We need to talk about the Game of Thrones race problem

Mimi Launder
Thursday 02 November 2017 09:45
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Picture:(Getty Images / FREDERIC J BROWN / Staff)

When a fantasy show only dips into realism in order to preserve a largely white cast, people are going to call it out.

Defenders of Game of Thrones' casting of predominantly white characters claim it would be inaccurate for a show inspired by medieval Europe to not be chiefly Caucasian.

When asked why Westeros was so white, George R.R. Martin himself wrote on his blog:

Westeros is the fantasy analogue of the British isles in its world, so it is a long long way from the Asia analogue. There weren't a lot of Asians in Yorkshire England.

The scattering of non-white cast members - including Nathalie Emmanuel's Missandei and Jacob Anderson's Grey Worm.

Game of Thrones fails the 'DuVernay test' - an alternative to the Bechdel test - which gauges whether racial minorities are presented as complete characters.

There is only one non-white character throughout the seven 'great houses,' the highly visible families who battle for the Iron Thrones and are pivotal to the plot.

Criticism also arose in 2013 around Daenerys in the role of a 'white saviour' of Slaver's Bay, a common trope where a white character saves a community of colour.

Non-white characters also tend to be either slaves or savages, feeding accusations of colonialist undertones to the show.

John Boyega is among those calling out the race problem in the award-winning programme.

He told GQ magazine:

There are no black people in Game of Thrones.

You don't see one black person in Lord of the Rings.

I ain't paying money to always see one type of person on screen.

When asked about the criticism the show receives for its casting, Nathalie Emmanuel told the Telegraph in 2015 that "it's really difficult".

We're dealing with a fantasy world here, but at the same time we're dealing with a fantasy world in an almost Medieval setting, set around a fantasy version of the British isles, where history tells us that a queen would have been white, generally. Slavery, which we know is part of all of history, would have been a thing. That's kind of what you would expect in this kind of story.

More: The reason why Game of Thrones' Cersei and Bronn will never appear on screen together

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