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Whipsy

Painting Cersei as the "Victim" (Book Spoilers)

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Now, I don't want to start another Jaime the Rapist thread as I am sure that has been beaten to death by this point but I do want to discuss why D&D continuously cast Cersei in a kinder light. I understand that they do the same thing with Tyrion's character but it seems more jarring to me with Cersei since for the most part she is described as rather villainous. First there was her conversation with Robert about "Loving him even after they lost their first child". What a load. And then her boo-hooing over her child's insanity and having Joffery order the killing of the bastards instead and now this rape thing. Will they continue to try to make the audience feel sorry for her even as the story progresses?

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I hear you. She is probably the most hated character (of mine) in the books, but in the show she is definitely not as much of an evil bitch. They gave her that motherly aspect, and the scene in the first season of her and Robert really helped everyone "understand" her and why she was the way she turned out. It basically gave her an excuse. I actually thought the scene was really well done, and enjoyed it. But at the same time it affected her character's development (at least when compared to the books).



I'm over it though. I know they change things for one reason or another in the show, and I just take it for what it is. I enjoy both the show and the books for different reasons, although the portrayal of many characters are quite different between mediums. The characters will always be how I imagined them in the books (for me), but the show is by no means bad entertainment.


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Some characters in the show are just greyer than in the books, others are not (coughTyrioncough). I kind of like it, that way even the bookreaders can't really tell what certain characterts will do and for what reasons. I think that people who want a 100 percent one-to-one adaption never consider how boring that would be.


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Yeah, now I think showCersei is as similar to bookCersei as showShae is similar to her book version. They are completely different people. But it does not bother me, really. I know that the book versions are the real ones and the show is just two people's adaptation biased by their vision. I still like the show but I am not treating it seriously really. I did not start liking Jaime any less because he raped Cersei in the show. And I did not start liking Cersei any more because she is portrayed as a victim. Although some decision of D&D are making me conscious that the writers exist.


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Now, I don't want to start another Jamie the Rapist thread as I am sure that has been beaten to death by this point but I do want to discuss why D&D continuously cast Cersei in a kinder light. I understand that they do the same thing with Tyrion's character but it seems more jarring to me with Cersei since for the most part she is described as rather villainous. First there was her conversation with Robert about "Loving him even after they lost their first child". What a load. And then her boo-hooing over her child's insanity and having Joffery order the killing of the bastards instead and now this rape thing. Will they continue to try to make the audience feel sorry for her even as the story progresses?

What especially irritates me is that they seem to think that a female character will only be more "likable" if she's stripped of any agency and power and portrayed as a victim instead of someone who makes her own choices.

I hate when people say that show!Cersei is "more complex" than book!Cersei or that book!Cersei is "one-dimensional". No, she is not. Book!Cersei is a villain, and she's also been a victim (as a woman, she had no choice in who she was going to marry, married off to a stranger as a broodmare in political marriage, sexually and physically abused by Robert) but she's also an unrepentant murderer and abuser herself and has no empathy for people who are in a similar position as she is; she can be hateful, pitiable, unintentionally and sometimes even intentionally funny.

But what I like about book!Cersei is that she makes her own choices: she wasn't able to decide who she would marry, but she chooses whose children she'll have; she doesn't try to be a 'good wife' to Robert who is a bad husband to her; she aborts his baby (instead of some sob story in which she lost her baby and then it all went bad, she actually made a choice); she commits murders herself, and isn't just Joffrey's powerless mother who whines that she can't control him (it usually doesn't seem like she even tries to control him); she has sex with her brother in the sept next to her dead son's body because she chooses to, because "she's as hungry for him as he is for her" (GRRM about the book scene); she never felt guilty about her sexual relationship with her twin brother (as she does in the show), which she's been having since they were kids, she was just worried about getting caught.

Why does Cersei have to (what D&D see as) "likable"? Why can't she be a strong, interesting villain/antagonist/character, who makes her choices and does what she wants? People enjoy male villains who are ruthless and make their choices and do what they want. Why can't there be a female villain who does just that?

Furthermore, why does she have to be initially in love with her husband that she never chose or try to be a good wife to him, or wonder "if they ever had a chance"? (Unpopular opinion: I always disliked that Cersei/Robert scene because I found it OOC for her and incongruous with the rest of their interactions in the show, not just the book.) What's D&D's obsession with making every female character try to be a good wife/try to "give a chance" to a bad marriage (even if they don't in the book)? Why is that required to make a character more "likable"? Why change the abortion to stillbirth - to make her more 'likable' in the eyes of the anti-abortionists? I guess we should be relieved that they didn't make her relationship with Jaime all about Jaime raping her, in order for her to be more 'likable' to the moral brigade viewers! :rolleyes:

It's not like they only do it with Cersei, who is a villain - they've systematically stripped Sansa of even those moments of agency and stuff she actively does that she has in the books.

That's, of course, if the rape is supposed to make the viewers sorry for Cersei. Maybe they wanted us to think that she "deserved" it, which is even worse. OK, maybe it's unfair to accuse them of that. But it sucks when you have to choose between two sexist explanations.

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i'm wondering if d&d tend to be really heavy handed with the character depictions so that when the character evolves, it's more "visible". dany starts off her marriage with drogo more negatively than in the books to make her move toward more positive more dramatic. i think that's what's happening with tyrion and jon as well. is that what's happening with cersei now that she makes the turn toward insanity?


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i'm wondering if d&d tend to be really heavy handed with the character depictions so that when the character evolves, it's more "visible". dany starts off her marriage with drogo more negatively than in the books to make her move toward more positive more dramatic. i think that's what's happening with tyrion and jon as well. is that what's happening with cersei now that she makes the turn toward insanity?

I agree. They simplify the characterization with a higher contrast between the good and the evil of each character. This may sound repetitive, but in some cases it may not be such a bad idea given the difficulty that non-readers have in tracking so many characters, let alone having the deep understanding that some readers have of those characters. They want to portray a subset of story lines and traits of each character, omitting everything else. Compared to other shows, GoT has too many characters to allow a strong development of each of them.

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The thing that bugs me about the show's portrayal of Cersei is that by stripping her nastier behaviors, they've also stripped a lot of her agency -- her ability and willingness to try to be a real force and make things go her way. Yes, this works out badly in the books because she's not a good person and she's not all that bright, but at least she's a mover and shaker. Show!Cersei is far more passive and wounded and generally weaker.



This is no insult to LH who I enjoy, but just to the portrayal of Cersei as some kind of victim. In the book, Cersei was apparently born a psychopath who killed her playmate at age 10 years old because she didn't like her playmate crushing on her brother....that is not a sympathetic person. But women can be evil psychopaths too, why not? A world that has Gregor Clegane and Ramsay Snow has room for Cersei Lannister as well. Is the idea that women can't be powerful and evil or something?



The same thing goes for Shae. In the book she's a scheming golddigger without loyalty. Women like that exist, so why shouldn't Shae be one of them?



I'm trying hard here to find a single portrayal in the show of a woman who's just a bad person, and I'm failing. It kind of feels to me like what they call "positive sexism", which is the habit some men have of restricting women's choices on the grounds that women are "pure and noble creatures who must be protected from all the evils of the world because they are inherently better beings than men." That's hogwash. Women aren't better than -- or worse than -- men. They have, or should have, all the choices of behavior and personality that men have, including the bad ones.



Cersei in the book was a woman who decided she wasn't going to have Robert's kids, and she took action to make sure that didn't happen. Show!Cersei apparently tried to be a good wife but was blocked in this by Robert's inability to love any woman who wasn't Lyanna. Cersei in the book was a woman who slaughtered the children of other women because her husband had cheated on her with them -- she wanted revenge and by God she got it, even if innocents died. Book Cersei is evil and she is active. Show Cersei is just kind of ...sigh...passive and pathetic.


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The thing that bugs me about the show's portrayal of Cersei is that by stripping her nastier behaviors, they've also stripped a lot of her agency -- her ability and willingness to try to be a real force and make things go her way.

but the best part of her descent into insanity is when she tries to be a real force and make things go her way. that will be shown on the series. that's all she does after joff dies in the books.

Cersei in the book was a woman who decided she wasn't going to have Robert's kids, and she took action to make sure that didn't happen. Show!Cersei apparently tried to be a good wife but was blocked in this by Robert's inability to love any woman who wasn't Lyanna. Cersei in the book was a woman who slaughtered the children of other women because her husband had cheated on her with them -- she wanted revenge and by God she got it, even if innocents died. Book Cersei is evil and she is active. Show Cersei is just kind of ...sigh...passive and pathetic.

book cersei goes into her wedding night trying but is very shaken when robert calls out lyanna's name. and according to the books, she doesn't completely close the door on robert until they go to the "greenshits" castle and she has proof he was cheating on her:

It did not take him long to start playing with her again. As soon as Cersei closed her eyes, the king would steal off to console the poor lonely creature. One night she had Jaime follow him, to confirm her suspicions. When her brother returned he asked her if she wanted Robert dead. “No,” she had replied, “I want him horned.” She liked to think that was the night when Joffrey was conceived.

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What especially irritates me is that they seem to think that a female character will only be more "likable" if she's stripped of any agency and power and portrayed as a victim instead of someone who makes her own choices.

I hate when people say that show!Cersei is "more complex" than book!Cersei or that book!Cersei is "one-dimensional". No, she is not. Book!Cersei is a villain, and she's also been a victim (as a woman, she had no choice in who she was going to marry, married off to a stranger as a broodmare in political marriage, sexually and physically abused by Robert) but she's also an unrepentant murderer and abuser herself and has no empathy for people who are in a similar position as she is; she can be hateful, pitiable, unintentionally and sometimes even intentionally funny.

But what I like about book!Cersei is that she makes her own choices: she wasn't able to decide who she would marry, but she chooses whose children she'll have; she doesn't try to be a 'good wife' to Robert who is a bad husband to her; she aborts his baby (instead of some sob story in which she lost her baby and then it all went bad, she actually made a choice); she commits murders herself, and isn't just Joffrey's powerless mother who whines that she can't control him (it usually doesn't seem like she even tries to control him); she has sex with her brother in the sept next to her dead son's body because she chooses to, because "she's as hungry for him as he is for her" (GRRM about the book scene); she never felt guilty about her sexual relationship with her twin brother (as she does in the show), which she's been having since they were kids, she was just worried about getting caught.

Sorry for snipping your post, I had to to quote it, but it's absolutely perfect and everything I think of show!Cersei.

I'm absolutely fascinated by book!Cersei, she's such a complex character with lots of dualities. She's an abuser who's been abused, and someone who's constantly striving for independence and power. No, she isn't particularly likeable and she's very hard to sympathise with at times, and that's why I find it so surprising when I manage to connect with her. And I love that she's such a dynamic character, in the books she never sits around and wait like in the show; when she's locked in a cell unable to do anything she goes mental. She's fierce, she wants the weather to match her rage. All of this is lost in the show for a sob story and a lot of sitting around.

As offensive as the rape scene was, and as bad as it was for Jaime, it's such a disservice to Cersei as well. Sex is a weapon to her, at this point in the story she should have built a following of dudes/women she had enticed however she could, we should see her seducing and machinating. Her sexuality is completely stripped from her, as if it were something she finds shameful. Show!Cersei is a woobie, book!Cersei is truly complex.

book cersei goes into her wedding night trying but is very shaken when robert calls out lyanna's name. and according to the books, she doesn't completely close the door on robert until they go to the "greenshits" castle and she has proof he was cheating on her:

I don't think book!Cersei ever loved Robert, she was hurt that he didn't want her. She didn't want him either, but it was like how dare HE not want her, if I'm making any sense.

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I agree. They simplify the characterization with a higher contrast between the good and the evil of each character. This may sound repetitive, but in some cases it may not be such a bad idea given the difficulty that non-readers have in tracking so many characters, let alone having the deep understanding that some readers have of those characters. They want to portray a subset of story lines and traits of each character, omitting everything else. Compared to other shows, GoT has too many characters to allow a strong development of each of them.

I have a similar impression. And I also think that this is not only due to the amount of characters but also due to the different medium of TV compared to a book. In the books you can describe the characters however you want to but I think no matter how good the actor is, there is a certain degree of charisma that is just hard to overcome completly, when you actually watch a "real" person on the screen. In the last years there have been quiet some "villains" that were portrayed on the screen and I remember with Breaking Bad for example the people making the show have stated several times that they sort of wondered how far they can go with making a character more evil without losing sympathy for the character and were surprised how far they could actually go.

So I think keeping up a constant "greyness" might be more difficult on screen just because I think people then tend to "whitewash" the characters for themself (I see it with myself somehow as even I hate Ramsay less on the show, just because I sort of enjoy the actor and how he displays the character), so maybe keeping the characters a little more "white" makes the "black" moment stand out a little more.

That's why I do agree on Cersei and as someone who really enjoys her chapters in the book (and the more messed up she is the better :D ) it's somehow a pity she has been more passive in the show so far, but I see her great "bad" moments still coming (as it is also the case for Tyrion) so I still have hope that she is gonna get there eventually.

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I don't really see the show painting her as a victim. I think they're just a bit more subtle about presenting her devious nature. Too subtle at times perhaps, as demonstrated by the reactions to last week's episode.


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What especially irritates me is that they seem to think that a female character will only be more "likable" if she's stripped of any agency and power and portrayed as a victim instead of someone who makes her own choices.

I hate when people say that show!Cersei is "more complex" than book!Cersei or that book!Cersei is "one-dimensional". No, she is not. Book!Cersei is a villain, and she's also been a victim (as a woman, she had no choice in who she was going to marry, married off to a stranger as a broodmare in political marriage, sexually and physically abused by Robert) but she's also an unrepentant murderer and abuser herself and has no empathy for people who are in a similar position as she is; she can be hateful, pitiable, unintentionally and sometimes even intentionally funny.

But what I like about book!Cersei is that she makes her own choices: she wasn't able to decide who she would marry, but she chooses whose children she'll have; she doesn't try to be a 'good wife' to Robert who is a bad husband to her; she aborts his baby (instead of some sob story in which she lost her baby and then it all went bad, she actually made a choice); she commits murders herself, and isn't just Joffrey's powerless mother who whines that she can't control him (it usually doesn't seem like she even tries to control him); she has sex with her brother in the sept next to her dead son's body because she chooses to, because "she's as hungry for him as he is for her" (GRRM about the book scene); she never felt guilty about her sexual relationship with her twin brother (as she does in the show), which she's been having since they were kids, she was just worried about getting caught.

Why does Cersei have to (what D&D see as) "likable"? Why can't she be a strong, interesting villain/antagonist/character, who makes her choices and does what she wants? People enjoy male villains who are ruthless and make their choices and do what they want. Why can't there be a female villain who does just that?

Furthermore, why does she have to be initially in love with her husband that she never chose or try to be a good wife to him, or wonder "if they ever had a chance"? (Unpopular opinion: I always disliked that Cersei/Robert scene because I found it OOC for her and incongruous with the rest of their interactions in the show, not just the book.) What's D&D's obsession with making every female character try to be a good wife/try to "give a chance" to a bad marriage (even if they don't in the book)? Why is that required to make a character more "likable"? Why change the abortion to stillbirth - to make her more 'likable' in the eyes of the anti-abortionists? I guess we should be relieved that they didn't make her relationship with Jaime all about Jaime raping her, in order for her to be more 'likable' to the moral brigade viewers! :rolleyes:

It's not like they only do it with Cersei, who is a villain - they've systematically stripped Sansa of even those moments of agency and stuff she actively does that she has in the books.

That's, of course, if the rape is supposed to make the viewers sorry for Cersei. Maybe they wanted us to think that she "deserved" it, which is even worse. OK, maybe it's unfair to accuse them of that. But it sucks when you have to choose between two sexist explanations.

Exactly what I was getting at. It's not so much that she's portrayed as nicer but the fact that in doing so you lose a lot of her character. In my opinion, Cersei's chapters are so great to read because it shows how bat shit and manipulative she is. Gray characters are definitely more interesting to watch but I think they are doing more white-washing than actual graying, and the argument that she would be boring if she was portrayed as evil in the books is not something I can really get behind because they didn't white-wash Ramsay and Joffery and certainly not Jamie and they are still interesting characters in the show. I realizes choices have to be made in editing for time constraints and such but if that was the case and they didn't have enough time to show the true depths of a character and instead shoot for making them more of a caricature for the audience why not just take her more in the direction she actually is and make her flat out evil? Ramsay is, so you can't tell me it doesn't work. Instead, as Rill Redthorn said, since she's a woman she can't possibly be as demented as her male counterparts, thus we have scenes that portray her as a girl who's just trying to do the best with the situation she's in. As if the bitch doesn't cause the majority of her own problems.

Side note: It's not to say I don't appreciate LH's acting or the work that has to be put forth to adapt a book to screen. I'm sure I wouldn't be able to do a better job. This is just something that's been personally bugging me since season 1.

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In my opinion, Cersei's chapters are so great to read because it shows how bat shit and manipulative she is.

Well, we have not really reached the moment in the story where the books start to tell the story from her POV so that for me is when it starts to be more intersting if and how they manage to turn the crazyness up. Basically after Tywin gets out of the picture I hope to see more of bookCersei. That's the point when I would really mind.

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Now, I don't want to start another Jamie the Rapist thread as I am sure that has been beaten to death by this point but I do want to discuss why D&D continuously cast Cersei in a kinder light. I understand that they do the same thing with Tyrion's character but it seems more jarring to me with Cersei since for the most part she is described as rather villainous. First there was her conversation with Robert about "Loving him even after they lost their first child". What a load. And then her boo-hooing over her child's insanity and having Joffery order the killing of the bastards instead and now this rape thing. Will they continue to try to make the audience feel sorry for her even as the story progresses?

She's portrayed a little more grey in the show, but she's still an evil witch. She's hardly portrayed as a victim. I actually like the depth her character is given on the show.

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Well, we have not really reached the moment in the story where the books start to tell the story from her POV so that for me is when it starts to be more intersting if and how they manage to turn the crazyness up. Basically after Tywin gets out of the picture I hope to see more of bookCersei. That's the point when I would really mind.

I hope you and the other people who have mentioned this are absolutely right. I can't pretend that I know where the show is going with everything and maybe there are just trying to make Cersei's descent into madness more dramatic for the audience. I hope this is true. I really do.

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I don't think book!Cersei ever loved Robert, she was hurt that he didn't want her. She didn't want him either, but it was like how dare HE not want her, if I'm making any sense.

she did want him when they were just about to be married. she states how tall and handsome he was and the text has wording about her initial attraction although i don't have my books with me. again, she was prepared to be a good wife (as much as is possible with cersei) but robert's actions change her attitude and curb her enthusiasm.

someone posted that she is attracted to power and when robert is fresh from the rebellion, it's dripping off him. but as he becomes the fat drunk we meet in the first book, what little attraction there was, died. i think that, coupled with his obsession with other women, killed any chance of a good relationship between the two.

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EDIT: This is what happens when I have multiple tabs open- sorry, wrong thread!


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she did want him when they were just about to be married. she states how tall and handsome he was and the text has wording about her initial attraction although i don't have my books with me. again, she was prepared to be a good wife (as much as is possible with cersei) but robert's actions change her attitude and curb her enthusiasm.

someone posted that she is attracted to power and when robert is fresh from the rebellion, it's dripping off him. but as he becomes the fat drunk we meet in the first book, what little attraction there was, died. i think that, coupled with his obsession with other women, killed any chance of a good relationship between the two.

I always took it as she was in love with the attention and the crowd of adoring fans and not so much that she was super happy about marrying Robert. I believe she would have tried to be a dutiful wife at the start because that is what being Queen seems to entail but Robert being the drunkard he was and calling out Lyanna's name on their wedding night probably killed whatever sense of duty she had to him. She didn't know him before their wedding so I doubt she loved anything about him except the attention and praise he brought but their wedding night killed even that so she never had a chance to develop love, but it wasn't there from the get-go I don't believe. Of course, I also don't have my books so I could be wrong. Happened before.

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she did want him when they were just about to be married. she states how tall and handsome he was and the text has wording about her initial attraction although i don't have my books with me. again, she was prepared to be a good wife (as much as is possible with cersei) but robert's actions change her attitude and curb her enthusiasm.

someone posted that she is attracted to power and when robert is fresh from the rebellion, it's dripping off him. but as he becomes the fat drunk we meet in the first book, what little attraction there was, died. i think that, coupled with his obsession with other women, killed any chance of a good relationship between the two.

No, I don't agree she was prepared to be a good wife, there's no evidence of that in the books; she had sex with Jaime on the morning of her wedding, that doesn't sound like being prepared to do anything. She was maybe somewhat attracted to Robert, although she was pissed at Tywin for marrying her to him, but that doesn't mean she loved him or wanted it to work.

Maybe describing her as a victim in the show is stretch, although after the last episode she most certainly is. The point is that she's been made passive, all agency stripped from her; her questionable/evil deeds were given to Joffrey, some scrapped completely, her manipulation hidden, and all of that has been replaced with... a lot of moping and doing nothing.

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