. Polliver. The Mountain.
Rorge. Walder Frey. Tywin Lannister. Beric Dondarrion.
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White feminism as war machine
This is Arya Stark’s ‘kill list’ from the TV phenomenon
GameofThrones. Early in the series, the young Arya
began reciting the names of those who had wronged
her. And many of them ended up dead, at the point
of Arya’s sword or those of others (in one particularly
gruesome scene she kills Walder Frey’s sons and bakes
them into a pie, which she serves to him before cutting
his throat). Arya is a
regulative ideal, is a weak excuse for its downplaying or exclusion. 3 In the current era, it is plainly ludicrous to deny the centrality of the screen, located as it is at the heart of American political life, for presidents and the people.
Today, television is powerful in many senses, even – and especially – when the subject matter is fictional. Consider the affecting experience of watching key moments in your favourite show: in GameofThrones , the fate of Ned Stark’s neck, perhaps, or Prince Oberyn’s face. Fictional television is remarkable for its narrative
One production has dominated the Northern audiovisual sector since 2009 when shooting began and that is GameofThrones (HBO, 2011–). Filmed on locations including the Giant’s Causeway, the eighteenth-century cobbled-stone alleyways of central Belfast, and at the Paint Hall Studios (part of the Titanic Studios in the Titanic Quarter), by the end of Series Seven the production had been credited with bringing a total expenditure of £166m on goods and services into the Northern Ireland economy (Northern Ireland
genre has proved so durable for so many years. It has outlived other
once-popular action-based genres: the Western, for example, more
or less disappeared as a staple television genre in the 1970s. Even the
emergence of fantasy sword-and-sorcery adventure series – Hercules,
Xena, Merlin, GameofThrones – has not displaced the costume swashbuckler in the landscape of popular television drama. This is no small
achievement for a genre often regarded as being essentially conservative – both culturally and aesthetically – and whose social politics are
, metaphors and analogy can often play a deeper role. 22 They can be powerful rhetorical tools, which are hard to resist. Consider, for example, the allure of the phrase ‘winter is coming’, popularised by GameofThrones and repeated by political elites and the public alike. Beautiful, predictable, and true, the mantra is almost irresistibly ominous.
Coupled to rhetoric, oratorical performance adds significant force to rhetoric’s appeal. Oratory involves consideration of the delivery of speech and language, including volume, tone, or intonation. The medium of
normative parameters of political life, shaping what can, could, must, and might happen in our lives and in our world. This is just as true for us – as ordinary citizens who enjoy watching television – as it is for our political leaders. Reflect for a moment on how many hours you have spent watching C-SPAN or the BBC Parliament channel. How many hours have you invested in GameofThrones or House of Cards or your favourite television show? The exploration and interrogation of popular culture and fictional television are imperative for political and social science. And
allusions and references to everything from Alice in Wonderland to GameofThrones ).
Much of this is new but it is not as if this preoccupation with the visual has emerged from nowhere. The ground was cleared some time ago by both those who worked on the aesthetics of law more broadly (Douzinas, Manderson, Goodrich) and those who took an early interest in the documentary or visual aspects of international law (often international criminal justice) from Nuremberg through to Lubanga (Lawrence Douglas’ book The Memory of Justice is a notable antecedent in this
feature of the production discourses of many television swashbucklers has been their
assertion of period authenticity: this began with The Adventures of
Robin Hood and persisted until Hornblower in the late 1990s.) I am
excluding sword-and-sorcery sagas with a magical element, such as
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena: Warrior Princess, Merlin
and GameofThrones. However, I am including Robin of Sherwood,
where the magical theme is consistent with the popular belief in magic
during the Middle Ages. To keep the length manageable, I have also
focused on the
GameofThrones offered its audiences an exceptionally rich range of characters – and, for the TV series, of actors playing them. Not simply for the mix of ages, ethnicities and sexual orientations, or of personal attributes (brave or cowardly, smart or dim, ambitious or loyal), but also for the way that the characters simply do not fall into easy archetypes or embodiments of moral attributes. GoT has often been compared with Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings , but there are such important differences between the
elements – stories about magic, ghouls and ghosts would fit the bill admirably. Despite this exclusion, it would be remiss not to mention the influence of the fantastical on oral pleadings before international courts and tribunals, where works like Alice in Wonderland , 7 GameofThrones 8 and Pirates of the Caribbean 9 have been quoted with varying rates of success. 10 Based on the viewing of many films, the following central thesis will be offered: future worlds portrayed in science fiction reproduce the tensions underlying contemporary theoretical approaches to