[SPOILER WARNINGS] Game of Thrones: The Return of the Hound & the Issues of Pandering

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Warning: Here There Be Spoilers!

Episode 7 of Game of Thrones’ 6th series –entitled The Broken Man– saw the return of fan favourite/hated Sandor “The Hound’ Clegane (played excellently as always by Rory McCann). The Hound hadn’t been seen since the end of series 4, when he was left to die by Arya after his devastating duel with Brienne of Tarth . His ultimate fate was left up in the air (in the TV series, he very much died in the book), with many fans clamouring for his return. So, apropos of nothing, the Hound suddenly returns so late into series 6.

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Yarp

What is odd is how his reappearance both felt natural and jarring.

Natural, in that the story of him being rescued by Ian McShane’s Brother Ray (a huge waste of a great actor, especially since he doesn’t even utter the word cocksucker once!) & contemplating his own violent nature and the possibility of redemption. The form of the Hound’s arc is perfect for the character, in that he finds himself rescued by a man who shows him both respect & kindness –two things that have been utterly anathema to the Hounds existence– but finds himself drawn back to his inclinations towards killing. He is given a place in a religious community who both fear & accept him, he works labour which suits his temperament but he is ill at ease with a life of peace –acting like Damocles waiting for the sword to finally drop.

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“What a bunch of measely-mouthed cocksuckers”

Yet it is a jarring return because it does not have a natural fit within the narrative.

Narratively it comes as a break in the current tension of the story. Beginning episode 7 in a way to purposely confuse the viewer, make them wonder why they are watching the scene of harmony & construction –two things that mesh against the usually themes of the show. Whilst the viewer has gotten to wonder about this tonal schism, they are shown the scarred form of the returned villain/anti-hero but not in any role or form they are used to.

This is an intentional jarring of expectations & visual setting yet it unfortunately breaks the established flow of the narrative.

It has no basic place within the current season’s arc; coming with the feel of being placed in as a breach to fit in other sudden shifts in the narrative direction.

Personal conjecture has it that since it showed the return of the Brotherhood Without Banners –who until this point had not been seen since the 3rd series– it is purposed to unite the Hound, Brienne (who is currently on her way to the Riverlands to recruit the Black Fish to fight for Sansa Stark) & Jamie Lannister in capture by the Brotherhood so Lady Stoneheart, née the resurrected Catelyn Stark, can have her revenge on all who betrayed her or served her enemies. Which is combining how characters are last seen within the books A Feast For Crows & A Dance of Dragons. This plays into bringing the Frays back into the fold & having Jamie, whose character arc was skewed with weird trips to Dorne & conflict with the High Sparrow, go to Riverrun to aid the Fray’s in their failed siege (which also brings the other fan favourite Bronn back to our screens),

In this writer’s very (very) unhumble opinion, bringing a character as looming in the minds of the television adaption as the Hound carries the odour of pandering.

Whilst it does fit that he could have survived his fight with Brienne and fall from the cliff, his arc should have been more naturally ended. Serving as a point of evolution of Arya as she chooses not to kill him because she both respected & hated him. This possible forced merging of divergent storylines & character arcs.

Yet the Hound is unneeded for such a resolution.

He has served his narrative purpose but his fate was left ambiguous. This meant that many fans & viewers could wedge their desires for his return into the conversations around the show. After the relatively poor reception of the 5th season, one could speculate that the show’s forerunners have been saving a return of such a divisive character within the fan community for a point that will garner maximum interest as the 6th series steams towards its conclusion. Thus making the Hound’s return both pandering & exploitative.

With the show’s forerunner recent announcing that they want to end the show in 2018 with the 8th series, possibly making seasons 7 & 8 shorter in the amount of episodes for each, one can see why they would be in a rush to draw in elements of the books (both written & forthcoming) to see the entirety of the story reach a satisfactory conclusion. Yet to bring in unnecessary threads, be in the return of the Hound or strange asides to fill in character happenings, chokes the already ongoing story as well as breaks the view of the narrative. Many viewers have complained on social media about how Arya’s arc with the Faceless Men drags on to nowhere –partly because of how different it is from the books but mainly because it feels boring in how its told– & this is something that could have easily been repaired if the showrunners had actually spent time on solidifying character arcs & the overall plot instead of shifting things to suddenly pander to viewers’ supposed expectation.

Which brings this writer onto what they consider the most extreme & vexing of Game of Thrones’ pandering: replacing proper storylines & scenes with pointless female nudity.

Cast your mind back to the events of episode 7. Do you remember the suddenly interlude with Yara & Theon Greyjoy as they with their band of reavers partied it up in what may have been Barvos (it was never made clear to this writer where they were). They were at a brothel, so naturally this meant there had to be lots & lots of naked women around & Yara had to be transformed into either bisexual or a lesbian (neither of which are an issue if they have always been a constant of the character before that moment).

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Les Be friends?

Now, do you recall what the scene was actually about? What purpose it had in the greater narrative scheme or even what Yara & Theon spoke about?

If not it was probably because you were distracted by Yara sucking on some whore’s tits.

Game of Thrones & HBO in general have built reputations for themselves as providers of adult content. Unfortunately, in the US ‘adult content’ tends to mean tits & violence.

Something that garnered Game of Thrones a lot of mainstream attention is that it did not shy away from either yet once that genie was released from the bottle, HBO could no longer tone it down. They had to keep pushing such angles because that is how they viewed audience expectations of the show –that they only watched it because titties would somehow be involved.

Now, this is not a prudish complaint.

There is nothing wrong with nudity in media but it has to serve a narrative point.

One can go on about how it can be seen as either empowerment & life saving or if it is entirely exploitative & vulgar yet that is not the crux of this writer’s vexation.

The issue at hand is how the insertion of scenes dedicated entirely to sex & nudity take away from important character scenes & story arcs. It is like the story is proceeding at an excellent pace, hitting all the right points for audience engagement, when it all screeches to a halt to grab our collective heads & say “hey look! Here some titties! Maybe some arse or bush! LOOK AT IT! LOOK AT MATURE WE ARE!!! All done? Good. Now back to the plot”.

This writer cannot be burdened by writing out every example in every episode & ever series yet the ones that stand out the greatest are Podrick’s visit to Little Finger’s brothel to lose his virginity as well as the pirate Salladhor Saan telling jokes in the bath to two prostitutes. Neither of these scenes served any narrative purpose. They were meant for ahem titillation & breaking of heavy tones that may or may not drag down an episode. Yet they have no function that could not have been fulfilled in other ways that did not have nudity as their centrepieces.

Yet this supposed obsession with associating nudity with maturity can only reach so far before it simply does become blatant pandering & exploitation of audience so socially starved of the normality of sex & nudity that they come to believe that any expression of it is a healthy taboo that one can indulge in with a sense of collective joyous guilt (which is also how shite like Fifty Shades of Grey become a brief zeitgeist but that’s an article for another day). One can endlessly argue that the over moralising of nudity & sex is something so profoundly toxic to social discourse that it overflows into & corrupts so many other aspects of society yet that wavers from this writer’s point.

The complaint remains that the majority of nudity within Games of Thrones is superfluous at best & distracting at worst.

It all remains within the contention that over pandering to fan demands/expectations can lead to a creative deathspiral for creative work because you, as a creative entity, are no longer controlling where your work goes but eternally responding to the whims of a vocal but very fickle few.

Maybe there will be a grand pay-off with the Hound’s return. Maybe it all threads together vital pieces of the story & direct us towards a glorious end. Yet his reappearance does not speak of confidence within the current format of the show. That the individual pieces have the strength to stand upon their merits & there is a wanting of faith in how both the season & show may conclude.

Yet this writer does find Rory McCann layered portrayal of the Hound enjoyable, given an emotional depth rare to how such a violent & unforgiving character is usually depicted upon our screens. So there is some measure of assurance that the Hound’s return is a portent for a strong series ending rather than a horrid death-flails of a program the showrunners & writers are losing faith in.

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Rant: The Return of the Fett – Star Wars, fanboyism & Boba Fett

This is the kinda of shit fanboys image Boba Fett doing.

Remember: this is just an angry rant from a bitter ex-fan, it doesn’t invalid your own opinion -even if it is wrong, flavoured by false nostalgia or/& goes against your masturbatorial fantasies

When they announced new Star Wars films that I would spew with rage if Boba Fett made a return.

Whelp, images popping up of Boba being back & it’s all because of fan demands.

Boba had the tiniest appearances in 2 films & was killed off like a chump in Return of the Jedi but fans keep sucking on his nuts like he’s got the fattest dick in the room.

I have a hypothesis as to why he’s so popular:
Before the release of The Empire Strikes Back, Boba was revealed in the abomination that was the infamous Star Wars Christmas Special before he was pushed in marketing for the franchise, appearing in shopping malls & other promotional material. When he finally appears in the films, he doesn’t really do anything.

My hypothesis is that because Boba is a Tabula Rasa -in that he doesn’t do anything of substance in the films (pretty much stand around until he gets dropped into the Sarlacc’s Pit & I’m not including the bastardised updated versions of the original films) & has a mask concealing his face- fans (mainly just pubescent boys) use him as a self insertion character.

That means that since he does nothing they (the fans) can make him do what they want. They can give him the most badarse backstory there ever was, have him fuck the hottest alien babes (why are they always Twi’leks, other than one was a dancer in Jabba’s palace?) & have him slaughter any enemy that he faces.

He was repeatedly resurrected in fan fiction but officially brought back for the comics & Extended Universe novels, being spat out by the Sarlacc because it couldn’t digest his armour. He than has contradictory adventures, either to get revenge on Solo or work with him or just go about banging chicks & scoring bounties (banging bounties & scoring chicks, one or the other).

Yet this Christ-like resurrection of the fanboy favourite wasn’t enough. The uber fanboys cried out for more of him & when we do get ,oe, it’s the utterly munted story of Boba being a clone & then how he wanted revenge against Mace Windu for beheading his “dad“.

The uber fanboys weren’t really happy with this, so Lucasfilms/Disney announced that he gets his own film -set between Revenge of the Sith & A New Hope– as well as appearances in the upcoming trilogy.

I get that people love him & that Boba is based on the Western archetype of the stoic, silent bounty hunter who never rests until he’s got his mark but there is such thing as too much fan investment in a character. The imagination exceeds the reality & when they do make him more fleshed, no one can be satisfied because that can’t beat what they already have in their minds.

Once again it seems that fanboyism & nostalgia have grabbed any chance of getting fresh ideas into a stagnating franchise by the nuts & have twisted them until Lucasarts/Disney screamed for mercy.

What Boba Fett realy does best: dying.

This Ain’t Your Grandpa’s Muppets – TV Critique & Devil’s Advocate: The [Modern] Muppets.

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The modernised Muppets

From my earliest memories I have been a fan of The Muppets & the works of Jim Henson. I have almost annual viewings of The Dark Crystal & Labyrinth as well as watch other Muppet movies whenever the mood takes me.

Like so many of my generation, my love of The Muppets started with the children’s educational show Sesame Street as well as regular repeats of The Muppet Show. I endured the saccharine nature of Fraggle Rock but fell in love with Jim’s more mature works, such as the incredible first series of The Storyteller (which gave me a love of the actor John Hurt‘s amazing voice & mish-mash of tales in The Jim Henson Hour.

Jim has been dead for 25 years now, so there are a few generations that have missed out on the raw, wild & fertile imagination of Jim Henson & his loyal crew.

His work has been carried on, for the most part, & the Jim Henson Company & Creature Workshop have been involved in pushing the limits of technology to create fantastical creatures for the screen -both big & small.

Through all this, The Muppets have endured -mostly through a strong sense of nostalgia- yet have been tainted by some of the cheap (both cost & emotionally) feeling productions that Disney have pumped out.

The nadir of this was the gods awful Muppets Tonight (1996-1998) as well as some of the straight to DVD stuff that Disney pumped out in order to hold onto the franchise.

Yet the memory of The Muppets -especially the stoicism of Kermit The Frog– has endured. People quietly asked for a new Muppets show, much like the old one (& unlike Muppets Tonight), so Disney & (US) ABC have given us one.

But it’s not the one that people remember.

It’s not like it at all.

& this upsets people & makes them put words into Jim’s mouth like he is one of his own puppets.

I’ve heard people saying “oh, an adult Muppets! It’s not what Jim would have wanted!” & they are both utterly wrong & ignorant of what The Muppets are.

Jim loved adult humour. He loved subversive, risky & dark jokes. He loved innuendo & word plays. You only have to see the original Muppet Show & Muppet movies to realise that fact.

The reason most people take the assumption that Jim wouldn’t like a more adult & mature Muppet show is because they primarily grew up with either The Muppet Babies or the pap that Disney & other companies pushed out after Jim’s death.

Yes, I am assuming that Jim would love that his Muppets have returned to their more adult roots based upon previous evidence of his works & writings. It’s just I’m not sure that he would have enjoyed what the current mature Muppets is.

The premise of the new Muppet show (simply called The Muppets in bad type writer font as you see in the picture at the top of the article) is a show much in the vein of many recent “trage-comedies” like The Office (the awful US version) or Parks And Recreation where there is a supposed documentary crew following characters around. This allows the characters to make asides to the camera, break the 4th wall or intercut the dissonance between words & actions. They’ve also made many changes to the characters, such as having Kermit more bitter & cynics, worn up by his break up to Miss Piggy (which news media & the interwebs went mental over despite it obviously being info released to help hype the show’s premiere).

It’s these changes to well established characters & roles that seems to have many people upset. I can see their points but it wasn’t this new, darker tone to Kermit, Piggy & others that got me. For me it was the miscues of the actual characterisation of the individual Muppets.

The aspects are all there –Fozzie is stll failing at his jokes, Gonzo is still weird, Statler & Waldorf are still heckling, Kermit is trying to be a calm island in a sea of panic- but how they are portrayed feels wrong.

To me, it’s the change in voices. They seems off. Like they are doing bad impressions of the original cast.

I mean, Jim hasn’t voiced any of his creations in 25 years but the new crew just don’t seem to have the vocal cues or forms right -giving it all an askew angle.

Maybe this is good. Maybe it will help break older people like me from nostalgia’s teat. I don’t know.

The thing that really got to me was the lack of spark.

The change of style & setting means that they can do things differently yet they still want to keep the individual characters in their little pigeonholes -such as Sam Eagle still trying to make everyone moral & wholesome & the Electric Mayhem being utterly out of it at the best of times. The same goes with trying to wedge in special human guest stars each week. If they dropped the celebrity aspect or polished it up a bit, it would work wonders for the new formula.

It’s also very cynical & bleak in it’s outlook -which does go very much against Jim’s positivist outlook on life. He believed that people should love each other & get along, where as this new formula relies on keeping the dysfunction going without any resolution or nicety about it.

But let’s not get things wrong, when the show is funny it’s bloody funny.

It still has some incredible wit & the more mature tone allows them to fit in some wonderful little entendre throughout. Great ones being Fozzie talking about online dating & his reaction to meeting his girlfriend’s bigoted parents to Zoot crossing lines of ethics & taste.

Unfortunately, having such moments of brilliance against the mundane formula & plot of Kermit trying to run a show & deal with Piggy post breakup whilst an unseen documentary crew wander around shows how unbalanced it is.

I want to see them work on the core strengths of the Muppets & the humour that they bring. I want this show to succeed & go on. I don’t want another Muppets Tonight situation.

I really do encourage people to watch & give it a go. Don’t let the new formula & mature outlook get to you. If you can look past them to what makes The Muppets awesome, then you’re sure to get a laugh out of it all.


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Rant: All The Effect of Pissing Into The Wind

A few nights ago, I trolled some GamerGate guy on Twitter because I was bored & wanted to see what kind of reaction I’d get for asking a simple question (“Why do you complain about ethics in journalism yet don’t attack Fox/New Corp?“). The response was basically tepid, with them trying to turn the argument back on me, using the usual Strawmen and Ad Hominem attacks. I responded with quips because couldn’t be bothered actually making a point & then brought out the heavy hitting slams when was called a “douchebag” (which makes no sense since a douchebag is a portable shower & they should be calling me a “vaginal douche” but that still means I get to see pussy all of the time).

Any-hoo, I dismissed it all until I got a message a little while before from some GamerGate scumbag saying that they tried to take down my blog & will keep doing so until I stop bitching about hypersexualisation & mocking the GamerGate movement -both in my blog & on Twitter.

I replied with half a page of laughter (“bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!! Et cetera) before saying “Really? You tried to take down my blog? News for ya, mate, no one cares about my blog. It has as much effect on public/private opinion as a gnat’s fart against a nuclear blast. You’re wasting your fucking time but go ahead if you think it will achieve anything. In the meantime, continue to toss one off into your wank-rag as you adjust your Trilby & continue to claim disempowerment as you abusive women online.”

Was tempted to add an invitation for them to settle their issues face to face but that would be futile as they often backdown in the face of masculine aggression -because I’m not a woman they can threaten to rape, DoXX &/or abuse.

Well, you pretty much have to laugh at anyone who thinks pissing into the wind makes any difference to what they’re trying to achieve.

Anyway, here’s a reaction picture to end this with as a I go laugh some more.

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Rant: & They Took Us Down *Updated*

How the fan community pretty much reacts to anything.
Update

*Nyaa has been restored. Seems that they migrated their servers & changed their web-address from .eu to .se (amend bookmarks). this may be a temporary solution to an ongoing issue of disgruntled pricks using DDoS attacks but for the moment at least we have our torrents back.

But this whole incident does prove how much people get the shits when free stuff that they are not entitled to is taken away from them.*

Popular anime torrent site Nyaa.eu & some known fansub -such as Commie & Horridsubs- pages have been taken down in confirmed DDoS attack from unknown sources.

Some claim that it’s the Japanese government as part of their latest anti-piracy campaign, others say it’s the same group that hacked Sony & then made a bomb threat against the airline carrying Sony’s US branch CEO, whilst others say it’s merely a group of script kiddies doing it for the LuLz.

At this time it’s uncertain who is responsibility but the fan community is dealing with it in their usual fashion: throwing blame, complaining about how bad the subs are & saying random racist/misogynist things.

Unfortunately, Directed Denial of Service attacks are becoming all to common in this day & age. Their reasons range from political attacks where nations take cyber swipes at each other or groups such as Anonymous trying to take down government websites to the aforementioned Lulz Seekers who just want to watch the world burn.

Whomever begins these attacks for whatever pathetically selfish reasons, they always have unintended consequences.

Several months ago, my favourite manga hosting website Manga Trander was supposedly taken down by a DDoS & hack perpetrated by a pack of so-called fans reacting against the amount of yaoi & similar material on the site; yet were added by people with more malicious means in mind.

Similarly, the sting of the infamous hack on Sony’s PSN in 2011 which caused over 77 million users to have their personal information access is something still fresh in the minds of so many.

The internet is rife with unintended consequences. Often because supposed anonymity means people do not think that they can be easily caught or punished, so they often fire off volleys where they may, hoping that they’ll hit anything. Any chaos that spirals out from there can’t be their fault, so they keep doing it until friendly fire makes a claim on their activities.

This, naturally, is hyperbole but it still rings true.

Whomever is committing these attacks, they will not have the consequences that they wish.

If it’s the Japanese government, the torrentors will move elsewhere & not draw so much attention to themselves. If it be Lulseekers, then they’ll face comeuppance soon enough after they start bragging.

Either way, it’s a drag on an already fractured community that is unneeded.

Plus, if daddy don’t get his anime fix, he may just turn nasty.