Is Game of Thrones* Racist?

Daniel Foster, National Review, April 21, 2011

That’s the question asked with touching earnestness by Nina Shen Rastogi over at Slate: [See below.]

{snip}

Here’s my brief answer: Of course Game of Thrones is racist. Rather, of course the show’s various ethnic groups and clans are differentiated by their appearance and behavior, and of course some end up looking and acting more barbarous than others as a result. I’ll go one further: All of the characters in Game of Thrones are racist as well, and few if any suffer even the slighest admonishment for it. But wouldn’t it be queer indeed if the residents of the Western part of an Iron Age fantasy world thought that distant (and often belligerent) cultures with strange, alien habits were to be celebrated for their uniqueness? As my friend put it, imagine the schoolkids in the capital city of Kings Landing making posters to commemorate Dothraki History Week.

{snip} But the fact that earnest liberals worry so much about stuff like this has always amazed me. Don’t they realize how utterly boring and bad most ideological art is? {snip} If the arbiter of an entertainment’s worth is how well it conforms to our cultural pieties, then our culture and its entertainments are doomed to failure.

*(In case you don’t know, Game of Thrones is a new HBO show based on a series of fantasy books by George R.R. Martin. {snip}).

drogo

daenerys

Above: Jason Momoa as Khal Drogo; below: Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen.


Is HBO’s Game of Thrones Racist?

I ask this in all seriousness, because I’ve been grappling with the question ever since I blitzed through five episodes of the show this Sunday, in preparation for my guest spot on this week’s Culture Gabfest. {snip}

One of the series’ plotlines centers on Daenerys, a young, silver-haired royal-in-exile (and yes, she has “violet eyes”) whose slimy brother yearns to recapture the family’s throne. Hoping to get an invading army in exchange, the brother sells his sister in marriage to a powerful Dothraki khal, or clan leader.

The Dothraki are dark, with long hair they wear in dreadlocks or in matted braids. They sport very little clothing, bedeck themselves in blue paint, and, as depicted in the premiere episode, their weddings are riotous affairs full of thumping drums, ululations, orgiastic public sex, passionate throat-slitting, and fly-ridden baskets full of delicious, bloody animal hearts. A man in a turban presents the new khaleesi with an inlaid box full of hissing snakes. After their nuptials, the immense Khal Drogo takes Daenerys to a seaside cliff at twilight and then, against her muted pleas, takes her doggie-style.

They are, in short, barbarians of the most stereotypical, un-PC sort. As I watched, I kept thinking, “Are they still allowed to do that?”

{snip}

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  • Wayne Engle

    Nina Shen Rastogi gives her ideological bent away at the very end of the portion of her article that was quoted: “Are they still allowed to do that?”

    Yes, Ms. Rastogi, “they” still are, but the P.C. police are working on bringing that right to a screeching halt. Remember that “change we can believe in” that the Mulatto Messiah talked about three years ago when running for president? I suspect that part of that “change”, that is, if he had the power to affect it, would be to ban such productions as “Game of Thrones.” You see, the view of society, or societies, that it gives, is too uncomfortably close to the truth for liberals. The Dothraki, dark, bestial, yearning to get their hands on White girls. The White tribe, beautiful and virtuous (well, except for the slimy brother, of course; but there’s always a black sheep in any family).

    Entirely too much like Urban America vs. the White Suburbs, circa 2011. It rips the mask off political correctness, showing it in all its raw ugliness. That’s what makes White liberals like Ms. Rastogi extremely uncomfortable.

  • Spartan24

    I must have missed that indoctrination session- how can this be “racist” when both of them are white? All in all this doesnt sound like a show that I would waste my time watching. Not too historically accurate either I could not imagine anyone wearing that sort of skimpy clothing in the cool weather of the British Isles- or anywhere in Northern Europe for that matter.

  • Ben

    NO one gets to mock Games of Thrones Mr. Foster!

    May you get thrown to the evil up North!

    I guess I never thought I would say this but grey/white hair looks good on her.

  • Anonymous

    Racist or not, the show isn’t any good. The Borgias on Showtime is much better!

  • CSA4ever

    Inspired by a recent article in the ‘New Yorker’, I began to read this book. It is, refreshingly, practically free of racial political correctness. So by today’s standards, I suppose it could be called ‘racist’. The dark tribe referred to are clearly based on Mongols or Huns, not blacks. They do not sit around the campfire singing kumbaya and do not serve as embarrassing foils to the white groups, but are described as fairly crude and vicious people. All in all, I am enjoying the book a great deal. For those who, like me, would not ordinarily read ‘fantasy’, there is so far a bare minimum of it. Its more like an historical novel. Fortunately so since, after all, don’t we have enough fantasy in our news media?

  • Jeddermann.

    Do they have the Black Knight as a character?

    Or the Ambassador from some African country, a real Bantu? Or the visiting Asian potentate who brings elephants with him?

    There you go. See, I have it all figured out.

  • aj

    They sport very little clothing, bedeck themselves in blue paint, and, as depicted in the premiere episode, their weddings are riotous affairs full of thumping drums, ululations, orgiastic public sex, passionate throat-slitting, and fly-ridden baskets full of delicious, bloody animal hearts.

    ———–

    Sounds several orders of magnitude more civilized than your typical African Warlord, like say “General Butt Naked” who would charge into battle literally but naked and eat children for magical powers.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Butt_Naked

  • WR the elder

    They are, in short, barbarians of the most stereotypical, un-PC sort. As I watched, I kept thinking, “Are they still allowed to do that?”

    Note the assumption that there are guardians who “allow” “them” to do this or that. Of course the author imagines himself in such a role as the guardian. The left is totalitarian at its core.

  • Madison Grant

    Nina Shen Rastogi, a race-baiting South Asian asks “Are they still allowed to do that?”

    Yes, Nina, but not for long. Soon all our entertainment will consist of nothing but p.c. propaganda after you and your fellow invaders succeed in destroying this country.

  • Aaron

    Of course, if it wasn’t “racist,” then there would be complaints about how this is hiding the fact that people used to be racist in the past. Or something.

  • flyingtiger

    These Dothraki sound like Scotmen. Are they still allowed to do that?

  • Anonymous

    Looking at the pictures, I can’t help but notice that the wicked khal is white. To be lighter than the girl, he would have to be albino. I think it’s well established that an evil white guy is NOT racist or un-PC.

  • Bernie

    Isn’t the barbarian also a whitey? If so, what is the problem? Isn’t it mandatory in TV/movies/books for the bad guy be a white person?

  • Anonymous

    Isn’t just fascinating how people like Nina actually think this way? This isn’t a race issue, but she is so infatuated with race that she can’t watch a simple Fantasy TV show without injecting race into it.

    No, Nina. It’s not racist and people like you scare the hell out of me.

  • Up to my neck in CA.

    Surprise, she is black.

    http://www.ninashenrastogi.com/

    Who are you calling “they” you marxist? And we will do or say what every we want. You want different tv shows with different plots and characters?…go make them yourself!

  • Michael C. Scott

    I hadn’t even heard of the mini-series, but I love the books. Mr. Martin develops characters as well as Western writer McMurtry, and then kills his poor characters stone-dead. The books are not for the faint-hearted.

    In that alternate world, I’d have been walking a beat up north on the Wall until I fled out into the wastes.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, the Dothraki are supposed to be Bronzed-Skinned, but Jason Momoa is half Pacific Islander. Yet I sort of saw them in my mind as more Greek like in color than his lighter skin. Oh and though one picture isn’t always telling of ones looks, I expected Daenerys to be better looking that this.

    Anyhow, the book series is odd. IMO there are too many characters by ten, and too many protagonists dying to the point where the antagonists become the lead characters. There is at least one more book, hopefully two, but all in all I find not the content but the skill of the author in his writing that sells the book.

    After finishing the last book a month ago, the story line comes off more like a never-ending fantasy soap-opera than anything else, and I wanted it to end, but sadly it has not.

    Also guys–this is a fantasy world, not earth. These dothraki live in something more akin to the Southern steppes of Asia than Europe. But funny enough virtually all of the story happens outside the two characters shown, and after the second book has nothing to do with the dothraki anymore other than a few handmaidens to the Dragon Queen.

  • Anonymous

    The Dothraki are dark, with long hair they wear in dreadlocks or in matted braids. They sport very little clothing, bedeck themselves in blue paint, and, as depicted in the premiere episode, their weddings are riotous affairs full of thumping drums, ululations, orgiastic public sex, passionate throat-slitting, and fly-ridden baskets full of delicious, bloody animal hearts.

    So pretty much like the Celtic and Germanic peoples of Britannia and Gaul before Romans brought everyone under the Pax Romana? Alrighty then.