This past week, I have been reading a lot about the backlash from the last few episodes of Game of Thrones. People all over social media are a buzz about the brutality and the crossing of lines in the show. They seem to think that this is suppose to be like Jurassic Park or Star Trek, where the good guys win and justice is doled out to the bad.
Creative story telling is a masterful revelation in someone’s mind. The imagination needs to be deep and the narrative arc needs to be believable and achievable. In addition, the entire purpose of many fantasy stories like Game of Thrones is that it is not real, yet somehow elements of it are relatable in our everyday lives. This is what is really striking a chord for all those detractors recently.
I have a couple of theories as to why we are so up in arms with the last few episodes. Some have a similar thread and others stand alone in its psychological analysis.
If you have been following the news this week, there is all this scuttlebutt from Jerry Seinfeld’s comments of political correctness on today’s college campuses. He says that our youth are too liberal for their own good. ‘PC’ running amuck is the antitheses to liberal thinking in the past. But today’s students are a product of the changing times in no longer being socially acceptable to offend anyone, even for the sake of good humor.
In my humble opinion, this is the greatest downfall in society for our future. The Millenniums and others have got it all wrong. Humor, if it’s really witty and funny, is meant to provoke. It is not meant to offend. Even if the joke has a stereotype built into it, the delivery makes the difference in how we interpret it. However, if every time we hear a joke about an Asian, Jew, Muslim, blondes, or a sexual perversion we all get offended, it says more about us than the comedian. What I think it says is the we are really insecure, that we cannot differentiate humor from reality, and that we cannot look at ourselves in the mirror and find fault.
Are we growing up to be these anatomically engineered robots with motherboards implanted in our brains that immediately shoot down anything provocative? If so, then this motherboard better have come from North Korea because the America I know and love values debate, freedom of expression and provocation. As long as we eliminate real hate for one another (and act on it) based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, then we must be truth tellers and feel comfortable having ‘real’ conversations. Comedians, the most jarring at least, are successful because they tap into something deep inside us that causes ourselves to laugh very hard and not take ourselves too seriously. Life is tough enough than to muddle through with bland politically correct commentary every step of the way.
We also have a tendency to have fake moral outrage. We think of ourselves as these pristine creatures living everyday without sin or imperfections. Really? Even the current morally conscious Pope has sinned! Darn, if he could sin, so could I! Morality is an objective standard with tweaks of subjectivity that branches out from it; but there is a basic moral code that most good and decent people follow going back to the Ten Commandments. Thank the lord (or for you atheists, your own sensibilities) that we respect human decency, or our world would be uninhabitable. If everyone had their own moral code, then we would have none at all.
Now let’s not think that having a good moral code means living a pristine life. We strive to help others and live for a greater purpose, but we all have our fallacies because we are human after all! The greatest leaders of our time have done some terrible things in their lives (i.e. Bill Clinton getting a blowjob by an intern in the oval office), but we give people second chances if they learn from their mistakes. Redemption is our blessing and we should never take that for granted. If we did, we would all be doomed.
So getting back to the moral outrage of Game of Thrones, because they dare to be provocative and have the good ones succeed at the end is not a weakness, but a true strength.
The first outrage that came from the Twitter-sphere a couple of weeks ago was the rape of Sansa Stark by her ‘forced-upon husband’ Ramsay Bolton. This despicable man deserves to die an excruciating death. I think that the perfect death for his hideous assault on such young, sweet and lovely girl would be to have him tied hands up hanging from strong tree branch, then ever so slightly lowered onto a dull spike protruding high from the ground, with his legs spread wide apart. How many of you are with me on this? Yep, as I thought, many. You are all sick F#*k’s, or are you? Just kidding (remember dry humor?). I bet many of you would like to see this done to him, as he most certainly deserves to suffer. But by rooting for this, does that make you feel better as a person? It’s the classic “eye for an eye’ debate we have had since the beginning of time. Good people could argue both sides and this won’t be settled in our lifetime. However, we all agree that he should be punished for his moral crime.
The other outrage came last week when we saw Shireen Baratheon tied to the stake, on her FATHERS orders, and to be burned alive as a sacrifice to the magical gods as coaxed by his priestess Melisandre to help get him the powers to rule the world. He actually thought he was doing the ‘right thing’ by killing his only daughter, who he truly loves, for a greater good! Now I can just hear people screaming right now. Hush hush! I am not condoning his actions! I have two daughters and I freak out if they get a mosquito bite in the woods for fear of an allergic reaction! However, in his world, a world which we peek into every Sunday night at 9pm EST, Stannis Baratheon thinks he is doing the right moral deed. Even though his decision must have been filled with anguish and heartbreak, he made the tough decision. Yes, it is a tough decision in HIS world. Thankfully in OUR world, this would never come up as even a fleeting thought.
And this is the point about the brilliance of Game of Thrones and their masterful writing. This is why we come back week after week to tune in. Are we really shocked that this evilness can be shown? Are we truly flabbergasted when we see things that clearly crosses our moral lines? If so, we are either lying to ourselves or we lack the security of our own selves about the power of imagination.
Story telling like this is ‘creativeness squared.’ Most of us want to see some brutality in storytelling. Many enjoy seeing some rough and unusual sex acts, partly because we might have those inner desires as well. We want to see heartbreak and redemption. Yet, we want to see it through the prism on our own terms.
Well, that is not a world I want to live in. I want to see the unimaginable. I relish at the unpredictable and I envy the courage of writers to not give us what we think we want. Having good characters win all the time is unrealistic, and frankly quite boring to watch. Jolting our sense of morality is a good thing, as long as we understand that this is simply storytelling and that we do not have to agree with the bad characters while steadfastly proclaiming our own morality.
The world is a complicated place. There is evil all around us. Just look at Hitler and Isis, to name just a few. However, the human spirit has triumphed and will continue to do so as long as we can understand the difference between fiction and reality.
Now get a grip and enjoy the finale!