I think I hate Sansa in Season one of Game of Thrones (and the book) more than any other character on TV.
1. They are both “Never Ever Ever Getting Back Together” with someone (or someones).
2. They have clichéd views of romantic relationships, influenced by fairy tales and idealistic fantasies of love.
Taylor Swift’s lyrics seem to spring from stories of true love and heartbreak that bear little resemblance to the real world, as Vulture’s Willa Paskin points out in “Taylor Swift’s Precociousness Problem.”:
“[Swift’s] boy-crazy anthems voraciously pillage from our cultural store of romantic clichés and very rarely get specific: Sparks fly instantly; kisses happen in the rain; bouquets end up in the trash; hands run through hair; grooms skip out of on weddings; people have meaningful drawers at their boyfriend’s house.”
The best example of this is her smash hit “Love Story,” in which Swift sings about forbidden love while literally waiting in an ivory tower for her prince.
Her prince proposes after she begs him to “save her” and tells Swift that she’ll “never have to be alone.”
Even when she’s been thwarted in love, such as in the song “White Horse,” Swift uses familiar romantic imagery to express herself:
I’m not a princess, this ain’t a fairy tale,
I’m not the one you’ll sweep off her feet,
Lead her up the stairwell.
This ain’t Hollywood, this is a small town.
I was a dreamer before you went and let me down,
Now it’s too late for you and your white horse to come around.
Feminist blog Tiger Beatdown sums it up quite neatly:
“Taylor Swift is Twilight. It’s this totally idealized romantic narrative that fourteen-year-olds can project themselves into which is unrelated to the realities of relationships.”
The Game of Thrones books and TV show establish Sansa to be a girl raised on romantic tales of chivalry, knights and ladies. These childhood stories shaped her view of the world and she is initially very naive and idealistic.
“Sansa was a lady at three, always so courteous and eager to please. She loved nothing so well as tales of knightly valor.”
She is ecstatic when her marriage is arranged to Prince Joffrey, as he is literally the “Prince Charming” she has been waiting for her entire life.
“Sansa did not really know Joffrey yet, but she was already in love with him. He was all she ever dreamt her prince should be, tall and handsome and strong, with hair like gold.”
Even after Joffrey and his mother order the death of her pet direwolf Lady, Sansa still sees Joffrey as her “sweet prince” and inadvertently betrays her family and triggers the series of events that leads to her father’s death out of love for him.
“They are children, Sansa thought. They are silly little girls… Their dreams were full of songs and stories, the way hers had been before Joffrey cut her father’s head off. Sansa pitied them. Sansa envied them.”
3. They embrace traditional, arguably patriarchal, ideas of femininity and womanhood.
In her songs, Swift’s love interests are always in control, while she waits passively for them to sweep her off her feet or comfort/protect her. As Tumblr users have pointed out, this can make parts of her songs come off a little sexist.
So don’t you worry your pretty little mind,
People throw rocks at things that shine
And life makes love look hard.
The stakes are high,
The water’s rough,
But this love is ours.
Swift appears to embrace this idea in her personal life as well as in her songs. In a November interview with Harper’s Bazaar, she admitted that she liked the man in her life to “wear the pants” in their relationship:
“If I feel too much like I’m wearing the pants, I start to feel uncomfortable and then we break up…Relationships are the ultimate collaboration but it’s wonderful to hand over the reins to your boyfriend when you control so much of these big, high-pressure decisions, you know? That is a huge defining factor in who you choose to be with.”
Although “Mine,” Swift’s song about a 21st century love story, ostensibly tells the tale of a modern romance (the heroine falls in love with a tattooed free spirit and eventually moves in with him), the music video depicts a very traditional life following this period.
The two get married, which is somewhat noteworthy since new CDC data shows that more U.S. couples choose to live together outside of wedlock than those who choose to tie the knot.
The heroine appears to get pregnant almost immediately after the wedding and the music video depicts scene after scene of domestic bliss.
It’s also worth pointing out that the video’s “perfect family” consists of parents and two sons, as opposed to daughters or even a son and a daughter. Male children have traditionally been viewed as more desirable than female children.
Sansa embraces the traditional role of women in Westerosi society (unlike her sister Arya, a fan favorite). Her goal in life was always to marry, raise children and run a household. The idea of being the future queen is her wildest dream come true.
Like most young noblewomen, she openly worries about failing to give birth to a son and heir - for the majority of the first book/season, this and her constant worry about whether or not Joffrey loves her are her two biggest concerns.
As a de facto hostage in King’s Landing after her father’s death, Sansa survives the treacherous court using the ladylike grace, dignity and perfect manners she was taught as a child, even in the face of physical and emotional abuse.
As many on Tumblr have pointed out, Sansa’s grace and courtly manners helped her more in King’s Landing than open resistance would have.
4. They have horrible luck in romantic relationships.
Taylor Swift has gained notoriety for her string of failed relationships and the songs she’s written about her ex-boyfriends.
Widespread interest in who she’s dating has lead to her name constantly being linked romantically with male celebrities.
In a Vanity Fair interview this month, Swift fired back at endless rumors about her love life and complained about the “tabloid culture” that attempts to turn celebrities into “fictional character[s].”
“If you want some big revelation, since 2010 I have dated exactly two people… The fact that there are slide shows of a dozen guys that I either hugged on a red carpet or met for lunch or wrote a song with… it’s just kind of ridiculous.”
At first, Sansa is betrothed to Joffrey, but he breaks their engagement to marry Margaery Tyrell. She then falls in love with Loras Tyrell, who’s gay, before she’s forced to marry Tyrion Lannister. Two creepy older men are also interested in her.
Sansa’s love life doesn’t improve as the books progress. Without going into too much detail, people in positions of power continue to set her up with less than desirable suitors for their political gain.
5. They both maintain a public persona.
Taylor Swift has carefully cultivated her “good girl” image since the start of her career.
But as Swift becomes more famous, people have begun to question whether she is as sweet and wholesome as she maintains.
Taylor Swift’s “surprised award show face” has been widely disccused amongst fans and media figures alike.
Commentators point out that Taylor Swift has the same reaction (“makes the same face”) every time she wins an award.
Vulture explains the backlash to Swift’s joyful expressions:
“The face is meant to be genuine, humble, and polite, but it comes off as affected. She has won more than 60 awards. It is getting difficult to believe it’s a shock. Swift, like the good, smart stage kid she is, is obeying the letter, rather than the spirit, of graciousness. She comes across as disingenuous in the very act of being herself.”
After her father’s death and her brother’s rebellion, Sansa must disavow her family and pledge love and obedience to Joffrey, a sadistic boy who regularly orders his guards to beat her, in order to survive. Her ability to sell this act keeps her alive.
She may adopt a public persona, but she has a really good reason for doing so.
6. They have been publicly humiliated by powerful, somewhat unstable men.
No explanation needed.
After King Joffrey learns of Sansa’s brother’s victory in the north, he threatens Sansa with a crossbow in front of the entire court and orders his guards to beat her.
Joffrey orders them to tear her clothes off as they attack her. In the books, they actually strip her naked from the waist up.
7. They are the objects of widespread hatred.
Taylor Swift ranked in the top 20 on Star magazine’s annual list of “Most Hated Celebrities” in April 2013.
Survey respondents cited Swift’s string of relationships, songs about ex-boyfriends, perceived “fakeness” and recent feud with the Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as reasons for their hatred.
The New York Times reports that Swift’s popularity rating has recently dipped to a record low for the singer.
According to the marketing evaluations company Q Scores, Ms. Swift’s popularity rating, which takes into account familiarity (about 8 out of 10 people surveyed knows who she is) and appeal, peaked in 2010 at 30 out of 100. Presumably, Ms. Swift was reaping the benefits of the Kanye West debacle, when he interrupted her acceptance speech for Best Female Video by barging onstage at the MTV Video Music Awards in September 2009.
But her popularity score has since dropped by a third, to 20 this year, the lowest it’s ever been, though still 4 points higher than the average score (16) in the performer category.
“She’s not doing the kind of numbers that an advertiser would really love to see,” said Steven Levitt, president of the marketing company, noting her trajectory.
The top entry under “Taylor Swift” on Urban Dictionary (written two years ago) provides more detail on why Swift’s haters dislike her.
Sansa Stark inspires similar reactions among Game of Thrones viewers and readers of A Song of Ice and Fire.
She is one of the most unpopular characters among fans of the series and the TV show.
8. They thrive (or, at least, survive) in cutthroat environments.
Taylor Swift is one of the most successful music artists of all time. Period. She’s won 154 awards, including 6 Grammy. Her album “Red,” released in October 2012, sold 1.2 million copies— the largest sales week for any album in a decade.
Sansa Stark is alive, while members of her family and many fan favorite characters are dead. Say what you like about Sansa, the girl knows how to survive… and in Westeros, that’s no small accomplishment.
BONUS: Actress Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones, defends her character in this amazing GIFset.