Casting Director Nina Gold Comments on Lack of Diversity in Game of Thrones Cast

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The International Edition of the South China Morning Post interviewed Game of Thrones casting director Nina Gold, who commented on her background, the everyday nature of her job, the daunting responsibility of casting the new young heroic Star Wars trio for The Force Awakens, and the much derided lack of diversity in Game of Thrones.

Perhaps surprisingly, this Game of Thrones job wasn’t a sure thing for Gold in the beginning. As she tells it to the SCMP, “It wasn’t really my cup of tea.” She also touches on the controversial topic of diversity, which the show has been criticized for lacking.

Gold says “it’s important to remember the series is based on books that are very descriptive and specific about the appearance of its characters,” passing the buck to George R.R. Martin. She is more optimistic about the film industry as a whole, saying it’s “already shifting towards greater diversity. We are more aware that to not take diverse casting seriously is uncreative and silly. We’re all trying to do castings that reflect real life, and real life is full of all sorts of different people. We’ve got to have them all.”

Understandably, Gold passes the responsibility for this lack of diversity onto the author of the books, who always retorts to this issue by appealing to historical accuracy. Leaving aside that there were non-white people in late Medieval Britain, the authenticity argument still falls flat when considering Martin’s world is merely inspired by this era —It remains a fantasy. Martin could have included as many people of color as he wished in the made-up Westeros. Failing that, the showrunners could have chosen to break away from canon in that respect and create a more diverse Westeros for the screen. One must wonder how is it that black people break the immersion of a lived-in medieval world yet fantastic creatures, fake histories and decidedly made-up customs do not.

Nathalie Emmanuel as Missandei and Jacob Anderson as Grey Worm _ photo Helen Sloan_HBO

Nonetheless, modern fantasy, including A Song of Ice and Fire in some respects, now offers a wide range of diversity that we could only have dreamed of years ago, especially in regards to prominent female characters. But that doesn’t invalidate all criticism. As it is, even when people of color are cast in the show, it’s usually in the role of savages, slaves, brutal slavemasters, eccentric merchants, exotic priests, and unsavory pirates. Two big exceptions I’m grateful for are Missandei and Grey Worm, who may be former slaves, yet Benioff and Weiss have gone to great pains to turn them into three-dimensional main characters with inner lives of their own independent of Daenerys. Though Game of Thrones outshines the source material on this, Martin’s work does have a number of tertiary characters of color the show has omitted.

Back when Pedro Pascal was cast as Oberyn Martell for season four, Martin discussed this very issue on his blog, praising the show for making up for the characters of color lost in the adaptation by turning certain originally white characters black:

I wasn’t present for Pedro Pascal’s audition, but I understand that he really killed it with his reading. And since his casting was announced, the producer of another TV show on which he appeared recently has written me to say how terrific Pascal is, and to congratulate us on the casting. So I suspect that he will turn out to be a wonderful Red Viper.

I do know that David and Dan and HBO do favor having a racially and ethnically diverse cast on the series. It is true that we’ve lost several black characters who appear in the novels (Chataya and Alayaya, Jalabhar Xho, Strong Belwas), but to balance that, characters like Salladhor Saan and Xaro Xhoan Daxos, both white in the books, have been played by black actors. Missandei as well, though in the books the Naathi are golden-skinned, not white.

As for the Dornishmen, well, though by and large I reject one to one analogies, I’ve always pictured the “salty Dornish” as being more Mediterranean than African in appearance; Greek, Spanish, Italian, Portugese, etc. Dark hair and eyes, olive skin. Pedro Pascal is Chilean. (Check out Amok’s version of the Red Viper, that’s how I saw him. Or Magali Villenueve’s beautiful and sexy portrait of Princess Arianne).

One can love the show and acknowledge there is work to be done in certain areas. Granted, most of that work could only have been done at the beginning, when Martin created this world, and then yet again when Benioff, Weiss and Nina Gold cast the show. Once it was established that every House and region of Westeros except for Dorne is populated by white people alone, there is little the show could do to change that. Arguably, all Game of Thrones can do now is prop up the few main characters of color it has and take care to offer non-white actors roles that are not entirely stereotypical. Nina Gold, who has been responsible for the amazing cast of Game of Thrones, will hopefully be a part of this process during the last few years of the show.

271 responses

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    1. Pretty weak excuse, imo, considering that plenty of casting choices are very different from their book descriptions, but I definitely agree with your last point- there’s little that can be done now other than acknowledging it as an issue and working with what they’ve got

    2. Martin based it on history and tried to stick to that level of accuracy when possible, therefor the “but it’s still fantasy so he could do whatever he wanted” misses the entire point of what he was writing…

    3. GeekFurious,

      Hence my comment that “One must wonder how is it that black people break the immersion of a lived-in medieval world yet fantastic creatures, fake histories and decidedly made-up customs do not.” Historical accuracy is a pretty bad argument on all accounts: There were black people in Medieval Europe, even Britain; and even if there hadn’t been, there are plenty of elements in Westeros that don’t jive with Medieval Britain at all.

    4. One must wonder how is it that black people break the immersion of a lived-in medieval world yet fantastic creatures, fake histories and decidedly made-up customs do not.

      I agree. It’s a show with ice zombies and dragons. The historical accurate excuses are weak.

    5. In my opinion that is a flimsy and poor excuse by her. Has she gone into the casting process with a word for word description of the character from the source material she plans to cast? Seeing the significant (and growing with each new season) differences in adaptation and source material, the answer is no. Is GRRM involved in the casting process each season? The answer is no. So if this bothers her, she can fix it, can she not?

      You cannot answer critics that certain changes in the show happen because “it is an adaptation and changes will happen” and yet then answer uncomfortable questions by suggesting you’re just taking your cues from the source material. That type of excuse by her is a classic pass the buck and it is lame and feeble.

    6. The casting is great, in my opinion, I like it as it is for the most part. I don’t think everything in society needs to appease to a political ideal. A work of art is a work of art of infinite dimensions, sometimes diverse, sometimes not. Now the industry itself has a problem, this does not mean each individual piece does, or each individual needs to agree to it. I think we have more of a control issue then anything, I think nature knows how to balance itself out on its own, and we are an extension of nature, but as a species we don’t know how to live in harmony with each other, or how to respect each others free will, so we must control, must try to mold individuals to our ideals, or a central ideal, that in my opinion is the real diversity issue.

    7. Once it was established that every House and region of Westeros except for Dorne is populated by white people alone, there is little the show could do to change that.

      Martin based it on history and tried to stick to that level of accuracy when possible, therefor the “but it’s still fantasy so he could do whatever he wanted” misses the entire point of what he was writing…

      I don’t agree with these excuses. If they wanted to keep to the cultures that George and D&D are basing these series’ on, there would be more people of color. Europe was never 100% white, especially in port cities like King’s Landing and Old Town. Since Daenerys is canonically part Dornish in both the novels and the TV series, she should have been cast with a biracial actress. Before anyone points out that the Dornish marriage happened generations before, I will counter in advance with the fact that her ancestors were incestuous, which would have only kept the Dornish blood strong from generation to generation along with the Valyrian. It’s also worth noting that the casting for the Dornish characters is concerning as well. Unlike the rest of Westeros, which is all white, the Dornish seem to be made up of all different races, leaving them as just “other” instead of being an ethnicity of their own. The casting department is essentially saying that all people with a darker skin tone are the same. I would understand the Sand Snakes as being biracial since Oberyn had them with various women, but there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the casting choices.

    8. While I agree that shows should be encouraged to represent the sort of diversity we actually see irl, I don’t really blame anyone for the lack of diversity here. I am sure when the showrunners started with this show, they were looking to recreate Martin’s world as close as they could. And Martin’s world did not have any significant black/ethnically diverse characters.
      And in Martin’s defense, let’s remember he started writing this story in the early 90’s, when diversity in entertainment wasn’t being given the kind of importance it is today.

      I do agree however that the historical accuracy excuse isn’t going to fly, for reasons stated by others.

      OT: Here’s wishing a very happy 30th nameday to the Kit in the North!

    9. oh please, the show was able to change so many major characters plot lines, but they couldn’t add diversity to the cast? Sure, Jan

    10. Why does it have to be 50-50? It’s not meant to be a documentary about all the races in the world. It’s just a story. There were not many white people in the Cosby Show, because the story was about a black family. There were not many black people in the nanny, because it was a show about an English father and a Jewish nanny. Does every show now has to be representing every colour in the world in the right percentages? You’re not telling a story if you do that.
      And by the way, I’m not white either, but I live in a country where most people are white. I’m in a minority, but it never bothered me. I never look at colour, I only look at character.

    11. It’s difficult to create a diverse cast when Martin has written paternity being determined by hair color.

    12. One must wonder how is it that black people break the immersion of a lived-in medieval world yet fantastic creatures, fake histories and decidedly made-up customs do not.

      Yes, this has been a head-scratcher for me as well.
      I am very happy that more and more, in TV and films, diversity in casting is increasing. Soon, a majority “strictly” Caucasian cast will be quite quaint.

    13. Chilli,

      I totally agree with that.

      Also… I wonder which character’s skin color could have been changed in TV series? Not to mention that in medieval times, people with different skin color were considered less worthy…

    14. Characters originally from Essos, such as Thoros of Myr and Melisandre could have easily been played by people of color. I like the actors they went with btw, but I’m just giving them as an example to show that it’s not that difficult to cast people of color in more prominent roles on GoT.

      Also, happy birthday to the Kit in the North! 🙂

    15. Flayed Potatoes,

      Yup. They might’ve changed the race of an entire household too. While reading asoiaf I’ve always imagined the Targs having a darker skin tone myself. Still do in fact. Imagine that. A black woman on her way to conquer westoros. Fantastical indeed.

    16. Ellie:
      oh please, the show was able to change so many major characters plot lines, but they couldn’t add diversity to the cast? Sure, Jan

      This. Zombies and dragons are fine. An expectation of racial diversity is absurd and somehow historically inaccurate, even though it isn’t.

    17. ramses:
      Flayed Potatoes,

      Yup. They might’ve changed the race of an entire household too. While reading asoiaf I’ve always imagined the Targs having a darker skin tone myself. Still do in fact. Imagine that. A black woman on her way to conquer westoros. Fantastical indeed.

      This is something George himself considered. He mentioned wishing he had made the Targs black in a discussion on his blog. But a biracial Dany (Valyrian/Dornish) is something that is canon and could have been reflected in the casting for her.

    18. ramses,

      I totally agree. I know they switched the Westerlings for Doctor Talisa medical woman, but it would have been just as easy to change the race of the whole Westerling family for example. The Red Wedding would still happen. I know, for example, that Lannisters need to have a certain appearance because of the incest plot, but this doesn’t apply to all households. And we’ve seen several houses over the course of the show.

      I also agree about the Targs. I probably would have enjoyed Dany’s storyline if it wasn’t for the white savior trope.

      Oh, this reminds me that Daario could have also been played by a person of color. Varys too.

      Stacy,

      I agree. Looking at their family tree, there were several Dornish marriages.

    19. Stacy,

      Wow, thank you. I didn’t know this. For such a fan of both the books and show I do not check out grrm’s site ever.
      It really is a missed opportunity for representation.

    20. mau:
      And which character you think could be black?

      I’m not Luka, but here’s a list off the top of my head:

      – Thoros of Myr
      – Melisandre
      – Daario
      – Varys
      – The Waif
      – Jaqen H’ghar
      – also several users here have made a case as to why Dany (and by extension Viserys in my opinion) could have been biracial

      These are just some of the characters with appearances in multiple episodes and seasons, but I can probably give you some more examples for smaller roles if you want.

    21. This article is just stirring up crap, in my opinion. There is absolutely no need for this divisive stuff and the insinuations against GRRM.

    22. ramses,

      Why is it important we start counting colours? I prefer living in a world where colours don’t matter because we’re all equal.

    23. Chilli,

      It is important because the world you speak of is not reality. Denying racism will not make it disappear.

      Casting people of color on a HBO show will not make it disappear. It is a step in the right direction though. Representation matters.

    24. ramses,

      Calling racism where there is none (like in the casting of Game of Thrones), just increases racism. That’s what I notice every day in the reactions on Facebook in my country. No-one takes it serious any more when there is real racism.
      You cannot force representation, it must come organically otherwise people won’t accept it. And I would never want a job because of my colour, I want a job because I’m good at it.

    25. This article is getting really silly… Implying that the producers should change many characters’ skin color for the sake of making them more diverse… I live in a country where most of the people are white. In fact,the Europe is mainly white and all people of color are ethnical minority in the countries. And considering that GoT mostly deals with noblemen, I really do not remember that the noblemen of Europe were racialy diverse…

      I hope I’m not too disrespectful…

    26. Chilli,

      I prefer to live in a world where color doesn’t matter too, but that’s not reality. It’s not enough to say I don’t see color.

      What is organic representation to you if not anything the creator chooses when discussing a fantasy world?

    27. Luka Nieto,

      One thing I’d say with GRRM’s discussions of historical accuracy is that he’s often using things that he thinks are historically accurate, but aren’t, in fact. I expect that he thought the absence of non-white people was historically accurate, because that’s a common stereotype of the Middle Ages. There are any number of other examples of this, e.g., he’s also talked frequently about medieval people not have a concept of adolescence, all the people getting married and starting to have kids right at puberty, which is not true either.

    28. Flayed Potatoes: I’m not Luka, but here’s a list off the top of my head:

      – Thoros of Myr
      – Melisandre
      – Daario
      – Varys
      – The Waif
      – JaqenH’ghar
      – also several users here have made a case as to why Dany (and by extension Viserys in my opinion) could have been biracial

      These are just some of the characters with appearances in multiple episodes and seasons, but I can probably give you some more examples for smaller roles if you want.

      To this excellent list I can add
      Syrio Forell
      The High Sparrow
      Gren or Pyp

      I also think the Clegane Brothers could have had a mixed heritage.

    29. Chilli,

      We are talking about a show that has changed a thousand things from the books, that have added character that don’t exist in the books, get rid of characters that are still alive, changed major storylines and have separate as much from the books as they wanted, but when it comes to diversity they all are suddenly book purists. It is racism because they could have added diversity and they CHOSE not to do it. It is racism, even if it is “non intencional”. And is really sad that there are people who think dragons and white walkers are perfectly logical for a medieval inspired fantasy series, but a POC would be totally out of place.

    30. Stacy: This is something George himself considered. He mentioned wishing he had made the Targs black in a discussion on his blog. But a biracial Dany (Valyrian/Dornish) is something that is canon and could have been reflected in the casting for her.

      I’m confused why people think Dany is so biracial? The nearest non-Targaryen grandparent she has is her great grandmother Betha Blackwood (just a dark haired Caucasian). Her great great grandmother was Dyanna Dayne (a stony Dornish, not salty or sandy) only in the 5th generation back do we get Mariah Martell, wife of Daeron 2, her great great great grandmother. Daenerys is very inbred whitebread.

    31. It’s inevitable that these type of posts always end up being a shit show, similar to people discussing politics or religion. To me, I wonder if there really is an answer at all. Do we want a series that has a great cast regardless of what race the actors are, or do we cherry pick certain people to play characters simply because they aren’t white to pacify some sort of desired ratio? There are just way too many variables to have one right answer here.

      Also – all ‘white’ people are not the same – there are a host of different countries, backgrounds and cultures going on with those who happen to have lighter skin.

    32. Flayed Potatoes,

      I agree with all if them. But I don’t think that the Lannisters, the Baratheons, the Boltons, thr Freys, the Tullys, the Tyrells and the Starks should be anything else but white.

      I just doesn’t make sense for the regions with such climate to have black people that are not immigrants.

    33. Pigeon,

      ” or do we cherry pick certain people to play characters simply because they aren’t white to pacify some sort of desired ratio?”

      Why it is so hard for you to understand a POC can be as talented as a white actor? Why do you assume that a non white actor and a good actor are mutually exclusive? I’m sorry, but your comment comes from a very ignorant place.

    34. There is a answer. Include people of color. Surely there are great non-white actors, right? Surely an audience will be able to identify with a non-white pov protagonist when given the chance.

    35. As an aside, we’re not criticizing the actors who were cast and their talent. We’re just showing that it’s not difficult to cast people of color on GoT.

      The other Otter: To this excellent list I can add
      Syrio Forell
      The High Sparrow
      Gren or Pyp

      I also think the Clegane Brothers could have had a mixed heritage.

      I totally agree with you.

      I’ve had some time to think and I can also add:

      – Bronn
      – Qyburn (really, any of the maesters we’ve had on the show)
      – Doreah

    36. Pigeon: Do we want a series that has a great cast regardless of what race the actors are, or do we cherry pick certain people to play characters simply because they aren’t white to pacify some sort of desired ratio?

      By definition, your either-or question assumes that white actors are on average more talented than actors of color. No one is asking for a 50-50 ratio, but if you really think that casting in GoT is colorblind, or anywhere close to that, I don’t know what to tell you. It’s not a matter of casting the best actor for the role OR fulfilling a POC quota. These are not antithetical. Sometimes the best actor for the role is a person of color. Going by US demographics (and even more so with urban democraphics, which is where most actors live), there is a great percentage of people of color that is not represented on American TV. There would be more POC on Game of Thrones and TV shows in general if they were truly following the rule of casting the best person for the job that you wrongly assume is already in place.

      mau,

      The climate is as ficticious as everything else. Just like Daenerys’ ancestors and every other excuse.

      mau,

      So? There are black people in the Catholic Church, and there have been since the very beginning. Some of them quite famous. And anyway, even if that wasn’t the case, did they have dragons in the War of the Roses? If GRRM stuck to his historical inspirations 100%, he would be writing a historical fiction about Medieval Britain. He is not. He is writing fantasy, inspired by real history.

    37. Flayed Potatoes,

      As an aside, we’re not criticizing the actors who were cast and their talent. We’re just showing that it’s not difficult to cast people of color on GoT.

      Indubitably 🙂

    38. Ellie,

      But they did add diversity: Areo Hotah is not white and also Salassor Saan and Grey Worm, Missandei, Irri, the Dornish people, Shae, … They could have chosen white people for those roles, but they did not. Game of Thrones is one of the most diverse tv-shows I know. It’s the only show I know where there have Indian actors (Indira Varma and Amrita Acharia), my own ethnicity.

    39. I find it pretty funny how many of you complain about the lack of people of color… but on the other hand, I saw people complain over Xaro, Salladhor and Areo because their outlook was not the same as in the books (I mean in general, not this site). And both Missandei and Grey Worm are white in the books as well.

    40. Lord Parramandas,

      What’s funny about that? We’re not ignoring it. I cited GRRM on the subject and added my own comments. The addition of Grey Worm and Missandei as not only people of color, but as much more prominent characters than in the books, is something truly commendable. It’s the example the show should follow more often.

    41. Ellie:
      Pigeon,

      ” or do we cherry pick certain people to play characters simply because they aren’t white to pacify some sort of desired ratio?”

      Why it is so hard for you to understand a POC can be as talented as a white actor? Why do you assume that a non white actor and a good actor are mutually exclusive? I’m sorry, but your comment comes from a very ignorant place.

      Not what I was saying at all. I have many favourites who are POC. However, they are not my favourites because they are POC but because they are great actors. I believe in picking the best actor for a role, regardless of colour. So, do you think that they should specifically not hire an actor because they are white? That seems ignorant.

    42. mau,

      The high sparrows father was a cobbler. As a businessman he could have moved to kings landning from another land or married a woman from another land.
      As for the catolic church, it has many followers around the globe and many of them are black. Furthermore ‘based on’ does not mean “exaktly the same as”.

    43. And “the show has dragons and WW. It can be unrealistic.” argument feels pretty stupid to me. So you include a couple fantasy elements and try to make them as “real” as possible or in case of WW, a myth among the people (revealed to be true), and suddenly everything else can be as weird as possible? I found GoT different than other fantasy because it tries to create the realistic vibe.

    44. Luka Nieto: By definition, your either-or question assumes that white actors are on average more talented than actors of color.

      Again, not even close to what I assume. But that’s exactly what I meant about threads like these – they tend to lead to a lot of assumptions, that’s for sure.

    45. mau,

      With the amount of wives and unknown mistresses that Walder Frey has had for example, it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine that some of their children might be people of color. And, like Luka said, this is a fictitious climate anyway, so this excuse really doesn’t hold. Most of the Stark actors ended up using a Northern accent only because Sean Bean didn’t want to do RP, so we can’t really equate the area the Starks live in with the North of England. It’s a fantasy series.

    46. Lord Parramandas,

      How would having people of color in the show be “weird”? Please explain. Even if we bought the historical accuracy argument, as bogus as it is, the fact is there were people of color all over Europe. If you cared about Medieval accuracy that much, you’d champion more diversity, just as you would be irritated by Martin’s many uses of false Medieval stereotypes (e.g., Prima Nocta.)

    47. Luka Nieto,

      There are black people in the Catholic Church, but there wasn’t any black pope in history. GRRM is ofc not stuck to his historical inspirations 100%, but if he wants the Faith to be based on the Catholic Church I think we should respect his decisions.

      I agree that the climate is as fictitious as everything else, but to change the complete setting of this show, just for some political agenda would be really insulting in my opinion. There are many characters where you could change the race without affecting the setting, as people above suggested.

      But no, it doesn’t make sense to have black wildlings, or black people in the North, or POC as most of the noble houses of Westeros.

      Dany could be black, and her family for example, but Tormund and Sansa and Jon and Arya could be only white. I think if you force something too much it will just have the opposite effect.

    48. Lord Parramandas,

      I agree. They didn’t put ice zombies in Dorne. They are in the cold north, where it makes sense for them to be. The dragons are in the east, where is warm, it also makes sense.

      I agree that it would make sense for the Targaryans to be black in both the show and the books, but we should be realistic about some other noble houses in Westeros..

    49. Pigeon,

      That is exactly what you implied. The next time you make an ignorant comment like that either apologise or don’t say anything at all.

    50. Pigeon,

      I know you don’t believe that. But your either-or question necessitates that to be true. You ask whether they should have a prescribed ratio of POC actors or hire the best people for the job. This assumes that such a prescription would be necessary in a colorblind casting. Why would it be, unless POC are less talented? Please, really think about what you said and the assumptions it held.

      mau,

      Art is political by definition. When someone tells you “Don’t cram your political agenda down my throat!”, it’s because THEIR political agenda is the socially accepted default, the status quo. To have no POC or LGBT characters in a piece of art with hundreds of characters in the 21st Century is as much a political statement as adding them.

    51. Luka Nieto,

      I was saying that more in general… not for this specific case. “It’s a fantasy show” is often a way to dismiss flaws or something illogical. But I remember when I watched “The Tudors” – I don’t remember a single person-of-color character. Why? Because there were very few people of color among noblemen. On a continentm where the climate is mostly Europe-like, I could hardly imagine people of color dominating the entire region, let alone being members of nobility.

    52. Lord Parramandas,

      You realize GRRM invented the climate and the many migrations described in the histories of Westeros, right? He made them up. Anyway, the whole of the south could be populated by black people without many changes to the climate or anything else.

      The Targaryens in particular could easily be black. GRRM himself described it once as a missed opportunity.

    53. Luka Nieto,
      “There would be more POC on Game of Thrones and TV shows in general if they were truly following the rule of casting the best person for the job that you wrongly assume is already in place.”

      Not in Game of Thrones. It’s like mau said: “The only noble house where it makes sense to have people of color are Martells. And they are.”
      They did cast people of colour for a lot of other roles in Game of Thrones. Most casting calls were in Europe. Most people in Europe are white, so it’s perfectly normal you have more white actors in Game of Thrones.

    54. The other Otter,

      This reminds me that Janos Slynt’s father was a butcher. We can add him on our list too. We can also add Davos, Olyvar, Hot Pie and any number of Robert’s bastards in the books (like Barra?… I think that was the name of the baby Janos killed).

    55. Flayed Potatoes,

      But I don’t want to imagine something for some political agenda. Dany could be black. Bronn, Melisandre, many other characters could be POC.

      But there were no POC who were nobles in Europe. And this story is based on medieval Europe, on struiggles of noble houses in medieval Europe. It is what the author wanted, and I really don’t what to imagine Waldre Freys’ black mistress, because of some SJW on the internet.

      And climate matters. If this is just fantasy show, should Jon be half-naked all the time in the North?

    56. Luka Nieto,
      The only thing he invented in the climate was that the seasons last for multiple years. But the vegetation is basically the same as on Earth. It starts with tundra in the north and ends with rainforest in Sothoryos. Why should the people be any different?

    57. mau,
      mau,

      If you agree that Targs can be black or mixed, then you agree that Jon should also have mixed heritage because R+L=J. He’s related to Dany, is he not? Therefore it’s also possible to cast poc who live in geographical areas that aren’t Dorne.

      And that’s not what I mean by climate, you know that. The North of Westeros isn’t necessarily the direct equivalent of Northern England. I’m not talking about the weather.

    58. mau,

      Mentioning SJWs unironically now, are we? I expected a higher level of discourse from you.

      The climate is what GRRM chooses, as are the migrations in the history of Westeros. The Andals could have easily been black or at any rate not white, considering where they came from. They could look Asian! It would paint a more striking difference between the First Men and the Andals, instead of just… Hair color?

    59. Luka Nieto,

      But they have POC and LGBT characters in the show. The point is that this piece of art is limited by the setting the author created. There were no noble houses with POC in medieval Europe. And that is the fact.

      They could just change that and say this is a fantasy show, we don’t care for the climate, we don’t care for the history. Yes, they could have, but it would be forced and political and insulting.

      There are ways in which diversity can be done in style, with class, with respect. And there were many suggestions above. But making the Starks or the Lannisters black would be just racist and insulting.

    60. Flayed Potatoes,

      Yes. Jon could also have mixed heritage because R+L=J. But not Arya or Sansa.

      The North of Westeros doesn’t have to be the direct equivalent of Northern England. But it is the North. Where it is cold, and you have that kind of climate and there are no black people in those areas, anywhere in the world.

    61. When I read comments about making Daenerys biracial, are you guys serious? She is a targaryen, a valyrian, she is the the whitest person in the whitest world, drogo takes her specifically because he wants “different”. He’s a Dothraki who’s rode all through the dothraki sea, seen all of Essos, the free cities, he’s seen it all. “Different” for him is just light skinned, a valyrian princess.

      There’s another thing that people seem to forget : One of the (if not THE) main thing on the show is the feud between houses. This means that most of the important characters are from houses, i.e. families.

      If they cast a black Salladhor Saan, it doesn’t really affect anyone else on the cast. It’s just him, right?

      But Salladhor Saan isn’t important! We want bigger, more important parts for non-white actors!

      Ok, fine. Let’s cast a black Tywin Lannister. I mean Charles Dance was absolutely perfect for the role, but we have to try to be diverse, so here we go, black Tywin!

      But Tywin isn’t a stand alone character.
      Tywin has a family. Children. Who kinda have to be black, especially given Tywin married his cousin.
      So Jaime, Cersei, Tyrion are black. (Some people theorize that one or all of his children might not really be his, but Aerys’, but you can’t really have that now or you’d give it away unless you make Aerys black too).

      Kevan also has to be black of course. And Lancel.

      Well that’s not so bad is it? That’s just 6 actors to replace from white to black. Done!
      So that’s it?

      NOPE.
      Cersei’s children aren’t Robert, of course. They’re Jaime’s.
      So of course they’re black too.
      Joffrey black, Tommen black, Myrcella black.

      But how does the plot works in season 1 to make it unknown to Eddard (and everyone) that the incest was occuring?
      Well there isn’t any other way to do it… Robert Baratheon has to be black as well. Or there’s no “secret incest” plot. It’s obvious to everyone.

      But of course it doesn’t end there.
      If Robert is black, then Stannis has to be black, as well as Renly.
      Shireen and Gendry have to be black or biracial.

      All this coming just from “Hey lets make Tywin black for the sake of diversity!”.

      The show is about families, you can’t just say “Let’s make this guy black!”. It dominoes all over the place and you just make 15 characters black.

      To come back to the Daenerys stuff… If you make her black or biracial, then Viserys is too, but that’s not the end of it : Jon Snow has to be black or biracial as well!
      Kinda gives it away, doesn’t it?
      Well of course you can just make Eddard Stark black as well, would keep the Jon identity secret I suppose, would also make Lyanna black so it’s all good ( only need to turn the 6 stark kids black and Benjen stark as well ).

      Bottom line being : It’s not as simple as you guy think, just pulling the magical “Diversity!” lever and suddenly half the cast is non-white.

      The show is adapted from a story about a mostly white land, and the actors are hired from mostly white countries. If 20 actors come to audition for a role and 18 of them are white – because that’s the demographics in the UK – then 90% of the time the best of the 20 is gonna be white. Because there’s more of them, more chance to have the best one among them.

      And if he gets the part, again because families, it makes a lot of other characters white-by-default.

      And this is another difficulty : If the best actor is one of the 2 non-white out of the 20 who auditions, and you hire him… You have to hire more of these “2 out of 20” to fill up his family, which means that most of the time you will not hire the best possible one for the part.

      That’s why the cast is being diverse in places taht aren’t all linked together.
      You can have a black Hotah without forcing 10 other people to be black.
      You can have multiracials sand snakes/dornish characters because most of them come from different mothers etc..
      You can have a black Saan because he has no family.
      But you can’t have a black Tywin or a black Jon Snow or a black Eddard Stark unless you make half the S1 cast black as well and give up on 2 very important “secret parentage” plotlines.

    62. Lord Parramandas,

      Wait, so you’re implying that people of color live exclusively in the rain forest? lmao

      You know that the tundra regions have been inhabited by indigenous populations for thousands of years, right?

    63. OK. I’m out of here. During my time in LFU, I apparently forgot that the site is not that positive and that the discussions on this site usually get really tense… I have better stuff to do.

    64. Luka Nieto,

      Yes. The climate is what GRRM chooses, and he chose this.

      With the climate that the North, the Riverlands, Stormlands have, it wouldn’t make sense to have POC in noble houses. Just like it wouldn’t make sense to have white Martells or nobles in Meeren, Yunkai and Astapor.

    65. aiad,

      To come back to the Daenerys stuff… If you make her black or biracial, then Viserys is too, but that’s not the end of it : Jon Snow has to be black or biracial as well!
      Kinda gives it away, doesn’t it?
      Well of course you can just make Eddard Stark black as well, would keep the Jon identity secret I suppose, would also make Lyanna black so it’s all good ( only need to turn the 6 stark kids black and Benjen stark as well ).

      No. Wylla my friend. You would only need Wylla to be black in this scenario for Eddard’s secret to stand. Seven Hells! All that takes is a pen.

    66. mau,

      In the books there are plenty of white Dornish noblemen and white slavemasters (and slaves) in Slaver’s Bay. I don’t think you really understand how climate affects race. Do you believe that black people only come from deserts, or something? Do I really have to start coming up with hundreds of examples to the contrary?

      Of course, all of this ignores that white and black are not the only two races, of course. Any climate-based reason the Andals couldn’t look Asian, mau?

    67. People will complain about anything, won’t they? Even after nearly 7 years.

      Keep beating that dead horse, folks; I’m sure it’ll get up and dance for you eventually.

    68. mau,

      By ‘people of color’ I am referring to any people who are not white. It includes numerous racial groups. You’ll see that I’ve used this term in all my comments.

    69. ramses:
      aiad,

      No. Wylla my friend. You would only need Wylla to be black in this scenario for Eddard’s secret to stand. Seven Hells! All that takes is a pen.

      My thoughts exactly! It’s so easy lol!

    70. KG:
      Luka Nieto,

      Because the Andals are described as fair-skinned.The Dothraki refer to Jorah as “Jorah the Andal,” you’ll recall.

      Yes, I know the Andals are described as fair-skinned (though I’m sure many of you would have complained if they cast them as Asians with light hair, even though that fits the bill too.) But you must be aware that Martin made up the Andals. He could have made them blue if he wanted. And, even if Martin hadn’t been a bit more inventive with the ethnicities, the show could have changed it, as they have changed many other, more important things.

    71. Luka Nieto,

      I don’t think that black people only come from deserts, but in climate like you have in the most of Europe (and Westeros is based on that), the white race is dominant. There were POC in medieval Europe, but they all came from somewhere. There were no noble houses with POC, as I said.

      And book purist were in a complete meltdown in S1, when Dany didn’t have purple eyes. I could only imagine their reaction if D&D decided to change her race. Lol

      There were so many challenges that D&D faced in S1, when they started working on this show. Thinking about some political agenda, was the last of their concerns. They were sticking to the books the most that they could have.

    72. mau: There were so many challenges that D&D faced in S1, when they started working on this show. Thinking about some political agenda, was the last of their concerns. They were sticking to the books the most that they could have.

      This is a show about dynastic struggles, and you’re saying D&D were not concerned with making political statements. Think about that. The show is not apolitical. It has a political agenda. GRRM has a political perspective and it shines through in his books. D&D have a slightly different perspective, and it’s also evident. Just because this particular choice would be too visibily “political” for you it doesn’t make it any more political than anything else.

      If we truly listened to these bizarre demands to get politics out of our games, shows, films and books, this would be a sad world indeed. Art is inherently political. When there is a changing cultural norm and an artist insists on being “apolitical” by sticking to the status quo (largely not the case with GoT, mind you), that is a political statement in itself. It’s not by chance that these demands to “Get your politics out of our X!” mostly come from conservatives.

    73. Red Nightmare,

      I agree, and I’m getting pretty fed up with being fed this shit day in, and day out… I’m a minority as well (American Indian), and this still burns my ass

    74. Luka Nieto,

      Don’t even bother, if after all the users explanations about how ignorant and racist this person comments are, he/she is still trying to come up with nonsense weak excuses to justify his/her own ignorance, it is pointless to try to reason with this kind of people. They are just trolls.

    75. Ellie,

      Thank you for your support, but they are not “just trolls.” They are people with different perspectives. I’m trying to have a conversation and hopefully, just hopefully, influence their views a little bit. Calling them trolls does not help. Do not do it again. It’s an insult as much as any other, when it is unwarranted.

    76. Not all fiction has to be completely representative of the real world. Calling it racist or a problem that needs fixing is not valid criticism when it’s just a few people playing armchair PC-police.

      When we readily accept that any work of art/entertainment that sprouts forth from the mind of an individual will contain personal thoughts and ideas based on the world that the individual lives in, why then are people so eager to stick their racist logo on anything that doesn’t conform to their idea of how the world should be? GRRM is white. Most of the people he knows are white. Does this make him a bigot that’s intentionally dividing races in his work? I doubt it. He’s just drawing on what he knows. Can any one of us honestly say that our immediate environment and influences are realistically diverse? I doubt that too.

      Did anyone care that 99% of the cast of Luke Cage was black? Why wasn’t anyone crying out over a lack of diversity?

      I’ve yet to see a single Asian in GoT. Is the show discriminating against Asians? Or do they simply not exist in this world (as far as we know). Why isn’t anyone lobbying for them? Are Asian shows racist because they don’t feature enough Westerners or Africans?

      As a final point: Why do we care more about diversity in tv shows than we do about it in real life? Since art mimics life, shouldn’t fixing the problem in the real world automatically solve it in art?

    77. Luka Nieto,

      You are completely missing the point.

      During the first season D&D were so afraid that they were apologizing to people and explaining why they’ve changed the eye color of some characters.

      You are telling me that they were confident enough at that stage to change history of this story, to change the races of the major characters and to change the climate?

      I’m telling you that at that stage of the production they had many concerns, and diversity wasn’t one of them. They were extremely faithful to the books at that point.

      I disagree that being faithful to the books was some kind of political statement. They were just amateurs at this job, and making that huge changes at the beginning would be counter productive and I see no reason at all for that.

      It is medieval Europe and I see no reason why we should have POC as nobles in the show or in the books.

      And maybe GRRM and D&D are racist, I don’t know that, but I really don’t care about their political opinions. I care about their writing and the message their writing is sending, and that is not discriminative at all.

      It is quite the opposite.

    78. IMO, the only ones who might have a legit complaint regarding improper racial representation in GOT should be Mongoloids: not a single Mongoloid-type actor has been cast for any role so far and moreover the Dothraki have been clearly inspired by the Mongols and therefore should have been portrayed as such. Yet, on the other hand, the Dothraki are portrayed as such hopeless savages, that it’s probably for the better that they have so little resemblance to the real Mongols.

    79. If you aren’t happy with GRRMs medievel world then write your own and I will be happy to read it.

    80. King in the Southwest,

      Why do we care more about diversity in tv shows than we do about it in real life? Since art mimics life, shouldn’t fixing the problem in the real world automatically solve it in art?

      Ahhh, but is it truly a one-way mimesis relationship? Can’t art affect real life?

    81. ramses,

      Excellent question.

      I believe that art can inspire and influence people. But the people who need the message the most rarely seem to be able to grasp it.

      Marketing and the news on the other hand influence lots more.

    82. Luka Nieto,

      Basically, the First Men (and the Wildlings) should have been the Mongoloid type (like the Sami People/Lapps), but for some reason no Mongoloid-type race exists on the Planetos.

    83. I believe that art can influence people and societies too.
      I thoroughly enjoy asoiaf/GoT.

      That does not make it infallible for me.

      I want more than what has been the status quo depiction of people of color in tv/movies. It is too late to change GoT now of course but calling attention to the need for representation may inspire future writers.

    84. mau,

      If Targs were black, Jon would have been of mixed race and thus his parentage would have been obvious from the day he was born. Hence, Targs had to be of the same skin color as the nobility of Westeros. Simple as that.

    85. Ellie:
      Pigeon,

      That is exactly what you implied. The next time you make an ignorant comment like that either apologise or don’t say anything at all.

      No, it’s what you chose to interpret because it suits you to call people racists and trolls if they disagree with your view. I will not apologize for how you decided to read into my comment, which is far from what I believe. It pretty much confirms why these articles never end in positive conversation, but instead people arguing back and forth about how much more enlightened they are than anyone else. Obviously to many, George needs to simply rewrite the entire series and the show needs to be recast, or it is doomed.

    86. ramses,

      I understand, but dont you see at this point in time, the answer to my question is just a fantasy.

      I do believe racism will end one day, but not for a couple of hundred years.

    87. Inga,

      You just called them “savages” -the same derogatory word Viserys used to insult them btw- to describe a culture different to yours. I’m not surprised why you don’t think this show lack of representation.

      King in the Southwest,

      I will say this as clear as I can: REVERSE RACISM DOES NOT EXIST. Racism equals privilege and power. People of color talking about white people don’t occupy positions of privilege or power. Therefore, they cannot be racist. Racism is structural, not personal. White people are not opressed, and anger is a legitimate response to oppression, so when POC are angry about the lack of representation they are not being racist towards white people.
      The Luke Cage series is set in the New York City’s Harlem, a historically, REAL LIFE black community. Therefore, having a cast of predominantly black and Latino people for the show is only logical. And the show is focus on ONE COMMUNITY, George RR Martin created an ENTIRE UNIVERSE where POC practically does not exist. What kind of an excuse is “he writes of what he knows”, he is not unaware there are other races besides caucasians, so if he couldnt think of a single main character in his entire universe as a POC, HE IS RACIST, even if he doent do it consciously, by ignoring the mere exsistence of POC he is being racist.
      Again, REVERSE RACISM IS NOT A REAL THING.
      The lack of representation in the industry is a real life problem btw, It IS A real life problem that actors who are not white are given opportunities that POC do not have.

    88. Vast swaths of Earth’s northern climate (and temperate and cold southern climate, as you approach Antarctica) are inhabited by people who are distinctly non-white. The fact that Europe is inhabited by people we consider “white” is an accident of genetics interacting with environmental selection factors, and while people in temperate climates tend to be relatively lighter, due in part to a need to process vitamin D from scarce sunlight, there’s nothing to say that they must be *really* pale with lighter hair and eyes and so forth, as opposed to tan-skinned with Asian features – as are the indigenous inhabitants of most of northern Eurasia and North America, as well as temperate South America.

      Also, who knows how the wacky seasons would have affected evolution in Westeros? (This is a big problem for some of the fauna, in fact, which have seasonally-dependent breeding cycles and so forth – but that’s another debate.)

      And in fact, depending on how you define PoC, there were nobles who were PoC in medieval Europe, in Spain, Portugal, and Italy. If Pedro Pascal is the baseline for PoC, then most of the noble houses of Mediterranean Europe were as well.

      That said, from a population genetics point of view, it would make no sense for a single house in Westeros to be PoC, with the exception of the Targaryens, because intermarriage would incorporate diverse genes and yield a homogenous general population. That’s why, for example, despite the presence of non-white people in medieval England, England remained pretty darn pale overall. Populations tend towards some sort of genetic average.

      It’s also problematic to say that Dany is canonically bi-racial and to associate that with a particular phenotypical manifestation that comes with the label in, say, America. The genes that are responsible for hair, eye, and skin color are complex and multiple, so when you have parents of different races, the offspring can fall out anywhere along a pretty wide spectrum of traits. The Rhoynar are responsible, evidently, for the darker skin of the Dornish population, and Dany’s only Rhoynar-Dornish ancestor was her 3x great-grandmother, who was the mother of Baelor Breakspear and Maekar, and the grandmother of Egg. Maekar married a Dayne. The Daynes are Dornish but are specifically stated to be less influenced by Rhoynar blood, and while Baelor Breakspear is portrayed as having inherited his mother’s darker looks (the Rhoynar/Dornish phenotype), Maekar did not; he displayed the Targ phenotype, and Dany is descended from him. In addition, Egg married a Blackwood or something, so those Rhoynar-Dornish genes were further diluted. Accounting for the outmarriages as well as the incest, Dany would at most have 1/8 Rhoynar-inflected Dornish blood. For comparison, I have a pale, blond, blue-eyed friend who looks like she stepped off a Viking ship, but her grandmother was black. She is bi-racial, but phenotypically, no one would guess that fact. As cast, Dany could easily be bi-racial, without meeting our socially-conditioned expectations of what that looks like.

      The casting folks could have used some imagination and chosen to change that – I would have been fine with it. But “canonically,” Dany’s phenotypical traits work, especially with a multi-racial background that’s four generations in the past.

      The “historical accuracy” excuse is nonsense, but also, a working knowledge of population genetics and inheritance is useful.

      But I think ultimately, we’re talking about two different things when we get into arguments about this. The first is what would “actually” happen within the world that GRRM constructed – that’s a world where race clearly operates differently from the world we live in. The second is the social significance of how producers and casting directors and so forth choose to portray the story when they sell it to an audience where wealth and political power are largely controlled by white people, and where PoC have struggled for representation, justice, and a place within the creative class. So while race may not matter, or may matter differently, on Planetos, in matters in the ways with which we are familiar here on earth, and we need to be able to discuss that openly. So thanks to the people who continue to address this important topic.

    89. Le sigh. Just when I think people on this site know better than to engage in petty squabbles…

      Since I’m here, let me offer my opinion. I think that in this day and age GoT could have done a better job of introducing more racial diversity in its cast. There were some solid proposed PoC characters in the posts above: Varys, Syrio, Thoros, Waif, Daario and quite a few others. Of course, we already have Salladhor Saan, Areo Hotah…, but that’s a really really low number of non-white people on the show.

      I don’t agree though with the suggestion that the main families could or should have been non-white just for the sake of racial diversity. I feel, and this is only my opinion, that it’s important to remember that the Westerosi nobility (and Westeros itself) is based on real-world European nobility of the Middle Ages politically, religiously, and culturally: the feudal system, the dominant religion, chivalry, lifestyle, etc. In-universe they are of common Andal descent, sharing the same ethnic origin. In light of that, making southern houses non-white would be a bit silly I think, unless you make ALL of them non-white, which… I dunno, kinda reminds me of the adage “operation successful, patient died” 🙂

      That said, it was definitely possible to do more than they did.

    90. Ellie,

      Are you saying there are no black people with power? So president Obama is white?
      And a writer cannot write about white communities but it’s no problem if he writes about black communities?

    91. ramses,

      If you miss racial diversity on the screen, why don’t you watch some Chinese or Indian movie?

      In general, all this rant about the supposed “racism” reminds me of old (but not so good) Soviet times, when any fiction had to include some revolutionary worker (even in case of a medieval fiction) and a Russian protagonist (if the fiction was written by a non-Russian). We are done with that, thanks God, but the West seems to be reinventing the wheel. Are you guys crazy or what?

    92. Pigeon,

      Many interpret your comment that way, because is exactly what you said, never crossed your mind that a POC could be chosen and do a great work, only to fill a quota, like you said. At best you chose your words poorly. I know you won’t apologise, because you can’t even see why this show and the books are racist, after all the reasons a lot of us have given you. You can like the books and the show, and the way the actors play them, and still recognize why the lack of diversity is a problem, but as you are clearly not affected by it, you don’t care. But that is ok, I won’t lose my time trying to reason with people who insist on remaining ignorant and insensible to other people problematics. I hope you never expirience what it feels like to be excluded and discriminated because of yout skin colour, and I also hope you at least try to open your mind a little, and think before giving an opinion that may offend others.

    93. Chilli,

      I’m not going to dignify what you just said with an answer.

      Inga,

      I was expecting this kind of comment from you. I have nothing to say, what you said just exposed the kind of mentality you have.

    94. How many Blacks and in what roles, were there in Medieval England or Scotland or Ireland? France? Italy? Were there any Black kings, queens, knights or lords or vassals? I sincerely would like to know.

      GOT has tons of diversity and to criticize it for not is ridiculous.

    95. Ellie,

      Ellie, you may consider dialing it down a bit. I understand this is a sensitive topic, but it doesn’t help to have an aggressive tone with everyone you disagree with. On the most basic, cold, and utilitarian level, you’ll catch more flies with honey than you’ll do with vinegar.

    96. Ellie</
      Ellie,

      Reverse racism doesn’t exist. Racism done and it doesn’t need to fit your description of it because some sociology professor decided to change it in the 1970s.

      Also lumping all non while people into a generic category like “people of color” is actually pretty offensive. And not to white pekole.

      Seriously though this whining is one of the reasons Trump won.

    97. Ellie,

      You understanding of racism is rather narrow: the Mongols saw the white Europeans as a lower race (and rightfully so, as they were better warriors at least till the 14th century). And in some countries (say, the Ottoman Empire) these the white Europeans who made slaves. So, everything is relevant.

    98. Ser Broccoli McBroccoliface,

      Agreed. I’m shocked GoT is being criticized for its lack of diversity. Essos has tons of diversity. And there have been numerous roles that were white in the books that were changed to black. What would people have been satisfied with? Changing one of the major families of Westeros to black? The Martells are hispanic. The complaining never ends.

      Talking from someone who is an Obama, Hillary Democrat, I say this: the far left goes way too far sometimes and ends up hurting their cause when it comes to diversity when they whine about EVERYTHING.

    99. Ellie,

      Racism exists in other countries. Ghandi was racist. In the middle east there is racism or religious oppression by Sunnis and Shias. Racism is not simply about power and privilege. Its about hatred for what’s different than yourself or your tribe. To boil it all down to privilege is to be willfully ignorant.

    100. Mr Fixit,

      I’m sorry, but no. I dont think I’m being aggressive, I said the word “troll” because I wasn’t aware it was an insult, and I apologised, because I’m not an arrogant who can’t admit when I’m wrong. But when it comes to retrograde and insensitive opinions like the one Im reading, I’m going to speak up.

    101. Ellie:
      Pigeon,

      Many interpret your comment that way, because is exactly what you said, never crossed your mind that a POC could be chosen and do a great work, only to fill a quota, like you said. At best you chose your words poorly. I know you won’t apologise, because you can’t even see why this show and the books are racist, after all the reasons a lot of us have given you. You can like the books and the show, and the way the actors play them, and still recognize why the lack of diversity is a problem, but as you are clearly not affected by it, you don’t care. But that is ok, I won’t lose my time trying to reason with people who insist on remaining ignorant and insensible to other people problematics. I hope you never expirience what it feels like to be excluded and discriminated because of yout skin colour, and I also hope you at least try to open your mind a little, and think before giving an opinion that may offend others.

      Many? Being you, and to a degree (in a more reasonable explanation), Luka? No.

      “…never crossed your mind that a POC could be chosen and do a great work”

      Wow. Not only is that completely erroneous, but if you think that’s what I believe, I’m definitely not the ignorant one.

      As for hoping that I ‘never expirience what it feels like to be excluded and discriminated because of yout skin colour’, well I certainly have. Unfortunately it apparently never happened according to you, since I’m not a POC and you say that means it doesn’t exist. That’s fine. Believe what you will that suits you. You have no idea what I have seen to ‘open my mind’ regarding how people treat others, including the POC in my family, and how it has affected me. Leave your presumed offense at the door before you jump on someone. It will be my absolute pleasure not to have you ‘waste your time’ reasoning with me.

    102. Someone mentioned above about the vast majority of characters being white because most of them come from a noble family that was introduced in season 1, and as such, the show was locked in on those families being white. This is correct. They adhered pretty strictly with George’s descriptions in season 1. And given the outcry from certain circles when black actors were cast to play characters who are white in the books, I can only imagine what it would have been like had the show made a major house black. In the early going, that could have meant the show being cancelled because bookies were upset with such major changes.

      Personally, I would have been fine with the Tyrells or Greyjoys or Arryns being black. Same for nearly every character who didn’t belong to a major house. As others mentioned, it would have been tricky had the Targs been black because of Jon. Sure, you could say Wylla or whoever Ned claimed was the mother was black, but it would have been a lot more suspicious with Rhaegar being dark skinned. Same goes for the Baratheons and the mystery surrounding Cersei’s children, even if I think Lance Reddick would have made a great Stannis.

    103. Chilli,

      Add Kae Alexander, who played Leaf. She’s Chinese-Japanese. For what it’s worth, Alexander Siddig is Sudanese. Per IMDB his full name is Siddig El Tahir El Fadil El Siddig Abderahman Mohammed Ahmed Abdel Karim El Mahdi. One other factor that affects casting of many non-Essosi tertiary and minor characters is that GoT is headquartered in Belfast. For such a small country, an amazing proportion of the cast is Northern Irish because Nina Gold and D&D had a such a wealth of experienced actors at close hand. But that left fewer small roles for actors from beyond the UK and even Europe.

    104. Ellie,

      Well, you did call D&D and GRRM racists earlier too. I think you are being very aggressive, but that may just be because, as you stated, English isn’t your first language(though I wouldn’t have noticed had you not mentioned it.)

    105. May everyone stop and have a thought for everyone of all ethnicities during the festive period.

      From someone beyond the wall.

    106. Tyrion Pimpslap: They adhered pretty strictly with George’s descriptions in season 1. And given the outcry from certain circles when black actors were cast to play characters who are white in the books, I can only imagine what it would have been like had the show made a major house black. In the early going, that could have meant the show being cancelled because bookies were upset with such major changes.

      Frankly that’s absurd. It’s been clear since early on in the show’s run that they don’t care very much about what the book fans think. GoT is a smash because of new fans, not because of the book-reading fans. Most people who love the show never have and never will pick up the books.

    107. Pigeon,

      If you are indeed a POC then it makes what you said a thousand times worse. I thought you probably chose your words wrong and you didn’t really mean it, I was wrong. However, I’m really not interested in hearing what you have to say. Have a good night.

      Tyrion Pimpslap,

      I think defending someone/something clearly racist it’s way more agressive that any response I can make. And thank you, I think I speak english very well, but there are some internet slang words I’m not very familiar with.

    108. Tyrion Pimpslap,

      The Greyjoys being Black would have been weird. Thats about as northern anglo as you can get. It would be like the Scottish highland clans being Black. Now the Tyrells I could see. Or more Arab influenced. They sorta are anyway. Spanish/Moorish.

      Westeros makes perfect sense. This debate is stupid. (Not that you are pushing the PC crap here)

    109. Ellie,

      All I’ll say to this is that I disagree with every single word you wrote and that you missed the point of my Luke Cage reference entirely.

    110. Ellie,

      I do worry about you, however. The one-sided nature of your statements stirs up a deep level of consternation in me.

    111. Oh crikey, get pretty tired of this sort of thing

      Diversity for the sake of diversity is not a good thing

      Especially if it undermines the story

      In this case, a Fantasy flavoured drama set in a Medieval setting where Westeros means the characters focused on that region have to be of a certain background.

      If they are not it critically undermines the immersiveness and it becomes crap literature and crap TV

    112. First of all i’m not white, i’m a non-white latino and for me it would be silly to have someone of my ethnicity play a westerosi nobleman, even someone from Essos. Having an unnecesarily diverse cast just feels insulting, it’s using POC to fill some diversity quota and get the politically correct seal of approval.

      Also I find it funny that the article only mentions black people and completely ignores other races/ethnicities/whatever that amount higher numbers in the world population (Chinese and Indian). And by the way, Pedro Pascal looks like a dark south European, where i’m from he would even be considered white and fits the dornish description given by GRRM.

      Ellie,

      I find this “reverse racism doesn’t exist” argument pretty hilarious, let’s say I, a non-white mexican, say some pretty racist stuff about some asian or black guy, then by your standards I wouldn’t be considered racist, right? Or the other way around, if some non-white guy calls me a lazy mexican i guess that wouldn’t count as being racist. And let me say I have heard mexicans of every color say racist stuff about asians, black, whites and latinos of other countries, people of EVERY color or ethnicity can be racist.

    113. That all said if anyone actually looks closely, within that setting GRRM actually does quite a good job fitting in alternative perspectives, eg Oberyn is bisexual, one of Tyrions fellow slaves in Transgender etc

      The Dornish plotline is actually very good gender relations and race relations wise, in this respect if they had actually stuck to the book we would have had a good exploration of both

      Eg Arianne and Quentyn plotline is an excellent exploration of gender and societal power systems. As is the Dosh Khaleen and the Khals, eg the Khals hold political power while the women of the Dosh Khaleen hold the spiritual power as arbiters of the all-important omens which deeply influence Dothraki society etc etc

      The Rhoynar/Mediterranean Martells and Anglophile Yronwoods is an excellent way to explore race relations, but they’ve ignored that whole aspect

      And we get this Misandrist nonsense coming out of show Ellaria and show Dany etc etc

      No the real issue here is that Hollywood pushes a certain form of what it considers diversity is supposed to look like, but thing is it doesen’t resonate with deeper society and then we have self-righteous celebrities wondering how Trump won.

      The reason GRRM has done well with these books is because it borrows from real historical setting people are able to relate to and engage with in the real world

      The show is becoming to noticeable pale in comparison to the books because of TOO MUCH Hollywood

    114. Mark: I’m confused why people think Dany is so biracial? The nearest non-Targaryen grandparent she has is hergreat grandmother Betha Blackwood (just a dark haired Caucasian). Her great great grandmother was Dyanna Dayne (a stony Dornish, not salty or sandy) only in the 5th generation back do we get Mariah Martell, wife of Daeron 2, her great great great grandmother. Daenerys is very inbred whitebread.

      The Targs practiced incest. That would make certain the Dornish blood was not whitewashed out. If they weren’t incestuous then I would agree that the Dornish blood would be of a much smaller percentage, but that isn’t the case. A biracial Dany is more than a reasonable conclusion.

    115. Thank you for writing th is article. Very little more I can say. Whether some people like it or not it captures what a lot of people feel these days including myself.

    116. Mark: And both Missandei and Grey Worm are white in the books as well.

      lol no they aren’t. Missandei is specifically described as dark skinned.

    117. “We’re all trying to do castings that reflect real life, and real life is full of all sorts of different people. We’ve got to have them all.”

      GRRM is a good guy and I’m sorry to know that he was ever made to defend his inspiration. As a PoC, I think GOT is cast exactly right. It is reflective of a medieval Western Europe.

    118. Lord Parramandas: And both Missandei and Grey Worm are white in the books as well.

      No, actually. Missandei was golden-skinned, and it was pretty clear she was some non-white ethnicity or race. And GRRM, when asked about Grey Worm’s physical appearance before the show, said that he did not have a skin color in mind for the character. Thereafter artist who drew GW chose to make him white, and so fans have taken that to be the truth, but his skin was never described.

    119. Sue the Fury,

      Maybe. I was speaking about only season 1, when the producers were probably more thoughtful about the book crowd. I doubt they ever seriously considered making any of the houses darker skinned back then. I’m just speaking in hypotheticals. The story would have likely succeeded no matter what, but I do imagine early on the book fans were a much larger percentage of the total audience, and were a big part of the hype machine. Piss them off by making a drastic change to a major character/House, and the hype and excitement might have diminished for some. Hell, people were nitpicking about Nicolaj’s nose back then. Now think what the reaction would have been if they cast Forrest Whitaker to play King Robert…Okay, the more I think about it, the more I want an all black/minority remake of GOT!

    120. Honestly, I don’t think GoT is getting much credit for what it’s done for the diversity crowd. I’m 35 years old, Hispanic female. Plenty of the films and shows I watched as a kid had a terrible tendency of either minimizing ethnic-based roles or basing them off stereotypical caricatures. (Latinos/Hispanics/Mexicans, for example, were either Spanish speaking thugs that resembled khaki-wearing ‘cholos’ or sultry sexy-mamas that said ‘ay caramba’ all the time.) In GoT, we actually got bad-ass characters like Oberyon that bring their A-game.

      I’m more concerned with QUALITY than QUANTITY when it comes to featuring strong characters of diverse backgrounds. I don’t want the film industry to simply slap them in a series for the sake of crossing off a PC-checklist. Furthermore, I don’t consider it an offense if a show happens to feature an all-white cast or whatever, especially if the content is based on events that featured an actual white person (ex: Queen Elizabeth, Abraham Lincoln, etc).

      Shows like ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ are given the opportunity of featuring a mostly black cast without people demanding there to be ‘more diversity.’ Thus, other show creators should be given that opportunity to show whatever race they want, including white characters.

      The thing that DOES annoy me, however (not to mention, the biggest of issues I find), is when there are roles intended for a person of color, but go to a white actor anyway (ex: Ghost in the Shell’s Motoko, Aliens’ Vasquez, Doctor Strange’s the Ancient One, etc). At that point, the film IS depriving people of minority the chance to represent, or establish the face of diversity in Hollywood’s market. After all, the common issue with giving minorities lead starring roles is ‘they don’t bring in the big dollars’. But how do you get that point when potential roles keep going to white actors? Had Will Smith never been given the chance to represent in his hit 90s’ TV show, he wouldn’t have ever had the opportunity to star in ‘Men in Black’ or ‘Independence Day’.

      So for me, it’s not about forcing more blacks, hispanics, Asians, and other faces into hit TV shows. It’s about giving them the opportunity to represent when those roles DO come up and they’re not given the chance to play them all because of Hollywood politics.

    121. SerEHonda:
      First of all i’m not white, i’m a non-white latino and for me it would be silly to have someone of my ethnicity play a westerosi nobleman, even someone from Essos. Having an unnecesarily diverse cast just feels insulting, it’s using POC to fill some diversity quota and get the politically correct seal of approval.

      Also I find it funny that the article only mentions black people and completely ignores other races/ethnicities/whatever that amount higher numbers in the world population (Chinese and Indian). And by the way, Pedro Pascal looks like a dark south European, where i’m from he would even be considered white and fits the dornish description given by GRRM.

      Ellie,

      I find this “reverse racism doesn’t exist” argument pretty hilarious, let’s say I, a non-white mexican, say some pretty racist stuff about some asian or black guy, then by your standards I wouldn’t be considered racist, right? Or the other way around, if some non-white guy calls me a lazy mexican i guess that wouldn’t count as being racist. And let me say I have heard mexicans of every color say racist stuff about asians, black, whites and latinos of other countries, people of EVERY color or ethnicity can be racist.

      Truth.

    122. Hm, this is surprising! I always thought GoT did a great job when it came to diversity. Actually, considering that Westeros is supposed to be a fantasy version of medieval Britain, there is a quite a decent amount of non-white actors (as a former history student I can confirm that there were some people of color in Europe back in these days, but they were very limited and mostly only located in the big port cities)

      Of course, this is a work of fiction so all the characters could have been blue and green. But one of the things I like about GoT is that it tries to stay realistic (they even try to rationalize the supernatural stuff), and therefore I appreciate historically correctness and references to the real world.

      I don’t get this idea that modern show should represent the 2016 U.S. demographics. When I watch a medieval European fantasy show I think it’s only natural that the characters are white, just as I thought it was natural that all of the characters in the Disney movie Mulan were white.

    123. Back when Pedro Pascal was cast as Oberyn Martell for season four, Martin discussed this very issue on his blog, praising the show for making up for the characters of color lost in the adaptation by turning certain originally white characters black:

      I wasn’t present for Pedro Pascal’s audition, but I understand that he really killed it with his reading. And since his casting was announced, the producer of another TV show on which he appeared recently has written me to say how terrific Pascal is, and to congratulate us on the casting. So I suspect that he will turn out to be a wonderful Red Viper.

      Sorry but Pascal is not a “person of color” he is by all measures white. He is hispanic but that is not a racial classification but a cultural one.

      And yes, the Dornish are portrayed as “Mediterranian” as the author has mentioned that Spain or more correctly Iberia was the inspiration.

    124. Mine is the hairy one:

      I don’t get this idea that modern show should represent the 2016 U.S. demographics. When I watch a medieval European fantasy show I think it’s only natural that the characters are white, just as I thought it was natural that all of the characters in the Disney movie Mulan were white.

      I’m going to guess that you meant to write, “that all of the characters in the Disney movie Mulan were Chinese.”

    125. This was an interesting theatrical/sociological issue thirty or forty years ago.

      The click bait of this one is stronger than Drogon’s breath.

      [Not at all meaning our esteemed friend Luka, but the notoriously publicity-hungry South China Morning Post.]

    126. Ser Broccoli McBroccoliface:
      How many Blacks and in what roles, were there in Medieval England or Scotland or Ireland? France? Italy? Were there any Black kings, queens, knights or lords or vassals? I sincerely would like to know.

      GOT has tons of diversity and to criticize it for not is ridiculous.

      I agree and very true. No black rulers in northern Europe that I know of, but I believe there were black soldiers in the Roman army? Hannibal of Carthage who attacked Rome circa 200 BC was probably black.

      I’ve never had a problem with the casting for GoT or the mix between white or black characters/actors. However, the one thing that I do find interesting is the large amount of Irish actors in the show? Those playing (or did) Varys, Littlefinger, Barristan Selmy, Sandor Clegane, Meryn Trant and Joffrey for example. Perhaps as the main base for filming is in Belfast, using Irish actors was a natural choice. Not that I have any problem with that. I’ve had many Irish friends over the years and they’re great people 🙂

      I would guess when GRRM created his world, he loosely based it on Earth and its peoples? Westeros (with the exception of Dorne) being more like as northern Europe populated by fair skinned races and Dorne and Essos being more southerly and with a hotter climate populated by races of darker skinned people… It seems logical to me?

    127. Luka Nieto,

      And there are black people in Westeros. Thing is that Westeros is meant to be a type of England and there were few blacks in England during the middle ages. There were some in Spain and in Southern Europe and that has been depicted in the books by way of Dorn. Really what the complaints amount to is that Martin could have set his story in any time and place; but he choose to base it in middle ages Great Britain. Now there are plenty of “people of color” in the rest of the world just as in reality. But reality is that like in our own world in most areas of the world there is no great diversity. In that Martin was true to life both in the Medievel setting he choose and in our time.

    128. Black Raven,

      Most of Westeros is based on Great Britain, the some is meant to represent France and Dorn rougly represents Iberia.

      The prodiction is based in Ireland and Great Britain so most of the actors are British or Irish. Also helps that the wages in Britain and Ireland is much less then in the US. Remember you had to tie-up many ctors for multi-year deals. It’s much more reasonable to hire British working actors then American actors and since English is a must that leaves small pickings for other nationalities unless like Pascal they speak english.

    129. Now the Tyrells I could see. Or more Arab influenced. They sorta are anyway. Spanish/Moorish.

      Actually the Tyrells would be white as their region is pretty much like France. The Dornish which represent Iberians are more mixed race. Although the Dornish are much more “Arab” or black then actual Spaniards or Portugese. It’s interesting that the head guard in Dorne is depicted as white in the books and black in the show. Not a problem as he is supposed to be a foreigner to Dorne and the actual actor was fine for the role. But that is an example of the show gratuitously changing a characters race for PC reasons.

    130. I don’t care if it is all white people, I don’t care if it is all black people, I don’t care if it is all aliens. I care if the show is good.

    131. Pigeon:
      Black Raven,

      Rory McCann would get you for that – he’s Scottish. ?

      Ahhh, I thought I slipped up somewhere with those names! Sorry about that 😉

      I was going to add Iain Glen (Jorah the Andal) into the Irish list, but Googled him to check up and discovered he was Scottish 🙂

    132. Ser Broccoli McBroccoliface:
      Tyrion Pimpslap,

      The Greyjoys being Black would have been weird. Thats about as northern anglo as you can get. It would be like the Scottish highland clans being Black. Now the Tyrells I could see. Or more Arab influenced. They sorta are anyway.Spanish/Moorish.

      Westeros makes perfect sense. This debate is stupid. (Not that you are pushing the PC crap here)

      I meant Dorne, not the Tyrells, just to clarify.

    133. Off topic somewhat – I remember back in the 1960’s queuing up to enroll for a college course. This was in SE London. When a guy in front of me arrived at the desk, he put down his nationality on the form as English. He was told that was incorrect and that he should have put down British. He paused for a second, turned around and casually looked down the queue which was full of POC’s and overseas students. He then said “Look, they might be British, but I AM ENGLISH, I was born here in London as were my parents and their parents before them!” – I rolled up 😀

      I think they gave up in the end and accepted his enrollment form, so I put down the same and got away with it! hehe 🙂

    134. Black Raven: Ahhh, I thought I slipped up somewhere with those names! Sorry about that ?

      I was going to add Iain Glen (Jorah the Andal) into the Irish list, but Googled him to check up and discovered he was Scottish ?

      2 out of my top 3 men on the show, and both are Scottish….I sense a trend. The third is German, though..

      And I agree, many Irish/Northern Irish actors on the show seems to make sense with how production goes, as well as the fact that they’re just right for the characters. Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic, English, Welsh, Sudanese, Canadian, Italian, Australian…..New Jersey. ? I am completely blanking now on what a person from the Netherlands is referred to now! ? Too much holiday tryptophan dulling my senses….

    135. Stacy: The Targs practiced incest. That would make certain the Dornish blood was not whitewashed out. If they weren’t incestuous then I would agree that the Dornish blood would be of a much smaller percentage, but that isn’t the case. A biracial Dany is more than a reasonable conclusion.

      Your comment made me think about this and work back through Daenerys’ family tree and try to determine her genetic “mixture” if you want to call it that.

      So I went back to the 5th generation (Daeron 2 marries Mariah Martell). At 5 generations an individual will have 32 great-great-great grandparents if they all had children with non-related individuals. But this is a royal marriage and consanguinity is involved frequently.

      So if you draw out the tree into the 32 “ancestors” you find that Daeron occupies 4 of the positions. She is only 4/32 or 1/8 “pure” Targaryen (and that’s an assumption since Daeron is the product of incest, being half targaryen/lyseni but I had to stop at some point because I could go back many generations).

      Daeron’s wife is Mariah Martell, a Salty Dornish (dark hair olive skin) and would produce what we might perceive as a “mixed race” child. She occupies 4/32 ancestors so Daenerys is 1/8 Salty Dornish. That is the amount that I could say for certain, we would perceive as “another race” which is also a big grey area, and is a whole ‘nother argument.

      I know a coworker whose family is very Portuguese ( and while I would call her “different” I certainly wouldn’t call her another race) and the Iberian region is pretty analogous to “Salty Dornish”.

      Daeron and Mariah’s son Maekar married Dyanna Dayne. We know the Daynes are Stony Dornish (look more like Andals/First Men) and since incest is not as frequent outside of House Targaryen, we’ll assume Dyanna’s parents were a Stony Dornish and undetermined Dornish noble. This means that this marriage accounts for 4/32 Stony Dornish (might as well be Westerosi) and 4/32 undetermined noble Dornish. Meaning Daenerys is a total of 12/32 Dornish or 38%, more than I thought before I started mapping this out. But only 12.5% is known to be Salty Dornish. Judging from what we’ve been told, I would doubt that many if any of the Dornish noble families are a majority Sandy Dornish ancestry. So Dornish nobles are more likely either Salty or Stony.

      Maekar and Dyanna’s son Aegon V (the Unlikely or Egg) married Betha Blackwood. The implications here surprised me the most. We’ll assume again that the Blackwoods and other Riverlands nobles only married outside their houses so this means that their children will be half Riverlands and half Targ/Dornish mix. Aegon and Betha had Sheara and Jaeherys 2, siblings who married.

      Sheara and Jaeherys 2 (half riverlands, half targ dornish) had Aerys 2 and Rhaella, siblings again who married. Meaning their children will also have the same mixture.

      What does this all mean?

      Daenerys mixture/ancestors are 16/32 Riverlands Nobles, 4/32 “Pure” Targaryen and 12/32 Dornish Nobles. We known that 4/32 of that Dornish mix looked mostly like other Westerosi people. So here it is: Daenerys had a maximum 1/8 of her family that wouldn’t look Targaryen or Westerosi.

      So does this make her biracial? Depends on where you want to take this conversation. If you want to employ the standard of the anti-miscegenation laws and “One Drop Rule” from the early 1900s deep south, Yep she’s biracial (which I have problems with now that i’ve looked at her background).

      But since the Salty Dornish look Mediterranean/Iberian/Italian, if one grandparent out of eight was Mediterranean and the other seven were Northern European, that child is gonna look pretty WASPy to me.

      So there ya have it. Looking at her ancestry I’d be hard pressed to say that people would “perceive” Daenerys as biracial.

    136. GeekFurious,

      Then history would dictate mixed racial and ethnic characters….true history, but I’m not sure what version you’re reading or have read…(sigh)

    137. Luka Nieto,

      Thank you! I find that most of the commenters are just basing it off of a simplistic (and intellectually lazy) Europe equals white analysis, not having researched or read accurate history – http://atlantablackstar.com/2014/06/01/moors-saints-knights-kings-african-presence-medieval-renaissance-europe/
      http://www.africaresource.com/rasta/sesostris-the-great-the-egyptian-hercules/the-bla-maors-the-black-vikings-and-the-black-danes-compiled-by-invasion2012/

    138. Chilli,

      Also, the Dothraki. This is one of the most diverse shows in the history of television. Literally every single type of person on planet Earth has been represented.

    139. mau:
      Lord Parramandas,

      I agree. They didn’t put ice zombies in Dorne. They are in the cold north, where it makes sense for them to be. The dragons are in the east, where is warm, it also makes sense.

      I agree that it would make sense for the Targaryans to be black in both the show and the books, but we should be realistic about some other noble houses in Westeros..

      I mostly agree with you, but they could have made the first men of Mongolian origin, which would work with the climate too, but apparently the Chinese market is not important yet for HBO.

      The rest of the comment is more random, unrelated to the quote above:

      I really wouldn’t mind a Mongolian Jon Snow and a black (or Khoisan or pygmy, which are other “races” too, just not really present in the USA) Daenerys, as I am sure there are good and pretty actors with these ethnical backgrounds, but once GoT started with white skin colors for the Westerosi nobility and the northern countries to agree with the books, which they tried in the first season anyway, it’s not illogical to throw their “rules of thumb” overboard in the later seasons. That said, some characters like Melisandre or Thoros could have been black. On the other, a glamouring witch trying to influence the nobility might have chosen a glamour close to their looks.

      Anyway, I am sure future fantasy writers will take racial diversity stronger into account, but I wouldn’t blame GRRM or D&D for “racism” in their series. If they had casted a purely black fantasy story (which I’m totally fine with!) it shouldn’t be called racist either. E.g. compared to LOTR (which I like too, and on page the skin color matters even less than on screen) Asoiaf is a “positive example of diversity”. It has also been written later.

      There are almost no ugly persons in GoT, which makes no sense either, especially in the nobility. Daenerys should look like a monster, given the inbred in her family. Walder Frey should have the prettiest family since he chooses his wifes from any background, so he could chose pretty instead of noble duty. On the other hand, I can understand HBO casting prefering pretty actors because the viewers want to look at them. There is of course no such excuse for not casting more actors of mixed ethnicity who are beautiful as well. I just want to say that while some people enrage themselves over the “racism” in casting, they are blind to the much stronger discrimination towards ugly actors. There is implicit bias towards white actors, but I wouldn’t call it racism. I’m sure if the showrunners were to redo their series in 2016 knowing it would become such a success, they would have tried to make it more diverse from the beginning. Same for GRRM.

      Image the north composed of “whites” and everything below the neck composed of “black andal invaders”, kind of a compromise between the main actor’s etnicities that makes kind of sense, geographically speaking. Then the Starks versus the Lannisters becomes implicity also a war between races (but the song of ice an fire much more appropriate). Is it a problem that the northerners are “primitive” and the southerners “scheming and untrustworthy”? It would have been extremely cool however, in my book, to hear a black Yohn Royce with his posh accent.

    140. ramses,

      So a black woman on her way to conquer Westeros would be more fantastic than the white woman we have? Does color of skin make such a difference?! If she were the exact same person but black I wouldn’t feel any different about her than I do now, but apparently you would, and I’d like to understand why 🙂

    141. I just want to say for the record im not white so now that’s out of the way. Now, for the people saying the showrunners are racist.. please don’t be stupid.
      I would love more diversity yes, but I can’t imagine the Lannisters, Starks, Boltons etc being any other race since reading the books!
      This isn’t Star Wars Force Awaken where they finally were able to start a new storyline and placed main characters with diverse background.
      Hopefully In the future the world can expand bigger in Westeros and have our first Juan Lannister (si me gusta que es un mero cabron con todos)
      But as of right now I’m not bothered one bit for lack of diversity in the show.
      I just don’t think about it when it comes to Got.
      However for Hollywood and the real world that’s a whole different beast I can tackle.
      I love everybody! Hope everyone had a great Christmas and happy holidays

    142. Chilli,

      Many don’t really want that kind of world. Why? I just realized and my theory is it derives from their need to belong yet feel set apart in some way, special. It is a natural human desire, I think. To fit in and belong with a group, yet also be recognized as the unique person each one of us is. Some people find this with their race/ethnicity, others their intellect, looks, wealth, mental health condition, physical condition etc. We all use what we have… to… I don’t know what it’s called, find our place in the world? feed our ego’s maybe? None of us chooses, it’s mostly genetic. Fuck I don’t know if what I’m saying makes any damn sense or is too melodramatic. Aspie here. (yeah that’s my thang, aint proud of it, but it is what it is, gotta just embrace it sometimes.)

    143. Ellie,

      Why are you finding “racism” where there is none? Do you really think a person is being racist just because they basically said skin color shouldn’t matter in this regard? Do you think skin color should matter then? If so, who is the one being racial? Forgive me if I misread the conversation….

    144. ramses,

      Well if they do that, then they should not leave any race out correct? Where’s the Oriental, Filipino, Mexican or Indian actors in GOT? There has been many more POC actors than those races so why are they being under represented? This could go in circles that argument

    145. Might have a problem with making the First Men Mongolian since they are the ancesters of the People beyond the wall, the Starks and Northerners generally. I do not remember seeing a lot of Mongolian gingers when looking at National geographic.

      Also HBO is an American Company they make most of their money from the North American, European and Australain-New Zealand markets. I believe that like in most things dealing with intellectual property the chinese pirate a lot of the content so it would not surprise me if China was not a big market for HBO

    146. corinnestark:
      mau,

      Yes, there were. Here you can find more information about them: http://medievalpoc.tumblr.com/post/52212760324/creolesoul-a-history-of-black-people-in

      The conventional timeline of the Middle Ages is 500-1500 A.D. (or 476-1492 A.D., if you want it more precise). Black people began to appear in Europe due to the processes of the Early Modern Times. Of course, there were people and even noblemen of non-white race in Medieval Europe too: namely, Chingizids (Genghis Khan’s decedents). But if someone wants a medieval fantasy with a racially diverse nobility, it should be set in Eastern Europe instead of good old England.

    147. Luka Nieto,

      Are you saying it would be nice if they had changed even more of the white characters in the books into POC on the show? If so, isn’t that kind of the same thing but in reverse of what that other poster was being accused of thinking when he/she said basically it should be the best person for a given role, not based on skin color? So if the best people for the roles of white (European looking) characters in the storybook ended up being POC on show its OK, but if they end up being white it’s questioned???

      Listen, I love this board and I love my fellow man, of all colors, shapes and sizes. But what gets my goat is all of the PC shnizit that goes on in public discourse these days. It comes off as almost a type of reverse racism sometimes. I dont think people truly see that. I’m sorry just stating how I truly feel.

    148. Pascal is Chilean. He is also white. The rhetoric in the election involved Illegal immigrints. If you want to say that it involved disparaging remarks about Mexicans generally that is one thing. But that does not cover a Chilean actor who is as “white” as Al Pacino or many other “ethnic American actors. Indeed, if you remove his accent he would be as “white” as any white American who does not have blond hair or blue/green eyes.

      I believe that he is descended from Basque ancesters about as inbred a community as any outside or inside Ozark mountains.

      Pascal is not a person of color. He would likely look at anyone who described him that way rather strangely.

    149. Too much made of nothing IMO, as casting should be done by merit for a role not just simple outward appearance (which can work both ways) but just to point out one example from real history to show that dark skinned people were present in northern Mediaeval Europe and interracial marriages even occured:

      The wife of King Edward III of England in the late 14th century was Philippa of Hainault, who despite being born daughter of the count of Holland in what is now the northern French / Belgium border country, was certainly of mixed ancestry:

      The lady whom we saw has not uncomely hair, betwixt blue-black and brown. Her head is clean-shaped; her forehead high and broad, and standing somewhat forward. Her face narrows between the eyes, and the lower part of her face is still more narrow and slender than the forehead. Her eyes are blackish-brown and deep. Her nose is fairly smooth and even, save that it is somewhat broad at the tip and somewhat flattened, yet it is no snub-nose. Her nostrils are also broad, her mouth fairly wide. Her lips somewhat full, and especially the lower lip. Her teeth which are fallen and grown again are white enough, but the rest are not so white. The lower teeth project a little beyond the upper; yet this is but little seen. Her ears and chin are comely enough. Her neck, shoulders, and all her body and lower limbs are reasonably well shapen; all her limbs are well set and unmaimed; and nought is amiss so far as a man may see. Moreover, she is brown of skin all over, and much like her father; and in all things she is pleasant enough, as it seems to us. And the damsel will be of the age of nine years on St John’s day next to come, as her mother saith. She is neither too tall nor too short for such an age; she is of fair carriage.”

    150. Inga,

      When I watch a movie happening in China, most of the time 100% of the actors are Chinese (or asian) and it’s perfectly fine and to be expected, unless it’s some wacky comedy about “White guy stumble in China, hilarity ensues!” or something.

      I don’t expect the directors/writers to cast Mel Gibson and Idris Elba and write a work around in the plot to explain why there’s a white guy and a black guy in the middle of China just so appease my needs of diversity.

      When I watch a show or movie the only thing that matters is that the show is entertaining and the story is well written. Diversity isn’t important, it doesn’t make it better (or worse) and should not have to be enforced everytime.

      The setting is important and influence how much diversity a movie can have. When I watch Glory and most of the cast is black because it fits the story, it’s perfectly fine. And then I watch Game of thrones and most of the cast is white because it fits the story ( GRRM’s story ) and it’s perfectly fine as well.

      People these days are just trying to shove diversity in every possible situation just for the sake of it.
      When I read people saying things like “Idris Elba for James Bond!” I go sure, he could fit the role well and all. Why not?
      But sometime people are saying “We need a black James Bond!”. It’s not that they want a specific black actor they feel would be right for the role, they just want a black actor to play the role for no reason other than to have a black actor on it. Why?

      Cast the best actor for the job and who cares about his skin color. If he’s black he’s black, if he’s white he’s white. If the best actor on the audition is white, don’t cast a black one just for the sake of the diversity police. And vice versa.

      If you were watching Blade with a friend and he’d tell you “Damn, they really needed to do that movie with a white Blade instead” would you take that well? Everyone knows what you’d think about that guy.

      Well, that’s how the “diversity police” sounds for the rest of us.

    151. ygritte: Are you saying it would be nice if they had changed even more of the white characters in the books into POC on the show? If so, isn’t that kind of the same thing but in reverse of what that other poster was being accused of thinking when he/she said basically it should be the best person for a given role, not based on skin color? So if the best people for the roles of white (European looking) characters in the storybook ended up being POC on show its OK, but if they end up being white it’s questioned???

      I’m saying that if they ignored skin color altogether in the casting process (except for familial relations, obviously), there would be more people of color in the show, without the need for fullfilling any quota. It is rather telling that the minute someone suggests there should be more POC in a show or film some people always accuse them of wanting an unnatural quota to be filled, depriving white people from the job they deserve. First: Quotas are sometimes necessary, precisely BECAUSE systemic racism still exists. Second: There would be no quota needed here! Let’s say they cast Daenerys first among the characters of Valyrian descent. Fine, let’s make a colorblind casting. If a white person comes up, Valyrians are white. But what if someone not white happens to be a better Daenerys? Let’s say, an Asian actress. Is that so utterly unbelievable? Then, because of familial relations, Viserys would have to be Asian as well, as any other Valyrian. Is that “PC gone mad”? Or is that much more of a meritocracy than what is currently in place?

      ygritte: Why are you finding “racism” where there is none? Do you really think a person is being racist just because they basically said skin color shouldn’t matter in this regard? Do you think skin color should matter then? If so, who is the one being racial? Forgive me if I misread the conversation….

      Skin color matters because racism still exists. Pretending it doesn’t exist, as so many people love to do (“But we have a black president!”), doesn’t change things. I wonder (not really) why is it that so many people who say they don’t care about skin color when challenged by “PC crap” like mine don’t mention this any other time. Why is that card only used then? What about when they see the racism around them? Ah, unless, of course, they don’t see any racism around them. Where I live, there are plenty of people who would be very offended by being accused of racism but have no problem slagging off the “gitanos,” the Romani people who live in Spain.

      Adam,

      Why is this an argument that people use? It is completely meaningless. “I don’t care about race, I care about the quality of the show.” Why would caring more for diversity deprive the show from any of its quality?

    152. Inga:
      Luka Nieto,

      Basically, the First Men (and the Wildlings) should have been the Mongoloid type (like the Sami People/Lapps), but for some reason no Mongoloid-type race exists on the Planetos.

      I think it’s hilarious how you don’t seem to even have a clue about how offensive that is. The modern Sami share a descent from Uralic peoples, yet they’re as white as sheets. The vague “mongoloid” connection has been, and still is, used as a reason to oppress the Sami. It’s hardly any different from the N-word.

      And besides, the First Men are inspired by Celts, and the Andals by Anglo-Saxons.

    153. Ser Not Appearing in this series,

      It’s not about dark skinned people being present or not in the medieval era in europe… it’s about quantity. If 5% of Europe was dark-skinned, you shouldn’t expect a 50% representation or even 25%.

      There’s white people in South Africa. But if you were to make a movie happening in South Africa and 40% of the actors are white, you’d feel like something is weird, because it shouldn’t be that much.

      That aside I’m not sure why the focus is on “medieval europe” because ASOIAF doesn’t happen in medieval Europe it happens in Westeros and we know what ethnic group/skin color are the people there.

      You don’t have to change someone’s story just to appease to your personal needs for diversity.

      If someone writes a story about a black football team doing this or that, it can be adapted to television as a black football team and everyone would think it’s perfectly fine and normal, because that’s the source material. Everyone would be ok with this and there would be no complaints. Well everyone beside I don’t know, the KKK?
      But if that’s your only valid equivalent of the opposite situation, what does that make you?

      Everyone who isn’t racist would be OK with a movie or show about overwhelmingly black characters if that’s how the original story went.

      Do the same for white, and now you have people pushing you for a need of diversity, you have people writing articles discussing whether or not GRRM is a racist… Get real.

    154. Jorr,

      Curiously, “Mongolo” (and similar variants) is also a kind of slur in Spain. But for an entirely different and terrible reason. It’s an insult meaning “stupid” in Spain. People with Down syndrome were thought to be physically similar to the inhabitants of Mongolia, so… Yeah. Very unpleasant.

    155. aiad,

      I think you’re annoyed unnecessarily about my point if your whole reply was aimed at me, which was purely academic in nature 🙂

      Indeed a white Othello or Gandhi being “acceptable” would illustrate the difficulties in an accurate presentation versus a decision made on “looking the part” or equal opps alone.

      Simply there is real life precedent for GRRM if he so chose to have made one house of Westeros of a different skin colour to the rest. In real life skin colour did not affect Phillipa’s acceptance in the nobility and as Queen of England, that simple. The fact that GRRM has created Planetos society the way he did is of no particular consequence to me in the storytelling, because I accept that GRRM had rational and not sinister reasons in his world and society building but…

      I wonder what reaction there would have been if House Tarly for example had been dark-skinned in the books or show? Probably none, but it might have given Sam’s story at the Wall another dimension.

      Let’s not forget that one of the strengths of GoT/ASOIAF is the ability for it to reflect real world problems that we can relate to, and the show by necessity does get caught up in some of those issues too.

      Anyway since no shits are truly given, I shall leave this argument to fester on…

    156. The show’s nearly finished, so this argument is completely pointless. Personally, I thought they did well when it came to diversity, especially compared to things like Lord of the Rings or Narnia. If they’d adapted those literally, the Easterlings would’ve all been far-Eastern and the Haradrim would’ve been Indian or African, so the only non-orc humans on Sauron’s side would’ve been ethnic minorities. Yikes.

      Maybe you can all write your own fantasy stories that rectify these problems. They can be made into books and you can sell the rights to, I dunno. Someone.

    157. ygritte,

      So a black woman on her way to conquer Westeros would be more fantastic than the white woman we have? Does color of skin make such a difference?! If she were the exact same person but black I wouldn’t feel any different about her than I do now, but apparently you would, and I’d like to understand why ?

      Hello my friend. If you go back to yesterday’s posts I articulated my opinion on representation clearly and extensively. Off to work now.

    158. Oh god… this article only gave me additional reason to keep away from the site. I don’t know if it is only me or if the site really became more negative after S6 ended… I used to really enjoy it last year.

    159. I’ve always been interested in reading expert’s criticism of the lack of diversity in GOT but never fully agreed with it. Many times, the director’s have actively ignored ‘white’ descriptions in the book and gone with an actor of different color. Prime example is casting the black Nonso Anozie for Xaro Xhoan Daxos (who is white in books); this puts a black man as one of the richest characters in the world, not as a ‘savage’ or a ‘slave’. Another example is the Spanish Oona Chaplin playing the high-born Talisa Stark, who replaces the white Jeyne Westerling from the books.

      Thus, I cannot accept the following criticism:
      “As it is, even when people of color are cast in the show, it’s usually in the role of savages, slaves, brutal slavemasters, eccentric merchants, exotic priests, and unsavory pirates.”
      It’s as if they’ve totally ignored that the most evil people are not the few dark slavemasters or the one black pirate (most pirates are WHITE. Check out the Iron Islands; may have heard of them), but the most evil characters are instead WHITE (Euron, The Mad King, Littlefinger, Cersei). GRRM is quite critical of the racial majority.

      Further, GRRM’s descriptions of “savage” cultures is, in my opinion, very respectful and delicate. He goes into a great amount of detail describing why these groups believe certain things or behave in certain ‘barbaric’ behaviors. It has allowed me to be more understanding of underdeveloped societies, both modern and ancient, or even just cultures that are simply different from my own. I believe GRRM should be PRAISED for his abundant inclusion of diverse characters from all cultural backgrounds and the life he gives to them, not criticized.

      Just my two cents on why I believe the criticism GRRM and D+D receive for ASOIAF/GOT’s ‘lack of diversity’ is utter nonsense and is just attention-hungry critics trying to piggyback on their success.

    160. I’m all about diversity and equal opportunity, but some of you seem to be a bit too eager to accuse others of being racist when they simply don’t share your viewpoint. It’s kind of dangerous and creates a mob mentality. If diversity is so important to some of you in a work of fiction, then why aren’t you equally upset that Asians and other minorities aren’t represented? Why is it only narrowed down to black and white in most of these discussions? Personally, I don’t make a point to focus on skin color or background when watching a tv show. As long as they are good, I could care less.

    161. Regardless of color, I enjoy the show very much and do not think accusations of racism are appropriate here. If some of you are so upset about the lack of diversity, and if it means that much to you, then why are you still watching and supporting the show? Seems a bit hypocritical. It’s all about accussing others of being racist so the accuser can basque in his/her own sense of self-satisfaction that they’re so much more enlightened than everyone else. Rant over. Enjoy the day everyone.

    162. Ellie,

      Thank you for stating this. The fact that some people believe reverse racism is a thing shows how prevalent racism is. Racism is indeed about power and oppression of one “racial” group” over another. The assumption that the group in power must be white or that if whites were to experience oppression would be reverse racism is ludicrous.

      Moving onto the show, Martin had a long discussion about making the Targaryens black but that it would have created problems for the secret Targ story lines. The Martells could have truly been “dark” rather than “salty” but other than that, it is hard to imagine the other great houses as non-white. That said, I could see the Ironborn being POC.

      The show has shown how easily the supporting characters could have been non-white realistically. Westeros and Essos could have been more diverse as most of our continents are. I suppose Martin was more concerned about telling his story which already deals with many important issues. Addressing racial issues doesn’t seem to be one he was focusing on.

    163. ramses,

      Representation is also better when it is earned. My assumption is the casting director casted the best audition. Now I could break that down even more: were colored people refused to audition for roles that didn’t specify a race such as say Thoros of Myr? If so, that is when it is a problem. But I don’t want TV and movies to start casting to meet a quota just to get representation. I want the best talent. Chances are the highest percentage of auditioners were white as well just increasing the chances that the best actor/actress for the role was white. Just instead of having representation just to have representation it has to start at another level, a younger level. Creative Arts and Theater need to become easily available to elementary and middle school children in schools and areas of the nation that are predominantly not white. Encourage interest and ambition and provide opportunity to learn and grow so that they are just as talented when auditioning. Again all of my comments are based on the fact that in roles that race was not specified the casting director chose the best person for the role based on the audition. That may be a naïve to look at it but my point about encouraging interest at a younger age to different races is the best way to improve diversity. It needs to be earned not given just cause. I have never heard stories that GRRM is racist (articles like this always start insinuations that he is) but yet never heard any stoires. I have never heard any racist stories during production and casting. That is a good thing isn’t?

    164. ramses,

      Ellie,

      And your straight assumption that a white actor was casted over a better colored actor is false claims. Show me an example. Calling it racist because you don’t like the ratio is not an acceptable claim. Now if the show knowingly said a particular black actor had a better audition but they gave it to a white person because white actors get higher ratings then you can call racism and I would be standing next to you. But calling racism because YOU don’t like the ratio is just as ignorant and creating more of a divide.

    165. Luka Nieto,

      I don’t believe the commenter was assuming that white actors are more talented. I think the idea comes from the fact that there are way more white actors and actresses out there. So when all these wannabe actors come for an audition the chances of a white person being casted are much higher. I hope what I am saying makes sense. I don’t like how the article and comments instantly cite racism when there have been no stories of racism from the producers, directors or HBO during the production of the show. I don’t want to hear stories about some assistant to the assistant make-up designer being a racist. Show me where the decision makers on the show have blatantly been racist? I just want to call racism when actual racism is taking place. Lets get more information. Were color actors turned away from auditions for characters that had race specified? What was the ratio of races for auditions on those roles. I want more information before an article starting to name characters that could have been colored now basically making the production of the show racist.

    166. The Article complained about the black characters being exotic foreigners and merchants, and guess what? most of the suggestions (in comments) of possible changes of color of the characters include turning exotic foreigners like Melisandre or Daario in black/biracial, i bet they would be complaining about it then ¬¬, i agree that some changes would be interessanting, but most of the suggestion dont make sense, and in the end it arent my history anyway

    167. There seems to be a basic misunderstanding about how roles are cast, and how people audition for Game of Thrones. They don’t post a part, and then see everyone for it, regardless of race, and then choose the best actor. This isn’t the high school play.

      Every role is sent out to agencies with a physical description. A few are vague, and will be for Any Description, that sort of thing, but most come with specifics. The casting notices that you see us post here- the overwhelming majority of them, I’d say about 90% of them, are specifically for white actors. That means agencies see the casting posting, and will only submit white actors for that role because GoT and Nina Gold’s people look at the part and write the casting notice based on their own assessment. And usually it’s for white people.

      When you see non-white actors on GOT, it’s because they specifically stated in the casting notice that the role was for a non-white person. (The Martells’ descriptions, for example.) And sometimes white people still get cast in the role anyway (Daario’s casting notice a few years ago originally requested a non-white man- somehow we got Ed Skrein. The Waif’s casting notice was for an Asian woman, we got Faye Marsay).

      So it’s not so simple as “Well, all the best actors auditioned and if white people win the roles, well suck it up!” Most of the time, non-white actors never even get their foot in the door.

    168. This whole thread is an example of the world slowly drowning itself in a sea of self righteous political and social engineering, there will be an uproar because the white walkers all have blue eyes and have a certain color in their name!

    169. “When you see non-white actors on GOT, it’s because they specifically stated in the casting notice that the role was for a non-white person”

      No, presumably if the description does not itself limit the intended actors to whites then an agency would propose their actors regardless of race.

      Also it is kind of hard to cast Northerners people beyond the wall, etc. who are none white. Kind of have to keep up with obvious racial and ethnic norms. Also lots of the descriptions require a certain type of accent presumably none whites might be able to fill such a role but there would be far less of them to contend for the role then white actors. As for the roles that were first envisioned as none white and were later cast by white actors may I suggest that this was due to fact that they did not find an “actor of color” that impressed them for the role.

    170. Sue the Fury,

      But they did cast POC for characters who are white in the book. Like Areo Hotah, Xaro Xhoan Daxos, Salladhor Saan, … Shae has been made more exotic and also Talissa, Syrio Forel …

    171. Ser Broccoli McBroccoliface,

      Agreed. Nor is it realistic. I find the diversity pushers on here like to lampoon the argument of GRRM using historical accuracy as a reason for the demographic make-up of his world as a bad argument because a) he was wrong about the historical accuracy and b) this is a fantasy story so historical accuracy is irrelevant. Correct on both counts. But then you turn around and say that there needs to be more POC in the cast of the show as well as the characters in the books because that is “reality”. Guess what? This is still fantasy. Reality doesn’t matter. You diversity pushers can’t have your cake and eat it too.

      A writer or any artist is free to compose whatever the hell they want and don’t have to kowtow to other people’s political sensitivities. Believe me, there is plenty of art out there I find offensive to the extreme. I avoid it. If having too many whites on Game of Thrones or in ASOIF is too offensive for you then quit watching/reading.

      And yeah, yeah, I know, this is a free country and you have the right to criticize whatever you want. Absolutely true. Everyone else also has the right to criticize your ridiculous opinions in turn and tell you to stop whining.

      Carry on.

    172. Um, wait: Belwas was supposed to be black? Weird: I always pictured him as looking Asian. Of course, I think that I always envisioned a Sumo wrestler: that just might be why…..

      The #1 problem with “historical accuracy” defense of the lack of diversity is, yet again: stories are not documentaries. History is all plot and no story. Stories need plots, but what is important to them is aspects of how particular characters evolve. Moreover, history is not so neat and clean as people like GRRM think (as many here have noted): due to a variety of factors, people of “color” got around.

    173. Luka Nieto,

      Skin color matters because racism still exists.

      This. Pretending we’re done with all that is insane. Racism is alive and well, and not just in European heritage regions. I’m Turkish, and Turks are as racist as anyone else, though their racism tends to be more ethnic-class-religious based than tied to skin color.

      As to coloring, Targ physical appearance never worked for me, not in the novels, not on the show. Targs are blood and fire, red and black, symbolized by dragons, passion, rubies. Silver hair and pale skin are not “blood and fire.” The palette of pale-medium blues, silvers, whites created for Dany are also the opposite of that.

    174. maria:
      Luka Nieto,

      This. Pretending we’re done with all that is insane. Racism is alive and well, and not just in European heritage regions. I’m Turkish, and Turks are as racist as anyone else, though their racism tends to be more ethnic-class-religious based than tied to skin color.

      As to coloring, Targ physical appearance never worked for me, not in the novels, not on the show. Targs are blood and fire, red and black, symbolized by dragons, passion, rubies. Silver hair and pale skin are not “blood and fire.” The palette of pale-medium blues, silvers, whites created for Dany are also the opposite of that.

      maria,

      Possibly, but couldn’t an argument be made that racism still exists BECAUSE people are so focused on skin color? In other words, the quicker we stop focusing on superficial differences such as skin color and realize that we have more similarities than differences as human beings, the quicker people will stop giving a crap about it?

      And if I’m wrong, what is the answer? How do we stop racism?

    175. aiad,

      Exactly if the Targaryen were black then the baratheons and Jon would have to be biracial.
      Daenerys physical appearance is one of the most distinct in the books and was actually important to her story arc. People still complain about the lack of purple eyes.

      I do agree that other characters from Essos could’ve been poc.

    176. Mr. Derp: And if I’m wrong, what is the answer? How do we stop racism?

      By this logic, racism is magnified by attempts to eliminate it. However, the opposite is true: the world is less racist now than it was. Indeed, perhaps the biggest sign of this is that racists used to be quite open about it: blacks, Jews, etc., were clearly inferior. That is making something of a comeback, but for the most part, modern racists try to pretend that they are not racist. After all, if you were not blasting blacks with fire hoses personally, then you are not a racist, right? (That’s rhetorical and sarcastic, by the way….)

      To that end, if you want to show that race does not matter: then show it not mattering. This is how storytelling has always been 2-3 steps ahead of the rest of society, or at least how it has been for the last 150 years.

    177. LUIS REY,

      The rhetoric extends to South America where there has been an influx of immigrants coming over also. Pedro Pascal could easily pass for Mexican.

    178. maria: though their racism tends to be more ethnic-class-religious based than tied to skin color

      heh, strictly speaking, that is classism. After all, there is more to bigotry than racism: there is sexism, homophobia and religious-based hatred as well as classism and racism. (I would add nationalism, but nationalism really is just racism on a finer scale.) All are bigotry, but all are different types of bigotry. Ultimately, bigotry is what needs to be stamped out.

      To an extent, this is present in SoI&F. Daeny battles bigotry against the lower classes: and pays a steep price for it. Jon battles bigotry against the Wildlings: and pays a steep price for it. Arya wages a private war against classism and sexism: and it winds up costing her Nymerria. Tyrion battles bigotry against dwarfs: and it wins up costing him hugely. Bran’s crippling is a terrible price and one that makes him a subject of bigotry. But several characters also see long-term benefits: Daeny now has a devoutly loyal following; Jon now has Wildlings fighting for him rather than against him as wights; Arya is able to escape Kings Landing and save herself. Bran’s latent greenseer talents are triggered, leading to his literal and figurative apotheosis. (We have not yet seen how it will pay off for Tyrion, but it probably will.)

      So, there is a strong anti-bigotry aspect to SoI&F: the primary protagonists all are “broken things”: cripples, bastards, dwarfs and/or women. None are “whole” people: i.e., healthy, normal-sized, true-born men. However, there is not really an anti-racist element to SoI&F.

    179. Mr. Derp,
      In other words, the quicker we stop focusing on superficial differences such as skin color and realize that we have more similarities than differences as human beings, the quicker people will stop giving a crap about it?

      If a person were truly colorblind, they’d be unable to tell that there were very few people of color in films/tv shows/ads made before the 1970s. They might be colorblind, but the society around them isn’t, and the fact that they were personally colorblind would also blind them to the racism around them.

      Racism is one of the most idiotic ideas humans ever came up with, but then so is anti-Semitism, homophobia, sexism, various bloody debates on the exact nature of religious truth. All it takes for people to get hurt is for a society to believe the idiocy and act on it.
      Wimsey,

      So, there is a strong anti-bigotry aspect to SoI&F: the primary protagonists all are “broken things”: cripples, bastards, dwarfs and/or women. None are “whole” people: i.e., healthy, normal-sized, true-born men. However, there is not really an anti-racist element to SoI&F.

      Totally agree.

    180. Honest question – would the diversity issue even BE an issue if GoT wasnt this globally popular phenomenon that it is today? I’m honestly curious.

      I feel that only certain shows are targeted for their lack of diversity. There are several popular and fantastic shows I can think of off the top of my head that do not have a white majority cast…and there is never an outcry over the lack of diversity where those shows are concerned. Has there been any upset over “Empire” having a mostly black cast? No. And there shouldn’t be. The same should be able to be said for a show with a mostly white cast…there’s nothing wrong with it. And it’s certainly not a “racism” issue.

    181. Wimsey,

      Thanks for the reply. If the last 150 years of storytelling has been 2-3 steps ahead of society, it certainly isn’t showing through in said society, so that’s not really a solution to the problem. I’m more interested in trying to solve the problem, however impossible it may be.

      My point is that, in my opinion, the more society focuses on people’s differences, the more people will be divided, but the more you focus on the things we have in common, the more people will find a reason to come together. This is up to each and every individual to decide for themselves. I think that should be the focus of society rather than a lot of people pointing fingers so they can make themselves look more “enlightened” than others, which I think happens too much. I’m trying to put forward some solutions to the problem. Haven’t heard any from anyone else yet.

    182. Jorr,

      The modern Sami are not “white as sheets” and they are not descendants of any Uralic peoples: they are indeed “the first men” in Lapland and the entire piece of Europe from Lapland to Ural and further had been inhabited by mongoloids before all kinds of Indo-Europeans pushed them to the outskirts. As for oppression, I haven’t heard that Sami have ever been oppressed because of their facial features (religion and way of life is a different issue). But if that happened, well: Estonians were always mocked (and oppressed) for being too white.

      But that said I have absolutely no problem with Wildlings being white in GOT, because, as you have pointed out, the Wildlings/First Men have been inspired by Celts (or Scots), and the Andals by Anglo-Saxons. In general GOT/ASOIAF cannot squeeze in all and everyone, and, thanks to the old gods and the new, GRRM and D&D are more interested in characters, than in the color of their skin or the PC agenda. That’s why the show is watched and loved not only in the US, but from India to Kenya (there are some lovely reaction videos from there BTW).

    183. Lady_Vicious1984,

      Yes, it was an issue people were discussing since the very first season. And during casting of every subsequent season. All well before it was a global phenomenon.

      Why this show? I think it has to do with the fact it’s a fantasy. And a very inclusive one in a lot of ways. People of all races/genders/abilities are attracted to the source material (like Wimsey is saying, its anti-bigotry message is very strong when compared to most “mainstream” fantasy) – so they have a desire to see “themselves” in the material. And as a fantasy you can justify arguments for increasing diversity in ways you can’t for shows that are based on specific parts of planet Earth.

    184. Luka Nieto: It is rather telling that the minute someone suggests there should be more POC in a show or film some people always accuse them of wanting an unnatural quota to be filled, depriving white people from the job they deserve.

      I know this thread is lengthy, but I haven’t seen anyone say such things, only people assuming and accusing them of thinking that way. Depriving white people of jobs they deserve? Seriously? I can’t imagine anyone being that backwards thinking.

    185. Ugh. I’ve seen this conversation pop up multiple times here (and other places). Sometimes I think people just want to be passionate about something and get behind a cause even when that cause is overstated. It’s truly great if you want to focus on ending racism (we all should), but maybe try actually doing something instead of typing about how GoT could be more diverse. Is this REALLY the next (and most important) frontier in the war on racism?? People are still being killed in the streets because of their skin color.

    186. Inga,

      No but I see people on here who say crazy things. How many poc are there in your dear motherland? Here in the US and in the UK we have diverse populations many of who suffer because of racism. It’s not communist to expect diversity in film.

    187. Anna,

      I think nature knows how to balance itself out on its own,

      If there’s ever a tumor growing on my lung, I’ll be sure to let nature balance it out on it’s own.

    188. Pigeon: I know this thread is lengthy, but I haven’t seen anyone say such things, only people assuming and accusing them of thinking that way. Depriving white people of jobs they deserve? Seriously? I can’t imagine anyone being that backwards thinking.

      First of all, venture out into the internet, and you will see many websites dedicated to people complaining about people of color stealing white people’s jobs.

      Second of all, you don’t realize how many racist posts we have to delete or never make it past moderation here.

    189. Everyone is arguing about race but I will tell you that there is no such thing as race. There is no such thing as white and black. Grouping people based on their skin color together is just beyond ignorant.

    190. Chilli: But they did cast POC for characters who are white in the book. Like Areo Hotah, Xaro Xhoan Daxos, Salladhor Saan, … Shae has been made more exotic and also Talissa, Syrio Forel …

      They specifically put out a casting call for a black man for Areo Hotah. Hotah’s skin color was never specified in the books. The Norvoshi are thought to be white by book readers, I think, so it seems likely, but Hotah’s description isn’t very specific in AFFC. Fandom has a way of defaulting to white when it’s not specified.

      Often when the show puts out a casting call for “Any” skin color, we still wind up with a white actor. (Example- Yezzan the slaver.)

      “Exotic” is sort of a useless term here.

      Miltos is white, a Greek-English guy. But Syrio’s a Braavosi guy so it makes sense he’d have a Mediterranean look.

      No one is saying the show hasn’t cast a few people of color. But the point is, they can always do better.

    191. Chilli,

      And I would never want a job because of my colour, I want a job because I’m good at it.

      Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Comedy gold!

    192. I’m fairly liberal, but the media really does some race bating with interviews like this.

      I could care less if the entire cast is white, black, asian, or hispanic. I just want a good show. And Game of Thrones is a GREAT show.

      I’m more worried about movies where they push for so much diversity that it seems forced and artificial. At the end of the day, people like to hang out with their own kind…. and if you think that sounds racist, you are wrong. A bunch of white nerds hanging out at comic con is a perfect example. If comic con racist because it is mostly a white gathering? Nope. It just happens that is how life works….

    193. Stacy: This is something George himself considered. He mentioned wishing he had made the Targs black in a discussion on his blog. But a biracial Dany (Valyrian/Dornish) is something that is canon and could have been reflected in the casting for her.

      Well, George is white and male. I’m sure he likes to think of himself as purely objective in these matters, and as guided by ‘objective’ history (history isn’t really objective), but George has been fed messages about the superiority of white males and messages of what is beautiful and desirable in women….blonde hair, pale skin…narrow hips..etc. He is a carrier and propagator of the racist ideal.

      He can resist it, however. Isn’t that what the conscious mind is for – to impose the will?

    194. Also… people forget that there is something much more powerful then racism (which I don’t think it happening here)…. and it is called CAPITALISM!!!!

      Companies have one motivation…. To maximize profits. If they could do this will an all Asian cast, they sure as would. There is a reason why Matt Damon is a white guy staring as a lead in a mostly Asian Cast movie (The Great Wall). It is because the movie company wants to make the most money possible. Not racism…. capitalism.

      People will complain about anything these days.

    195. LUIS REY,

      I work in Mongolia, and, in fact, I know several red-headed, blue- or green-eyed Mongolians. There are also some blond Mongolians. Not an impossibility. A little off-topic, but just pointing out that people’s ideas about the immutability of phenotypes by race are part of the problem – especially in parts of the world that have been crossroads for thousands of years.

    196. Sue the Fury: First of all, venture out into the internet, and you will see many websites dedicated to people complaining about people of color stealing white people’s job.

      Second of all, you don’t realize how many racist posts we have to delete or never make it past moderation here.

      I meant this site specifically – obviously there are more than a lot of sad examples of humanity on the vast internet….glad that you catch them so quickly here, as my email notifications often come through just a few minutes after a post is made!

    197. Also, life isn’t fair…. get over it.

      Men get paid more then women.

      Taller people get paid more then shorter people.

      Good Looking people get paid more then ugly people.

      A good looking guy and an ugly guy can use them same pick up line on a woman, and for the ugly guy it is sexual harassment and for the good looking guy it is a night with the woman.

      Should Jamie Lannister be played by a 5’1″ , Hispanic, Super Ugly actor…. with blonde hair…. just to make everybody feel better?

    198. Pigeon,

      You have no idea. The disgusting stuff I’ve had to delete here… And most come prefaced by a variation of “I’m not racist but…” or “This is PC gone mad!”… followed by an outright racist manifesto. So sorry if I seem aggressive on this subject. This comment section, as heated as it is, is heavily curated to cut out the virulent racists who come to stir shit up whenever this subject comes up.

    199. Luka Nieto,

      It was quite a common insult worldwide, stemming from a belief that people who had babies with Down Syndrome must have had an ancestor who was raped by a Mongol warrior during the Mongol conquests of the 13th century, and that the mental retardation was a manifestation of the inherent “stupidity” of the Mongolian people being expressed. It’s terribly racist. It’s died out here in the US, luckily. I know it’s still used in other places.

    200. Mr. Derp:
      The Bastard,

      Peter Dinklage gets paid the same amount of salary than the rest of the main cast and he’s pretty damn short last I checked

      They cast a little person for that role because multiple events in the books are a direct result of him being short. You kind of missed my point….

      And my point is that if it wasn’t race or gender, it would be something else people are complaining about. At some point you just have to say life isn’t fair, this is what the human mind does, and get on with it.

      Is Game of Thrones a great show? YES

      Does Game of Thrones have a great cast? YES

      Would diversifying the cast have made it better? Probably not.

      So it is a non issue to complain about.

    201. The Bastard,

      I was actually just joking with you. This thread could use it.

      But in all seriousness, you’re stating opinion as fact, so you kind of missed my point, which is what you said cannot be taken literally and cannot be applied to all scenarios. You’re cherry picking.

    202. I’m hardly cherry picking. Life is not a bunch of check marks about what is fair.

      And the people who look at life this way will always be disappointed.

    203. Pigeon,

      According to Luka and Sue, they manually weed out the most blatant racist comments….so, there isn’t some Racist Away spray they apply.

    204. The Bastard,

      I agree that life is not fair at times and it is what it is. I also agree with a lot of what you are saying in general, but, if you or someone you know is not allowed the same opportunities as others and is told it’s because “that’s life get over it” I have a feeling you wouldn’t be ok with that explanation, nor should you be.

    205. Mr. Derp,

      Race is a social construct, so in one sense you are right – it doesn’t “really” exist in a biological sense, and it’s only significant insofar as we grant it significance.

      But the other side of that issue is this: For hundreds of years, we have granted it a significance that privileges people with paler skin, and that history set things in motion that are still playing out today. While white people in a place like the US may have the luxury of being magnanimous and saying, “Race doesn’t matter to me,” people of color deal with structural racial oppression that is the legacy of centuries of culture, in addition to the individual racists who feel like it’s okay to say or do racist things to them in daily interactions. So even if you don’t want to see race, they are forced to. Racism is a lived reality for people of color, and they can’t ignore it.

      There’s a tension between wanting to create a world where everyone is equal and where race doesn’t matter – an ideal all of us aspire to, I’m sure – and the necessity of dealing with the historical reality of racism and its ongoing legacy. To try to silence people who want to talk about their experiences of that racism by saying, “Well, I don’t want a world where race is a thing, so why are we talking about this?” is, in and of itself, another form of racism, because it denies the history of racism and the experiences of those people.

      This stuff is all very complex. I think, at least here in the States, we’re schooled to see racism as a thing that happens when individuals hold backwards views and act on those views. If you know in your own heart and mind that you are free of those views or intentions, it’s easy to say, “I’m not a racist.” But the challenge for the coming decades is understanding that it’s not just about individuals, it’s about being able to think about long-term systemic problems that stem from a culture of racism, rather than from the shortcomings of morally-deficient individuals.

      Sue’s post about casting notices is a good example of a systemic thing that happens and that excludes people of color. It may not stem from anyone’s view that people of color are inferior, but it has the de facto effect of denying opportunities in the race-neutral way that you espouse.

    206. The Bastard,

      Also, life isn’t fair…. get over it.

      Men get paid more then women.

      Taller people get paid more then shorter people.

      Good Looking people get paid more then ugly people.

      …and that’s just fine? Men should continue to get paid more than women/tall people more than short people/pretty people more than ugly people, because life isn’t fair, and it’s just the way it is, and we should “get over it”?

    207. This thread has grown to monumental proportions since I last checked it out!

      As it see it, GRRM has loosely based his novels on medieval European history with a bit of ancient history thrown in like as from the Roman era when it was under attack from the barbarians. Race or colour is not a part of the story? Simply a power struggle between the various kingdoms who up until now don’t realise the real threat will come when the ‘Army of the Dead’ will cross or bring down The Wall.

      It would only be natural for B&W etal to cast white actors for characters that live in the mid to northern part of Westeros (many with British northern dialects to accentuate that fact) and characters from Dorne and Essos to have Mediterranean or Middle Eastern characteristics.

      I’ve never had a problem with the uneven mix between fewer black and more white actors/characters in GoT… Racism or PC views don’t come into the equation – It simply fits the story and the world GRRM created.

    208. Black Raven: I’ve never had a problem with the uneven mix between fewer black and more white actors/characters in GoT

      Hmmm…. Well how I interpret that depends on which one is you in that thumbnail.

    209. The Bastard,

      As a shorter, less then attractive male…. absolutely I say “get over it”. Instead of complaining about what you can’t do…. find an avenue in life that you can excel in and enjoy it.

      Going by this reasoning, women would still not have the right to vote and Jim Crow would be alive and well. Hell, even slavery might be alive and well. As for working conditions…I won’t go there.

      Too ot for words. Shutting up now.

    210. fierce as a wolverine,

      “Well, I don’t want a world where race is a thing, so why are we talking about this?”

      Ugh. I didn’t say that. You’re mis-quoting me and taking what I said completely out of context.

    211. Anon,

      How you inferred any of that from my comment is beyond me. But, okay, let’s go over this point by point.

      Racism is generally accepted to be a bad thing, yes. You’d still be able to hold those opinions because it’s your right to have them, but I believe we should judge the individual on his own merits, not stereotype him because of characteristics he never had the option of choosing. So yes, tread carefully. Don’t go around putting labels on people you don’t know anything about. That’s just mean.

      I’ve not hinted at any direct causative link between our opinions of the show runners and their productivity. I’m just saying we should show some respect and be understanding.

      I think you’re seeing words I didn’t write. It’s called projection. I’m sure there’s a Google video of that out there too.

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