3:45 am | Permalink

    ArgonathofBraavos,
    Actually, Asshai is only at the beginning of the Jade Sea. It is not the last city on the east, just the last which is somewhat seriously known for the (with the exception of Melisandre herself fully Westerosi) POV characters. We know practically nothing about the farest Eastern parts of Essos. Based on the Lands of Ice and Fire there are a lot of cities, islands etc. which seem to be “legendary” places (probably little known for even the western Essosi people), some of them, such as Nefer in N’Ghai were visited by a Westerosi, Corlys Velaryon for the first time only less then two centuries before the beginning of ASOIAF.
    And there is a whole another Eastern continent (!), Ulthos, about which we also know nothing.
    So there is lot of space in this world for people with Mongoloid characteristics even east to Asshai. (Though I do not think GRRM would make them interact seriously with the main storyline, some kind of brief mentioning of them in the future books would have been a nice touch).

  47. NomadicDirewolf
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 4:47 am | Permalink

    It amazes me how people consider diversity in the show an issue. Its a series about mainly based off of middle ages Europe, a place, which, as GRRM says, lacked anywhere near the kind of racial diversity that western society has now, to have a significant number of people from different racial backgrounds would just be out of place. At least, in terms of black and east asians characters. I do have a certain sympathy for those of arabic background, as I think they have a legitimate concern as so many characters who would be arabic have been replaced by white, or black actors (so they are just swapping one minority for another, instead of encouraging diversity) and there is less uproar as blacks represent a more significant minority in the USA. Westeros should be reflective of a medieval european racial makeup, not of the current makeup of US and other western countries, just so HBO can pander to viewers. Some argue that viewers need someone they can relate too, and it helps if they are from there own racial background, but, even if that was too, the characters that have been cast as black so far have been too minor, or too different for people to relate too anyway. Plus I dont think that people can only claim affinity with someone if they have the same colour of skin as they do. If this was a show set in Africa, or China during the same time period, everyone would see a white person appearing as out of place, but it doesnt seem to work for people who want it the other way around.

  48. NomadicDirewolf
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 4:49 am | Permalink

    NomadicDirewolf:
    It amazes me how people consider diversity in the show an issue. Its a series about mainly based off of middle ages Europe, a place, which, as GRRM says, lacked anywhere near the kind of racial diversity that western society has now, to have a significant number of people from different racial backgrounds would just be out of place. At least, in terms of black and east asians characters. I do have a certain sympathy for those of arabic background, as I think they have a legitimate concern as so many characters who would be arabic have been replaced by white, or black actors (so they are just swapping one minority for another, instead of encouraging diversity) and there is less uproar as blacks represent a more significant minority in the USA. Westeros should be reflective of a medieval european racial makeup, not of the current makeup of US and other western countries, just so HBO can pander to viewers. Some argue that viewers need someone they can relate too, and it helps if they are from there own racial background, but, even if that was too, the characters that have been cast as black so far have been too minor, or too different for people to relate too anyway. Plus I dont think that people can only claim affinity with someone if they have the same colour of skin as they do. If this was a show set in Africa, or China during the same time period, everyone would see a white person appearing as out of place, but it doesnt seem to work for people who want it the other way around. I remember the BBC series ‘Robin Hood’ casting Friar Tuck as a black guy (David Harewood, the guy from Homeland) with apparently no explanation as to why he was black and it just made a lot of people confused, so this show doesnt want to go down that route

  49. Morbo
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Not enough diversity = not enough black people.
    Americans.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for diversity on TV. If you’re making a show which wants to depict a realistic representation about life in New York, Los Angeles or Baltimore, it does seem more than obvious you need an ethnically and culturally diverse cast.

    But both the books and the show of Game of Thrones already have a very diverse cast with characters based on Asians, Arabs, Persians, European, Mediterranean people, Mongolians, etc (yes I know Mongolians and Persians are Asian, Mediterraneans are European, you can catch my drift) and other races from the real world. It annoys me that you have an ethnically ‘foreign’ character like Salladhor Saan that needs to be urgently changed into someone with African roots, because otherwise the show won’t be ‘diverse enough’.

    To me it just seems stupid you need to alter a world based on a mid-centurion Europe to match a contemporary America, otherwise you’ll be deemed a racist.

    My post btw has nothing to do with race. The Wire is my favorite show ever and I’m a huge hip hop fan. I’m just saying that the claim that the show and books aren’t ‘diverse’ is simply untrue.

  50. A Man Grown
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    People keep saying The Ice Dragon takes place in the world of ASoIaF, but GRRM wrote the Ice Dragon short story years before he’d ever conceived of ASoIaF. So at most it would be a retcon.

  51. Blind Beth
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Renly’s Peach,

    First of all, I didn’t say “life threatening.” Second, race is not a constant daily issue in my personal life because I am a white American. Third, if race *is* a daily issue in the life of an American, it’s because they are black/brown/Asian and they live in a world full of white people who’s perception of black/brown/Asian people is strongly informed by scant and stereotypical representations of such people in the media. So being represented in a TV show is, in fact, one of their major problems.

  52. ArgonathofBraavos
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Blind Beth:
    Renly’s Peach,

    First of all, I didn’t say “life threatening.”Second, race is not a constant daily issue in my personal life because I am a white American.Third, if race *is* a daily issue in the life of an American, it’s because they are black/brown/Asian and they live in a world full of white people who’s perception of black/brown/Asian people is strongly informed by scant and stereotypical representations of such people in the media.So being represented in a TV show is, in fact, one of their major problems.

    You seem to have bowed out of our conversation after my last post addressing your points. I would be curious to get your response to my comments. I’ll post them again below for ease of reference:

    1. My mother is Mongolian, my father is Korean, and I was born in Italy. What’s your point again? That said, I do have an issue with Melisandre being depicted by a white European, as she’s from Asshai, the landmass to the farthest east of GRRM’s world. In my mind, and based on the features of the rest of GRRM’s world, she should look East Asian. So I posit that there are white characters in the show that should have been cast as Asians. Do I still qualify as a victim of your rant now?

    2. All of the supernatural features of the show you describe are quite consistent with elements of European mythologies. The children of the forest can be interpreted as elves, or perhaps as the spirits of pre-Celtic peoples driven from their land by both the First Men (essentially Celts) and the Andals (basically the Angles of the Anglo part of Anglo-Saxon). Skin-changers and wargs are also quite common in Northern European mythologies, though we also see a lot of that in most mythologies, east, west, south and north. But in any event, the wolf (and bear)-centric ones tend to be Celtic, Germanic and Gothic in origin. So these elements all seem to fit into a quasi-European Westeros during the early-midde Middle Ages. In that context, Far Eastern peoples do seem a tad out of place, though I can certainly accept that some Far eastern travelers may have made their way to Dorne (or a Dornishman made his way to Asshai).

    There are loads of films regarding Asian mythology (and fantasy) where it would be deemed ludicrous to have Western Europeans hopping around. Why is it so different in this case? IMO, the best fantasy worlds are those that reflect real mythologies from real cultures. Pastiches designed to check boxes for faux-politically correct reasons end up feeling false and unbelievable.

    That said, I think the explanation HBO gives for an East Asian-looking Sand Snake is perfectly adequate. I just think it would be silly to say that there are East Asians whose origins are Dorne, as Dorne is clearly influenced by a medieval Spanish/ Moorish/ North African culture, with a dose of feminism.

    Please don’t lump me in with the knuckle-draggers that cry foul whenever someone that’s not bleach white enters their fantasy worlds. That’s not me. But please try to imagine that there are far more reasons than “racism” that explain why someone might find something in a fantasy world to seem “jarring.” Internal consistency is important, IMO.

  53. Blind Beth
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    ArgonathofBraavos,

    1) Sorry. I rescind the implication that you are white. But don’t you think it would be super cool to have a Mongolian/Korean character every now and then? I sure do. I think I read one fantasy novel somewhere with a Chinese/Mongolian character, and he was pretty cool. (My point being that even if you want to stay out of identity politics, what does it hurt to have more diversity? The more people see different kinds of people the harder it is for stereotypes to survive.)

    2) I see what you’re saying, but please in turn try to understand how hollow the whole “it wouldn’t be historically accurate” argument sounds when we are talking about a fantasy world. If we were talking about an actual historical period piece, I would say “yes, that’s true, I just wish there were more period pieces not set in Europe.”

    (PS – Re: bowing out: It was late and my husband was like “maybe you could take a break from arguing with people on the internet?” So that’s why I’m just now replying.

  54. ArgonathofBraavos
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Biter the Gallant:
    ArgonathofBraavos,
    Actually, Asshai is only at the beginning of the Jade Sea. It is not the last city on the east, just the last which is somewhat seriously known for the (with the exception of Melisandre herself fully Westerosi) POV characters. We know practically nothing about the farest Eastern parts of Essos. Based on the Lands of Ice and Fire there are a lot of cities, islands etc. which seem to be “legendary” places (probably little known for even the western Essosi people), some of them, such as Nefer in N’Ghai were visited by a Westerosi, Corlys Velaryon for the first time only less then two centuries before the beginning of ASOIAF.
    And there is a whole another Eastern continent (!), Ulthos, about which we also know nothing.
    So there is lot of space in this world for people with Mongoloid characteristics even east to Asshai. (Though I do not think GRRM would make them interact seriously with the main storyline, some kind of brief mentioning of them in the future books would have been a nice touch).

    Thanks. But even so, it was a very good opportunity to cast someone of Asian origin, especially as it would have been pretty consistent with the world. It may have also heightened the perception of an “alien religion” among some of Stannis’ followers, and given a tinge of racism to their suspicions (including Davos), which is a nuance that could have been interesting. Though I suppose in generating sympathy for Davos as a character, the showrunners didn’t want to make him seem racist.

  55. ArgonathofBraavos
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Blind Beth:
    ArgonathofBraavos,

    1)Sorry.You are truly a miraculous human being.But don’t you think it would be super cool to have a Mongolian/Korean character every now and then?I sure do.I think I read one fantasy novel somewhere with a Chinese/Mongolian character, and he was pretty cool.(My point being that even if you want to stay out of identity politics, what does it hurt to have more diversity?The more people see different kinds of people the harder it is for stereotypes to survive.)

    2)I see what you’re saying, but please in turn try to understand how hollow the whole “it wouldn’t be historically accurate” argument sounds when we are talking about a fantasy world.If we were talking about an actual historical period piece, I would say “yes, that’s true, I just wish there were more period pieces not set in Europe.”

    I do understand your point. Yes, it would have been super cool to have Mongolian/ Korean characters, but not because I am Mongolian/Korean. It’s because they would have fit perfectly into the world as designed by GRRM. From my perspective, the Dothraki are clearly either Mongolian or Turkic analogues, and GRRM has stated publicly that he thought of them as Mongolian. So…Jason Momoa as Khal Drodo was odd to me. And then there was a chance to cast Melisandre as Asian, given her roots in Far Eastern Asshai, but a Dutch actress was cast…However, Mongolian/ Korean characters whose origins are Westerosi would take me out of the world.

    2. Again, I understand this point, but fear that it sells the “fantasy” genre short. IMO, good, compelling fantasy has its feet firmly planted in real history and real myth. It has strong echoes of a recognizable human reality. This is why, IMO, it’s so very easy for audiences to accept Tolkien’s and GRRM’s worlds, suspend disbelief, and immerse themselves in the story, rather than focus on the seams of the world-building (and this is the same with, say, most of Miyazaki’s excellent films, which apart from Howl’s Moving Castle, are essentially Asian-only mythic fantasies). GRRM’s Westeros reflects the ethnic homogeneity (and prejudices) of that subcontinent (see the discrimination against Varys, for example). I don’t think that should be white-washed.

    But like I said, there is a lot of space for prominent African characters in southern Westeros, Arabic and Persian characters in both southern Westeros and the western part of Essos, Central Asians in and around the Dothraki Sea, and East/ North Asian characters in the Far East. I can accept characters with these origins as fish out of water in Westeros (such as an East Asian Sand Snake), but only if it’s made clear how she came to be there. East Asians as native Dornishmen and women simply breaks the illusion of Westeros as an echo of Europe. Fantasy or not, world-building is an intricate weave, and if one just throws elements in willy-nilly, or to satisfy every request, it can very quickly unravel.

    (PS – Re: bowing out: I should follow that same advice sometimes! :-))

  56. Chad Brick
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Biter the Gallant,

    If I recall correctly, Mance mentions at some point an Asshain shipwreck on the west coast of Westeros, which implies the world is round that Asshai is not impossibly far away. There could be something in between, but I would think it is more of a Japan or Korea than a China.

  57. Chris Beasley
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    sloosh,

    GRRM wouldn’t have switched it up by making the Greyjoys a black family because that would have been anachronistic, not because he was writing in the 90s before black people were represented in media (ahem, Cosby Show, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, anyone?).

    Different ethnicities develop because of geographic separations between subsections of humans over long periods of time. You don’t get diversity until travel across those geographic barriers becomes easy, and then it takes generations and generations. Westeros isn’t there yet, their sailing technology is probably about equivalent to Columbus. Do you wonder why Columbus didn’t find a diverse population when he came to the New World?

    For GRRM to sit there and make the Greyjoys black he would have to think why they were black, he would have to figure out what historic forces generations ago caused these islands to be populated by people of starkly different appearance than their closest neighbors. The best thing you might come up with would be okay, Summer Islanders invaded the Iron Islands around the time of Aegon’s conquest. Okay… that might explain why the Greyjoys could be, but not the rest of the Iron Islands population, and then you change the dynamic of that whole thing, where the Greyjoys are a foreign occupying force without as much loyalty from the lords and smallfolk, and how does that influence the Kingsmoot? What are the butterfly effects of that? How loyal would soldiers by to Victarion, or Asha (Yara) in that situation? Then how does that change the Summer Islands, implying their a military force to be reckoned with changes the balance of power in Westeros. So, you say okay, maybe 3000 years ago Summer Islanders invaded and conquered the Iron Islands. Later some catastrophe (say a tsunami) hit the Summer Islands reducing their civilization, but the branch on the Iron Islands lived on. Except now you have 3000 years of fewer black invaders living amongst a sea of white peasants. After 3000 years, they will no longer look ebony and ivory, they will have blended into a mostly light skinned group.

    GRRM thinks about all these things, that is what makes him such a good writer. He doesn’t just wave his pen to make things so, he needs to make sure it is plausible within the world he has created, and modern levels of diversity in close proximity is not plausible.

  58. Azzy Mahmood
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    I can’t stand it when people bring race into GoT discussions. It’s a make-believe world. If you don’t like the lack of racial diversity in said world, don’t watch the show or read the books. I couldn’t care less what colour people are, or what religion.

    David Gemmell would have fared terribly if his work was adapted.

  59. Blind Beth
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    ArgonathofBraavos,

    Cool. I think we agree enough to stop arguing, lol.

    It’s funny, I never thought about Melisadre as being East Asian…I guess because she’s described as having red hair. There’s never been explicit descriptions of what an Asshai-ese person would look like, but I agree that it would have been really cool to have and East Asian actress in the role. Especially since M’s hair is such an obviously unnatural shade of red (and I subscribe to the “Melisandre is glamouring herself” theory) so it wouldn’t be a logical issue.

  60. Blind Beth
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Chris Beasley,

    I think we may have a difference of taste here…I think the whole interesting thing about fantasy is that it’s not bound by real-world parameters. You can start world-building using a real place as a template (and that’s usually a good idea for believability), but then you have the freedom to mess with that template as much as you want so long as it’s all internally consistent.

    The aproximately-14th-century-Europe template that GRRM is using has already been messed with; myths are real, seasons last for years (how that realistically works with agriculture has yet to be explained), politics have been simplified and streamlined to make a compelling story. There are lots of things in Westeros that have no direct correlation in roughly-14th-century-Europe. I like that.

    So if there were a prominent family that originally came to Westeros several generations ago from the Summer Isles for, say, similar reasons that the Targaryens originally came to Westeros (political exile, not a magical mega-volcano), then rose in status over time, conquered the Shield Islands, took a coat of arms, married a daughter to a younger Targaryen prince at some point…well, I don’t see how that’s more unreasonable than the history of the Targaryens themselves.

    My point is that GRRM is not as constrained by real European history nearly so much as a lot of you history buffs are making out. He’s made a lot of creative choices, and prominent characters of color in Westeros / POV characters of color in Essos were not included in those choices.

  61. Adam
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Blind Beth,

    I have trouble telling whether you’re making an aesthetic argument (“more characters of color in ASOIAF would be really cool!”) or a moral one (“there should be more characters of color in ASOIAF because equality“).

    If it’s the former, then it’s hard to argue because it’s incredibly subjective.

    But if it’s the latter, then I don’t think these arguments about the lack of constraints in fantasy are necessarily relevant. Even in fantasy you’re bound by rules of logic, human nature, etc. You can add in dragons, but as you seem to agree, if you want to have a significantly racially diverse continent in an era with medieval-style technology, you will need to deal with all the story ramifications of that, along the lines of Chris Beasley’s post. And that will usually be a huge can of worms.

    I suspect the question someone like GRRM asks himself when deciding whether to make this sort of inclusion is “would that element be useful for making the story more interesting?” And that definitely does not always coincide with the thing which is better for social justice, equality, etc. (Making a story more morally appealing to modern sensibilities doesn’t have much correlation with making it more compelling as a story.)

    So I’m not sure whether your argument is that these sorts of elements should be included regardless of whether they help the narrative because there’s some inherent value in portraying racially diverse environments, or just that you’d find the story more engaging that way.

  62. chamush
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Morbo,

    Great point!
    If it was a show based on events in NYC, Then yeah it should have diversity as in reality theres a lot of diversity in NYC!!!!

    I wish people would stop nagging about lack of diversity in everything!

  63. JRR Tzolkin
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    A writer’s work will always be based on his/her cultural background, and that of his/her fictitious world.

    If said writer is a white male from the U.S., and is writing a tale set on a medieval world, like GRRM, then it’s more than obvious that most of his main characters will be white by default.

    I am a white man, born in a Latin American country, so I’m obviously a minority in my homeland, and I take no exception to the fact that white folk are not featured as prominently in domestic tales, as in Europe or the U.S., for instance.

    It’s not a matter of racism. It’s simple common sense.

  64. Ronin
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    How these people don’t understand that Game of Thrones is based on medieval Europe. There were no blacks or asians there!

    On the other hand I’m still dissapointed by casting choices for Season5. Reading the books, I got the impression that Martells looked quite southern, like Italians and Spainards. Instead they filled Dorne roles with English actors…

  65. NomadicDirewolf
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Ronin:
    How these people don’t understand that Game of Thrones is based on medieval Europe. There were no blacks or asians there!

    On the other hand I’m still dissapointed by casting choices for Season5. Reading the books, I got the impression that Martells looked quite southern, like Italians and Spainards. Instead they filled Dorne roles with English actors…

    While its true they did fill Dorne with English actors, most of the martells are english actors of arabic (or in the case of one east asian) background, as there is quite a significant middle eastern community in the UK so race-wise, they will look similar to how many would imagine the Dornish , beyond that, just as long as they look the part and act the part i dont care what country they are from

  66. Renly's Peach
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Blind Beth,

    “Woe onto me, for I am a half black, half Asian gay Jew and my life is in constant peril from whitey — but things are turning around now! One of the Sand Snakes looks vaguely Asian. And they made Hotah black! NOW I CAN RELATE! I think my life and the world will be better now.”

    I’m myself a “minority” (a minority of a minority, if you wanna get technical about it), and I don’t think I’ve ever been bothered by a show because it “doesn’t represent me.” I realize that’s just my personal opinion on the matter, though. When was the last time you heard people complain that a show didn’t have enough white people? You think this is a an issue in some African countries where whites are a minority? Hm. I dunno; never thought about it.

  67. Skipjack
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    ArgonathofBraavos,

    I don’t think anyone made this point, but since in this description of Melisandre we are talking about the books, I think it’s worth throwing this under spoilers:

    Melisandre is strongly hinted as casting a glamour on herself to become irrestible to all of these Andal men, and Carice Van Houten sure fits that particular bill. What Melisandre actually looks like we have no clue other than her point of origin, which you noted. I personally think she’s an old Asian lady underneath it all, we’ve had hints that she’s older than she seems. But the glamour is pretty spelled out: she casts one on Rattleshirt using a bracelet, she is never without her ruby brooch, and in a Dunk and Egg novella Bloodraven is heavily implied to have cast a glamour with something like a brooch as a focal point. I feel the show really blew it when they had Carice in the tub without her necklace, why ever take that part out? A terrible oversight if that is what it was. But this is why I feel Melisandre looks like she does, and in the books is even more of an exaggerated feminine figure, like Christina Hendricks. Melisandre is both a devoted servant of R’hllor and vain in her way to make herself beautiful and red all over.

  68. Skipjack
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Ronin,

    There were quite a few black people in Medieval Europe. And there were not that many East Asians until trade routes opened up later, but there were plenty of Near Easterners. The idea that there were not people of color in Europe until the modern age is just incorrect. There’s an interesting twitter account and blogs that explains a lot of the history called medieval people of color.

    http://medievalpoc.org/

  69. Skipjack
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Skipjack,

    Oops I see now Beth did make the glamouring argument already.

  70. King Stannis
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Ronin:
    How these people don’t understand that Game of Thrones is based on medieval Europe. There were no blacks or asians there!

    On the other hand I’m still dissapointed by casting choices for Season5. Reading the books, I got the impression that Martells looked quite southern, like Italians and Spainards. Instead they filled Dorne roles with English actors…

    Neither were there any dragons, white walkers and children of the Forrest, So the rules of “based on medieval Europe” is not relevant. It’s fantasy and George can throw a group of elves and if he could.

    On the other hand I’m so glad they picked great actors for season 5 rather than “OH YOU LOOK LIKE THIS CHARACTER… HIRED!” Reading the books I got the impression that Martells looked Hispanic and Puerto Ricans. Instead they filled Dorne roles with Quality stuff…

  71. Renly's Peach
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    King Stannis: Puerto Ricans.

    lolwat
    Every time you drop by we’re blessed with a golden post.

  72. ArgonathofBraavos
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Blind Beth:
    ArgonathofBraavos,

    Cool.I think we agree enough to stop arguing, lol.

    It’s funny, I never thought about Melisadre as being East Asian…I guess because she’s described as having red hair.There’s never been explicit descriptions of what an Asshai-ese person would look like, but I agree that it would have been really cool to have and East Asian actress in the role.Especially since M’s hair is such an obviously unnatural shade of red (and I subscribe to the “Melisandre is glamouring herself” theory) so it wouldn’t be a logical issue.

    It’s been a pleasure! Nothing wrong with a bit of arguing (as long as there’s some logic in it). I think you said it best when you mentioned that this may be a matter of taste (not race, though the racists are definitely out there). For many, the sense that a fantasy world has a rough historical analog helps with suspension of disbelief, and that’s sort of where I sit. Authors lose me when they use a fantasy setting simply as a thin paper backdrop, and then go Jackson Pollack-wild with all other elements.

    But keep the provocative questions coming! There are some smart people in the ASOIAF community, and I encourage them to speak their minds. Otherwise, the lowest common denominator takes over and makes discussion impossible.

    Thanks for being both thoughtful and open-minded! It’s needed here.

  73. Adrian
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    There are people in the world with actual real problems and these people who declare themselves concerned with “social justice” have nothing better to do than whine about there not being enough black characters in a goddamn fantasy series.

  74. Arash
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Ok lets recast! The Stark kids should represent the entire humanity, one of each race!

  75. Blind Beth
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Renly’s Peach,
    I’m getting kind of burned out on this, so this is my last response.

    I’m glad you don’t feel bothered by lack of representation. The less things a person has to be bothered about in life the better. But that doesn’t invalidate the feelings of people who are bothered.

    I am not familiar with the television programming of any country where whites are not the majority. I can only judge what I see.

  76. Blind Beth
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    ArgonathofBraavos,

    Thanks. You are quite refreshing to talk to, yourself. Good chat. :-)

  77. loco73
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Once upon a time I used to enjoy coming to this site several times per week or even daily when time allowed. Yet slowly but surely it has become a drag to come here…

    Does everything have to be an argument? Don’t we have enough websites and forums where we can get incensed and angry over whatever topic of the minute seems to burn our ass at the moment!

    It is tiring to come here looking for some good dialogue, tidbits of information and instead finding a site that under Fansided’s anemic tutelage, had become a site oscillating between gossip and these types of topics that will inevitably inspire an atmosphere of rancour and fake outrage…

    Can’t we just enjoy the books and show for what they are…do we necessarily have to ask a tv show and a series of novels to cure societal ills?!

    I’m all for diversity if it makes sense within the novels or the show, fits with the characters, their backgrounds and situations as well as the general plot and storylines.

    What I am not for is having the United Colours of Benetton imposed because the politically correct police says so!

    Personally I think that the novels and the show are quite diverse given the settings and subject matter!

    You want to talk about lack of diversity…take pretty much any mainstream tv network series…

  78. Blind Beth
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    JRR Tzolkin:
    A writer’s work will always be based on his/her cultural background, and that of his/her fictitious world.

    If said writer is a white male from the U.S., and is writing a tale set on a medieval world, like GRRM, then it’s more than obvious that most of his main characters will be white by default.

    This much I completely agree with. I’m not really trying to bash GRRM, though it probably comes across like that, I just want people to realize this a lot more of a real explanation for Westeros demographics than GRRM purposely having a strict adherence to history. Especially because GRRM grew up as a SF/fantasy fan in a time when the genre was dominated by other white males. With that kind of input it only stands to reason that his own SF/fantasy would be pretty white.

  79. Blind Beth
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    Adam,

    I guess I’m making both points, with the meta-point that from where I’m standing there is no downside to more diversity in a fantasy setting.

    “I suspect the question someone like GRRM asks himself when deciding whether to make this sort of inclusion is “would that element be useful for making the story more interesting?” And that definitely does not always coincide with the thing which is better for social justice, equality, etc. (Making a story more morally appealing to modern sensibilities doesn’t have much correlation with making it more compelling as a story.)”

    The reason I’m making both points, aesthetic and moral, is that I’m saying that as far as I’m concerned, racial diversity *does* make the story more interesting. So more characters of color = win/win.

    But, as you say, aesthetics are subjective so I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  80. Adrian
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Why? How does a character’s skin color have any effect on how interesting they are or how interesting the story is? That is absolutely shallow and superficial on its face, and trying SO hard to be not racist that it becomes racist at its worst.

    Again: there are people with real problems in the world. There are people who can’t eat, or drink clean water because there isn’t enough. People who can’t leave their homes without the ever present fear and very real threat of being murdered. People who die of curable diseases because they have no access to proper care. There are people who suffer in ways most of us can’t even begin to comprehend, and we’re expected to believe that “social justice” is shoe-horning in some black characters to a story we like? It is so juvenile and shallow and yes, selfish, to believe that we should care about such trivial shit and let it affect our world.

    Someone is “really hurt” by there not being enough “POCs”(which is as condescending a term as I’ve ever heard)? Deal with it. Suck it up. Come back and complain about that when you have real problems, or when you turn fourteen, whichever comes first.

    People used to be told they have to deal with their problems or do what they can to solve them. Now they’re told they should complain and whine and cry and make other people change everything about everything because their delicate sensibilities simply can’t handle the fact that the world wasn’t shaped to their super specific, oftentimes borderline insane whims.

    In short: deal with it, you crybabies.

  81. Ryan
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Ren Snow,

    It features normal seasons, so I’d guess no.

  82. sloosh
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Chris Beasley,

    You’re right about Cosby and Fresh Prince, but off the top of my head I could also say Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place, Seinfeld and Friends, which were all called out for their lack of diversity being located in LA and NYC (Cosby and Fresh Prince challenged thinking at the time when it came to representing black families on TV).
    You’re also right about the detailing that goes into the world, I was trying to come up with a possible answer to the argument that GRRM created the world, so he creates the rules and could’ve made it diverse (since he makes the rules, he could totally ignore the idea of geographic separation if he wanted to, why not make Westeros multicultural from the start? Being a great writer, he could’ve found way to explain it).
    I was thinking that since it was the 90s, he wouldn’t have thought to switch up the idea of what medieval Europe was. He challenges fantasy tropes in many other ways, so I don’t think he needed to. But since it was the 90s, I don’t think he would’ve had the idea of “Why don’t I just make the Greyjoys black?” Perhaps that idea is something that someone growing up today will write into their fantasy series that people will enjoy in the 2030s.
    With the show, the execs were marketing to a fantasy audience that I believe they thought was primarily white and male and thus were trying to represent them. They wouldn’t have said “Hey GRRM, what if you found a way to make the Greyjoys black? Or the wildlings Inuit?” But the show is a hit outside the initially targeted demographic and now they’re trying to address diversity without upsetting the “rules” too much. #GRRMworldproblems

  83. sloosh
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    Renly’s Peach,

    “Japanese waif” was just me saying “if” they were to do this. Half of it was the casting call and half of it is that I live in Japan.

  84. ArgonathofBraavos
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    I love how just when there is understanding between thoughtful people who disagree, and just as some people are realizing that there might be far less disagreement on a subject than it seems (once you cut through a lot of the noise of pre-packaged memes), someone has to come along and start hurling bombs and fanning the flames. In short, Adrian, even though I generally agree with your assessment that there are larger problems in the world to deal with, your presentation simply doesn’t help. There is no understanding gained as a result.

  85. Terrence Stamp
    Posted August 8, 2014 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    Blind Beth,

    Diversity is not a right.

  86. PROUDWING
    Posted August 9, 2014 at 1:10 am | Permalink

    We’re losing focus on the real issue…they’re sending Jamie and Bronn to Dorne…

  87. PROUDWING
    Posted August 9, 2014 at 1:14 am | Permalink

    You can make Genna Lannister Taiwanese and recast a black Edmure for all I care just send Jamie to Riverrun.

  88. barak
    Posted August 9, 2014 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Skipjack: There were quite a few black people in Medieval Europe. And there were not that many East Asians until trade routes opened up later, but there were plenty of Near Easterners. The idea that there were not people of color in Europe until the modern age is just incorrect. There’s an interesting twitter account and blogs that explains a lot of the history called medieval people of color.
    http://medievalpoc.org/

    NO. NO. NO.

    That account is run by a person who has no academic background and no knowledge necessary to make the kind of statements she does. As a result, her blog is full of absolute bullshit. 99% of what she posts is bullshit and presenting speculation as fact.

  89. Zeus
    Posted August 9, 2014 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Adrian, thank you for saying that. There are real problems in the world and people are complaining and whining about something so trivial. When I read the original post and that someone said the lack of diversity in a tv show based on some books made them “really hurt” I was floored. Seriously, it really hurts? That is straight up ridiculous. I am really hurt, yawn…..

  90. GeekFurious
    Posted August 10, 2014 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Adam: Well, it’s inspired by medieval Europe. But hey, there’s nothing more engaging than a historically-inspired setting which has been carefully modified to be completely inoffensive to modern readers, right?

    SO MUCH FAKE OUTRAGE IS TRYING TO GET OUT OF MY BODY AND INTO MY FINGERS ARRGGHHHH!!!

  91. Renly's Peach
    Posted August 10, 2014 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    PROUDWING,

    I was actually really looking forward to Genna on the show. <:c
    Mainly because I wanted Polly Walker in the role like nobody's business. Ugh, such a waste.

    Not that I'm opposed to Dorne Jaime.. I just have no clue what he could do down there other than "fight" and get into more obligatory snarky comments with Bronn.

  92. Causalis
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    So fiction should be dictated by bureucrats so that it fits the norms defined by the powers that be? Holy shit I sometimes am scared of you people. And by “you people” I mean all the mediocre white breads who seem to have alot of knowledge at their disposal, but less of the wits to process it. Yeah, you’re the ones that burn books from time to time – whenever you believe in something.

    I can somewhat understand the original commenter and her feelings, it must be really weird that you live in a certain set of values and realities and then the mainstream media presents something that does not fit in to that. I don’t have a lot of thoughts on that, but I think the fact that she loves the books and the series tells there’s still a lot she can relate to in there. Maybe it is that mr. Martin, the commenter and the story is still from the same cultural context. That said I don’t either have a lot to relate to in the series. I’ve grown up watching TV-shows in English with characters I do not recognise from my normal life and never had any real problem with that, since the quality is way better than those made in my mother’s tongue. Is it because I’m white? That’s weird, because in any meaningful essence the commenter and mr Martin have more in common with each other than with me.

    That said, the thought has crossed my mind that the east of the sea seems a little too “white” to be coherent. Not westeros that much.

  93. B
    Posted August 12, 2014 at 2:03 am | Permalink

    THANK YOU! You made a VERY good point there.

    Blind Beth,

  94. Biter the Gallant
    Posted August 12, 2014 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    PROUDWING,

    They can easily send Jaime back to King’s Landing and then to Riverrun. I hope this new journey is invented only in order to have some familiar faces in Dorne at the beginning of the new storyline and at the introduction of numerous new characters. Jaime and Bronn probably will kick some insignificant asses, Jaime will talk with his daughter and Doran Martell & Co., and then they can go back home.(And it is not necessary at all to finish Jaime’s AFFC/ADWD arc this season. First LS must be introduced, Brienne and Pod must be captured, Cersei’s regime must fall, Jaime must reject Cersei’s ask for help etc., many fans really tend to underestimate the amount of staff which is in the last two books). At least I hope it will be something like this :-) (Perhaps it is similar to the whole “rebel crows capture Bran and Co.” staff from last season: everybody was worried about it, but it didn’t altered Bran’s storyline in the end that much.)

  95. paul blake
    Posted August 12, 2014 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    It’s funny. The same people who always scream that diversity on a tv show should be a non issue are he same people who would never watch this show if it was actually diverse.

  96. paul blake
    Posted August 12, 2014 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    I think a story set in Medieval Mali during Mansa Musa’s reign or Mansa Sakura’s reign would be interesting to watch. Instead of always begging white people to integrate us into their stories, we should gain positions of power and tell our own.

  97. Biter the Gallant
    Posted August 13, 2014 at 4:03 am | Permalink

    paul blake,

    Cool :-) I would definitely enjoy a series titled Sundiata, Son of the Lion without any white actors at all far more, than seeing another Robin Hood with a “funny” coloured character pushed into it for no other reason just to make the cast more diverse, or another “Dances with Wolves” or “The Last of the Samurai” which movies pretend to be very open-minded, but naturally, the main protagonist is a white man :-)
    And on the other hand, I have never heard from anybody that e. g. Akira Kurosawa should have cast some WASP or Black guys for his samurai movies instead of Japanese actors (actually, I am sure if he would have done that, everybody would feel it is ridicolous).


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