What Game of Thrones says about America today


As I have said many times before, I had no interest in watching Game of Thrones but have been fascinated by it as a cultural phenomenon that garnered a huge amount of media attention. So I was interested in this article by Jon Schwarz titled THE RISE OF GAME OF THRONES WAS PART OF THE FALL OF AMERICA because he is enough of a fan that he watched the entire series and yet can provide a dispassionate analysis about what the show’s popularity says about its audience, by which I mean all of us, not just those who actually watched the show.

If you haven’t watched Game of Thrones, you should know that all the celebration it received is justified. The writing was, at least until recently, deeply gratifying for anyone who likes words. The acting was beautifully precise. The design and technical production were wizardly.

But there was always something unsettling about the show: its unremitting thirst for cruelty. Incest, decapitation, tongues torn out, pregnant women stabbed in the stomach, castration, people having their skin peeled off, rape, crucifixion, children thrown from windows, children jumping from windows, children being burned at the stake, people eaten alive by dogs, more incest. Then it culminated in actual genocide. Its enormous conglomeration of talent was harnessed to exquisitely depict ever more baroque barbarism.

Of course, great stories almost always involve some degree of violence. It’s hardwired into humans to pay close attention to it, for good reason.

But because that’s true, the bad stories pumped out by America’s entertainment factory include violence as well, because they don’t have anything else. Game of Thrones was perfect for an audience that’s been marinated since birth in bad stories full of more banal brutality. Like drug addicts, we needed higher and higher doses for our burned-out nervous systems to feel anything. The core viewership for Game of Thrones was people who are rich enough to afford an HBO subscription — and therefore have almost any kind of distraction instantly available to them — yet deeply bored.

As with all highly popular shows, there are parodies and here is a review of a pornographic parody titled Game of Bones 2: Winter Is Coming Everywhere.

Comments

  1. kestrel says

    I did not watch GOT either but did enjoy this parody by Weird Al: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdjEgQbwkOk

    I like to think I did not watch because I have a life, but it’s also true that I could not afford it. Plus, I could not even bear to read the books. Guess I was not the market they were trying to reach.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    A few random thoughts following the end:

    -- “all the celebration it received is justified” -- yes.
    -- “The acting was beautifully precise” -- well… some of it. Unfortunately what turned out to be the main character was portrayed by an actor of terribly limited range, given very little to work with (I imagine most of the scripts contained multiple instances of the words “Jon stares into the middle distance frowing as if constipated).
    -- that said, with a supporting cast including Charles Dance, Julian Glover (whose single best scene was cut, but lives on as a DVD extra/Youtube clip), Diana Rigg, Jim Broadbent, Iain Glen and others too numerous to list, there was a LOT of quality acting on show. The final episode lived and died on the performance of Tyrion, so it’s fortunate Peter Dinklage is an actor of the calibre he is. He pretty much carried the thing.
    -- the show achieved a trick done previously by the Harry Potter franchise, namely managing to cast, at the age of about 12, an actor who needed to be, and turned out to be capable nine years later of holding her own in such company I listed. Maisie Williams is an absolute star and absolutely deserves every success most likely coming her way, and whoever picked her deserves credit for making the show what it was. How casting directors see this potential in pre-teens escapes me, and it must be very, very difficult because most times they get it terribly wrong.
    -- “Actually I don’t watch Game of Thrones” is the “I’ve never seen Star Wars” of the 2010s. It’s not clever to have ignored the major television event of the decade, although some people seem to think it is. (Note: I’m not leveling this criticism at you, Mano, or anyone else in particular, but you do see and hear a LOT of this online and IRL).
    -- If you’re one of those people, it’s best to stick to intellectual snobbery as your reason for not watching e.g. “I like to think I did not watch because I have a life”. If “having a life” means you haven’t had 73 hours to spare in the last nine years to watch a TV show, I pity you. I mean it’s less than an hour a MONTH. How busy ARE you?
    -- If you use “I don’t have/can’t afford an HBO subscription” as an excuse, please know that in the minds of most people listening/reading, that gets appended with “… and I’m either too lazy or stupid to work out how BitTorrent works”. Perfect digital high definition multichannel audio versions of the episodes are available for download online, for free, within
    minutes of the end of the broadcast (in some cases several hours BEFORE broadcast).
    -- one thing that always struck me about the series was how this American series was populated almost entirely by English accents (although not necessarily from English actors). I wonder what that says about America today?
    -- a word on the finale: it was refreshing to go into the final hour not having any idea where it was going. The show’s ruthlessness and violence had successfully trained me not to think any character had “plot armour”, and there were some genuine surprises in how it turned out.

    Finally… I don’t expect there’ll be anything like this again any time soon. It’s a game changer the way the original Star Wars and The Matrix were game changers. By that I mean that in the next few years there will be a slew of inferior imitators, but nothing will have the same cultural influence again for ten or twenty years… and when something does, it will be because that thing is sufficiently different to be interesting. Hope I live to see that.

  3. Sam N says

    The explanation that gore factor is responsible seems very trite to me. There are plenty of extraordinarily gory shows that I don’t care for at all. Indeed, I found a good number of scenes in Game of Thrones painful to watch, and would have been preferred toning down some of the more awful aspects, such as Ramsey and Geoffrey’s more detestable tendencies.

    I find the sociological style of storytelling from the earlier seasons a more likely explanation:
    https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/the-real-reason-fans-hate-the-last-season-of-game-of-thrones/

    It makes the case of the show bearing many similarities to The Wire in how people responded to institutional forces in shaping their behavior, with most of the cast being not clearly good or evil. The hound, was he evil? Well most of the time he was held in a rigid hierarchy. Did he enjoy killing the butcher’s son? It certainly didn’t seem so, and despite being a terribly dishonorable act, it’s what the society required of him. Unfortunately, by the end of the show, people became either heroes or villains, when it no doubt would have played out better to see how the structure of society and institutions shifted them to give in to those demands and commit evil acts, or resist them at their own peril.

  4. Sam N says

    By the way, I find it detestable that a writer for the Intercept, no less, would believe a $15/month charge makes people so wealthy as to have any distraction instantly available to them. That is some insane reasoning there. Someone who works 10 hour days at minimum wage can afford an HBO subscription--it is probably one of the cheaper forms of entertainment. Compare that to something like downhill skiing, $100+ for a day, IF you already own the expensive equipment. Or taking a vacation, or staying in a hotel. It feels like echoes of if someone can afford a smart phone, then they’re perfectly wealthy.

    I would define wealthy as having the resources to be able to take time and afford an away from home vacation. HBO subscription is absolute peanuts compared to that…

  5. Rob Grigjanis says

    sonofrojblake @2:

    It’s a game changer the way the original Star Wars and The Matrix were game changers. By that I mean that in the next few years there will be a slew of inferior imitators, but nothing will have the same cultural influence again for ten or twenty years

    What cultural influence have GoT, Star Wars or The Matrix had, except to spawn imitators? Seriously, what do you think they have changed in whatever you perceive “the game” to be, unless you mean the game of making money? What cultural influence did Lost, Battlestar Galactica, or Walking Dead have? They were cynically created to make money, and they succeeded. That’s it.

  6. Rob Grigjanis says

    IMO, Alien was a cultural game-changer in 1979. Brave handsome male captain gets killed off halfway through, and female subordinate takes charge. WTF? Brilliant.

    And yes, that spawned a whole bunch of crap imitators, none of which held a candle.

    But Martin and others aren’t subverting anything. They’re meta-subverting. That character you’ve grown to love? Killed mercilessly. Cheap, cynical, sensationalist crap. With fantastic acting and production values!

  7. seachange says

    I don’t think I am clever to detest and loathe GRRM’s writing. I do think I’m clever to not spend a month of my one and only life that I will never get back seeing a dramatization of something I’d find godsawful.

    I’m glad I don’t know you.

  8. Holms says

    The article posted by Mano seems to be one of those true-but-banal things people like to make when giving social commentary -- yes, there is a market for media containing violence and sex. Because it is escapism, and escapism is popular.

    #2 sonof
    — If you’re one of those people, it’s best to stick to intellectual snobbery as your reason for not watching…

    Or you could go with “it’s not to my taste.”

  9. Mano Singham says

    Holms,

    Films are necessarily escapist since we are entering a world that is not our own. I think the point of the article is that what type of escapism is favored by a society says something about the zeitgeist.

  10. John Morales says

    Or you could go with “it’s not to my taste.”

    In my case, it’s been available neither free-to-air nor on my only subscription channel, Netflix.

    So, basically, I’m not gonna pay extra to see it.

    Probably much better on the screen, but it doesn’t help I gave up on the first book about a third of the way through not long after it was published, and haven’t sought any others since.
    So turgid!

  11. file thirteen says

    @Mano

    I had no interest in watching Game of Thrones but have been fascinated by it as a cultural phenomenon that garnered a huge amount of media attention.

    If you’re really “fascinated by it as a cultural phenomenon” to the point where you want to post about that, you probably ought to watch it. It would help to understand said zeitgeist. You don’t have to like it. Having watched it would enable you to write informed thoughts about it rather than regurgitating someone else’s review you found that supports your preconceived ideas (prejudices?)

    @John Morales

    I understand you not wanting to pay to see it. I watched every season free-to-air here in NZ. Over here, all series seem to get played on free-to-air eventually. I had presumed that happened everywhere -- doesn’t it?

  12. says

    But there was always something unsettling about the show: its unremitting thirst for cruelty. Incest… more incest.

    I don’t think people should make such a big fuss over incest. If two adult and consenting siblings who use contraceptives want to have some fun in bed, they ought to be allowed to do so. Of course, there are potential problems with incest (for example, when one of the people isn’t adult or consenting or when babies are created as a result, but such specific cases cannot be a sufficient justification to criminalize all cases of incest).

    sonofrojblake @#2

    I haven’t read or watched GOT. I’m aware that it exists, I have read some reviews, I concluded that I’m not interested in it.

    “Actually I don’t watch Game of Thrones” is the “I’ve never seen Star Wars” of the 2010s. It’s not clever to have ignored the major television event of the decade, although some people seem to think it is.

    Not watching some TV show is neither clever nor not clever. It just means that people have different tastes, interests, and preferences.

    If you’re one of those people, it’s best to stick to intellectual snobbery as your reason for not watching e.g. “I like to think I did not watch because I have a life”. If “having a life” means you haven’t had 73 hours to spare in the last nine years to watch a TV show, I pity you. I mean it’s less than an hour a MONTH. How busy ARE you?

    Sure, I could find 73 hours to watch a TV show that doesn’t interest me at all. But I don’t want to. I much rather spend my free time doing things that I actually enjoy.

    Are you seriously implying that people have a duty to watch some TV show just because it is popular?

    If you use “I don’t have/can’t afford an HBO subscription” as an excuse

    I hope you are not implying that people need a solid excuse to choose not to watch some TV show. People can choose not to watch some TV show for any reason whatsoever, regardless of how trivial it might be.

  13. John Morales says

    file thirteen, our free-to-air is a wasteland.

    So no, not everywhere.

    For those without a Foxtel TV subscription, your only other option is to sign up to the Foxtel Now streaming service. For $25 per month, you’ll get Foxtel Now’s Essentials package, including its Pop and Lifestyle packs — the former of which gives you access to Game of Thrones.

    (https://www.canstarblue.com.au/internet/watch-game-of-thrones-australia/)

    Not paying $25 per month to watch the serialisation of a series whose first book I couldn’t be bothered to finish, not when I could not even be bothered to pirate it.

  14. Dunc says

    If “having a life” means you haven’t had 73 hours to spare in the last nine years to watch a TV show, I pity you. I mean it’s less than an hour a MONTH. How busy ARE you?

    There’s a practically limitless amount of media of various forms that I haven’t got around to consuming yet, plus I have a number of time-consuming hobbies. The question is why I should have spent those hours on this particular TV show, rather than on something else. I have a stack of books I haven’t read, a DVR full of movies and TV shows I haven’t watched, and a long list of projects I haven’t even started -- and all of those queues are growing, not shrinking. Why should GoT be top of my list? (Note: “Because other people are watching it” isn’t a good enough reason for me.) Sure, give me immortality and I’m sure I’ll get around to it eventually, but as long as I’m mortal, I have to prioritise.

  15. says

    When I found out about the show, I was shortly interested and I considered watching it. But when searching info about it on the web I found out that it contains a lot of of rape and torture. I have read some synopsies and the stories seem interesting and I thing I would like most of it, but rape and torture are a no-no for me.
    I am not interested in either of those two things, and especialy not in their combination. So I have not watched GOT and I do not inted to watch it, no matter how good and game changing it allegedly is or how good the acting and writing are. I am not interested in watching gory details of someone’s is torture and/or rape period.
    I am not going to judge anyone who watched the show and likes it, to each their own. But I am personally in no way obliged to watch it.
    If that makes me a snob, then *shrug*…

  16. Marshall says

    I find a big fault in this article and that is it seems to mainly ignore the fact that all the gore that it claims is a product of our current society in recent years was written decades ago by GRRM, and has actually been toned down for the show.

  17. Mano Singham says

    file thirteen @#11,

    As others have pointed out, watching this show involves a lot of time that I can spend on other things thatI enjoy. Furthermore, its high levels of violence are well known and that alone was sufficient for me to decide against watching it. Reading Schwarz’s list of violent acts was nauseating enough.

    There are plenty of things that I am fascinated by as cultural phenomena but which I am not interested enough to spend too much time on since I do have other demands on my time. Hence I depend on others whose opinions I respect to give me some insight. I find film and book reviews by thoughtful observers to be valuable sources of such insights. They often influence whether I read/see something or not. It is perfectly possible to feel that one would dislike something based on such second-hand information. Jon Schwarz is someone whose opinions on many issues are congruent with mine and so I take his views seriously and passed his essay on to those who might not be aware of it.

    I am not sure why saying that you have not seen the show seems to make some people defensive.

  18. sonofrojblake says

    @Rob Grigianis, 6:

    What cultural influence have GoT, Star Wars or The Matrix had, except to spawn imitators?

    If you have to ask this question, I don’t think you’d agree with or even fully understand the answer.

    @Holms, 8:

    you could go with “it’s not to my taste.”

    You absolutely could, and I entirely respect that. I don’t watch professional sports or soap operas or police procedurals because I’m just not into them. I don’t judge people who are and I don’t adopt “not watching them” as a posture. “Meh, I’m not into it” is a perfectly valid response to any art, and it’s not what I was criticising.

    @Mano, 9:

    Films are necessarily escapist

    I disagree, given that “escapist” is defined as “providing distraction or relief from unpleasant realities”. There are plenty of films that do pretty much the opposite of that. I had friends for whom “Trainspotting” was closer to documentary than any kind of escapism. Bleakly reminding the audience of unpleasant reality is a whole bunch of genres too, and I have time for them if I’m in a good enough mood.

    @Dunc, 14:
    The “I don’t [X] because I have a life” doesn’t generally imply that the speaker spends that life doing other things like [X], e.g. watching other shows. It always carries the strong implication that [X] is a waste of time enjoyed only by people who do not “have a life”. It’s that kind of snobbish attitude that irks. If you’ve not time to watch GoT because you’re ploughing through your back-catalogue or Doctor Who DVDs, you’re not one of the people I’m talking to.

    @Charly, 15:
    It doesn’t make you a snob, no, not at all.

  19. mnb0 says

    @2: “….. The Matrix were game changers”
    Never saw those two movies either. I’m OK with being a snob who hasn’t time and opportunity for such stuff.
    I’ve read the five (seven) GoT books though.

  20. mnb0 says

    @9: @MS: “what type of escapism”
    The combination of violence and sex always has sold well. The Bible is full of it too. So if that’s the point of the article the article is rather pointless.

  21. file thirteen says

    @Mano #17

    I am not sure why saying that you have not seen the show seems to make some people defensive.

    I have no problem with people who don’t want to watch or read things, not until they feel they need to comment on them. Then they quote others and think that they have contributed to the conversation. Worse still are those who remain proud of their ignorance. You took it to the next level and made a post about it. I could take the reviewer you quoted to task, but what’s the point? You will have no idea whether what I say is justified, and you made it very clear that you don’t even care. What you have created here is a sounding board for your own prejudices.

  22. Steve Cameron says

    @3 Sam N
    Wow, thanks for that article link! I had never considered the distinction between sociological and psychological storytelling, but it perfectly explains my misgivings with GoT this season and last. I’ll have to think more on it, but that critique probably applies to many other TV shows and movies that I’ve enjoyed at the outset, but that then just kind of… lose the plot, so to speak.

    One thing that always grates on me in shows like GoT is when the music score is obviously trying to indicate how you should feel, like the story and the acting and the visual storytelling by themselves are too ambiguous. That is, I figure, a likely hallmark of bad psychological storytelling, and it was on full display in the final episode.

  23. deepak shetty says

    Like drug addicts, we needed higher and higher doses for our burned-out nervous systems to feel anything.

    There are many more violent or disturbing serials/movie(Including Oscar winners!) that didn’t garner the level of attention Games of Thrones did.
    What made Thrones interesting for me/my spouse is that it subverted many of our expectations (having no idea about the books)- the gratuitous violence we mainly ignored , the gratuitous nudity we laughed at.
    Other than a couple of exceptions, most of the story beats were good and barring one exception , the show runners managed to deliver.

  24. file thirteen says

    @Steve Cameron #22

    Yeah, that article does explain it well. Another issue I noticed about the last season is that GRRM’s exemplary dialogue was sorely missed. It went from episodes where characters duelled verbally with rapier wit, often with a lot that they said taken verbatim from the books, to ones where there were long stretches of characters preparing for battle, battling, or walking through the aftermath of battles without saying a word. This was particularly noticeable in the episode of the fight against the night king, and the final episode.

  25. Callinectes says

    @#2 — “The acting was beautifully precise” — well… some of it. Unfortunately what turned out to be the main character was portrayed by an actor of terribly limited range, given very little to work with (I imagine most of the scripts contained multiple instances of the words “Jon stares into the middle distance frowing as if constipated).

    Something you have to allow there is that most of his scenes were shot at -35 degrees, temperatures at which your face stops moving.

  26. says

    file thirteen @#21

    I have no problem with people who don’t want to watch or read things, not until they feel they need to comment on them. Then they quote others and think that they have contributed to the conversation. Worse still are those who remain proud of their ignorance. You took it to the next level and made a post about it… What you have created here is a sounding board for your own prejudices.

    In my opinion, it is perfectly OK to express opinions about books or movies you haven’t even read. For example, how many people have actually read Mein Kampf from cover to cover? Not that many. Yet majority of the society has an opinion about this book, namely most of us believe that it is bad. Personally, I haven’t read this book, I have only read summaries and reviews and from those I have concluded that Mein Kampf is probably a bad book.

    Personally, I don’t have any strong opinions about GOT. It’s just something I’m not interested in. This is why I’ll use another example instead. I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey, but I do have an opinion about it: I believe it is crap. It’s an extremely incorrect portrayal of actual BDSM relationships (which ought to be consensual and people involved in them ought to take safety precautions). It’s basically just plain old domestic abuse, albeit romanticized. And I have strong negative opinions about media that portray domestic abuse as something positive. While I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey from cover to cover, I have read excerpts, I have also read reviews written by people who actually are into BDSM and understand it. From those I have concluded that I wouldn’t enjoy reading these books, which is why I haven’t done it.

    Here’s the problem: majority of people already know what they like when it comes to books or movies. For example, I already know that I dislike media that portray domestic abuse. Thus it’s possible to predict that you will dislike some book or movie simply from reading a review. When you anticipate disliking some book, you don’t want to read it. Even if you start reading it, you probably won’t make it beyond the first few chapters. Thus demanding that only people who have read some book from cover to cover are allowed to express an opinion about it basically means “only people who liked this book are allowed to express an opinion about it,” because those who didn’t like it probably also didn’t make it beyond the first few chapters, since people have a tendency to not continue reading/watching something they don’t enjoy.

  27. file thirteen says

    @Andreas Avester

    -- I’m not requiring Mano to read the books from cover to cover. In fact, I’m not requiring him to read the books at all, as it’s the tv series he’s posted about.

    -- I’m not requiring Mano to watch all seven series of GoT before forming an opinion. I do think that if he’s going to make a post on it, that he should make an effort to watch at least a couple of episodes. If he gives up before the end of series 1 episode 3, that’s actually good enough for me. If he did that, I strongly suspect he might write something worth reading about his experience.

    -- I don’t require Mano to like it, and I don’t expect him to. To be honest, I didn’t enjoy season one that much myself, and I mostly stuck with it because I had read the books and liked them, and I was curious as to how they would present on the tv screen down the line. I certainly don’t blame others who didn’t like the books for not giving the tv series the time of day. But this isn’t the first post Mano has written on GoT, the tv series. If it’s that important that he feels the need to comment repeatedly on it, he should bite the bullet and learn what it’s about for himself.

    -- Fifty Shades of Grey is unashamedly about BDSM. I’m not about to watch the film because I have no interest in that. As I’m not a blogger, I also have nowhere to post someone else’s review that confirms my ignorant biases against it, but if I were, I would refrain from posting on any bits I hadn’t watched. Which means I’d make the effort to watch it. While I highly doubt that I would enjoy any of it, at least I would know what I’m talking about when someone took issue with anything I wrote after that.

  28. Marshall says

    @25 -- none of the other actors had “frozen face” syndrome despite having to act in the exact same climate. Plus, Jon’s character shows frozen face syndrome regardless of where they were filming, even in King’s Landing.

  29. says

    “Actually I don’t watch Game of Thrones” is the “I’ve never seen Star Wars” of the 2010s. It’s not clever to have ignored the major television event of the decade, although some people seem to think it is. (Note: I’m not leveling this criticism at you, Mano, or anyone else in particular, but you do see and hear a LOT of this online and IRL).

    This is weird. Citation needed, in fact. Because I have never once seen or heard of anyone saying “I don’t watch Game of Thrones” as a point of pride or snobbery, but GODDAMN have I heard a LOT of people acting defensive about it, quote included. I mean, quote SUPER included because the writer didn’t even realize “I didn’t want to” was a reason not to watch it and assumed everyone who didn’t had to be an “intellectual snob” or “too stupid to find it” or lying about being busy as if there aren’t other entertainments. You’re not persecuted because someone didn’t want to watch your favorite show, my dude.

  30. file thirteen says

    @abbeycadabara #29

    Try googling “I will never watch game of thrones”.

  31. says

    @30

    Challenge accepted. Results:
    1. A page of memes in Cosmopolitan about GoT fans evangelizing.
    2. An article refusing to watch BECAUSE of GoT fans evangelizing.
    3. An article in Vogue about people who decline to watch for reasonable criticisms about the problematic content, and also about, yes, GoT fans evangelizing.
    4. Buzzfeed listicle of tweets, not entirely on topic.
    5. Opinion article in the Guardian by someone PRETENDING not to watch it for smug reasons,
    6. A page of memes on BoredPanda each of which is a cheap image mocking the (mostly) mythical people who don’t watch for smug reasons -- i.e. each of which is GoT fans evangelizing.
    7. Article by someone declining to watch because they don’t want to, and worrying about the GoT fans evangelizing. This is the closest one so far to what you’re claiming, but it isn’t that either.
    8. Article about watching the finale as told by two women who hadn’t been interested for their own reasons.

    This is reee-hee-heeally not making the argument you hoped for, bubeleh.

  32. Dunc says

    If it helps, I have now seen one actual smug-about-not-watching asshole, over on the Pharyngula comments.

    They’re like those really smug, in-your-face vegans -- yes, they do exist, but there’s far fewer of them than you would think, given the vast number of people endlessly complaining about them.

  33. sonofrojblake says

    Smug GoT/Star Wars refuseniks are like smug vegans, and indeed like the kind of cyclists who ignore red lights and cut up pedestrians: they’re all a tiny minority of the whole, but even one goes a loooong way.

  34. cherbear says

    The violence and rape scenes were enough to ensure I would never watch it. Don’t understand how people can watch this stuff, but to each his own. I feel quite thoroughly out of the loop for not having watched it though.

  35. lanir says

    To be honest I didn’t really like the article or sonofrojblake’s first comment (later comments clarify/alter what I took away from the first comment). Took me a bit to sort out why but I think it’s all about the framing.

    For all that it’s fantasy writ large (or at least with a large budget), it doesn’t seem like a very good thought model for modern life, relationships, or much of anything for that matter. It’s primary difference from other tales is the way the author was willing to build up multiple different story arcs and then cut them short. Sure there’s blood, domestic violence, and nudity but it’s not unique in this. All the worst aspects of those elements are just off screen. You know they’re going on but they’re implied more than shown. And that keeps it pretty well in line with a number of other stories told in visual media. (Please note: Everyone who has expressed a desire to avoid certain topics I am NOT recommending that you watch this because “just off screen” should make it okay. Causing you to visualize things you don’t want to deal with is at best nearly the same as showing it to you and at worst it becomes torment you’re inflicting on yourself.)

    The things I think you can possibly take away from this whole big tale are:
    -- Whether people are good or bad can have a lot to do with their environment and your viewpoint.
    -- Even smart leaders can sometimes make absurdly bad decisions.
    -- Focusing on revenge or getting even will change who you are.
    -- Traumatic experiences will also change who you are, but the person inflicting them on you ultimately isn’t the one who gets to decide how you change.

    I’m ignoring a lot of one-off things that pop up once and I’m sure the list isn’t complete anyway, but you get the idea. Most of these are present throughout the series but I don’t think anyone’s walking away having learned those lessons. They just aren’t focused on enough in the story. Even the last two, which arguably apply to the entire big plot throughout all 8 seasons.

    So from my point of view, where the story doesn’t really provide big take-aways for real life, I don’t know that “life imitates art” is the way to go here. I think the useful comparisons would go in the other direction. If you polled fans of the series and asked questions about how comfortable they were with some of the ugly topics brought up, that might be interesting. Trying to imply Game of Thrones is some sort of grand statement on modern life feels a bit silly. It seems to me that it displays the same sort of inherent problems you get with articles about “young people these days” and so forth. Both look to me like random negative bits of modern life cherry picked and conflated with something else that is then supposed to function like a scapegoat and take all the bad things in for us.

  36. file thirteen says

    @lanir #36

    Very insightful comments. Are you a blogger? After reading the above, I’d like to visit your blog if you have one.

  37. file thirteen says

    Ok, guess not. Your clarity of writing and depth of thinking impressed me and I just thought I’d ask.

  38. John Morales says

    file thirteen, “silence signifies assent”.

    All these comments are in the public domain, just give credit and you’ll be good.

    So, relax, and have at it.

  39. John Morales says

    Oops, file thirteen. Sorry. Totally misread you, I responded as if you had asked whether to use the content. My bad.

  40. file thirteen says

    I just watched “Game of Thrones The Last Watch”, a documentary of the making of the last series, and found it very interesting on a human level. I mention it as an alternative if you are interested in GoT the phenomenon but will never watch the series (obviously spoilers are involved). It was affecting to me to see all the people involved in making such an epic show and how this event has affected their lives.