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Astapor Syndrome


Another weekend gone and so another episode of Game of Thrones has aired.  I have been enjoying this season so far (minus the whole Theon Greyjoy sub-plot, which is just difficult to watch) but I have noticed a trend.  Namely, Daeneryus Targaryan likes to free her some slaves.  Now this compassion for the oppressed isn’t exactly a new thing, as you’ll remember that her standing up for female captives about to be raped by Dothraki raiders in Season 1 is what set in motion the events leading to her husband, Khal Drogo’s death,


Remember to always use Polysporin on you sword-wounds. 

and later, the birth of her dragons.


But she has been really amping up her bleeding heart sensibilities in the last few episodes.  There was a plot arc in the first few episodes of the season where, upon arriving in the city of Astapor, she resolved to free all of the city’s slave-soldiers at great personal cost.  Although admittedly she did end up tricking the slavers which culminated in perhaps the series’ best sequence thus far.

Picture 2


Fast-forward to last night’s episode, “The Bear and the Maiden Fair,” and we see that Daenerys (SPOILER ALERT) is up to her old tricks again.  This time her and her army arrive at the city of Yunkai, and while Ser Friendzone* Jorah makes it explicitly clear that the city has no strategic value, Daenerys has this overwhelming hankeing to liberate the city’s 200,000 slaves.  Furthermore, she demands that the city masters free all of their slaves and load them up with food and riches as recompense for their years of servitude.  Presumably these slaves will go on to live free, happy, and prosperous lives.

Does anyone else see a problem here?

Picture 3

Take that scene I posted the link to in the second paragraph; she tells thousands of slave-soldiers who have been brainwashed to be obedient, fearless and self-sacrificing their whole lives, that they are now free.  They can either seek life elsewhere or voluntarily join her in taking back Westeros.

Picture 7

Well, no surprise here, rather than pursue an unfamiliar and foreign lifestyle, these trained killers would rather keep on killing with the nominal distinction that they are now free.  And even though I don’t know how the liberation of Yunkai’s slaves will play out, I can only imagine that the slaves there are similarly ill-prepared for freedom.

Now I don’t want to be misunderstood here; I am not advocating for slavery, or opposing emancipation, but I think that simply telling someone they are free after years of conditioning them to be slaves can’t really work.

Remember this scene from The Matrix?  The key part is when Morpheus tells Neo,


“Most of these people are not ready to be unplugged.  And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependant on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”

Do you see what I’m getting at here or were you looking at the woman in the red dress?

Whether you wanna call it Stockholm Syndrome or learned helplessness, or simply being a house nigger, I think there are many disenfranchised people (most of the population) that have been so conditioned to see themselves as lowly that they will happily fight for scraps from the table their whole lives rather than attempt to take a seat.

As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” -Proverbs 23:7

Relating this idea back to Game of Thrones, a liberator like Daenerys would realistically (I’m aware of the irony of that word in this context) face a slave population that would largely reject the idea of freedom (or perhaps go on to take their own slaves, like the renegados during the Barbary slaving-era) and she herself would probably have some nagging doubts about the volition of her army of “free men.”

This is one of the things I like about this show: You can watch it absently and take it for face-value or read between the lines and see that there are some important questions it raises.


-Andre Guantanamo

*This joke was made by my friend, Matt.  Gotta give credit where credit is due

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The Curious Case of Andre Guantanamo

My Friends,
   It seems as time passes I am getting less and less mature, or at the very least losing some inhibitions regarding proclivities of mine which are not seemly for a 27 (going on 28) year old male.  Why just an hour ago I came in from my first ride on my new skateboard.  I don’t mean to knock skateboarders who keep enjoying their pastime as they get older, but how many people do you see in their late-20s up and decide that what they have been missing all these years is the chance to hop on a plank of wood (aluminum in my case) and potentially break their clavicle?  As far as I know I am the only one.  If I think about it, it actually kind of makes sense from a causal perspective: growing up I was a huge fan of (the idea) of skateboarding.  My favourite show and video game was Ninja Turtles and they were all about that shit:

Pretty Sure I Used This Pic Recently

Being such a superfan, you can only imagine my heartbreak living out in the country with only dirt roads and no sewers.  It was not a really conducive environment to practice in, so while I got a Tech Deck in high school and became a decent fingerboarder in my own right, skate-boarding proper got shelved.
Until recently…
   A few weeks back some friends of mine dropped by with their longboards and they let me try their boards out on the rail trail near my place.  While I had trouble getting balance I gradually got more and more comfortable with it and seriously pondered the idea of getting some kind of plank with wheels on it.  But alas, none of my day-to-day friends skate so the idea saw no reinforcement.  However, this past weekend I happened upon a open-field garage sale in downtown Hamilton.  While looking through the incredibly cheap awesome trizzash I found a board with an aluminum deck for $20 and called my aforementioned longboarder friend to ask if this was indeed a good deal.  She informed me that it was and I copped that shit.  I gotta say I felt pretty rad biking around the city with my board tucked against my back through the armholes of my knapsack.  I’m all kinds of extreme X-treme athlete it would seem.  During lunch I kept admiring my new purchase…
In case you missed this pic when I tweeted it

But in spite of the initial enthusiasm, the board didn’t see any action all weekend.  In my defense I was busy.  But still, sometimes it takes a little push to do something you are anxious about.  
   That push came today after work when I started watching The Amazing Spider-Man (boot-legged of course).  In this latest reboot, Peter Parker, after getting spider powers, decides the best way to test them is to shred radly on his skateboard in an abandoned warehouse of some kind.  It reminded me of the rad skateboarding dude I wanna be and served as the impetus to get me outside.  
I threw on a dirty wife-beater and tossed my hat on sideways.  Then I put on the most skaterish shoes I had.  As I noticed my reflection walking out of my building, I realized that as long as I was holding my board, I looked pro; like I had in fact skated out of the womb.  
Not so much when I actually got on the board.  
   Not gonna lie, I was shaky and wobbly like a motherfucker and people who saw were most certainly perplexed when they saw this authentic-looking chap in a trucker hat having trouble keeping his balance at low speeds.  My board needed some adjustments to be sure, and luckily my bike wrench did the job of tightening the trucks
(Note: “trucks” is how rad skaters such as myself say “axles”)
With adjustments made I was off to the races and I don’t mind saying that I wasn’t half bad.  I managed to stay on, achieve some decent speeds and not lose my balance when I hit cracks and dips in the road.  Towards the end I even started getting a little saucy with my styles, weaving back and forth slalom-style and crouching low to touch the ground much like a surfer (the rad aquatic cousin of the skater) touches the cresting wave as it curls over him.
 I looked pretty much exactly like this, except it was asphalt curling over my head
True Story

   Now emboldened by this successful first outing I will attempt to incorporate the wheeled-plank into my commute tomorrow so I can walk into work like a boss holding my raddest of conveyances.
   Now all this skateboarding tomfoolery is all well and good but it is really only one aspect of the immaturity (and I use that word in the best possible way) I have been indulging in as of late.  There has also been lots of cartoons…
and Beast Wars primarily.

These shows were awesome back in the day and still hold up today in subject matter, maturity of humour and character depth.  And while my woman doesn’t really appreciate these shows, she used to watch Barney, so really, who the fudge is she to talk shit?
   And on the topic of things my woman doesn’t appreciate, we come to the last glaring sign of my lapse into adolescent puerility.
A picture says a thousand words. One of those thousand words is “Gay”

   Yep, thats a beautifully-rendered 12″ stormtrooper doll fucking and equally beautifully-rendered 12″ Boba Fett.  In truth, my friend put them in this pose while I was in the bathroom before heading out to a bar, but I am at fault for having these things laying around in the first place.  They had actually been in storage for years, but I had the idea to do some video stuff on youtube with them and so they have been sitting around my apartment for the last little while along with my lego.
See my tweets 24 July 2012 @dreguan.
But rather than satisfy my inner-child, this abundance of toys at my finger-tips has actually made it demand MOAR!!, and so I have been making regular trips to Wal-Mart and Toys R’ Us to satisfy the toy-craving beast within.  Here are some of the results of this policy of appeasement:
From L to R: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Motherfucking Maul, and Qui-Gon Jinn
From L to R: Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes

As you can see, I’m buying some cool shit.  All of these figures have awesome articulation and pose-ability and more than that, just having them guarantees I get laid***  
   But there are some who would take my precious’s away from me: A “friend” (the same one who posed Boba and the stormtrooper to resemble the abominable act of homosexual love-making) actually threatened to jack my prized possessions at a party this weekend if he crashed on my couch and I didn’t turn the A/C on for him.  I realize now that my so-called friends are not to be trusted and so I must pursue and isolationist policy which will ultimately result in the removal of my woman from the equation as well.  
   But its okay.  I don’t need friends or a woman.  I have my cartoons, my action figures, my legos and my skateboard.  And anyone who doesn’t like it can eat my shorts.
Stay Thirsty,
Andre Guantanamo
***It would be more accurate to say that in spite of her misgivings about an apartment full of toys, my woman still consents to lovemaking.  In spite of/because of…semantics.

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