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The King demands your vote

[ 87 ] November 5, 2012 |

I’m far too refined to write about something as petty and droll as a Presidential election, but I thought I’d share this utterly unrelated series of images I concocted for my Game of Thrones class. The idea is simple: this one character, Joffrey, believes he should sit on the Iron Throne because

BECAUSE I LOOK KINGLY

As if looking like someone central casting would consider a king should be a consideration. But there are more substantive reasons he believes he should have the Iron Throne, for example

BECAUSE I WANT IT

Why does he want it? Because

BECAUSE THEY PROMISED

I’m not sure that’s a good rea—

BECAUSE I WANT TO BE KING

Calm down, little lordling. Nothing can stop you from being crown—

BECAUSE FRAUD ACORN WHITE WALKERS

I wouldn’t worry about them. What was it you told me earlier?

BECAUSE THE OTHER GUY IS PROBABLY

Exactly. All kneel before Joffrey, scion of greatness, sole hope for the realm!

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  1. SEK says:

    Before the Donalde shits his drawers, let me say for the record that I didn’t actually concoct this for my class.

  2. Darek says:

    You know, there is some physical resemblance between Joff and Ryan… and they’re both petulant little shits.

    This can only mean one thing. King! King! Ryan King!

    • Jameson Quinn says:

      I want to see Joffrey with a backwards baseball cap now. Any skilled photoshoppers in the house?

    • Murc says:

      Tangent: the Iron Islanders, despite the fact that Martin has made them somewhat exaggeratedly brutal compared to the Saxons/Jutes/Vikings he draws them from, actually have semi-democratic traditions that are in some ways superior to the norms the more ‘continental’ inspiration the people in mainland Westeros follow.

      Traditionally, the King of the Iron Islands had to be mooted; that cry of ‘$NAME King!’ was used to acclaim a candidate at the moot. Granted, such a moot would only include the landed/wealthy elite of the Iron Islands, but it meant that every new King had to be broadly acceptable to a coalition representing the whole of his kingdom and, more importantly, would need to make bargains and cut deals with them, thus making his rule far from absolute.

      • There’s a great bit where Tyrion is gathering up the clansfolk of the Mountains of the Moon (the crazy Capital One viking folks), and mentions that one of the signs of how backward they are is that in their council meetings, everyone, including women, have a right to speak!

        Kind of a trip to hear democratic forms of government discussed as an weird hillbilly pastime that no civilized person would consider for a second.

        • Murc says:

          Kind of a trip to hear democratic forms of government discussed as an weird hillbilly pastime

          They honestly kind of were, really.

          In the western world, historically, it was the barbarian hillbillies of the north (northern and western Europe was considered a backwater until relatively recently) where the settled peoples weren’t very far from a tribal structure that had what we’d recognize as pseudo-democratic norms; you still had a Big Man in charge, but he had a lot of trouble ruling arbitrarily because he was ruling a people that were used to having a say in things.

          • True. It’s just a novelty.

            • Mayur says:

              Well, it’s worth noting that the Great Northern Menace (a/k/a the wildlings) are the ones who clearly have the superior views (from our secular democratic perspective) on government, marriage, and property.

              • joel hanes says:

                The wildlings are running from the Great Northern Menace, or placating it with sacrifice a la Craster.

                • Mayur says:

                  I mean in terms of how the citizens of the realm think of them. That was meant to be mildly facetious.

                • joel hanes says:

                  Apologies.
                  Engineer here.
                  Some of us tend to speak up with unwontedly serious responses to not-serious questions.

              • I don’t agree. I think GRRM is critiquing both “othering” and the idea of the “noble savage.”

                Yes, the Wildlings elect kings. But they also believe in marital rape and aggressive warfare on civilian populations. I’m not down with either of those as a secular democrat.

                • Mayur says:

                  As with almost everything else in ASoIaF, that applies to all sides involved.

                  Marriage as property right is also “marital rape,” and moreover it is pointed out in the books numerous times that wildling women don’t go with men they don’t want.

                  “You can own a woman or a knife, never both.”

                  The wildlings engage in warfare on civilian populations in order to get resources. That describes everyone in Westeros at least.

                  I also think that critiques of the “noble savage” trope are trivial at this point. No one is describing the wildlings as prelapsarian innocents, and we really don’t often do this in literature. (Well, maybe GRRM’s own presentation of the Children of the Forest…)

                  Rather, I hold with my original statement: GRRM is highly critical of the European-ish model of political and social relations that he presents in “mainstream” Westeros culture, and thereby does engender a fair amount of sympathy for democratic ideals as voiced by wildling and other “outsider” characters (bastards, refugees, fugitives, cripples, etc.).

                • Stealing women by force is not legal in Westeros and rape outside of marriage is a crime. Among the wildlings, it’s a marriage proposal. As Craster proves, Ygritte is a bit blind about her own nationalism.

                  In the south, when people raid and pillage, the King is supposed to send people out to stop them – hence Beric Dondarrion.

                • Mayur says:

                  Craster isn’t at all typical of the wildlings, though. They’re crying out for the rule of law, and Craster is an excellent example of that lack, but it’s pretty clear that most wildlings don’t behave like him.

                  Also, there are plenty of instances of rape south of the Wall and little evidence that it happens among the wildlings. Ygritte may be blind to the faults of her own culture but to the extent that we get anecdotes about the wildlings, women being forced more than they are in “civilized” lands doesn’t feature.

      • Oh, on the Iron Islands, I wonder if we could critique the Kingsmoot from a campaign finance perspective?

        • Julian says:

          I would just like to say that raceforthethrone is fucking awesome and may be my downfall, because I have work to do and can’t afford to spend hours reading intensely interesting deconstructions of my favorite books series.

          Take your poison elsewhere, death merchant!

      • Doug says:

        “superior to the norms the more ‘continental’ inspiration the people in mainland Westeros follow”

        A larger share of the population of Poland could vote for king than could vote for the Parliament of the UK.

        • Dave says:

          Yet, at the same time, rather fewer of the British population [or indeed the Irish] were actually enserfed.

          Anyway, what’s with taking a pseudomedieval fantasy as anything except what it is?

  3. Leeds man says:

    Who told the sorry little sod that he looks like a king? Apart from his mum, I mean.

  4. arghous says:

    What, Khal Drogo is making a play for the throne (I’ve only seen the first two episodes so far)?

    Yes We Athjahakar!

  5. Barry Freed says:

    Winter is Coming.

  6. All this whining about King Joffrey.

    Look, Wyldfirebaggers: The dark art have provided Lord Stannis with his armies and paved his path to our door. For a man in service to such powers to sit on the iron throne, I can think of nothing worse.

    • I say it’s the true king who seeks to defend the realm before he wins it.

    • Jameson Quinn says:

      If I actually had to vote between Joffrey and Stannis, I’d pick Stannis in a heartbeat. IOKIYAR is better than an incompetent insecure domineering sadist.

      • anniecat45 says:

        “IOKIYAR is better than an incompetent insecure domineering sadist.”

        They aren’t the same thing?

        • Mayur says:

          How is Stannis an (R)?

          I’d consider “harsh, but fair” a serious tradeup from the GOP line.

          • Jameson Quinn says:

            “I’m right, therefore black magic I would abhor from others is OK for me”

            • Mayur says:

              Well, technically BLOOD magic as opposed to BLACK magic. And isn’t it pretty clearly not to Stannis’s taste anyway? I mean, they somehow manage not to burn anyone really okay in the course of the books so far. The traitorous Hand, Rattleshirt…

              • Mayur says:

                Sorry, can’t figure out how to edit…

                Stannis’s major problem doesn’t seem to be that he’s immoral, but rather that he’s mistaken. He thinks he’s Azor Ahai reborn and seems to accept that as a mantle of responsibility rather than an assumption of power (which is a morally superior position to being after power for power’s sake, as are most of the players in GRRM’s universe); it’s just that Melisandre picked the wrong guy despite having genuine powers of foresight. Likewise, he agrees to the burnings but he’s clearly unhappy about allowing them; any time he gets an out (e.g. Edric Storm) he goes with it. He thinks that the prophecy is real, that it requires blood, that he has to reward his knights with lands along the Wall in order to make the North secure, etc. Those aren’t immoral positions; they’re misapprehensions. Likewise to the entire validity of his claim in the first place. Stannis IS the rightful heir to the Iron Throne if you assume that the Targaryens either forfeited their claim (thanks to Aerys’s madness and abuse of power) or don’t plan on making one.

                Stannis (along with Young Griff) is one of the characters who makes it so difficult for me to read these books. He’s really not a bad guy at all by the standards of this world, but it’s pretty clear that he isn’t going to make it to the end once Dragon Girl shows up.

          • JoshA says:

            Dunno about an R generally, but he does remind me of Mittens specifically—he inspires no one, but can become an acceptable choice for his faction once the more loved but perhaps less suitable wildcards are dispatched. He once governed a land that is not much respected by his faction, he feels he governed it well and is angry he is not given more respect for it. The people in that land don’t exactly agree, his governance was not respected by the time it ended.

            He isn’t exactly incompetent, but he follows such a predictable line of attack that at times he finds himself on the wrong end of horses and bayonets, so to speak, when his opponent has anticipated his move and prepared a counterstrike.

            I guess Mitt would have had to convert to evangelical Christianity to make it a slightly even more apt comparison.

  7. OmerosPeanut says:

    The closest analogy I can think of would have Firebaggers supporting Balon Greyjoy for the throne because a solid decade or two of Ironmen raping and plundering the kingdom would convince the nobles to support the king it truly needs: Aemon Targaryen. Of course he’ll be alive when we call on him to rule, and of course people will want him for the position.

    • Murc says:

      Oddly, this is precisely Varys’ strategy with regard to Aegon and/or Daenarys; to make things so awful, so shittily bad in Westeros, that the people cry out for a savior he then provides.

      Seems to be working, in the context of the books.

      • mr. sc says:

        Oddly, this is precisely Varys’Baron Vladimir Harkonnen’s strategy with regard to AegonBeast Rabban and/or DaenarysFeyd-Rautha Harkonnen; to make things so awful, so shittily bad in WesterosArrakis, that the people cry out for a savior he then provides.

        Seems to be working, in the context of the booksfails miserably

        • L2P says:

          Of course, Harkonnen fails largely because an alternative savior was handily provided in the form of Paul Atreides. Martin’s universe is lacking in Kumquat Haagen Daaz to save the day . . . so far.

        • Church says:

          Spoiler: Varys is a Faceless Man. He’s going to serve the realm by sparing them all the burden of living.

        • JazzBumpa says:

          How do we know that Varys is serving the realm, rather than simply acting as Targaryen loyalist?

          • witless chum says:

            (Slight spoilers)
            I think Varys is serving his friend Illyrio. They came up on the mean streets of Pentos together. That makes a lot more sense of Varys stirring the pot than anything else. Why Illyrio cares about who sits the Iron Throne is the tough question.

            Personally, I like the crackpot theory that Aegon VI is actually Illyrio’s son by his deceased wife who is actually a Blackfyre (Targaryen bastards from the period before the book) whom he’s passing off as the long-dead heir. That’s all speculation, based on Illyrio’s somewhat odd behavior in A Dance With Dragons when he’s taking Tyrion to meet the boat. And the fact that we don’t get any details on whom Illyrio’s wife was, just that he’s still very devoted to her memory.

      • Mayur says:

        Not really. The strategy is pretty orthodox counter-revolution. Varys is just eliminating (or, in the case of Ned, collaborating in the elimination of) anyone who is competent and decent enough to keep the realm together despite the fact that the ruling family is a bunch of a-holes.

        The analogy to the US would be if we had people out there making sure that the Huntsmans and Bruce Bartletts of the world were kneecapped. Said analogy obviously doesn’t hold because the people in power are perfectly capable of excluding those folks themselves.

  8. Uncle Ebeneezer says:

    Sometimes casting amazes me. Before Joffrey uttered a single word, I already hated him more than any other character.

    • Murc says:

      I actually kind of feel bad for the kid, and I hope he’s just enough of a good actor that that face of his is just an expression he puts on for the cameras.

      Because he has a really punchable face. Everything about it says ‘I am a douchebag.’ And I kind of hope that’s not how he looks in real life.

      Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) is the same way; he gives interviews and you listen to him and you’re like ‘this is a genuinely cool guy, he seems so nice’ and then you look at his face and think that he and his preppie frat-boy buddies would look more at home in a bar trying to roofie freshmen.

  9. SEK says:

    Just so you know: this has been linked by Reddit, so if you see a troll’s comment before I have a chance to delete it, remember: don’t feed the trolls.

    Or if you must, feed them pancakes.

  10. rea says:

    I’m not sure that’s a good rea

    I’m not sure, either.

  11. M. Bouffant says:

    Just ’cause he started & ran a dance co. for a few yrs. isn’t enough reason he should be a king.

  12. witless chum says:

    This reminds me a bit of show casting that annoyed me. In the books, Renly is supposed to look like the very image of a king of Westeros, just like Robert did when he was younger.

    SPOILERS FOR SEASON 2 of the show/A Clash of Kings

    The show casting Gethin Anthony and portraying him as much less impressive in public undercuts the drama when he gets offed by shadow baby. It would have helped sell the drama, too, because awesome-looking Renly compared to Stannis would have helped sell the idea that Renly was much more powerful, given that they don’t have the budget to convey the advantage in numbers over Stannis visually.

    • Murc says:

      It wasn’t just the casting.

      I still don’t understand the narrative choices they made with regard to Renly in the show. Renly in the novels was shallow, but he was also supremely self-confident and he radiated that. He wasn’t awkward or unsure about anything in his life.

      I don’t have a problem with them changing things, per se, but they don’t really DO anything with it. And, well… I feel it might have been sort of hinky that the guy they turned from ‘powerful, commanding, and charismatic’ to ‘sensitive, tortured, wanting to please his lover’ just HAPPENED to be the gay guy. You know?

      • witless chum says:

        I know. Not Mel Gibson with Braveheart levels of homophobia or anything, but a little weird.

        Yup, it was the portrayal, too. And you’re abosolutely right. I don’t have a problem with changes in adaptations, but that one seemed to be for the worse.

        The whole manipulated by Loras thing would also have played better if he’d been commanding and confident in public, but unsure of what to do in private. Either, really, would have been a better choice. You never get a sense of Loras and Renly’s relationship dynamics in the books at all, but I’d bet it was more balanced of a partnership if we’d gotten that POV.

        • Murc says:

          Frankly, making Loras and Renly’s relationship explicit was unnecessary. In the books it was wonderfully subtle and it only really relates to the plot in terms of how Loras interacts with Brienne.

          Basically the changes they made bring nothing at all to the table, and worse, they waste time doing it.

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