GOT, Fandom and Art

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.”

I don’t.

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.”




About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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6 Responses to GOT, Fandom and Art

  1. I certainly cannot speak on that show because I have never seen it, but the horrible words delivered to the man on the late show leaves me at a loss for words and all over a ‘fantasy’ TV show that’s meant for entertainment? As I always say, “I no longer despair FOR us, I despair OF us!”

    This is all just too sad for words!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. beetleypete says:

    I have never seen a single episode. But if a show about sex and dragons provokes such sad bitterness and hate speech, perhaps it should never have been shown in the first place? Such people need to turn off their televisions, and realise that the ‘real world’ exists out there, beyond the buttons of their remote controls.
    I am reminded of Peter Finch’s character, in ‘Network’.
    “So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out, and yell, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!’” That was in 1976. Talk about prescience…
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. toritto says:

    Indeed Pete. Networks will do ANYTHIG for ratings!!



  4. Maggie says:

    I never get any of these series that people find so addicting. I watched part of an episode while visiting my children and found it too violent for my liking. Social media is such a pit of people who feel they have license to say and do anything they want without repercussion. A sad statement about society.

    In art school, I remember well our discussion centered around “what is art”. Art creates dialogue and that may come about because the work makes us uncomfortable with our own thoughts about a subject.

    I am happy I did not watch. I am even happier that I cut the cord to cable tv a few months ago. Lessens the temptation.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jennie says:

    I saw the episode, was not especially thrilled, and take much of television hype with a grain of salt. The books are good.

    Liked by 1 person

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