Say! Did you know that girls hate Game of Thrones ? Well, neither did I. But apparently they do.
(The above Thrillist tidbit by Renata Sellitti is subtitled “The reasons she throws shade on your medieval man show” which leaves me feeling all old and puzzled and stuff, because “throwing shade”? Is that a thing the kids say nowadays? Is that the new “diss”? Because I have literally never seen it before.)
But, never mind. The real news here is that girls (other than me, I guess, and my nerdy female cohort, and the nerdy women I tend to follow online) hate Game of Thrones. Because, apparently “Game of Thrones ranks somewhere on the Girl Dislike scale between NASCAR and that National Geographic show where the guy sticks his hand in a catfish’s mouth.” Well, obviously. Because… wait, what catfish show is she talking about? I don’t know anything about this catfish show. Is it a nature program? I like nature programs. Anyway, I thought it was northern liberals who hated NASCAR, not girls, and I suppose I am guilty as charged. I mean… they drive these incredible cars really super duper fast… around… and around… and around… maybe it’s a potent metaphor of American life in the early twenty-first century, as we use unprecedented heights of technological expertise and astonishing amounts of diminishing fossil fuel resources going absolutely nowhere, but as entertainment it barely ranks above televised golf. And considerably below nature programs.
So, where was I? Oh, yes. Girls. Game of Thrones. Girls apparently dislike it because “we” hate things that are “gross” (content of the Twilight saga notwithstanding), things that are complicated and hard to follow unless they are soap operas, nerds who play “magic cards” and go to “Renaissance festivals,” naked chicks, and violence. And apparently we “love Don Draper,” whoever that is.
Now, it always puts my back up when pop culture writers, or politicians, loftily assert what “we gals” like and dislike and think and care about. But this essay is coming from a particular place I’ve seen before — many times, in fact — which involves the complete disappearance of girl geeks. The essay is strongly framed with the assumption that the nerdy Magic players and Ren Fair attendees are NEVER female, that the GoT devotee dating a newbie who has to be coaxed into watching is NEVER female, that the audience of GoT (a hit HBO series) isn’t approximately half female. The expected value of dude is a nerd-friendly GoT fan, while the expected value of female is a soap-opera-lovin’ Mad Men fan.
Stupid, of course. And probably trivial, in the grand scheme of things. It’s not as if HBO acts like they think GoT is a dudefest — if anything, it seems like the nudity is there to suck in guys who otherwise wouldn’t want to watch all the politicking and gowns and swordfights, although maybe that just applies in my household. Anyway, their marketing for the show always strikes me as gender-neutral, aimed at people who like the characters, and Peter Dinklage, and dragons, and… no! It won’t work I tell you! I am NOT paying for cable! I am (teeth gritted) WAITING (teeth gritted) for the DVDs to come out. You hear me? Curse you HBO! (Shakes fist at the GoT promo billboard with that oh-so-enticing shadow of a dragon on it.)
This is in contrast to the marketing for video games, comic books, magazines, and regular books intended for the nerdy cohort — all of which frequently assume they are marketing exclusively to men, or, more accurately, to horny teenage boys. The cultural disappearance of female geeks is what makes that seem like a good idea. Girls don’t like that kind of thing, do they? And if they do like it… well, they’re lonely freaks, not worth considering in their own right, and they’ll put up with the stuff intended for the teenage boys.
The disappearance of female geeks is why anybody ever thought “fake girl geeks” was a thing. It’s a ridiculous idea that could only possibly make sense if you assume geek culture is exclusively defined by boys.
So, trivial and stupid it may be, but essays like this one perpetuate the idea that the kingdom of nerds is a place boys live by natural right, where girls are, at best, legal immigrants, and at worst an invading force to be repelled with extreme prejudice.