Well Game of Thrones is coming to an end soon and I feel for the maniacal fans who will have nothing else to fret about. What will they talk about on Monday mornings over the watercooler or a $5 latte?
The GOT fandom seems especially weird to me.
Last Monday night James Cordon, host of the late Late Show made a joke that turned out to be a spoiler. Mind you, the episode he referred to had already aired the previous evening but we must be acutely aware of the sensitivities of those fans who hadn’t seen the show.
“I feel like this trade war is going to end up with Trump, riding the back of a dragon, torching the entire economy!”
Well the folks on line were not happy with the spoiler revealing the plot twist.
One fine member of the GOT fandom posted on Twittter:
“It’s fucked up you can’t even watch TV without a fat fuck spoiling something. Luckily I got to see it before this, but seriously I hope his kid gets cancer.”
Nice. Nothing wrong with that person. Makes me wonder if he owns guns.
Cordon responded calmly and rationally directly to the Twitter user:
“That is, without question, the single most upsetting thing I think you could ever say about me or my family. Please take a minute and think about what you just wrote and whether you want to be a person who publicly says such things. I believe you are better than that.”
Additionally there is now a “petition” circulating with almost a million signatures online demanding that HBO re-do the final season of GOT “with competent writers” , taking to the internet to whine and cuss about the recent turn of events in the show.
Below this petulant, angry dissatisfaction is the lingering sense that the web may be doing something terrible to art – at once commodifying it and stultifying it.
When hundreds of thousands of people sign a petition demanding that a TV show be changed to suit their whims, it repositions art and entertainment as things meant to satisfy, even coddle. It is, in short, a model of art that turns it into a commodity. I give you my money and in return you give me what I want.
Beyond the obvious sense of entitlement though, it leads to art that will forever produce the lukewarm, the comforting and the “normal.” Contrast the current backlash to Game of Thrones – in large part a product of the whow’s willingness to take risks and upend genre expectations earlier in its run – with the runaway success of Marvel’s Avengers franchise. The Avengers has so completely dominated the mediascape because it has stayed so safe, cultivating and rewarding fandom being utterly bereft of novelty or insight into anything beyond a hero narrative that has been repeated ad nauseam.
It is part of the increasing tendency to approach art through the lens of satisfying a viewers expectations rather than the creator’s vision.
Of course one part of this dynamic is recap culture, the emergent online phenomenon in which TV shows are endlessly analyzed after they air. Among the very best Game of Thrones recaps is perhaps found on the Los Angeles Review of Books website where, in response to the most recent episode, writer Aaron Bady had this t say:
“The problem, ultimately, is not that Daenerys is a mad queen; there is no such thing. It’s a redundant phrase. Power corrupts and absolute power — dragon power, destiny power, fantasy power — most of all. To be a king or queen is to win the game, and to win the game, everyone else has to lose, and die
It is a challenging, uncomfortable idea, and an interesting rethink of the reaction to the penultimate episode: that it always had to happen like this because what the show revealed is that there is no such thing as power wielded well. It isn’t satisfying or easy, but perhaps that is the point: we might object and scream about what art shows us, but in sitting with it and thinking about our own discomfort, we allow art to do exactly what it is meant to.”