I suppose I am that one in 14.2 million. If nothing else makes me a beautiful and unique (and possible psychotic) snowflake, it is this: I like Joffrey.
OBVIOUSLY I wouldn’t want to actually know the kid. I don’t have a death wish, and more importantly, I hate entitled douchebags with a searing passion.
OBVIOUSLY I’m not an advocate for infant and child murder, sadism, or incest. (But it makes damn good television.)
And NO, I’m not one of those pseudo-psychiatrists/child-worshippers who thinks Joffrey is too young and innocent to be held accountable for his actions.
I like Joffrey because I happen to find his character fascinating. Since the first episode, every scene with him caught my interest in a way few to no other characters could. He is the only young Lannister/Baratheon we really see, and, like Draco Malfoy, a spoiled brat can act as a nice foil for our “heroes.” Also, I get easily exhausted by the self-righteousness of the Starks, making the whole Lannister lot instantly appealing to me. They stir up drama, they insert a bit of humor, they are not scandalized by the idea of bastards and beheadings, and, most importantly, they don’t seem to take the game of thrones too seriously. Yes, this means Joffrey cuts off tongues for the same reason a normal person might play Tetris or something, but it is refreshingly blunt at least.
Part of Joffrey’s appeal is just happenstance: he hangs around with some of GoT’s most dynamic characters, and thus hilarity ensues. He puts Cersei in her place. He extorts fabulous one-liners from Bronn and the Hound. He makes Tywin look like a fucking god. It’s interesting to watch Sansa’s character find empowerment under his thumb. And, of course, we all like Tyrion—but he didn’t truly win our hearts until he came in as Hand and wittily rained on Joffrey’s parade. I mean, he fucking bitch-slapped the king. Three or four times. Aren’t those moments worth every bit of Joffrey’s cruelty against a lot of innocent people (most of which we admittedly don’t give a shit about)?
Furthermore, I do not interpret Joffrey as a flat, inherently evil character as most seem to, though that would still be somewhat interesting. With every Joffrey scene, I like to think about what made him the way he is; the odd combination of nature, nurture, and outrageous circumstance that bred this sadistic “monster.”
For example, he was born of incest, which has its developmental downsides; Joffrey is also aware of his identity as a bastard, probably giving him a bit of a Jon-Snow-like inferiority complex; he grew up surrounded by Lannisters and Baratheons, who are horribly self-aggrandizing, competitive, and power-mad; Cersei has been telling him since birth he is entitled to do whatever he pleases, specifically in the way of stamping out “enemies”; he grew up around tournaments, hunts, and executions—events which turn violence into sport/spectacle, and dehumanize the murdered. Such events might even have taught him to conflate violence with sexual arousal.
Additionally, we can all agree Joffrey became king way too soon. If he had ten or twenty more years of getting beat by Robb Stark on the training field and everyone else on the battlefield, he might have learned a little discipline and temperance before becoming king. Maybe he’d even have picked up a book out of frustration, a little like Tyrion. Or, hell, maybe he would have become a great knight after a while and grow into Jaime. Either one would be preferable.
Basically, Game of Thrones is just one big, twisted coming-of-age story for Joffrey, and it’s beautiful.
And there are maybe one or two things I actually respect about Joffrey. He’s probably smarter than he looks, since he has the sense to be concerned about Daenerys and her dragons while Tywin knowingly turns a blind eye. He is willing to admit Aegon’s strengths as a ruler—even if he doesn’t have the worldliness to implement them properly—and he was actually willing to refuse Margaery in honor of his vow to Sansa (as long as that bit of chivalry lasted).
Joffrey constantly surprises me with the extent of his cruelty/sadism/blind ignorance, making for some golden entertainment. It is so frustrating to watch him get all smug after a big kill or torture, but SO FUCKING SATISFYING when he gets put in his place again—and he always does. And Jesus, can Jack Gleeson can act. (Knowing that Jack’s a sweetheart and a genius in real life makes the whole performance all the more interesting to me. Also sidenote: Jack gave this great talk about the dangers of celebrity…celebrity being another curse that might have affected Joffrey’s upbringing….)
In short, Joffrey stirs the pot of the show, and his interactions with the other characters create some of the funniest, craziest, and most enlightening moments of Game of Thrones. And if you take the time to dwell on Joffrey as a character and not simply a villain, you might find some poignancy to his story, and a reflection on the (high-born) culture of Westeros, on the dangers of placing youth in unearned positions of power, and on our own entitled, bloodthirsty society.
You might even find that the warped sense of reality that makes Joffrey able to watch and commit atrocities with a wormy smile on his face is not so different from yours, dear GoT watcher, as you relish the death of your hated villain this season. I’ll try to pretend I’m not the only one crying.
What can I say—I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples, bastards, and broken things.
While I disagree with several things said above, I think it is important to realize that he is a child and very much so the product of circumstances which were out of his control. Of course, everyone chooses how they act, and he could have been more like Tyrion than the traditional, cruel Lannister he became. He’s far from my favorite character, but the dynamic behind his development is interesting.