23 February, 2017

The Regurgitated—Why Everyone Wants to Strangle a Book Purist

[The Regurgitated is...exactly that.]


This story is a tragedy, made more tragic still by all the warning signs present, the ready explanations, the reason and forethought and practical common sense so readily, so easily apparent and available for counsel. And yet, our Lady Claire of House Williams—Denier of Sense and Photoshopper of Shite, chose instead to follow her heart, a heart that wailed at such length and at such a volume that even David and Dan could hear her despair from the deepest of the seven pits in the lowest of the seven hells:

WhhhhhhhhHHHHHYYYYYYYYYY don't the FUCKING TARGARYNS have VIOLET fucking EYES on the SHOW? WhhHHHHYYYYYY?????????????? It's an INTEGRAL PART of their FUCKING CHARACTERS, you mmmmaaaaAAAANNNIIIIAAACCCASS!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let me explain. 

So I accidentally clicked on one of those "sponsored content" click-bait links, and on the buffet of desperate acts seeking ad revenue I found this gem:

How the cast of Game of Thrones should really look by one Claire Williams. It lists 35 (!!) characters from the story, describes their show character, and points out the various "problems' the show suffers by not paying close enough attention to the text when deciding dye color formulas and prosthetic makeup. There is then a description of each as quoted by GRRM, a "rating" system, and sort of before and after photos: the first shows an actor in character from the show, and the second is photoshopped with the changes she thinks are necessary to fall in line with the books.

I hate things like this for a number of reasons, first and foremost being a complete inability to grasp that movies and television do not exist simply to make illustrations of books and stories. It fails to comprehend that written stories have strengths and weaknesses that are different from a visual representation, and the two must thus access vital components for themselves. Lady Claire of House Williams may think that, because television is a visual medium, it should get the visual stuff "right," which leads me to my next point.

Perhaps more important is the presumption of descriptions of appearance as the purest way to judge likeness of character, and anyone who has ever known another person, ever, knows this is not the case. There are times in this list when Lady Claire admits so-and-so's characterization is spot-on, but the problem is that he really has longer hair in hue closer to copper than blood. The real problem is thinking that is the real problem.

Which leads me to this little project. This list is so offensive to my sensibilities of writing, story, character, open-mindedness, and not being a quibbling fistula that action must be taken. It is the annoying humorlessness of book purists like this—the grotesque elitism—that has caused some people I know to swear off the reading of these books entirely. A grievous sin, indeed.

I do not know this Lady Claire of House Williams, by the way, and toward her I bear no animosity. This is just my way of coping with Things that Bug the Shit Out of Me on the Internet. All photos are as-is from the list itself. So here is my answer to "How the cast of Game of Thrones should really look" with "How Game of Thrones fans should really sound," replicated in style and spirit, fully attributed to the author. The title graphics, for better or worse, are my own.

So saith Lady Claire
When it comes to the beloved Game of Thrones, many of the characters don't exactly match what's written in George R.R. Martin's books—in fact, in a few circumstances, they don't match at all. 
Sometimes for practical or storytelling reasons, it's necessary for producers and writers to change how someone looks. Let's take a side-by-side comparison of those Game of Thrones characters who don't quite live up to their novel namesakes, and what they should really look like. But fair warning—this list may contain spoilers for the entire Game of Thrones television series, as well as the A Song of Ice and Fire  books.

Thus speak'st mine self: If this were a list written during the first season of the show, I'd be in a more forgiving mood. The expectations of book readers were off-the-fuckin-wall ridiuclous. I remember posts complaining that Ghost barked in one of the episodes, and OMG HOW COULD THEY DO THAT GHOST NEVER MAKES ANY NOISE THEY'VE RUINED EVERYTHING, etc. 

Ye olde scales of judgement: 0/10thinking about a show in these terms drives me nuts.

So saith Lady Claire: 
The Game of Thrones writers decided to change Asha Greyjoy's name to Yara on the show—perhaps to avoid confusion with Osha, the Wildling guardian of Rickon Stark. But this name isn't all that's been changed. Actress Gemma Whelan has Asha's self-assured and rough-tongued attitude down pat, but she doesn't completely look the part. 
Show accuracy: 4/10 – I've given Asha black hair cut short, and made her face leaner and harder, with a downturned and more pointed nose.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 She condemns herself: "Actress Gemma Whelan has Asha's self-assured and rough-tongued attitude down pat, but...." But BULLSHIT, says I. 

This is another main, but admittedly hilarious, portion of this whole list. She is basing her judgments of how these characters "should" look, and thus her "adjustments," on the actors cast in these parts, in-character, and then attempts to change their hair or anatomy or whatthefuckever to match the picture she made in her head while reading the books. Fundamentally flawed reasoning, as she insists the show is flawed by numerous haircuts and the angularity of noses.

If she wanted to actually show how she thought these characters should look, she should have drawn them or sought out those who do match her fantasy, and then she would only get in arguments with other book-freaks with *gasp* imaginations that pictured all of them differently than she did. 

Still, many of these photoshopped changes are totally hilarious, so I thank her for the entertainment value.

Ye olde scales of judgement: 3/10This photoshopping isn't too terrible, though nitpicking to this degree is patently absurd. What extra knowledge do people gain by seeing this other version of her? What insight to character, revelation of story, setting of tone, or delight in spectacle? How about zero? Yup.

So saith Lady Claire
The show's Bran—played by Isaac Hempstead-Wright—does not exactly match the description of Bran given by George R.R. Martin in the books. Most of the Stark children in the A Song of Ice and Fire novels favored their Tully side—with the exception of Arya. In the show, this has been mostly ignored, with only Sansa (and Robb, to a lesser degree) taking more strongly after Catelyn. Instead of brown hair and eyes, Bran should have the auburn hair and blue eyes of the Tullys, with a solemn face. 
Show accuracy – 7/10 – Bran gets colored contacts and a dye job to put him more firmly in the Tully camp

Thus speak'st mine self:
 Lady Claire says that, in the show, how the Starks resemble the Tullys has "been mostly ignored," which is complete and utter bullshit. Just because they did not do something how you wanted it done does not mean it was ignored by anyone. They made the practical and artistic decision that performance and embodiment of character is vastly more important than Bran's hair color and forcing a child to wear blue contacts. 

Ye olde scales of judgement: 1/10The tinting looks ridiculous, but again Lady Claire fails to offer a single reason why the show is deficient for their decisions. Book readers already know that Bran's coloring is closer to his mother in the books, and for those who have not read them, I can't imagine they give any fucks about it.

So saith Lady Claire
Part of Brienne's tragedy is how much she wants fall in love and be loved, but she knows she's painfully awkward and ugly by Westerosi standards—except for her beautiful large blue eyes. Brienne actress Gwendoline Christie is a gorgeous woman, and although she has the height, hair color and demeanor perfect, she will never look like the Brienne of the books. Throughout the course of the novels, Brienne has run-ins with enemies that leave her even more damaged. A fight with the Brave Companions knocks out two of her teeth, and Biter attacks her at the inn at the Crossroads—nearly chewing off half of her cheek. 
Show accuracy: 4/10 – I've given Brienne larger and brighter blue eyes, a liberal sprinkling of freckles, and a slightly crooked nose. A wider and plumper mouth hides crooked and broken teeth, and a large chunk of scar tissue twists along her cheek.

Thus speak'st mine self:
Gwendoline Christie is a gorgeous woman, and although she has the height, hair color and demeanor perfect, she will never look like the Brienne of the books." No! She won't! None of them will! Nor do they need to! Even if there is one character you think looks perfect, someone else is going to be disappointed that it does not meet what they pictured.

What these people seem unable to comprehend is that adaptation is not illustration. Some things that can work in novels (copious description, character thoughts, momentous backstory) cannot work on film. The aim is to capture the feeling and intention and meaning of the characters, stories, themes, the time and place being set and the action that unfolds within it. Lady Claire readily admits that Gwendoline Christie captures this about Brienne, but still thinks a crooked nose and paunchy lips are what should be. Pffft.

Ye olde scales of judgement: -4/10In addition, Lady Claire fails to mention that, despite her ungainly awkwardness and supposedly deficient appearance, Brienne earns the sincere love, admiration, and respect from one Ser Jamie Lannister, a far rarer thing than beauty. 

So saith Lady Claire: ...WHO THE FUCK IS BRANDEN STALL??? The page says this entry was written by this Branden Stall person, and I don't know if that means the text or if he also takes credit *ahem* for the photoshop. Fine, whatever, I'll adapt.

So saith Lady Branden
So far the Game of Thrones showrunners have had two different chances to get Daario Naharis right, and they've failed both times. Although you can't really blame them for taking a different direction with Daario—multicolored hair and a forked beard don't really translate well onscreen. 
Show accuracy: 2/10 – This was the hardest transformation, and it looks ridiculous. Daario's hair is now longer, reaching his collar, and dyed a bright blue to match his blue eyes. His beard is forked into three sections and dyed the same color as his hair, except for that crazy golden mustache.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 So "taking a different direction" from a blue forked beard and oiled golden mustachios is failure. I love Michael Huisman, and though I am glad they cast him for my own selfish reasons (involving drool and fantastical sexytime), I thought Ed Skrein captured the flamboyant sleaziness of Daario quite well. Yes, he was ridiculous, but Daario is pretty ridiculous, too

Ye olde scales of judgement: 6/10I am giving props for even attempting to photoshop this and for recognizing how terrible it is. But really, Lady...Branden, or whoever you are, do you really think that is how Daario should look?

So saith Lady Claire: 

If you ignore the aforementioned age differences, the casting department did a great job with choosing the beautiful Emilia Clarke for the role of Daenerys. There are a few quibbles to be had, however, particularly with her eyes and her hair. 
Show accuracy: 8/10 – I've given Daenerys a set of striking violet eyes and lopped off her hair. According to the books, she was bald as an egg after surviving the pyre that hatched her dragons, and her hair was burnt off again when she escaped the fighting pits at Meereen on Drogon. This is about the length I'd expect it to be by time she reaches Westeros with a fleet.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 I've heard they originally intended to do violet contact lenses, apparently succumbing to the rabid inanity of book guardians, but the actors struggled with them. Something like that. In any case, I am grateful there are none because Emilia Clarke's eyes are absolutely freakin' amazing. 

They also made conscious decisions to keep her hair long, as they reasoned that if her skin doesn't burn, her hair shouldn't, either. You can argue the physics (or metaphysics) of this all you want, but it was not an oversight. Keeping her hair, on the contrary, helps emphasize the magic present in both Daenerys and her relationship to the dragons, so I consider it an improvement.

Ye olde scales of judgement: stupid/10This is the most predictable, and therefore the most annoying, of all book-reader "quibbles." 

So saith Lady Claire: 
While Pilou Asbæk does an admirable job portraying the Crow's Eye, it's unfortunate that the show has ignored so much of what makes Euron intimidating. The show's Euron does resemble Asha and Theon strongly, but he should be a much scarier figure—a lot of that intimidation factor stems directly from his near-otherworldly looks in the books. 
Show accuracy: 4/10 – Euron's hair and beard should be dark as a raven's feathers, and I've given him back his trademark eyepatch. His "smiling eye" is a brilliant blue, while the other (fully functional) one hidden below the eyepatch is black as death. His lips are a bruised blue because of his addiction to the narcotic beverage called shade of the evening.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 Once again, the show did not "ignore" Martin's descriptions, but—as this photoshop "transformation" helps illustrate—chose to go with less of a caricature of a pirate. His behavior, attitude, and actions should demonstrate what Euron is, not a stupid eye patch. 

Ye olde scales of judgement: 2/10I am surprised she did not add entries for all the many characters who were cut from the series, as surely their presence in the books means they should look like something in the show. Furthermore, the fact that she considers all of Euron's character of "intimidation" or whatever to stem solely from cartoon-like physical features just demonstrates to me how little is understood of what character is. Euron is not dangerous and intimidating because his lips are blue and his hair is black and he has a freakish eye, but because Euron is danger and Euron is intimidation to his soul. That is what he knows, what he is, what he exudes. If "accuracy" is to be gauged, it should be based on whether or not the performance exhibited the abyss that is Euron Greyjoy's soul, not on whether they made the actor appear as if quaffing drano between takes.

So saith Lady Claire
The HBO makeup artists do a great job creating the mass of scars and twisted flesh that cover one side of Sandor Clegane's face, but they don't go far enough. Book readers will know that the visage of the Hound from the books is truly terrifying—and for good reason. 
Show accuracy: 6/10 – The show has actor Rory McCann scarred on the wrong side of the face, so I've flipped it to the correct left side. He was also at too healthy a weight, so I've sunken in his cheekbones and given him a more dagger-like nose accordingly. The Hound shouldn't have an outer ear, and much more extensive scarring has been added to better match his description.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 Though film is, indeed, a visual medium, because of this it also does not need to overdo things to get its point across. The point of the Hound's scars isn't that they are horrific and you can see a piece of his jaw through the skin; the point of those scars is the cruelty and inhumanity he has faced all his life, often at the hands of his own brother, even as a small child. The point is how that cruelty has shaped him and how it plays into the surprising relationships he builds with Sansa, then Arya, Stark. 

I would ask Lady Claire to offer one single bit of difference it makes as to which side of the face bears scars, though I think I can answer for her: none whatsoever. I would also ask Lady Claire to consider the extra hours of makeup her "corrections" would entail, whether they would have enhanced Rory's performance or, as is more likely, detracted from it. 

When we read, we can take in the horror of a description and hold it in our minds as the action unfolds. When we watch on a screen, the described horror is held before us at all times its object is present. Had the producers decided to go with something closer to the book's description, it would have been a distraction to the audience and further torture for the actor. 

Ye olde scales of judgement: -10/10Lady Claire makes no mention of McCann's brilliant performance as Sandor Clegane, which is what sells the character and, indeed, has made him beloved of fans around the world. McCann has managed to evoke tenderness and self-consciousness without sacrificing the Hound's brutality. His simple motivations are complicated by trauma that we see not by the scars on his face, but through depths of expression wholly unrelated to gauntness of cheek, sharpness of nose, or prosthetic grotesquerie. 

So saith Lady Branden:
Ser Jorah is not quite as handsome as the showrunners would have us believe. Our favorite friend-zoned knight is more attractive and also more lightly built on the Game of Thrones television series than his book-version counterpart. 
Show accuracy: 5/10 – I have made quite a few changes to actor Iain Glen to be more accurate. Book-Jorah is balding (but not yet completely bald), with darker hair and beard, as well as a healthy crop of black chest hair. I've also given him a wider neck and shoulders to reflect how crazy strong this Bear Isle exile really is, and a "demon's mask" brand on his right cheek, which Jorah receives for being disobedient while he and Tyrion are slaves.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 It's hilarious that these characters are treated as if the versions in the books are the "real" ones while those on the show are inaccurate remnants of some higher truth, when in fact the characters in the books and the characters in the show are equally inventions of imagination. The books can invent whatever they want—so-and-so is eleven feet tall with flaming eye sockets and testicles that drag on the ground when he walks. The show is both limited and liberated by the realities of physiology, and it often benefits from the stellar performances that elevate these characters beyond expectation. 

Ye olde scales of judgement: 2/10Jorah looking more like a bear would contribute nothing to the show, except perhaps Twitter feeds devoted to that chest hair. I myself pictured a Jorah more physically commanding and awkward, and they could have cast someone closer to that image, but it would have been at the expense of the lovelorn suffering at which Iain Glenn so excels. 

So saith Lady Branden:
On the show, the infamous Bastard of Bolton cut quite an evil and sadistic figure. But would you believe that the book version of Ramsay is even worse? In the novels, some of the things Ramsay Snow does make you shudder, and he is nowhere near as attractive or charismatic as Iwan Rheon. 
Show accuracy: 5/10 – Ramsay gets a long and shaggy haircut and a extreme face makeover, which kind of makes him look like Glenn Danzig. I've given him blotchier skin, closer-set and lighter eyes, a wider nose and more pinched mouth.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 The casting of an attractive and charismatic actor in this role was, I think, an improvement on the books. Evil as ugly is so ingrained in our collective imagination that more attractive defendants are more likely to be found innocent, more attractive people make more money, and we are overwhelmingly less likely to suspect attractive individuals of wrongdoing over those who, in our minds, look the part. When we see beautiful people doing horrible things, we think, "Why? You could have done anything, and you chose to do this." EXACTLY.

Ye olde scales of judgement: 0/10Devolving Ramsay to the cliche of Martin's hideous Bastard of Bolton is a terrible idea. The title of the article is not "What the characters look like in the books," but how the cast on the show "should really look." They are thus implying that their alterations would increase the show's value. Suggestions like this are a prime example of the lack of imagination exhibited by many book purists, a quality often sacrificed in pursuit of devotion. 

So saith Lady Branden [emphasis mine]:
The Lord of the Dreadfort is cunning, cruel, and as cold as the winter winds about to whip through Westeros. For five seasons, Michael McElhatton has admirably portrayed the calculating nature of Roose Bolton to a tee, but there's one problem—McElhatton doesn't really look anything like the character of the books. For starters, Bolton should have long black hair, pale eyes the color of mist, and a strangely unlined face (despite his age). 
Show accuracy: 3/10 – I've removed many of the lines from McElhatton's face, lightened his eyes, and given him some raven locks—befitting of the evil plotter that he truly is.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 McElhatton is definitely not how I pictured Roose in the books, but I would argue that the Roose of the show is almost a different character. He maintains the calculation and ruthlessness of book-Roose, but it feels a different flavor of calculation and ruthlessness than Martin's Lord of the Dreadfort. I agree with this change; the many peculiar details that comprise book-Roose's eerie self-possession would have taken up far too much time we don't have for scenes that compel the story not at all. Show-Roose had to be a more immediate, present character, and Michael McElhatton captures that perfectly.

Ye olde scales of judgement: 3/10I understand the shock of such difference in character here, but again the obsession with physical details undermines the validity of the argument, as does the photoshopped version of "real" Roose, which just makes him look ridiculous. Lady Branden then says that giving him long hair and lighter eyes is "befitting of the evil plotter he truly is," suggesting that the show's Roose is not much of an evil plotter, which is untrue, or that somehow these traits make him more evil or more plottery, which is just silly. 

So saith Lady Claire
On the show, Theon went through hell as the prisoner of Ramsay Snow—but emerged from his ordeal mostly unscathed (except for his dangly bits.) In the books, the Bastard of the Dreadfort treated "Reek" much more harshly, aging the youngest Greyjoy by 40 years and leaving Theon short several fingers, toes, and teeth by the time he escapes. 
Show accuracy: 6/10 – I've given Theon the gray hair and whiskers he has in the books and sunken in his cheeks harshly to illustrate the more than 40 pounds he has lost while in captivity.

Thus speak'st mine self: If appearance alone were enough to convey experience, makeup artists would earn what actors do, and psychiatrists would find themselves quickly unemployed. Many book readers bitched and moaned about watching Theon's torture and transformation into Reek, but just dropping him for 2 seasons to come back broken and disfigured was out of the question for the series. That is one reason Reek's appearance need not be so graphic—we see what happens to him, at least in part. The second, supreme reason is Alfie Allen's performance, so broken, so vulnerable, taut and trembling with trauma. His eyes convey far more than white hair, broken teeth, and missing fingers would. 

But this is a great example of what books can do that film cannot. Theon absolutely vanishes for 2 or 3 books (I'm not looking it up), and he returns as another character—as Reek. As the brittle, broken thing whose interior dialogue and description infer all of the torture and abuse he has endured while we thought he was likely dead and gone. Yet again, when we read the descriptions of Reek, we hold them in our minds while reading—it is not held before us continuously as it would be on film. Each medium did what it had to do for its audience, for its particular strengths, and each was the right choice.

Ye olde scales of judgement: 3/10I grasp the idea that Reek should look more completely destroyed, but Alfie Allen renders this wholly unnecessary. We know what he's been through because we've seen it, and we do not need an actor to starve himself or to wear misshapen dentures to realize his pain. The book version is more horrific in general because we have to imagine what happened to turn Theon into Reek, and the extremity of his appearance adds to that horror for that reason, but the series does not have Martin's freedoms. Placing the book's description into the series would have been too much, distracting from Allen's performance, turning trauma into cartoon pantomime. 

So saith Lady Claire
Peter Dinklage makes a wonderful Tyrion, but he's definitely more attractive than the Imp of the books. He should have a "squashed-in" face, and following the Battle of the Blackwater only about half of his nose. His pale blond and black hair is a startling combination, as are his different-colored eyes. 
Show accuracy: 4/10 – I've "squashed" Tyrion's face, given him the odd-colored eyes, and lopped off his nose. His hair gets the "platinum blond and black ombre" treatment, which is the hottest style for this Winter.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 The "whitewash" of Tyrion is a popular debate among book readers, from matters of appearance to escape-tunnel confessions, but Lady Claire's first statement is the point of the matter—Peter Dinklage is a wonderful Tyrion, an amazing Tyrion, an essential component of the show's soul. I would argue that Tyrion is the most relatable character of the series, moreso than the books, and in no small part due to Dinklage's portrayal. He represents our flaws, our desires, our dreams, our insecurities, our wounded inner children, and our striving, struggling selves. The motley and haphazard construction of Tyrion's appearance in the books would, again, be distracting on the show, and it is not necessary to convey the level of derision and loathing he receives from both family and the public at large.

Ye olde scales of judgement: 1/10Dinklage had a blonder look in the very first episode, and I am so glad they toned it down going forward; it looked horrible. Giving him one black contact lens is pointless, and smashing his face with a sledgehammer is out of the question. Adding the time and expense of prosthetics and CGI to create a missing nose is torture on actor and budget, not to mention unnecessary for the story. Lady Claire consistently fails to recognize what is just too over the top for the show, and she always gives pride of place to the text, even when those decisions would translate terribly onscreen. 

So saith Lady Claire
Tywin Lannister—as played by Charles Dance—cuts a very imposing figure on the show. Dance is nearly perfect for the role, and he has mastered the attitude of the disdainful and tyrannical Tywin. The show also got much of Tywin's appearance correct—except for the hair and beard. 
Show accuracy: 8/10 – Dance really looks the part, and so all I had to do was remove his hair and give him a thicker and blonder beard. After seeing the results, I almost wish that they had gone with Tywin's actual muttonchops on the show. They are glorious.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 Charles Dance is not nearly perfect—he is Tywin Lannister. It is this level of nitpicking that drives me off the fucking wall and that sends a shiver of revulsion down show-watcher's spines whenever someone says, "Actually, in the books...." For this, I blame thee, Lady Claire, and all of your kind.

Ye olde scales of judgement: STFU/10Seriously. "But he should be—" NO. Just shut up. He is perfect. Shut up.

So saith Lady Claire
In the novels, Robb, Sansa, Bran and Rickon all look like the Tully side of the family, with auburn hair and blue eyes. On the show, Robb is fairly accurate in terms of eye color, but his hair is a little more brown than red. 
Show accuracy: 8/10 – I've given Robb a clean shave and some longer and redder locks.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 He's also "supposed" to be 15 or 16-years-old and is barely in the books at all. WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE? 

Ye olde scales of judgement: 2/10Whatever. 

So saith Lady Claire:
One of the major problems book readers have with the show's version of Jaime Lannister is his hair. Throughout the show, it seems that they just haven't been able to get it right—it's always the wrong color and usually the wrong length. During the first two seasons, Jaime should have long curly blonde hair and be clean shaven. After being released by Catelyn, Jaime shaves his head and starts growing a long beard—which he takes a razor to after making it back to King's Landing. He begins to let the hair and beard grow out again towards the end of A Feast for Crows, which means he should have a very unkempt appearance again by season 6 on the show—not the military style he currently wears. Additionally, Jaime and Cersei are supposed to look like near mirror images of one another. We can forgive the casting department on this one, though, as it must be near impossible to find actual male/female fraternal twins who have the acting chops to take on the role of the Lannister siblings. 
Show accuracy: 7/10 – I've given Jaime the longer curls and thicker beard he should have in Season 6 instead of the shorter military look. I have also made his eyes greener. I've also slimmed down his nose to make it resemble actress Lena Headey's more closely.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 First of all, I must comment on the photoshop job here: LOLOLOLOL. That is some hilarious shit. I'm not a fan of Jamie's current hair, but I would never inflict on Nicolaj what Lady Claire has done. For the record, I am a book reader and I have no major problems with it, especially not as affects his character. Few performers have the ability to pull off what Coster-Waldau has done, namely taking one of the most hated characters of the show (quite a feat) to one of the most loved (another feat), and that job rested on his performance, not his stupid hair. 

Lady Claire also said something to which I must add what might be a consideration of some significance: "We can forgive the casting department on this one, though, as it must be near impossible to find actual male/female fraternal twins who have the acting chops to take on the role of the Lannister siblings." They may have also struggled to find actual twins willing to engage in sexual activity on film. Just a thought.

Ye olde scales of judgement: LOL/10People who have "major problems" with a character's hairstyle need to just stop watching, climb into a hole, and recite the books to themselves for eternity. Just for their own peace of mind. Nicolaj would be a gift on this show with a purple mohawk. 

So saith Lady Claire [emphasis mine]:
Lancel's appearance in early seasons was accurate for the most part, but much of what happens to him after joining the Sparrows on the show is imagined. Book Lancel takes severe wounds at the Battle of the Blackwater, which age him prematurely. He later gives up his lordship and new wife to join the Faith Militant, but there's no face carving involved. 
Show accuracy: 5/10 – I've given Lancel back some longer chalky hair and a wispy moustache, made him greyer and added sunken, darkened eyes and fine wrinkles. I also removed the Seven-Pointed Star on his forehead, because in the books he doesn't go through this initiation ritual.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 First, this: "
Lancel's appearance in early seasons was accurate for the most part, but much of what happens to him after joining the Sparrows on the show is imagined." Imagined, you say? As opposed to the books? This is so indicative of the mindset of the book purist, it must be pointed out. They treat Martin's material as fixed reality, which is not only absurd, but denies all other imaginations access and automatically damns any derivation. 

Adaptation is not illustration, but translation, as I've written before. Book readers who wanted a show to be made should be thanking all seven gods for producers as respectful of, and in love with, the source material as those on Game of Thrones. If they want illustrations, they should make flip books or broken flash movies to satisfy their incessant need for exactitude. They could make an entire series about hair or horse saddles. 

Ye olde scales of judgement: 1/10Our Lady Claire of course doesn't take the changes in tone or story into account, as the series obviously emphasized the MILITANT over Faith. Lancel's appearance makes complete sense in that context, but I'm starting to think Lady Claire just has a thing for the gaunt, ghostly type.

So saith Lady Claire:
When Barristan Selmy travels to Essos in order to join Daenerys' retinue, he's grown his hair and beard long and goes by an alias—Arstan Whitebeard. Although Barristan eventually trims his hair and beard after revealing his true identity to Daenerys, the show completely skipped this evolution in Barristan's appearance. 
Show accuracy: 7/10 – I've given Barristan a longer beard and longer locks to resemble his "Arstan" disguise, and changed actor Ian McElhinney's normally hazel eyes to be a bright blue like Barristan's.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 Since the show completely skipped Barristan's whole concealed identity diversion, of course they didn't include any "evolution in Barristan's appearance" to conceal that identity. It is a tangent of story that is ultimately unnecessary and has the added bonus of saving precious time. 

Ye olde scales of judgement: 4/10Props to Lady Claire for attempting to insert Gandalf into GoT, but that's about it. I fear the old wizard would not last long amongst this bunch, so he is safer in true fantasy rather than its subversion. 

So saith Lady Claire
People love Stephen Dillane as Stannis, and I must admit he nails the character's stern, uncompromising demeanor—but he just doesn't look much like the Stannis of the books. Perhaps the biggest issue with Dillane is that he frankly looks older than Robert Baratheon actor Mark Addy, when Robert is supposed to be the older brother, and Stannis the younger. Stannis is only supposed to be 34 at the start of the books. 
Show accuracy: 4/10 – I've removed quite a bit of hair, and darkened what is left from Stephen Dillane's natural salt-and-pepper to a black more befitting a Baratheon. I also gave him dark blue eyes, removed some wrinkles, and widened his shoulders.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 Hey, wow, I totally disagree! "
People love Stephen Dillane as Stannis, and I must admit he nails the character's stern, uncompromising demeanor—but he just doesn't look much like the Stannis of the books." I had the opposite reaction. When I first saw photos of Dillane, he looked very similar to my internal images of Stannis, but I found his performance more bored and dismissive than cold and brooding. That Lady Claire found his performance spot-on but must protest because of his hair—again—makes me want to spit peach pits. 

She continues with this argument against Dillane: "Perhaps the biggest issue with Dillane is that he frankly looks older than Robert Baratheon actor Mark Addy, when Robert is supposed to be the older brother, and Stannis the younger." One thing about Dillane's performance that I totally buy (and I warmed to him over time) is his status as a middle child, that defensive insecurity, that strangling devotion to duty, his buried but boiling resentments. Neither does Lady Claire pause to consider that people age differently; that King Robert has spent the past 15+ years in luxury in the temperate capital while Stannis languishes on harsh and stormy Dragonstone, or that Stannis might have life experiences and emotional turmoil that has aged him faster than his indulgent older brother. 

Ye olde scales of judgement: -2/10Balding him, by the way, does not make him look younger, even with that Just For Men filter. The basic superficiality of these considerations with zero thought to translation for a visual medium and how experience affects life affects appearance continue to consistently bug the shit out of me.

So saith Lady Claire
The choice of Carice van Houten for the role of Melisandre was a triumph by the casting staff. Like Kit Harington, Maisie Williams, Aidan Gillen, and Charles Dance, van Houten seems like she was born to play her Thrones role. 
Show accuracy: 9/10 – Carice van Houten is basically perfect for the role, right down to her heart-shaped face. All I've had to do here is change her eyes from their natural blue to an amber red.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 NEWS FLASH: Red eyes outside of Anime look TOTALLY FUCKING STUPID. 

Ye olde scales of judgement: 0/10Melisandre would be so disappointed, Lady Claire. All great things, after all, require sacrifice. 

So saith Lady Claire
While I think we all agree that Sean Bean was a great choice to play Lord Eddard on Game of Thrones, it's also pretty obvious to book readers that he doesn't look much like his namesake from the novels. Thankfully, Bean makes up for it with excellent acting. 
Show accuracy: 6/10 – I've given Lord Stark longer and darker hair that more closely resembles that of his counterpart in the books.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 I don't know what she's talking about. Sean Bean fit my mind perfectly, even if it was more his pure embodiment of the role, all of his character traits, his natural intimacy, is guardedness, his heavy responsibility, his love and affection for his family, the conflict of his duties, his rigid morality—Bean embraced all seemingly without effort, which has more to do with Ned Stark than longer, browner hair. 

Ye olde scales of judgement: -72/10That Lady Claire has any critique of Sean Bean in this role because he somehow doesn't "look like" the Ned of the books is exactly demonstrative of the book purist's tendency to tear down all that is good in defense of that of least value. If you dislike his performance, that is one thing, but to me (and many others), Sean Bean is Ned Stark—he brought the man to life, through artistry and will made us love him, made us mourn him. He had nothing to "make up for," just a role to revel in.

So saith Lady Claire
Mark Addy was a brilliant choice to play King Robert. My only quibble is that Addy's hair is a medium brown shot through with gray, when George R.R. Martin makes it clear that despite his obesity, Robert is still quite black-haired. Additionally, Robert Baratheon would tower over most men, putting him near the height of Hodor, while actor Mark Addy stands only 5'11" tall. 
Show accuracy: 8/10 – I've darkened Robert's hair to a truer Baratheon shade.

Thus speak'st mine self:
My only quibble is that Addy's hair is a medium brown shot through with gray" NONONONONONONONONONO. NONONO NONO NONONONO NO NONONONONO NONONO. NO!

Ye olde scales of judgement: NO/10—grrrrrrr.

So saith Lady Claire
Edmure is the baby of the Tully family, but on the show he hardly resembles his sisters Catelyn and Lysa, and he also looks just as old as they do—when he actually should be in his late 20s or early 30s at the start of the novels. 
Show accuracy: 5/10 – I've gotten rid of Edmure's boring short brown hair and given him a flowing shaggy mane of auburn, with a thick red beard and the blue eyes of the Tullys.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 I don't see a flowing shaggy mane of anything, just a kinda-reddish blur that ultimately looks like some medieval device to imprison his face. 

Ye olde scales of judgement: 4/10I didn't agree with this choice for Edmure, and I still don't really buy Tobias Menzies in the role. I like him as an actor, I just don't feel him as Edmure. Dying his hair would not change that. 

So saith Lady Claire
He's gigantic, strong, and terrifying, but the Mountain that Rides has not been very accurately depicted on the show. Three different actors have played the Mountain in the show, and none have come close to matching the description of Ser Gregor from the books—but that's understandable given that any casting director would be hard-pressed to find an actor matching Clegane's unnatural stature, described as nearly 8 feet tall and 30 stone (420 lbs). Conan Stevens (7' tall) played Clegane in season one, followed by Ian Whyte (7'1") in season two. Whyte would go on to play the part of giant Wun-Wun, and the part of the Mountain has been played by Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (6'9") ever since season four. While the shortest of the three actors to portray Clegane, Björnsson comes closest in appearance. As a strongman competitor, Björnsson has the heavily-muscled build we expect of Clegane—even though he weighs only about half as much as the Mountain. 
Show accuracy: 6/10 – I've given Björnsson a beefier build, including arms as thick as tree trunks. The Mountain also is supposed to have hair long enough to fall into his eyes, so I've given him a messy dark brown 'do.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 Conan Stevens was my favorite Mountain (the first one), as I totally felt his murderous brutality, impulsivity, cruelty, and ferociousness in the very brief screen time he occupied. I don't think being a big dude is enough, and if it were, Beefcake Bjornsson would be brilliant. Alas, I find him rather dull.

Ye olde scales of judgement: 0/10That hair is pretty funny, but I wouldn't instruct my hair/makeup dept. to attempt such a wig out of fear for their personal safety.

So saith Lady Claire [emphasis mine]:
Among readers as well as show-only fans, "dancing master" Syrio Forel is a favorite secondary character. But while fans of both mediums can agree on Syrio's awesomeness, book readers will be quick to point out that there's one problem with Miltos Yeromelou in the role—his full head of bushy, black hair. 
Show accuracy: 8/10 – I've taken away Yeromelou's curly locks and given him a bald head like Syrio should have.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 Now I'm angry. Lady Claire states that "
while fans of both mediums can agree on Syrio's awesomeness, book readers will be quick to point out that there's one problem with Miltos Yeromelou in the role—his full head of bushy, black hair." Actually, no. There is zero problem with Miltos in the role. Miltos is fucking brilliant. Changing an actor's appearance just because it says something different in the books is not reason enough to do it. On the contrary, the hair adds to Syrio's flamboyance and sense of mischief. 

Ye olde scales of judgement: -340/10 (double damage)—How dare she.

So saith Lady Claire
Rose Leslie would probably say we know nothing, but she's much too pretty to play the part of Ygritte if we stay completely true to the books. As with Brienne, the showrunners picked a gorgeous lady to play someone notably less-than-beautiful—at least, according to George R.R. Martin's writing. 
Show accuracy: 6/10 – I've given Ygritte brighter "kissed by fire" hair, and made some adjustments to her face—a rounder jawline, a more upturned nose, crooked teeth, and wider-set eyes.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 Except we're not staying "completely true to the books." We know that going in. We know that because it's both impossible and a bad decision. Rose Leslie is likewise not "much too pretty to play the part of Ygritte." She played the part and she played it admirably, like a wildcat with her tail caught in a trap. 

Ye olde scales of judgement: 0/10So apparently only certain shades of red are "kissed by fire," and...ugh. This is stupid. Stupid!

So saith Lady Claire
The Game of Thrones casting department did an excellent job when picking Lena Headey for the role of Cersei. I now have a very hard time picturing anyone else in the role. That being said, there are a few things different about Cersei in the books when compared to the show. As her stress levels rise, Cersei begins to drink heavily and near constantly in the novels. With all this wine comes a fairly significant weight gain—to the point where she no longer can fit into many of her old gowns. 
Show accuracy: 7/10 – I've brightened Cersei's eyes to give them that "emerald" hue, and lightened her hair to match more closely with the paler (and more accurate) blonde she was in earlier seasons. I also made her rounder and more jowly in the face to reflect her alcohol-induced weight gain.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 Except the article is not titled How Game of Thrones characters look on the show vs. in the books, though I guess that should be obvious since it's how they "should" look and book purists place the text in some unimpeachable realm of imagined facts. Interestingly, Lady Claire fails to mention how resistant many book readers were to Headey's casting, and how it took many of them multiple seasons to accept her in the role.  

Ye olde scales of judgement: 0/10Perhaps Lady Claire does not know that short hair is often darker than longer hair, though you'd think someone so obsessed with hair would indeed know such things. One might also point out how insensitive it is to bloat up a photo of a woman so recently pregnant, but what are human feelings beside the world according to GRRM? 

So saith Lady Claire [emphasis mine]: 
Actor John Bradley has Sam's demeanor down pat, but he doesn't bear a strong resemblance to the Samwell of the novels. The book version of Sam is clean-shaven, has light-colored eyes, and weighs a good bit more than Bradley does. 
Show accuracy: 7/10 – I've removed the scraggly beard and wispy moustache that Sam's been cultivating for six seasons, leaving him clean-shaven. I've also changed his eyes from brown to a paler shade of gray, and made his face heavier to reflect the additional 40-50 pounds he should be carrying around.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 It's unrealistic for someone in Sam's position to remain facially hairless, unless it's a hormonal thing. Where water more often than not turns to ice, where men grow beards and mustaches and chops as a symbol of manliness, where every available scrap of fur or hide or hair can save you from freezing to death, Sam would grow whatever scraggles and wisps he could. How they detract from Sam's believability is beyond me.

Ye olde scales of judgement: -61/10—"Actor John Bradley has Sam's demeanor down pat," but THAT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH, DAMMIT. They should force feed him egg creams and rip out his dark, offending eyeballs! I don't even think these people want a show, but a painting. They want minutia porn to point out everything they already know. 

So saith Lady Claire [emphasis mine]: 
At first, so much about Littlefinger bothered me. Where's his pointy beard? Why is he so gray-haired? He's only 30 years old! Then after a re-read, I realized that Baelish was going prematurely gray in the books, too—I'd just never noticed before. 
Show accuracy: 9/10 – All I've done here is add a more prominent pointy little beard to accentuate the soul patch that the showrunners gave Littlefinger.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 I fear for Lady Claire's mental stability. "
At first, so much about Littlefinger bothered me. Where's his pointy beard?" People actually read these books and loved them and, against all odds, got a sumptuous show on HBO, and upon receipt beat their brows asking, "Where's his pointy beard?" 

Ye olde scales of judgement: 0/10facedesk. 

So saith Lady Branden [emphasis mine]:

Pedro Pascal was an inspired choice to play Oberyn Martell. That said, his appearance on the show wasn't 100% accurate to how he's described in the books. While he has the same swarthy olive complexion and black eyes, he lacks the longer hair and widow's peak the Red Viper of Dorne should have. 
Show accuracy: 8/10 – All I've done here is given Oberyn longer black hair with a widow's peak, as well as made his eyebrows thinner and his nose slimmer and more pointed.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 Pedro did not match the image of Oberyn I had in my head, but who freakin' cares with a performance like that???? You're seriously going to bitch about a widow's peak?

Ye olde scales of judgement: WTF/10Yes, seriously bitched about a widow's peak.

So saith Lady Claire [emphasis mine]:
While I love Nathalie Emmanuel, the show really blundered here by aging Missandei up so drastically—just to give viewers a new romance storyline between her and Grey Worm. A few years older for characters like Daenerys and the Stark children is understandable, but this is ridiculous. Additionally, the physical description of Missandei, her home island of Naath and their pacifist religion really seems to point to a southeast Asian influence. Asians can have "dusky skin," too! 
Show accuracy: 3/10 – I've essentially done a face swap here, giving Missandei a rounder and more childlike jawline as well as the "flatter" features of a girl from southeast Asia. I also did some work on her eyes to make them more "golden."

Thus speak'st mine self:
 First, I've never read that Missandei was aged up to give Grey Worm some romance. If so, I'd like to read that interview. Second, it's likely (without evidence to the contrary) that she was aged up before any inkling of romance was written, so presuming that as the reason for this decision is solely to justify outrage that has more to do with violating the world of GRRMM, like missing widow's peaks and too short hair and too dark eyes and too thin cast and too pretty women. It is not "ridiculous." It is practical, saves money, and Nathalie Emmanuel has done an excellent job. 

Ye olde scales of judgement: !!!/10I am not even going to touch the Asianification attempted here. Just...wow.

So saith Lady Claire
As with Maisie Williams for Arya, the casting directors did a great job picking Kit Harington for the role of Jon Snow. Some book readers were a little dubious about that show-only beard of his—which was a boyish, wispy thing in early seasons—but it's come in thicker and fuller for season six, after Jon Snow "kills the boy" to let the man be born. Some book fans complained about Jon's curly hair and beard on the show, but a close review of the text reveals that the texture (or exact length) of Jon Snow's hair is never explicitly laid out in the books. Additionally, while his "hairless cheeks" are mentioned by a Wildling in the novels, it doesn't completely rule out a beard like Harington has—which still does leave him with mostly hairless cheeks. 
Show accuracy: 9/10 – All I've done here is make him look a little younger, change his eyes from dark brown to dark gray, and lighten his hair a touch.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 I know I am in the minority on this, but Kit Harrington did not meet my Jon Snow expectations at all. His appearance is fine, but his demeanor is totally different from the book-Jon. I don't know if these changes came from the writers or director or just how Kit filled the role, but it irked me for quite some time, indeed until the last 2 seasons. But who cares about all that? His little beard leaves his cheeks mostly hairless, which mostly matches one character's description of Jon in the books, so please pass GO and unclench the coal from your anus!

Ye olde scales of judgement: whatever/10I pictured Jon as more pensive, intelligent, observant, and brooding rather than entitled, whiny, and defensive, but for some reason Kit's hair washes away all sins. Except it was "a touch" too dark. Of course. 

So saith Lady Claire: 
Maisie Williams is as close to perfect for the part of Arya as you can get, with the correct color hair, eyes, and solemn face. HBO made the decision to age up all the Stark children by a few years for the television series—she should really be nine years old in season one, not the 12 she is on the show. 
Show accuracy: 9/10 – Since she's been aged up on the show—she is 11 or 12 at the end of A Dance with Dragons—I've only made a few minor changes to make her face more youthful. While it's debatable if book-Arya was ever really a 'Horseface,' I have lengthened William's face slightly to give her a more accurate look.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 If she was 9-years-old in season 1, we wouldn't have Maisie Williams, and the world would be a darker place. I actually agree with Lady Claire, but for wholly different reasons. Lady Claire states Maisie's "correct color hair, eyes, and solemn face" as qualifying factors, while I would state her mischievousness, confidence, and stubborn persistence, all perfectly performed by Williams. I am surprised Lady Claire did not complain about Maisie being "too beautiful" to play Arya, but she tries to deflect such a critique by calling "Horseface" into question as "debatable." How convenient!

Ye olde scales of judgement: 7/10You don't get called "Horseface" just because your face is a little longer, especially in this case, as Maisie's face is naturally quite round, and lengthening it actually makes her look more elegant and grown up. 

So saith Lady Claire
Many book readers were extremely surprised when we got our first glance of Lysa Arryn at the Eyrie. In the novels, Lysa is puffy and overweight from a succession of failed pregnancies and miscarriages. Kate Dickie nails the strident, jealous and paranoid behavior of Lysa, but there's no way anyone would ever call her "overweight." 
Show accuracy: 5/10 – With an actress as slim as Kate Dickie, it's pretty hard to make her heavyset—as Lysa should be—but I've added some weight to her face, as well as changed her eye color from light green to light blue.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 No, Katie Dickie is not puffy and overstuffed, but damn was she a perfect Lysa. Dickie's physicality was an asset to her performance, in fact, emphasizing the rigid angularity of her paranoia and the severity of her displeasure. There are no "but...!"s to be had when a character is so well represented. 

Ye olde scales of judgement: 1/10—"...as Lysa should be..." These phrases irk me the most, as they imply an intrinsic error or lack on behalf of the character in the show. Imagine how poor this show would be if many of the cast had been passed over because they did not match the book descriptions? 

So saith Lady Claire [emphasis mine]:
Gilly should be much younger than she appears onscreen. She's supposed to be a teenager, and while actress Hannah Murray portrays the innocence of Craster's daughter quite well, the 27-year-old actress will never look like a fresh-faced teen. Also, Murray has prominent upper front teeth, and for many book fans, her bucktoothed appearance during the first few seasons was slightly distracting—because such a unique facial feature was never mentioned in the novels. 
Show accuracy: 8/10 – I've given Gilly a facelift to bring her closer to her true age by removing the bags under her eyes and fine lines around her nose and mouth. I also gave her a slimmer and more gaunt face, slightly enlarged her big brown eyes, and fixed her toothiness.

Thus speak'st mine self:
 First of all, I doubt if any of Craster's daughters/wives ever looked much like a "fresh-faced teen." In this case, there is an error because something not mentioned in the books appeared in the show, and if Martin had intended it to be that way, he would have written it. You can't fucking win with these people. I, for one, never found Hannah Murray's "bucktoothed appearance" at all distracting, and wonder how anyone ever meets these people's expectations. 

Ye olde scales of judgement: rude/10So Craster has a fresh-faced, dew-eyed, perfect-toothed teen in his harem, but Ygritte and Brienne crossed the line. "Correcting" Murray's teeth is also just rude, and hiding behind "it wasn't in the books!" doesn't disguise such insensitivity.

So saith Lady Claire
For book readers, the true identity of the mysterious Coldhands has been a topic of hot debate for many years. Those who felt Coldhands = Benjen may have gotten some validation when the characters were merged for the show. But as we know, just because something happens in the series doesn't mean that's how GRRM will do it. 
Show accuracy: 7/10 – I've made Benjen thinner and given him blue eyes. Because we don't 100% know if Coldhands is Benjen in the books, I haven't given him any of Coldhands' features (like the black eyes).

Thus speak'st mine self:
 So you DO know that just because something happens in the show doesn't mean it will play that way in the books. Why, then, can you not comprehend it the other way round? And why are you focusing on Coldhands when discussing the appearance of Benjen? Are you confused, not knowing whether you should criticize based on the description of Benjen or the description of Coldhands? 

Ye olde scales of judgement: nothing/10These pictures look the same to me. If Lady Claire has run out of steam, then so have I...almost.

There are some very interesting omissions from this list. Joffrey, for instance, looks nothing in the show like he does in the books (golden curls, wormy lips). Many book readers had a problem with Catelyn Stark. Illyrio? Selyse? Robert/Robin Arryn? I do not lament the lack of a longer list, but find it curious who is included and who excluded.

Of course, the most fundamental flaw of this entire list stems from its own title: How the cast of Game of Thrones should really look. The cast of Game of Thrones should look as they do because they are the cast of Game of Thrones, an error reinforced by the authors' use of the cast in character as the starting point for their "corrections." It could be titled "How the characters from Game of Thrones look in the books" or something, but to presume the book descriptions are the only "correct" versions of these characters, without allowing for how things should and must translate for film, not to mention the absurd elevation of minute details over embodiment of character and artistic performance.

I also know it is pointless to argue with these people, which is why I'm taking a piss on the forgotten layers of the internet. It was rather therapeutic to do so. 

The main and most important thing to understand about book adaptations is that no adaptation can ruin a book. The book will always be there in its original, pristine, beloved condition and order, all of its details dutifully in place, and from there, you have only your imagination to blame.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know why there are weird boxes around all graphics or why my formatting got so fucked up, but when I tried to edit the problems (like suddenly tiny text), they are fine in the editor, so big middle finger to you, too, blogger.