Sunday, April 22, 2018

What Sansa Stark and Poe Dameron have in common

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!
One of the main complaints many people had at "The Last Jedi" was Poe's plot in the movie. To recap (spoilers, duh), Poe disobeyed Leia's order in the evacuation battle to take out a giant First Order battleship, in which he succeeded with horrendous losses and achieved basically nothing. Later, he yet again disregards order and conducts are harebrained scheme in order to obtain the services of a master-hacker, use him to infiltrate Surpreme Leader Snoke's flagship, and take out their [McGuffin-Engine]. That plan derails when Finn and Rose get detained for illegally parking their space-ship on the beach (seriously) and gets even worse when they hire some random guy they meet in prison who sells out their secret plan to the First Order. 
So, why do things go horribly wrong for Poe, and how does this make him comparable to Sansa Stark? Easy. Poe Dameron suffers from being genre-savvy, but instead of using this savvy to cool effect like Deadpool does, he constantly gets his teeth kicked in, because, to quote Luke Skywalker, "this is not going the way you think". Why isn't it? Because Poe levelled up the wrong genre.
So, Poe thinks he's in a classic Star Wars movie and has taken over Han Solo's role, saying things like "I have a bad feeling about this" and succeeding in harebrained schemes, just because this is what the story demands and the heroes in those stories generally have plot armor. When someone cooks up an impossible plan, it has to succeed, because in those stories, succeeding in impossible plans is basically the hero's schtick. 
But Poe isn't in such a story, he's in a story that deconstructs all those tropes that movies like Star Wars or pretty much any Marvel action movie rely upon. Not that he's at fault; the writer's chose to make him genre-savvy in a movie that doesn't fit his genre, so he's destined to fall flat on his face. And in that regard, he's like Sansa Stark. 
Sansa also is genre-savvy. She's perfect to navigate the world of Arthur's round table, of brave knights rescuing captive princesses, where tourneys are splendig, knights gallant and kings generous, where evil people have crooked noses and dark laughs and where, at the end of the day, the hero gets the girl, the girl gets the hero, and they live happily ever after. In such a world, Sansa would excel.
Unfortunately, Martin put her in a story that actually sets out to deconstruct rather than reaffirm all those tropes, and so, Sansa constantly gets her teeth kicked in, and in a much more hurting and dangerous way than Poe who gets a mild case of bad conscience and a stun blast from Leia.
Despite this, the reaction of angry fans is noticably different. Whereas Poe (who you might have noticed fulfills the archetypical prerequisites of being a male, rugged, individualistic hero with authority-issues and a happy trigger-finger) gets sympathy and fan-anger is directed at the women daring to try to reign him in (to the point where completely idiotic fans created a fan-cut of 42 minutes length without any women in it), Sansa (who you might have noticed fulfulls all tropes of being an obnoxious teenage girl with a head stuffed full of dreams and ideals) gets viceral hatred for being "so dumb", despite the fact that she's also blameless since the authors totally stacked the deck against her. 
Life's not a song, sweetling.

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