Maybe you’re part of the vast majority of human beings on the planet who are anxiously awaiting the start of Game of Thrones’ (GoT) eighth and final season. Maybe you are one of the 2% (my estimate) who can’t be bothered to watch it, either because you got sick and tired of all the sex and gore (although I don’t see how that’s even possible), because you never got caught in the drama from the start, or because you’re just the kind of person who goes against the flow.
(P.S. This article may or may not contain spoilers).
Either way, that doesn’t change one stubborn fact: GoT is one of – if not THE – most influential TV shows of our time. On par with cultural behemoths like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars, the intricate story born from the fiery mind of George R. R. Martin (whose last installment is reportedly about to be printed) has made its mark on the world’s culture. Indeed, everywhere on this planet, viewers
It’s not only that pop culture, in general, has taken over basically everything in our lives, from what we watch to what we eat and how we dress. And it’s not only that hordes of GoT fans are going nuts trying to predict the ending – who will die and who will survive, who will sit on the infamous iron throne and who will keep them from doing just that. It’s also that Martin’s dark fantasy saga resonates with the darkness of the times we live in.
It’s all there for anyone willing to look:
- Climate change (something IS definitely coming) and the absurdity of today’s petty political fights in the face of a global threat that will soon be unstoppable if we don’t come together.
- Power as a corrupting force (all hail the Mad King!) which is no innovative idea per se but draws easy comparisons with real politicians around the globe in today’s age of illiberalism and near-dictatorships.
- Messiah figures, princes (and princesses) that are promised, coming to save us all out of nowhere, only to disappoint (?).
- Unstoppable weapons of mass destruction (be they fire-breathing and scaly or green and explosive) in the hands of irresponsible men and women.
- Discrimination and rejection of the “other”, because of color, misshapenness, gender or class (welcome to Slavers’ Bay). Following decades during which modern societies seemed to move forward – from electing the first black American president to gay marriage – the backlash is brutal across the globe.
- The power of big money, whether it’s called the Iron Bank or not, discreetly pulling the strings behind the curtain and cynically selling everything for a profit, with no regard for what happens to the poor, the sick and the weak.
- A world where misinformation, or no information at all, rules and where leaders have no qualms making calls regardless of what the plebe knows. No wonder that Jon Snow at some point refuses to lie, saying: “When enough people make false promises, words stop meaning anything.” They do, indeed.
- Religious extremism fed by the collapse of the old world order and years of disillusions and injustice. The Crown and the Faith may be the two pillars of the world, but the Faith sometimes gets out of control.
- The gap between rich cities and vast but disregarded rural areas, feeding mutual defiance and disdain. Ros isn’t the only one to leave her village seeking a better life in the capital, only to suffer a horrible death at the hands of a spoiled city brat.
- Huge walls that are supposed to protect but end up separating people, only to eventually crumble in chaos.
- Women empowerment – or lack thereof, with only a few fighting their way to the top and having to behave “like men” to get there (one has to be barren, others have to kill their rivals). All the while, they’re surrounded by men joking about sex a lot. And when they stumble in their quest, they have to take their Walk of Shame (Shame! Shame!).
- Millennials having to find solutions to the woes inherited from their elders, from the aforementioned global menace to poverty, violence and global mistrust in politics. As Daenerys says, “our fathers were evil men. They left the world worse than they found it. We’re not going to do that. We’re going to leave the world better than we found it.”
- GoT is one of the last successful shows not on a streaming service the likes of Netflix, which people watch mostly alone. It’s, sadly, one of the rare occasions when people come together at the same time to watch the same thing and gather the next day by the office’s coffee machine to discuss the latest developments. Could it be the last, dying breath of TV as we used to know it – a shared experience?
Watching Game of Thrones means not only being engrossed in an intricate, passionate story of magic, love, power
Watch it casually for fun or watch it seriously for what it makes you think about. But watch it, if only because it’s about us.