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TheKnightOfJests

Do the show writers hate religion?

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When you consider the general political affiliation of the network that airs the show, it should come as no surprise that the show is disparaging of religion even in a world where the supernatural is a proven commodity.

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4 hours ago, Channel4s-JonSnow said:

Not even slightly. Many characters are religious and it has no baring on whether they are good or bad or stupid or clever. Ned believed in the old gods, there are many characters who believed in the Seven or the Old gods and it made very little difference to who they are. 

Even if they did portray everyone who believed in a religion as crazy or a fantatic.. would that be so far from reality? ^_^

It would be further from reality than are dragons and ice zombies. 85% of the world's population believes in a "higher power" of some sort, but only a smidgen of them are fanatics.

D&D suffer from the same pathology as the rest of Hollywood does, which is the mindset that tradition & especially religion = stupid prejudices. It's obvious in the show.

Having said that, I would acknowledge that there is an element of realism to the emergence of the fanaticism of the Sparrows: where the political system has gone mad, people will look to other institutions for law and peace.

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17 minutes ago, Donaldys I Trumpagar said:

It would be further from reality than are dragons and ice zombies. 85% of the world's population believes in a "higher power" of some sort, but only a smidgen of them are fanatics.

D&D suffer from the same pathology as the rest of Hollywood does, which is the mindset that tradition & especially religion = stupid prejudices. It's obvious in the show.

Having said that, I would acknowledge that there is an element of realism to the emergence of the fanaticism of the Sparrows: where the political system has gone mad, people will look to other institutions for law and peace.

I don't believe it is obvious in the show actually. There are numerous religions and people who follow them and they all do so in different ways, some are fanatical and some are not. Some are ignorant and some are not.

But I was having a slight dig at religion with my comment anyway, there is an element of craziness in believing in superstition and controlling dieties IMO... but lets not get into in a discussion about GoT!

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Even as someone who is no big fan of organised religion, I think D+D's portrayal of it incredibly negative and heavy handed. The sparrows in the books had some legitimate grievances. The show sparrows are just the westeros baptist church. Plus they made Thoros a lot less sympathetic. 

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13 minutes ago, protar said:

Even as someone who is no big fan of organised religion, I think D+D's portrayal of it incredibly negative and heavy handed. The sparrows in the books had some legitimate grievances. The show sparrows are just the westeros baptist church. Plus they made Thoros a lot less sympathetic. 

Are they though? In fact they are set up as a force for equalising power in westeros, taking power away from the Elite and bringing it back to the people. That is their main aim. Is that negative? I'd say it was a force for good.

Yes they also have some views on homosexuality and infidelity that don't fit into a 21st century modern interpretation, but that seems entirely consistent with the majority of religious views throughout history.

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20 hours ago, TheKnightOfJests said:

In the show whenever we've seen a religious character, they're usually either insane, cruel, cocky, or all three.
In the books there was pretty much always a good and bad example of religious persons for just about all the major religions within ASOIAF

For the red god: Melisandre=bad(mostly)  Thoros=good(mostly)

For the Seven: High Sparrow= somewhat short sighted, while other sparrows have been shown to be mostly decent people.

There are other examples, but it seems that in the show almost all the characters have pretty much shunned any form of religion. This even goes as far as making characters who mention and pray to the gods several times in the books such as Sansa say things in the show like "I don't pray any more". Also the actions of the sparrows in the books were much milder than the show versions. They boarded up the brothels yes, but they didn't go around murdering people like in the show.  The high sparrow's cocky smile to Jaime just seems like the show writers are going a little over board in portraying religious corruption. It seems like they're pressing more of an underlying agenda than actually presenting realism.

What do you all think?

There are examples of good people who are religious in the books: Thoros, Septon Meribald, the Elder Brother of Silent Isle... etc. I think the show writers have cut out some of them because of time and budget constraints, or because they found them boring or redundant, not because they hate religion.

And even if the writers portrayed negatively most religious characters, that says nothing about their own beliefs: Religious people ofter portray religions other than their own in quite a worse light than atheists do.

 

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13 hours ago, ummester said:

The High Sparrow is the most decent character in the show, he is less self interested and stands more for fairness than any other character. I have never interpreted show High Sparrow as cocky, perhaps a little self righteous but mostly humble.

 

I agree. Show HS is similar to book HS in my view.

When reading a character it is far easier to have your own views colour the character. When reading a line of dialogue you can interpret it as sneering condescension or witty banter. So someone can seem nasty to one reader and jolly to another. You can't write a tone of voice (although you can descibe it, but not every conservation has every line's tone described).  The same conversation read by ten people could have various versions playing out in their heads. If you think religion is good your more likely to think the book HS is doing good, if you have poor opinions on religion then you will look less favourably on him.

With the TV version it is harder for your own biases to influence the characters because the actors and directors are setting the tone and disposition of the conversation.

Also I think you should wait and see, I believe there is a Septon in the Riverlands appearing later this season. He could be a "good" guy as you put it.

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I'm as anti-religion as they come, and while I don't mind the portrayal of religions in general, I find the sparrows rather awkward. When they were set loose in S5, they were clearly intended to come off as little more than a fanatical villainous mob smashing up brothels, alcohol and gays because religion. To be clear, I don't find it awkward that the sparrows are opposed to those things as such, but rather the focus and presentation. It just smells a bit too much like cheap contemporary political/religious stereotypes.

I like HS himself, though, since he comes off as a peasants' revolt kind of guy first and religious fanatic second.

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2 minutes ago, Direwight said:

I'm as anti-religion as they come, and while I don't mind the portrayal of religions in general, I find the sparrows rather awkward. When they were set loose in S5, they were clearly intended to come off as little more than a fanatical villainous mob smashing up brothels, alcohol and gays because religion. To be clear, I don't find it awkward that the sparrows are opposed to those things as such, but rather the focus and presentation. It just smells a bit too much like cheap contemporary political/religious stereotypes.

I like HS himself, though, since he comes off as a peasants' revolt kind of guy first and religious fanatic second.

Thing is, it wouldn't be far off the mark if the general population of the Sparrows were motivated by fanaticism and prejudice against gays and sinners, while the HS has far higher ambitions than that. It does seem to me that the High Sparrow isn't especially worried about things like who is having sex with who, but will use it if it helps him get what he really wants, which is to bring down the main houses and establish a system based on religious law, which he sees as fairer. 

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We have seen numerous examples of religion throughout Westeros and beyond, and the people you are naming as 'unrealistic fanatics' are a minority...they are the ones who use religion for power, and it's not at all 'unrealistic' to me because that's what organized religion has done for centuries.  The regular, everyday people that we see worshipping and getting on with their lives are no fanatics...but people like Melisandre (who is portrayed as a fanatic in the books) and the High Sparrow (who is also portrayed the same way) are the true fanatics who believe their that religion is the only true religion and are willing to act upon it.  But we've seen others pray to the seven gods (with Arya and the Hound), and we've seen people pray to the old gods (Ned, etc), and they were not fanatics.  To them, religion was part of their lives, not their means to power.  Thoros believes in R'hllor, but he isn't looking for power...he believes because he's performed miracles.  

So I disagree with the OP's assessment.

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12 hours ago, Lothar said:

It takes me out of the story.  There's magic, dragons, zombies, wizards living in trees, people coming from the dead, shadow babies.  People should be more likely to believe in religion than on Earth today, but almost none of the main 50 or so characters seem to believe in it much.  It's hard to buy.

That's my issue with it as well.  I'm trying to figure out how all of these supernatural things exist without a higher power at play in the story.  I don't think they can,  with that statement in the linked interview about Jon being particularly problematic,  because nothing else can explain his resurrection or how Melisandre's ritual worked.

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13 hours ago, Lothar said:

It takes me out of the story.  There's magic, dragons, zombies, wizards living in trees, people coming from the dead, shadow babies.  People should be more likely to believe in religion than on Earth today, but almost none of the main 50 or so characters seem to believe in it much.  It's hard to buy.

Well except religion is growing massively in the show. Both with the Sparrows, and the increase in Red God preachers everywhere. 

I mean, maybe I'm watching a different show, but it seems the've actually made it pretty clear how religious the general population is getting.

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14 minutes ago, bb1180 said:

That's my issue with it as well.  I'm trying to figure out how all of these supernatural things exist without a higher power at play in the story.  I don't think they can,  with that statement in the linked interview about Jon being particularly problematic,  because nothing else can explain his resurrection or how Melisandre's ritual worked.

Well, GRRM himself suggested that the miracles performed by Red Priests might just as easily be explained by actual existence of deities, as by RPs natural magical powers that they are simply misattributing.

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14 minutes ago, Channel4s-JonSnow said:

Well except religion is growing massively in the show. Both with the Sparrows, and the increase in Red God preachers everywhere. 

I mean, maybe I'm watching a different show, but it seems the've actually made it pretty clear how religious the general population is getting.

The peasants are.  None of the main characters you're supposed to root for.  None of them take it seriously.  Except maybe Sansa.  But then she said she stopped praying too.  

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Just now, Kiwi said:

Well, GRRM himself suggested that the miracles performed by Red Priests might just as easily be explained by actual existence of deities, as by RPs natural magical powers that they are simply misattributing.

That may be how they choose to explain it,  but I think that its weak.  Any time you start dealing with magic,  there's an implied supernatural component beyond normal human understanding,  and in a story that's very much grounded in humans being human,  I think that's messy.  

 

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3 minutes ago, Lothar said:

The peasants are.  None of the main characters you're supposed to root for.  None of them take it seriously.  Except maybe Sansa.  But then she said she stopped praying too.  

Which characters do you suddenly expect to believe in Gods, and why? And why should that be different to the books, and why should there be any focus on it at all if its already established that large portions of society are believing in religion more?

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29 minutes ago, Channel4s-JonSnow said:

Thing is, it wouldn't be far off the mark if the general population of the Sparrows were motivated by fanaticism and prejudice against gays and sinners, while the HS has far higher ambitions than that. It does seem to me that the High Sparrow isn't especially worried about things like who is having sex with who, but will use it if it helps him get what he really wants, which is to bring down the main houses and establish a system based on religious law, which he sees as fairer. 

Sure, I'm not saying it's necessarily unrealistic or that the HS's plans aren't exactly what you say. The general population of the sparrows can be religious zealots who go around smashing brothels and gays after carving a religious symbol on their forehead, but I simply find that rather boring and unoriginal. It's like the most obvious and black-and-white way to signal that "these are bad religious zealots", and feels like you're just supposed to mentally pattern-match them to the Taliban or something.

I'd have preferred if they had focused more on the smallfolks' plight, excesses of nobility, corruption and so on, with the occasional smashing of a brothel happening off-screen and only being talked about, not shown, in order to keep it out of the spotlight. Because I think that would have made them a bit more interesting and less black-and-white, with less obvious real-world parallels and less of what easily comes off as real-world political messaging.

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1 hour ago, RedShirt47 said:

Also I think you should wait and see, I believe there is a Septon in the Riverlands appearing later this season. He could be a "good" guy as you put it.

I actually got the 2 muddled in my head when reading - they both seemed so similar in motivation to me :D

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3 minutes ago, Direwight said:

I'd have preferred if they had focused more on the smallfolks' plight, excesses of nobility, corruption and so on, with the occasional smashing of a brothel happening off-screen and only being talked about, not shown, in order to keep it out of the spotlight. Because I think that would have made them a bit more interesting and less black-and-white, with less obvious real-world parallels and less of what easily comes off as real-world political messaging.

The only boring real world political messaging I noticed was picking on Loras for being gay - but every Western TV show needs something about gay people in it now, so it's to be expected. I would have preferred to see Loras burned, as in the books, because vanity was more his vice than being gay. Perhaps he will still get his pretty face burnt in an upcoming episode?

As for the Taliban zealots or something - there is perhaps cultural or media influence from your own country playing out here? Oppress any people long enough (and I mean real oppression, not just hurting their feelings, going without food and so on) and they will turn to fairly extreme ways of trying to maintain control. Everything will fight violently for it's own survival when pushed far enough, including mobs of poor people - and carving an aggressive symbol on your body as a sign of brotherhood and angry hope is not an unbelievable action.

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