Space Ramblings

The Thin Line Between Critic and Fanboy

It’s reviews like Ginia Bellafante’s screed in the New York Times against Game of Thrones that remind you of just how small a gap there is now between the professional critic and the fanboy. Ginia Bellafante’s only underlying point is that she doesn’t like fantasy and science fiction. Instead of just letting someone else do the review, she dresses up that dislike in gender typing that sounds like it came from a Charlie Brown panel (science fiction and fantasy is for boys only) and social relevance (period dramas in the 1960’s can examine social structures, but not fantasy ones).

The tone is everything you expect from a fanboy screed, irrationally dismissive, even contemptuous and a poorly disguised argument for personal preference mocked up as a review. And it is billed as a review.

But even though it says review on top, Ginia Bellafante doesn’t even pretend to review it. It’s an Armond White review, with Ginia Bellafante citing all the things she likes better than it and using appeals to gender roles and social relevance to buttress her argument, which turns out to have nothing to do with Game of Thrones. The closest she comes to mentioning something specific about the show is its development of a language, but only to peg that as her closing put down.

The single worst moment in it all must be

While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first.

And if Ginia Bellafante hasn’t met women who read fantasy novels, they must not exist… or they must not matter. Because she never met them.

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