I am become History It just dawned on me that I asked my students to write about the historical context of race and gender relations in 1996. They have no idea what it was like to be beaten up for being gay—despite not being gay, just reading books, which same difference—in high school, and when I tell them that there wasn't a single person out in my entire high school, they stare at me in disbelief. And with good reason: when I ask them if they attended a school in which no one was out, no one raises their hand. They live in a different—and frankly better—world, and they have no idea how historically unique their lives are. All of which is me building up to my point, which was that after I informed them that when I started college I couldn't buy books online because the Internet wasn't robust enough to accommodate tiny pictures of book covers, one of my male students looked at me, horror in his eyes, and asked "Then how did you get your porn?" Which is the second-best porn-related question I've ever been asked in a classroom. It fought the good fight, but I think we can agree that the champion retains her belt.
Game of Thrones: Everyone is alone, everyone is surrounded in "The Wolf and The Lion" I always say that titles don't matter, then I go on to demonstrate how they do, so I see no harm in doing so again: the definite articles in the title matter because this episode focuses on what it's like to be "the" Stark (wolf) or "the" Lannister (lion) in the room. And the roles keep reversing. In "Lord Snow," Jon Snow (wolf) stood alone in the middle of a circle, surrounded by people who wished him ill and observed by Tyrion Lannister (lion); in "The Wolf and the Lion," Tyrion stands in the center of a circle, surrounded by people who wish him ill and observed by Lady Stark (wolf): The shots are not identical in scale, but they are nearly identical in composition: in both cases a significant character is nearly, but not quite, occupying the center the frame: I don't want to harp on about explicitly literary tropes like "empty centers," so instead I'll just note that the reason the center is empty both in "Lord Snow" and this episode is partly because the top half of the frame occupies fifty percent of the shot and is (ostensibly) empty of people. The features of the landscape are dominating the characters, and with good reason: the Wall in "Lord Snow" and the Eastern Road here represent (or in this case pose) more of a threat to the characters than they do to each other. Even if, as is almost the case above, a character's head sat square in the crosshairs, he or she still wouldn't be a dominant element in the frame. The (very) long shot allows the viewer to understand that whatever threats or pleas these characters enjoin, those hills behind them don't care, nor do the people in them: Granted, those hill people are running down the road, but I can't show you the hill people in the hills any better than I did (or didn't) above: they're a part of the landscape from which projectiles emanate more than they are people. Because it only appeared in the first frame above that Lady Stark and those beholden (however temporarily) to her surrounded Tyrion: in truth the circles were concentric, with the hill people surrounding Stark surrounding Tyrion, and when this becomes clear to all involved, these lonely wolves and lions call a kind of truce: Tyrion stands alone, surrounded by hill people, as does: Lady Stark. Both of the proud members of these noble houses are cowering, because both are surrounded now. Shifting to the medium close-up allows the audience to read the fear on their faces, and the fact that both of those eyeline matches look off-frame and, in fact, are unrequited by the next shot creates an addition sense of chaos. Because if the people in the middle of a scrum can't figure out what its focal point is, how is the audience supposed to? Perhaps if they worked together? If she unties his hands, maybe the focal point will come into— Excuse me,...