Arts and Culture

Your fantasy needs seasoning: Why Game of Thrones owes its Black characters so much more

Local Tulsan and commentator SC King writes a powerful thought piece about the often diminished roles that Black and brown characters have played in Game of Thrones series after the stunning ending to last week’s episode.

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Photo: HBO

**SPOILER ALERT**
Maybe don’t read this if you’re not caught up.

Game of Thrones is already light on melanin and all the people of color have BEEN straight props for a minute, but when the only Black woman on your show dies in chains, these are things we notice.

Let us not forget that the brilliant show-runners of Game of Thrones were very excited to make a show called ‘Confederate’ next, which would take place in a future where slavery still existed. Thankfully internet outrage shut that shit down fast.

Benioff and Weiss are talented creators, I’ll never deny it. The proof is in the paper, but they’re creating a huge star wars trilogy now so I really hope they bring more to the table than more enslaved Black people.

I’m not here to call Game of Thrones racist or to call for a boycott or anything so dramatic.

Enjoy what you enjoy.

Obviously it’s very entertaining and well crafted for the most part. Lots of hard work from many people of all backgrounds. Hell Tim Burton and Wes Anderson, Scorsese and even Spielberg are light on Black people that aren’t tokens and I don’t hate them.

People make what they know. I’m not gonna fault people for not operating outside of their creative comfort zones. Hey, there ain’t no black people in Lord of the Rings and all the lead characters in Harry Potter are white too. That doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy them. I grew up in a world of white leads.

But when fantasy and Sci-Fi (often light on color) only have minimal representation, some of us take great interest in the scraps we are dealt. And such imagery is important.

All the brown people left on this show have been attached to a white savior for seasons.

Seen it.
Logged it.
Moved on.
Let the show do what it do.

You don’t need to defend it because I’m not here to tear down Game of Thrones or make you feel bad for loving it. Game of Thrones is 100% typical in its handling of the handful of brown people that get a chance to dance on the big stage.

I can’t be too bothered when it just follows the standard fantasy rules.

But we notice.

We notice.

When they are magical negros, we notice.
When they are servants and slaves, we notice.
When they are just the muscle, we notice.
When they die in chains, we notice.

We live in a world where if you’re Black and cosplay a white character, people lose their damn minds.

It sends a message to all the sisters out there: “This is you. You are Missandei. Put on your chains and peace out. Enjoy.”

I’m not here to belittle the agency of all the Black actors who take these roles because they do fine work. Many are still good characters in their own right and can be beloved, but that’s doesn’t change the fact.

Nathalie Emmanuel is great in the role, I appreciate her presence and performance and I respect her greatly. She’s has nothing to be ashamed of and I am eager to see where her career goes from here.

She’s part of television history and should be proud.

I’m not here to use her as a tool for my aggression. I’m saying that objectively there is a noticeable lack of sensitivity when it comes to the use and placement of brown people in media.

I can’t wait to do better so little brown kids in the future are given better than this.


 

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