I am one of those few individuals who has never seen an episode of the HBO series “Game of Thrones.” Not one. Ever.
The closest I got to GOT was the Bud Light Super Bowl commercial where a dragon from GOT laid fiery waste to the Dilly Dilly kingdom in an effort to promote the new season. It was a very good use of the dragon, I might add.
Not all people share my blissful ignorance of this cultural phenomenon. GOT has a huge fanbase who are so damn joyful when “Winter is Here.” And when a dragon from a series on HBO is able to annihilate an entire Anheuser Busch ad campaign’s cast of silly characters in a Super Bowl ad, it can’t be all bad.
Alf Hornborg wrote in Popular Science magazine that GOT was, and I quote, a “strange blend of fictive medieval Britain, supernatural monsters, and pornography.” At least in the early seasons. He goes on to postulate that GOT author George R.R. Martin’s story has a hidden message … and that the coming winter is all about climate change. Really. Hornborg alleges that the White Walkers’ army of dead beings are an allegorical representation of fossil fuels. As we all remember from science classes, fossil fuels are the chemically altered remains of billions of deceased organisms buried within the Earth’s crust. So, like in GOT, fossil energy is at war with life itself.
Hornborg even includes a table showing how the themes contained within the mythical GOT land of Westeros correspond to issues we have here in the real world. He goes so far as to say that just like in GOT, if we don’t put aside our differences and band together against our common enemy, we will die. “And then it doesn’t matter whose skeleton sits on the Iron Throne.”
I have no idea whether Hornborg has one salient point, or whether he’s just trying to justify years of watching an HBO fantasy series. I did get caught up for a while in a different HBO fantasy series — the one about vampires and werewolves and shape shifters called “True Blood.” (If vampires and werewolves really existed, I’m sure it would be exactly like they were portrayed in this show.) Yes, I’m aware that TV critics (and others) maintained that the show was about racism, bigotry and homophobia. Like GOT, it also had a lot of sex and gore. That begs a question: does the only way to get people concerned about important actual issues involve burying them in the libido-raising symbolism of a fantasy world? Or are these shows “teachable moments” in our modern entertainment culture?
I’m not sure I have an answer to that. Neither do I know if there are any life lessons to be gleaned from battling the zombies in episodes of “The Walking Dead.” What I do know is that humanity does face real problems and significant issues in the relatively near future. And one of these is this:
What is to become of all the GOT fans after the show wraps up its final season? How will they cope with the fact that there will be no more battles, no more episodes, no more suspense about which important character will be killed off next? What if the wrong character ascends to the Iron Throne? Will there be another allegorical fantastic tale on HBO that will capture GOT fans’ attention? And how will the rest of society cope with the very real problem of GOT Withdrawal Syndrome?
I remember when TV shows raised real issues in a humorous yet still serious way. (Aging Baby Boomer alert!) Shows like “All in the Family” and “M*A*S*H” dealt with controversial issues of the times in an entertaining way without burying them under medieval ice ages and serious CGI. And if George R.R. Martin confirms that GOT really is a metaphor for climate change, I’ll drink a Bud Light and shout, “Dilly Dilly!”
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