Avox in Arcadia (perpetual) wrote,
Avox in Arcadia

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Why Daenerys is my BFF and Mirri Maz Duur was right.

Okay, so I watched Game of Thrones, all of it, and finally have a post to make about it. It's very odd to me that this fandom is now an actual fandom - okay, it always was, and it's my own fault if I abandoned my account at Westeros.org years ago, but a TV fandom is an immeasurably different thing. Fans have thoughts; not just theories and favorites but beliefs about who the characters are and what happened in their pasts and what's happening now.

And I disagree.

Dany's been getting a lot of loathing, which isn't much of a surprise. She's beautiful, exotic, tragic, romantic, highly improbable, and white-haired (speaking of which, excuse me, where are those violet eyes, huh?!). She doesn't have much, at first glance, to separate her from your standard Mary Sue. I have my reasons for believing she isn't one, but what actually bothers me more is the positive reactions, particularly to her relationship with Khal Drogo.

A few changes in the adaptation to be aware of: in the book, Dany is thirteen when she marries Drogo. Probably for related reasons, the show removed her moment of consent during their consummation, leaving her as a scared and powerless teenage bride for the first couple episodes. If you didn't see the controversy surrounding this, I'm sure you can still imagine it, but concerning my own objections there's little difference in the two versions. Thirteen-year-olds can't consent regardless of the cultural mores of the world they inhabit, and anyway, she did not want to have sex with the man that night or many nights following it, resistance or not. It is known.

Furthermore, just who is this Khal Drogo? Short answer: he's a conqueror. He leads a vast army that slaughters native peoples and treats its victims with utter contempt. He is strong and alluring. He is not a good man.

So, after being forced into a marriage with this terrifying stranger who has license to do whatever he wants with her body, what's a girl to do? Some might crumble early on, and live out a broken life. Some might play the part while quietly fostering a burning hatred. Dany? She falls in love with the guy.

In context this makes a lot of sense. It isn't a process of the two of them getting to know each other and discovering that their feelings are deeper than either realized. The change comes strictly from Dany, and it's not about Drogo for her; it's about survival. Without the willpower to take charge of her life, enjoy what she could, and make Drogo see her as more than a sex toy, she would have been in hell. Fortunately, she had that willpower, but it didn't come cheap. She gave up a lot of mercy and empathy, the sense of moral outrage that would have kept her from believing that what these people were doing to her was acceptable in any way.

...If she ever had it in the first place, that is. That's the first thing I love about Dany: she might very well have the hereditary Targaryen insanity, and we don't even know it.

The story of the first book/season had Dany becoming stronger and harder, because she had to, and of course Drogo was the perfect model. Whatever he lacked, he made up for in raw power, and it was obvious that he was respected for it. Dany's survival tactics turn into a quest for more and greater power, and she was still at it when we last saw her in the books. Why does she want to conquer Westeros? Why does she want to conquer Westeros? She may well be exactly what the country needs, to save it from the real threat, but saving it hasn't crossed her mind. She wants it because it's hers; it's her right.

This is a warlord's mind at work. Rather than contemplating the right choice or even her own happiness, Daenerys looks for injustice and counters it with revenge. As time goes on, she becomes more and more masculine, failing to relate to women and seeking victory over compromise. The finale of the first book/season shows exactly where she's headed when she's betrayed by Mirri Maz Duur, who promised to heal her husband. It may have come as a shock that the maegi wasn't grateful for her deliverance, but this was no scared teenager. Dany's own survival mechanisms didn't work for her because she didn't care about survival. What she saw was a wounded mass murderer, the root cause of the desecration of her people, and she saw her opportunity to do away with him - and his son, prophesied to conquer the whole freaking world. I won't go into the "would you have killed baby Hitler" line of thinking, but I don't at all feel that Mirri Maz owed any loyalty to Dany, and I don't mourn Drogo.

But if you've followed me this far, that's the second reason I love Dany: she's wrong. She's probably the strongest person in the series, but she's strong in ways that hurt others and wreak havoc, and she's too naive to realize it even if we could be sure that she'd care. Her husband raped her in both the book and the show, and in both versions, she fell in love with him afterward. With this man as the greatest influence on her life and choices thereafter, I think it's only common sense to say that there's something really, really wrong with her.

So I have issues with fandom romanticizing the pairing. I also understand it. They are incredibly hot together. Their interactions are fun and often sweet, and since we're watching from Dany's perspective, it's hard to see and recognize Drogo's unforgivable traits. This is not an easy work to dissect, and unreliable narrators can pop up in all kinds of incarnations.

That's all well and good. If I haven't said so yet, I love Dany/Drogo, but I love it precisely because it's wrong and obscene and psychologically fascinating. What I don't love is the way other interpretations are still left open after all these years. Yes, this is the exact same problem that I often have with Joss - the story is great the way it is, but it leaves too much room for bad messages to be extracted, and the author just will not speak up and tell us that no, rape is not a sound basis for a healthy relationship and he never meant to portray it as such. I understand that revealing too much of the process is dangerous in any kind of art, but this seems like it should be such a minor thing - self-evident, even - and I can't imagine how they can live with the way their characters are twisted by the fans.

Okay, I think I've got all the rant out of myself, so let's end this on a lighter note. The third reason I love Dany is that she's beautiful, exotic, tragic, romantic, highly improbable, and white-haired...oh, and inbred. Seriously, why look for anything else in a heroine?
Tags: westeros
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