It is a curse. For weeks I cannot stop myself from lingering in a couple of discussion forums about A Song of Ice and Fire, one in Chinese (百度帖吧) and one in English (asoiaf.westeros.org). It is such a stupid waste of time. I really should stop.
It is a fucking curse to be a reader in our day and age. It is both addictive and aggravating to read other people's opinions on the same book/movie/music/etc. On the one hand, I feel I am not alone; this sense of belonging is irresistible to a loner like me. On the other hand, it is damned painful to slug through a lot of silliness and absurdity. I think what bothers me the most is to face the reality that there are a lot of people meaner and nastier than myself. Without the Internet, they would not SEEM so numerous.
The funny thing is, the Chinese forum and the English one have just about the same amount of silliness and crazy, ridiculous misinterpretation of the books. There are obvious different trends --- More Chinese fans are skeptical and cynical about the value of honor (since they live in a country where honor and valor are routinely and reliably punished), while more English-writing fans analyze every tiny detail of the books and try to fit them into a perfect puzzle. But overall the amount of silliness is very close, perhaps even higher in westeros.org. To be fair, it may only reflect the fact that English-writing fans have had access to the books for more years than the Chinese fans, as the books were translated only in 2005. A lot of the sane ones may have already been exhausted and left, leaving only newbies like me or nutcases still hanging around.
I couldn't help but post some ranting on the westeros.org forum in defense of Tyrion Lannister, after I was stupidly and unnecessarily riled up by other people's posts attacking him. Might as well post it here:
I have to wonder, if Tyrion was described as tall, handsome, masculine, gallant, and one of the best swordsmen in Westeros, would there still be so many people eager to lynch him for his crimes of rape and murder and, worst of all, being an ugly dwarf?
When I read ASoS, I thought it was a bit over-the-top that everyone just ganged up on him after he had saved the damned city and all of their sorry asses, while in the process he nearly got himself killed. I thought it was stretching believability that his own sister did everything she could to murder him by lies and perjury, and his own father watched and encouraged this witchhunt. Why is he so relentlessly persecuted? Why would Lord Tywin bother to save the life of the lovable and cuddly Gregor Clegane at substantial political cost (ill will with the Martels) but not lift a finger to save his own son? Because he is freak? Come on.
How wrong I was. GRRM is right. It is realistic after all. Tyrion is condemned for "raping" Tysha (even though he was 13 and forced by his father to do so), for not respecting Shae as a real woman (why isn't he an enlightened, sensitive modern man?), for generally being a sarcastic wise-ass (no wonder his father hates him), for killing Shae for lying on trial that would have killed him, for killing his father to avenge his own ruined life and ruined ability to love anyone ever. Ha, obviously GRRM knows a lot more about how normal people think than I do.
Worse than rape and murder and being ugly, his most unforgivable crime is that he would not take the insults, kicks, and beatings doled out by the normal people around him. He bites back, with words and deeds, with his wits and an evil grin. How dare he.
I'm willing to bet that GRRM took inspiration from Quasimodo in Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, only this monster is no saint. This is a world in which Lord Tywin, the master of the Mountain and the Tickler, is the hero, and Lord Little Finger is worshiped for his wisdom, and the ugly dwarf has no right to be. This is our world.
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