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butterbumps!

Let’s Change the Conversation: Remapping Dany

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Something for everyone to bear in mind the next time they slag off The Great One (Baelish for those who don't know).

Well, unlike Lord Pissant, Dany actually does critique the status quo. LF isn't about social progress for some humanitarian objective; he's about creating chaos in order to mount the existing system. He's looking to manipulate and destroy the specific people, not the order itself.

The issues of compelling leadership, progressive objectives and power are also absent thematically from his arc, whereas these are Dany's greatest virtues.

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It may be that you are right. But I think Dany is being judged a bit harshly. She is still young and learning how to properly rule.


And even in Meereen she probably does a better job than half the Lords of Westeros.


I think the point of Meereen is to teach her a lesson, about what she can and cannot do , and hoping she will be more realistic if she comes to Westeros.



But I do like your analysis. If we take into consideration that "the dragon has 3 heads" it makes sense that each one of them represents something else. But in that case would Stannis be one of the heads?


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To the extent of explaining Dany's literary purpose, I think your analysis is probably correct. But, to the extent that it is an invitation to re-evaluate Dany's character and actions, in light of her "literary destiny", is an invitation I can not accept. People's intent and actions do matter to me, and I would suspect they do matter to many others as well.



I know we discussed the Black Plague as being an agent of change that had some positive effects. Those positive effects being that the peasants did obtain some measure of greater economic power and, with that greater economic power, greater bargaining power. However, had I lived in the 14th Century I just couldn't see myself saying, "You know, the peasants' lives pretty much suck. So, I think I will just unleash the Bubonic Plague upon the European population with the intent of killing off about a third of them. Because if I kill off said third, then, well, you know, by the law of supply and demand, the wages of the surviving peasants will rise." And, aside from the pure brutality of such of plan, which would make it objectionable enough, add to the list of objections, the uncertainty that the plan would even work as intended.



I just don't like using a sledge hammer, where a simple hammer might do job.

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Without a catalyst, some things simply won't change, and while we can hate the catalyst itself, I think looking at the fact that there was a catalyst at all is something to appreciate, knowing that without it, however negative it may be, things would have stayed the same. As it pertains to Dany, the fact that she's the only character with enough power to fairly singularly overcome the inertia of social systems is something I've started to see as positive, broadly speaking. I think there's a sore need for some social progress in a lot of places that could benefit from a bit of shaking.

That works for me very well on the dramatic, character-arc level as well - that is, in my investment in Dany as a person, rather than as a political figure - there's always the current there of madness/genius, of the possibility she is going to burn very bright, but also burn herself out very quickly.

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I disagree. I think as long as a significant part of Dany's thinking and identity are invested in being a ruler and in avenging her family's fall, she's someone who does seem to have an interest in ruling after conquest and that makes it impossible for me to dismiss. Now, there is always the possibility that she may grow as a character and let go of her aspirations to rule, but I don't really see that happening right now. I'm worried that the call to view Dany only as an agent of change absolves her of responsibility for the destruction her short-sighted actions would impose.

Yeah, she has aspirations to rule, and on her own, she would be bad at it. But the point is that she needs help from people like Stannis and jon, to help her rule more effectively. Also, no one is trying to absolve her of responsibility, seems to me you just made that up. I cant speak for the op, but my reading of it was that dany is a good leader but a bad ruler, and in order to rule she would need lots of help and aid.

"Good at creating change" is simply "destructive without genuine care or concern about the consequences" with a bit of positive spin. We don't let leaders just be "good at change," we expect them to take responsibility for their actions and for the fallout that such destruction creates. It's possible for positive changes to occur after upheaval, but the best way to ensure a return to a stability and to guard against backsliding are with strong, competent leadership, not an "agent of change" who comes in, destroys, and leaves.

Once again, thats why jon and Stannis were even mentioned in the op.

This isn't always true. To simply shrug our shoulders and say good things could come of massive destruction is to fail to hold Dany to account for her actions, something we routinely do with other characters and real world leaders.

Same point as above, her actions arent being dismissed. Im fast to call her on her bullshit and atrocities.

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To the extent of explaining Dany's literary purpose, I think your analysis is probably correct. But, to the extent that it is an invitation to re-evaluate Dany's character and actions, in light of her "literary destiny", is an invitation I can not accept. People's intent and actions do matter to me, and I would suspect they do matter to many others as well.

This is pretty much what I'm saying as well. We hold all kinds of characters and their actions up for moral scrutiny and to exclude Dany because she sometimes claims to act according to ideals we'd agree with is to uniquely let her off the hook. Under close examination, we can see that most of her big decisions are driven by self-interest and advancing her personal goals instead of the high-minded ideals she sometimes claims, like most other players in the game.

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Well, unlike Lord Pissant, Dany actually does critique the status quo. LF isn't about social progress for some humanitarian objective; he's about creating chaos in order to mount the existing system. He's looking to manipulate and destroy the specific people, not the order itself.

The issues of compelling leadership, progressive objectives and power are also absent thematically from his arc, whereas these are Dany's greatest virtues.

Baelish does critique the status quo. He's challenged it throughout his time in KL. and continues to do so in the Vale.

Hence why I didn't talk about them (although arguably he is pursuing progressive objectives. He more than almost any other character (notable exceptions being Jon and Stannis) is a meritocrat (much more than Daenerys ever has been).

Meanwhile, Daenerys stumbles from atrocity to atrocity.

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I don't know that it changes that much about the debate, it might change some people's expectations...if they were expecting her to learn to be a good ruler, perhaps viewing her as a 'change agent' they will no longer have that expectation that she's going to somehow improve on a set of skills that she, so far, has shown little interest in even acquiring. If the future expectation of Dany is as a change agent going to Westeros to create change then there won't be the same expectation she will be a good, benevolent ruler on the IT...but her arrival with dragons, ex slave armies, a fleet captained by the worst the Ironborn has to offer...will be seen for what is much more likely to happen...she will put it to use against the Others...as the conqueror and change agent that she is, and forget about trying to rule or govern and when its all over, if she isn't dead, she will hand over Westeros to someone who IS good at governing and ruling and paying attention to long term strategy and cause and effect, unlike herself.


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Baelish does critique the status quo. He's challenged it throughout his time in KL. and continues to do so in the Vale.

Hence why I didn't talk about them (although arguably he is pursuing progressive objectives. He more than almost any other character (notable exceptions being Jon and Stannis) is a meritocrat (much more than Daenerys ever has been).

Oh bullshit.

LF isn't critiquing anything, he like Cersei wants to become the oppressor, not destroy it. He isn't looking to bring about social equality any more than Cersei is trying to institute reproductive freedom.

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I do not agree. Change needs pre change conditions. Slaver rebolts, elites questioning it., and most important economic conditions.. like a big process. If those conditions do not exist you are just forcing something because you have dragons and unsullied that wont last when you are gone, like what happened to Astapor. You might end slavery in industrial 19th america, who may hold the change, but you just cant do the same lets say for example in 2000 BC Egypt.

Astapor, Qarth, Yunkai and all the others will retourn to slavery when she is gone, even if she wons the war.

Bottom line: She is not a good catalyst, she cant read if the reallity is ready for a change. A change that doesnt endure means nothing more than pointless suffering for the people. And thats I belive her point in this story.

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Baelish does critique the status quo. He's challenged it throughout his time in KL. and continues to do so in the Vale.

Hence why I didn't talk about them (although arguably he is pursuing progressive objectives. He more than almost any other character (notable exceptions being Jon and Stannis) is a meritocrat (much more than Daenerys ever has been).

Meanwhile, Daenerys stumbles from atrocity to atrocity.

Sorry I don't see that at all. He hasn't lent a hand to a single person where there is no gain to himself, even Varys occasionally helps people with no guaranteed pay off. LF is not about any kind of progressive objective, he is about acquiring power for himself, that's it.

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Yeah, she has aspirations to rule, and on her own, she would be bad at it. But the point is that she needs help from people like Stannis and jon, to help her rule more effectively. Also, no one is trying to absolve her of responsibility, seems to me you just made that up. I cant speak for the op, but my reading of it was that dany is a good leader but a bad ruler, and in order to rule she would need lots of help and aid.

Once again, thats why jon and Stannis were even mentioned in the op.

Every successful ruler needs level-headed counselors. No one person possesses the knowledge and experience to rule successfully alone, so it's natural to expect Dany to learn the value of good advice if she does end up in a position to rule. I just don't see her relinquishing power after committing a series of massive destructive actions in the series (short of her dying in the process) in some sort of Westerosi equivalent of Sulla. She's not invested in a system enough to be able to step back and hand over power to those who have the knowledge and skills to rule. She can't even build a system or see the value of one on her own.

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This is pretty much what I'm saying as well. We hold all kinds of characters and their actions up for moral scrutiny and to exclude Dany because she sometimes claims to act according to ideals we'd agree with is to uniquely let her off the hook. Under close examination, we can see that most of her big decisions are driven by self-interest and advancing her personal goals instead of the high-minded ideals she sometimes claims, like most other players in the game.

But I'm not excusing her of her crimes. I'm saying that her massive failures as a ruler are a fait accompli, and let's move on.

And what makes so sure a “hammer”might not work? What makes you so sure a large blood bath is needed? What makes you so sure that a huge amount of destruction will lead to the type of progress you approve of.

Well, for example, in the case of Jon and the Watch, reforming alone wasn't enough.

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I'm not sure that means she shouldn't also be evaluated for her actions as a ruler, and be given a pass due to her meta role as a change agent, especially since we don't yet even know if she is going to have effected any positive change in Slaver's Bay or not. So, far she created a lot of chaos, but there is not much reason to see hope for the emergency of a new more positive structure, it looks much more likely it's going to lapse back into slavery, but that could all change on a dime.

This is also close to my feelings on the matter. I don't disagree with seeing Dany as a change agent and not a ruler (especially given that she's a piss-poor ruler, which I think is your point). However, I'm concerned that evaluating her in such a way effectively bars people from judging her on her ruling attempts, which I'm not on board with. I'm wondering if that's the OP's intent or if I'm misreading it?

Basically I just don't want a situation where this is the case: "Dany's a terrible ruler who got thousands of people killed and has no idea what she's doing, but since she's an agent of change and not a ruler, we can't evaluate her as one, so none of that matters."

ETA: Should have read further down. Just saw Bumps's reply. I can live with it.

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But we're talking about cases where simple hammers don't work yo.

And what makes so sure a “hammer”might not work? What makes you so sure a large blood bath is needed? What makes you so sure that a huge amount of destruction will lead to the type of progress you approve of.

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I do not agree. Change needs pre change conditions. Slaver rebolts, elites questioning it., and most important economic conditions.. like a big process. If those conditions do not exist you are just forcing something because you have dragons and unsullied that wont last when you are gone, like what happened to Astapor. You might end slavery in industrial 19th america, who may hold the change, but you just cant do the same lets say for example in 2000 BC Egypt.

Astapor, Qarth, Yunkai and all the others will retourn to slavery when she is gone, even if she wons the war.

Bottom line: She is not a good catalyst, she cant read if the reallity is ready for a change. A change that doesnt endure means nothing more than pointless suffering for the people. And thats I belive her point in this story.

But there have been rebellions no? When we see the plaze of punishment, there are slaves who've hit back at their masters or disobeyed and so on.

They were ready to revolt and wanted to, but the powers that held them in check were too strong-which is where Dany comes in.

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I think Dany is exactly what Jon needs.

The Watch is bogged down in millenia of tradition, diseased, gangrened. Fire and blood is exactly what he needs to cleanse it.

Or Jon needs to find the change agent within himself. If he is the middle ground between Dany's chaos and Stannis's stodginess, then he's the one with the capacity to both effect change and also to administer it successfully.

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I agree entirely that Daenerys is a catalytic figure in the story (and indeed that seems to be precisely one reason why some people dislike her) but I disagree that this means that she isn't a ruler, it is simply a different kind of leadership, charismatic leadership as opposed to institutional leadership. That doesn't preclude her from being Queen but does mean as we have seen that she won't represent continuity or stability within the story but rather rebirth and disruption.



In the context of Westeros we see that rulers don't even have to be mildly interested in the administrative or institutional side. That is precisely why there are stewards and Hands, or in modern corporate terms a Chief Operating Officer as well as a Chief Executive.



An issue that we saw in the slavers Bay story was that she didn't have a reliable institutional framework to actualise / implement / oversee her initiatives.



The shift from charismatic leadership to administrative is a common one, though not one that is generally found in fiction...


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