Westworld – bara en ny Game of Thrones?

Westworld4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) De som hävdar att Westworld bara är en ny variant av Game of Thrones (GoT) gör detta då våldtäkter och övergrepp mot kvinnor är mycket vanligt i Game of Thrones, speciellt i de inledande säsongerna och de inledande avsnitten av Westworldverkar det likadant. I motsats till i GoT får vi dock inte se några explicita våldtäktscener i Westworld, bara implicerade som inte sker i bild. men Westworld är våldsamt och övergreppen mot både män och kvinnor otaliga.

Den miljö som skapats i temaparken Westworld är en fascistoid fantasi för heterosexuella män som gillar våld och sexuella övergrepp. Det känns som ett mycket begränsat sätt att se på mänskligheten. Ett obehagligt och otrevligt sätt som självklart kommer att resultera i olika former av uppror från besökare som tycker det är obehagligt och från de förtryckta androiderna som tvingas leva i sina loppar och återställs varje natt genom att minnena raderas.

De styrande över temaparken framställs som kallhamrade kapitalister där vinsten är allt. En av dem, den ena av de ursprungliga skaparna, Robert Ford, är en ren psykopat. Han spelas av mästaren på sådan roller, Anthony Hopkins. Människor och framförallt män beskrivs som starkt känslomässigt störda med bara två intressen, sex och våld. Det är djupt obehagligt och otrevligt. Men även hans personlighet kan en ta fel på om en bara sett de första avsnitten. Det är en djupe obehaglig rollfigur som Hopkins spelar.

De första avsnitten ger fog för sådan kritik som framförs av Karolina Bergström i ETC:

I HBO-serien Westworld, där vi får följa livet i en futuristisk vilda western-nöjespark där besökare kan leva ut sina lustfyllda drifter med hjälp av följsamma robotar, får publiken redan i första avsnittet se en kvinnlig android brutalt släpas bort av en manlig besökare inför en förmodad våldtäkt. Samtidigt får hennes teknologiska medsystrar iklä sig rollerna som prostituerade i kulisstadens lilla saloon, och i den patriarkala kontexten blir man nästan överlycklig över att se en ynka kvinnlig robotcowboy passera förbi. När stadens inofficiella bordellmamma tas in för teknisk kontroll i parkens huvudcenter kommenterar en manlig kontrollant hennes utseende med: ”Jag skulle knulla henne, skulle inte du det?” varpå hans manliga kollega svarar: ”Hon är en hora – hon ska inte verka pryd”. Och när samma robot inte fungerar som den ska sammanfattar en anställd saken med: ”Lämna henne på golvet över natten – någon kanske vill ha en sista omgång med henne”.

Liknande rimligt kritik framförs av Aly Horn på HelloGiggles:

The writers seem to have lamp-shaded the problem without even knowing it: part of the issue with the way Game of Thrones and other shows utilize rape is that the women who are subjected to it don’t get to DEAL with it. It doesn’t become part of their lives. We don’t see how deeply it impacts their experiences and thoughts. We don’t see rape portrayed as something that significantly impacts the narrative, which is a HUGE ISSUE.

The larger implication of this is hopefully something that will be confronted with great sensitivity and consideration (although given HBO’s track record, I’m not holding my breath), but Dolores and all of the other hosts are to a certain extent being used as prostitutes, both literally and ~metaphorically~.

We already see the seeds of Dolores and other hosts beginning to remember things that have happened to her in the past (her father, YIKES) and so certainly all of this is going to have to be addressed in some fashion. It’s just important to keep in mind that the constant use of rape as a plot device dangerously perpetuates the idea that rape isn’t a big deal, which is how we end up with certain disasters in the real world.

Det är svårt att inte håll med om denna kritik, men…

Ju fler avsnitt som går, ju mer komplicerat blir det. Ju svårare blir det. Både Dolores Abernathy, den kvinnliga androiden var föräldrar mördas och som förmodligen våldtas visar sig ha gamla minnen som inte raderas varje natt. Hon kommer ihåg gamla loopar och händelselinjer med mera. Hon börjar ta makten över sitt eget liv. På samma sätt är det med ”bordellmamman” Maeve Millay som snart kan väcka sig själv utanför parkens område och tar makten över de män som Bergström citerar ovan. Män som lever i den verkliga världen. Hon skaffar sig möjligheter att omprogrammera sig själv och andra androider.

Det framkommer också snart att en del av programmerarna också kan vara androider medan det blir allt mer oklart vem den obehaglige mannen i svart egentligen är (spelas mycket bra av Ed Harris). Han är i alla fall troligen en besökare, en människa då han inte kan dödas. Kanske är han egentligen William (Jimmi Simpson) fast i en annan tidslinje. William är en man som förälskar sig i Dolores Abernathy, spelad av Evan Rachel Wood som gör det väldigt bra), och bestämmer att hon är en person med verkliga känslor och intressen trots att hon är en android.

Två kvinnor eller kvinnliga androider, Dolores Abernathy och Maeve Millay, går i täten för att ändra historien inne i temaparken och kommer därmed sannolikt också att påverka det som finns utanför. De förändrar temaparken och verkligheten. De kan dessutom höra till de androider som ursprungligen programmerades av den andre skaparen av parken, Arnold Weber. Arnold Weber har dött under oklara omständigheter, men klart är att han var osams med Robert Ford om vilken väg temaparken skulle ta.

Ju fler avsnitt som sänds desto märkligare känns Bergströms kritik måste jag säga även om det finns en hel del naket, egentligen främst en kvinna, Maeve Millay, som spelas av Thandie Newton. Men nakenscenerna med henne är avsexualiserade och det gäller faktiskt de flesta filmsekvenser med nakna män och kvinnor. När det visas sexscener får vi sällan se helt nakna personer.

Jag tror den här serien kan bli mycket bra i sin förlängning och den har helt klart en feministiska potential som inte ska avfärdas på grund av de obehagliga tidiga avsnitten. Däremot känns det som om humanismen i stort är väldigt frånvarande. I Westworld är människor elaka, obehagliga, sexistiska och våldsamma om de bara får chansen. Det gäller även Dolores Abernathy, Maeve Millay och även William, speciellt om han faktiskt är mannen i svart. Det är för mig en mycket verklighetsfrämmande beskrivning av människor.

Förutom de redan nämnda skådespelarna, Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Anthony Hopkins och Ed Harris är också Jeffrey Wright mycket bra i rollen som Bernard Lowe.

Westworld har mycket lite gemensamt med GoT som jag ser det. Bergström i ETC har fel på det stora hela, men hennes kritik är som jag redan skrivit inte helt orimlig.

Läs mer om Game of Thrones:

[imdblt]Westworld[/imdblt]

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Och nu ska jag se de  sista avsnitten av första säsongen.

Game of Thrones – feminism och sexism

TV-serien Game of Thrones innehåller utan tvivel en hel del sexism. Och nakenhet. Vilket ju inte är samma sak. Böckerna i serien A Song of Ice and Fire kanske innehåller mindre. Eftersom jag inte läst dem har jag ingen aning om det är så eller inte. Samtidigt skildrar TV-serien en värld som är sexistisk.

Men ändå finns det en hel del feminism i TV-serien och böckerna (som jag inte läst, men jag förstår att det är så). Det finns gott om starka och självständiga kvinnor, Daenerys Targaryen, Catelyn Stark, Arya Stark, Brienne of Tarth, Yara Greyjoy, Margaery Tyrell, Cersei Lannister, Shae, Ygritte och Olenna Redwyne för att nämna några. Den som dock kanske framträder starkast är dock min favorit Daenerys Targaryen. I alla fall menar Opinioness of the World det:

Daenerys makes a trade for all 8,000 Unsullied warriors, appearing as if she’s going to give up her dragon Drogon to make the exchange. But it’s all a ruse. When the brutal slaver Kraznys — who has insulted Dany with sexist, slut-shaming insults, erroneously thinking she didn’t understand the Valeryian language — is irritated that her dragon doesn’t obey him, she retorts that of course he doesn’t, “a dragon is a not a slave.” Dany then orders the Unsullied, now in her command, to murder the slavers and break the chains off the slaves. She frees the enslaved warriors, asking them to fight for her as free men. Daenerys then drops the whip equating ownership of the slaves. In essence, she drops the symbolic weapon of tyranny and oppression, heralding rebellion.

If there was ever any question, Daenerys is clearly here to dismantle the patriarchy.

Not only is she a woman leader, her very existence challenging the status quo. But Daenerys openly questions and challenges patriarchal norms. She refuses to abide by societal gender limitations mandating men must rule. She’s determined to forge a different path. Rather than follow in the footsteps of leaders embodying toxic masculinity, she’s determined to rule through respect, kindness and fairness — not through intimidation or fear. Daenerys refuses to enslave people. She wants to emancipate them.

The Mother of Dragons cares for the dragons as if they were her own babies. Could it be that Daenerys will become the archetypal mother of humanity? Perhaps. She’s wielding justice, crushing oppression and protecting the weak. Yet it is the loss of her son that enables Daenerys to envision herself in the role of leader. No longer is she supporting a man to be a great leader. She has become that leader.

The princess has become a queen.

Det finns även andra som anser att serien inte är sexistisk utan feministisk, Cornucopia är en, Nanna Johansson en annan och Feminist Fiction en tredje. Andra har en betydligt mer kritisk inställning till Game of Thrones.

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En marxistisk analys av Tolkien – del 3

Analysen är gjord av den brittiske marxisten John Molyneux som var (är?) medlem i brittiska och irländska SWP. Den är lång, så jag delar upp den på flera inlägg. Detta är det tredje. Texten är tagen från Molyneux egen blogg.

Arwen

Arwen

Tolkien’s world – a Marxist Analysis, part 3

Racism and Sexism

The world view that I have just analysed was, give or take certain elements, by no means confined to Tolkien but existed as a definite strand on the intellectual wing of British upper and middle class culture; other members of The Inklings (C S Lewis, Hugo Dyson etc) shared it to a degree, as did the likes of T S Eliot and Ezra Pound. And within this outlook there was clearly a tendency towards racism – witness anti-semitism in Eliot and Pound. This is partly because it contained elements, e.g. the emphasis on inherited characteristics and kinship, which leant themselves to racial views, and partly because, as a result particularly of imperialism, racist attitudes were endemic in the upper reaches of British society in Tolkien’s formative years. It is therefore necessary to pose the question of how much racism there is to be found in Tolkien’s work.

The answer, it seems to me, is not simple. On the one hand, the existence of different races with deeply ingrained physical and psychological characteristics is absolutely central to the story from beginning to end. In the course of the saga we meet elves, men, dwarves, hobbits, orcs, ents and, marginally, trolls, all of whom are speaking peoples. Of these the elves, especially the High Elves or Eldar, who have dwelt in the Undying Lands, are clearly in some sense ‘the highest’ i.e. the most refined, the ‘fairest’ in Tolkien’s words, the most gifted in craft and learned in lore, the most farsighted, literally and figuratively, and, above all, are ‘immortal’ unless slain. They are by no means perfect, capable of both error and ‘sin’ and at various times are seduced by the wiles of Morgoth or Sauron, but, unless I am mistaken, no Elf in the whole history of Arda ever actually joins the ‘dark side’ and fights with the Enemy. Men, by contrast, are mortal, less learned, much more various (with types ranging from Butterbur to Aragorn, Faramir to the Haradrim, and Denethor to the Wild Men of Druadan), more fertile and more numerous, and more morally ambiguous. The Numenorians under Ar- Pharazon attempted to make war on the Valar and the Undying Lands (in the Second Age) and in the War of the Ring large numbers of men, Easterlings, Haradrim etc, fight with Sauron.

Dwarves are called by Tolkien ‘a race apart’: they were created not by Iluvatar but by the Valar Aule. They are shorter than elves or men, mortal but longer lived than most humans, and have definite behavioural and psychological characteristics: love of mountains, caves, mining, jewels, stonework; they are proud and jealous of their rights, sturdy and stiff-necked, and they fight with axes not swords or bows. Hobbits are of unknown origin (they don’t figure in The Silmarillion) but, of course, are small, jolly, tough underneath etc., and the Ents, the shepherds of the Trees, were created at the request of the Valar Yavanna: they are tree- like in appearance and strength and somewhat slow, though by no means stupid. Lastly, and crucially, there are the Orcs who began (probably – Tolkien is not categorical on this) as Elves imprisoned, enslaved and corrupted by Melkor in his first stronghold of Utumno. I say crucially because the Orcs became and remain all bad, utterly and universally evil, without any redeeming or mitigating qualities whatsoever. At no point in the entire narrative do we encounter an Orc who is anything other than a merciless enemy, and consequently at no point do we as readers feel anything for them other than delight in their defeat and slaughter. On the face of it this is outright racism.

And yet it doesn’t feel like it; nor is this a purely personal judgement. I know many people with a visceral hatred of racism who would react with disgust to any manifestation of it, who nonetheless love The Lord of the Rings. And there are reasons for this. There are three main grounds for opposing, indeed hating racism. 1) The biological fact that different human races do not exist, that there is only one human race or species and therefore all racial prejudice, discrimination, and oppression involves not only stupidity but also inherent injustice. It fundamentally violates the humanity of those who are its victims. 2) The social and historical fact that racism, because it denies people’s essential humanity, is associated with, leads to and is used to justify the most appalling treatment of human beings, the worst crimes against humanity (slavery, colonialism, genocide, apartheid and so on).3) The specifically socialist argument that racism is used by ruling classes to divide and rule the oppressed and to provide scapegoats onto whom anger of the oppressed can be diverted.

But if we examine Tolkien’s work in the light of these arguments it can be seen that none of them quite applies. In the real world racism is false and denies our common humanity but in Tolkien’s imaginary world there really are different races. In the real world racism leads to barbaric behaviour, but in Tolkien’s story the narrative, and his disguised authorial voice, consistently opposes any gratuitous cruelty to or maltreatment of the weak, the defeated, or even the enemy. Orcs are consistently killed but the story is such that they are only encountered as enemies in battle. Within the terms of the story they are never imprisoned, enslaved, executed or tortured so the fact that they seen as inherently evil (and within the terms of the story ARE inherently evil) does not lead to any especially barbaric behaviour beyond the barbarism inherent in war.. Racism may be a ruling class weapon in the class struggle to which socialists counterpose working class unity, but in Tolkien’s world there is no class struggle – the struggle is between the free peoples and the enemy and in this struggle Tolkien consistently advocates inter-racial unity: Aragorn, by lineage and behaviour, epitomises the unity of elves and men and, together with Gandalf, secures the unity of Rohan and Gondor; the friendship between Legolas and Gimli and Gimli’s adoration of Galadriel overcomes grievances between Elves and Dwarves that stretch back to the slaying of King Thingol in the dispute over the Nauglamir (Necklace of the Dwarves containing a Silmaril) in the Elder Days; the Hobbits (Merry and Pippin) draw Treebeard and the Ents (and the Huorns) into the War, where they play a vital role in defeating the treacherous Saruman.

Unfortunately Tolkien does not get off this hook quite so easily. Three issues remain. The first, and I owe this point to China Mieville, is that Tolkien has, of course, chosen to imagine a world in which ‘races’ with inherent racial characteristics ‘really’ exist and that is a definite political/ideological choice. The second is the way the saga is constructed throughout around a West/East dichotomy in which West is invariably identified with goodness and light and east with darkness and frequently evil. In the uttermost west is located the seat of the gods and the blessed Aman or Undying Realm and other locations are judged more or less fair in terms of their relation to this. In the Lord of the Rings Gondor is west, Mordor is east and the force that marches against Mordor for the final battle on the Field of Cormallen are the ‘Men of the West’ or the ‘Host of the West’ led by the ‘Captains of the West’. Sometimes this has been read as a reflection of the Cold War but we know that the main lines of the story were formulated as early as the First World War. Rather it is imperial ‘orientalism’ (as famously analysed by Edward Said) that is the influence here and this undoubtedly contains serious elements of racism.

The third, linked to the first and second, is the characterisation of the men of the east and south. In the war the Easterlings and Southrons and Corsairs of Umbar (also from the far south) are allies of Sauron. This seems to be taken for granted as part of the natural order of things and not requiring of any particular explanation, nor are we offered any account or detailed description of these peoples. Boromir, in his report to the Council of Elrond, refers to ‘the cruel Haradrim’(The Fellowship of the Ring, p.236), and again in the account of the Siege of Gondor we are told of ‘regiments from the South, Haradrim, cruel and tall’ (The Return of the King, p.90) and then offered this description ‘Easterlings with axes, and Variags of Khand, Southrons in Scarlet, and out of Far Harad black men like half-trolls with white eyes and red tongues.’ (The Return of the King, p.121).The element of racist stereotyping here is clear. It is a minor element in the story as a whole but it is there.

Taken together these three points leave Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings guilty of racism but with mitigating circumstances and the mitigation is such that for most readers the racism will not be one of the reasons for the appeal of the book.

The question of sexism is, I think, much more straightforward, as one would expect given the near universality of sexism in the culture and literature preceding the nineteen seventies. I will begin with a quotation about Dwarf women, from Appendix A to The Return of the King.

Dis was the daughter of Thrain II. She is the only dwarf-woman named in these histories. It was said by Gimli that there are few dwarf- women, probably no more than a third of the whole people. They seldom walk abroad except at great need. They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other peoples cannot tell them apart. This has given rise to the foolish opinion among Men that there are no dwarf-women, and that Dwarves ‘grow out of stone’.

It is because of the fewness of women among them that the kind of the dwarves increases slowly, and is in peril when they have no secure dwellings. For Dwarves take only one wife or husband each in their lives, and are jealous, as in all matters of their rights. The number of dwarf-men that marry is actually less than one-third. For not all the women take husbands: some desire none; some desire one that they cannot get, and so will have no other. As for the men, very many do not desire marriage, being engrossed in their crafts.

This situation of dwarf- women is only an extreme version of the overall situation of women in The Lord of the Rings – above all they distinguished by their absence. In the whole story there are only three significant female characters – Arwen, Galadriel and Eowyn and of these Arwen remains very shadowy. In addition I can think only of walk-on parts for Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, Rose Cotton, Goldberry (Tom Bombadil’s wife), and Ioreth, of whom Lobelia and Ioreth are part comic relief. There are no women members of the Fellowship of the Ring, no Ent Women (though the past existence of Ent wives is acknowledged) and no Orc women. In The Hobbit to the best of my recall there is NO woman character at all. In a way it is extraordinary.

Equally extraordinary in contemporary terms, though less extraordinary in the extremely prudish middle class culture of pre-war England, is the almost complete silence on matters of sex and sexuality. Bilbo and Frodo appear to live their entire lives in celibate bachelorhood (without the least concern). Elrond is at least 4000 years old before he marries and it is then thirty nine years before his sons are born and another 102 years before the birth of Arwen. Aragorn is twenty when he falls in love with Arwen (who is about 2500 and, we are told, a’ maiden’), forty nine when he and Arwen ‘plight their troth’ in Lothlorien, and eighty eight before they are able to marry, until which time we must presume he remains celibate. Now Aragorn has been told that he is due an exceptionally long life span (thrice that of ordinary men) but even so it is something of a tall order. Boromir and Faramir are forty one and thirty six respectively, but both still single, and so on. As Carl Freedman comments, ‘Through three thick volumes, there is, for example, hardly a single important instance of sexual desire’ (Carl Freedman, ‘A Note on Marxism and Fantasy’ op.cit. p.263).

This combination of rarity and absence of sex enables Tolkien to place his main female characters on very high pedestals. Galadriel and Arwen are both wondrously beautiful (‘fair’), dignified, noble and kind. Goldberry, though not developed as a character is clearly cut from the same cloth. Eowyn, from a feminist standpoint the most interesting, is a kind of Joan of Arc figure, until she settles for regal domestic bliss with her second choice, Faramir.

Tolkien’s sexism is of the old fashioned gentlemanly ‘chivalrous’ kind, not the active misogyny found in Ian Fleming or Norman Mailer. There are no wicked women or femme fatales (unless you count Shelob, the female spider) and his very few key characters are certainly not weak or subservient. Galadriel is clearly superior – wiser and stronger – to her husband Celeborn and Eowyn is given one of the most dramatic and heroic moments in the whole of The Lord of the Rings, when, in a straight lift from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, she slays the Lord of the Nazgul.

‘ Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!’ [says the Nazgul as he stands over the fallen Theoden]

Then Merry heard of all sounds in that hour the strangest. It seemed that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear was like the ring of steel, ‘But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Eowyn I am, Eomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you if you touch him’.

(The Return of the King p.116)

The issue of homophobia does not arise in Tolkien because, of course, there is no such thing as homosexuality in the imaginary world of Middle Earth.

John Molyneux
31 October , 2010

Del 1 (Part 1), Del 2 (Part 2)Del 4 (Part 4)Del 5 (Part 5)

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Game of Thrones – sexistisk?

Ja, det kan jag nog tycka att den delvis är. Rasistisk? Knappast. Avsaknaden av svarta är ju inte rasistiskt i sig. Det handlar helt enkelt om en planet, en värld där det inte finns några svarta, eller så finns det inte i den del av världen, planeten som det handlar om. Det är ju bara trams att påstå att det är rasism eftersom det inte finns några svarta.

Sexistiskt kan det däremot vara , kvinnor är i allmänhet framställda som skönhets- och sexobjekt, prostitution normaliserat och den värld som beskrivs är starkt patriarkalisk samt dessutom socialt stelnad. Född överklass, alltid överklass, född slav alltid slav osv . Att beskriva en sådan värld är dock inte per definition sexistiskt. I spel, litteratur, film och TV måste man kunna beskriva världar, företeelser och annat som vi i det vanliga livet i vår vanliga värld inte skulle acceptera. Man måste också kunna beskriva dessa som normala i den värld man beskriver. Så även om det blir sexistiskt så måste det vara tillåtet. Även om det blir rasistiskt måste det vara tillåtet. Men det är naturligtvis inte oproblematiskt:

I onsdags bjöd panelen in journalisten Teresa Axner för att reda ut begreppen.

– Martin hävdar att han har skrivit om en sexistisk värld. Men jämför serien med exempelvis ”Mad men”. När Mad Men-karaktären Joan blir våldtagen av sin fästman får man som tittare se hennes verkliga person och vad hon känner. Det mötet finns inte i ”Game of thrones”, menade Axner.

Malin Alkestrand doktorerar i fantasy-litteratur vid Lunds universitet:

– Att skildra en värld styrd av ett patriarkat är inte sexistiskt i sig. När Daenerys Targaryen i ”Game of thrones” blir våldtagen på sin bröllopsnatt och sedan lär sig ta makten i sovrummet, hittar hon då sin egen sexualitet eller gör hon bara sin plikt?

Som jag ser det måste det gå att beskriva samhällen som är skit och fel på många sätt i berättelser av olika slag. För nog är väl Njals saga eller Egil Skallagrimssons saga litteratur, stor litteratur även om det handlar om ett våldsbejakande, patriarkaliskt och sexistiskt samhälle. Och om vi kan acceptera Njals saga kan vi väl acceptera Game of Thrones. Eller?

Själv tycker jag att Game of Thrones är ganska spännande, kvinnoskildringarna är dock ofta lite tröttsamma, med undantag av Arya Stark (än så länge bara en flicka visserligen), Catelyn Stark, den obehagliga Cersei Lannister och  Daenerys Targaryen. Och ärligt sagt, nån madonna har jag inte sett till.

Ursprungligen publicerat på Svensson-bloggen 2012.

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