Barbarian at the Gates: The political message of The Game of Thrones

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    • #69844
      Ohio Barbarian
      Moderator
      • Total Posts: 21,911

      Spoiler alert: Details of the series finale discussed here. 

      Like tens of millions of other people around the world, I watched and enjoyed Game of Thrones, though only over the last two months, not 7 years. Roku and apps are wonderful things. I’ve also read a lot of what George R. R. Martin has written over the last five decades, though I read more of his science fiction than his fantasy, and have not read the Game of Thrones books. One thing consistent about old George, though, he really, really doesn’t like the ruling classes. Never has.

      Game of Thrones is no exception. From the very beginning, Martin’s portrayal of the aristocrats who run his fictional feudal society is scathing. With a few exceptions–Tyrion the dwarf, Sam the fat nerdy bookworm, Arya the badassed younger daughter of House Stark–for all of those raised in the nobility it’s always about them or their families, with hardly a thought given to the majority whose labor makes their lives comfortable and whose lives are expended on their battlefields.

      Oh, in a few cases they just can’t go along with the king or queen, such as Ned Stark’s revolt against Daenarys Targaryen’s mad daddy, or Jaime Lannister killing the SOB before he wiped out a city. But for the most part, they’re typical aristocratic pricks. The message hear seems clear: Feudalism, monarchy, and aristocracy are really shitty ways to run a society.

      Game of Thrones amply illustrated this by showing the suffering inflicted on commoners by aristocratic whims, from Arya’s friend the butcher’s boy being casually murdered on the orders of Circe Lannister(while Arya herself escaped punishment only because of her status) after an incident that was entirely the fault of Circe’s worthless spoiled son to the scenes of mass murder after Daenarys used the equivalent of an atomic bomb to exterminate the population of King’s Landing because, well, they didn’t rise up for her. How dare they? Well, she and her dragon sure showed them, huh?

      That brings me to another political point and a classic Martin move. Which character was it who severely limited the choices of the surviving aristocracy about a third of the way into the finale? It wasn’t Jon Snow assassinating his lover the Mad Queen. No, it was the dragon. The intelligent weapon of mass destruction.

      Jon kills the woman who the dragon considered his mother(was the dragon a he? I’m not sure). The dragon is clearly royally pissed(great special effects job there, BTW, I loved the dragons) but either because Jon is of the blood or just because the dragon figures he’ll suffer more if he lets him live, the beastie simply melts down the Iron Throne all of these arrogant assholes have been squabbling over for years. Then he picks up his mistress’ body and flies off into the sunset, never to return.

      Gone is the possibility that Jon, who had the blood as Daenarys, might inherit the dragon and set himself up as king. Gone is that particular WMD, leaving a bunch of mutually hostile and well-armed factions on the ground. The dragon, working class creature that he is, has effectively said “Fuck y’all and fuck this shit, you figure it out, I’m outta here!”

      The solution the surviving aristocracy, and Gray Worm’s Unsullied former slaves who had been freed by Daenarys before she went mad, did come up with was a way out that did not involve hereditary monarchy by appointing the crippled seer Brann(sp?) of House Stark king since he’s the most knowledgeable chap available and can’t have any kids. They also decide a council of the nobility will select kings from now on–a slight improvement subject to many potential problems.

      When Sam suggests democracy, all of the rest of the nobility openly laugh at him, with one pompous ass saying letting the people vote would be like letting his horse vote, which is exactly how most of them think of the common people–not quite human, just useful and dangerous animals.

      And there’s the lesson: All entrenched ruling classes develop that attitude. In their heart of hearts, Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Jamie Dimon, Jeff Bezos, Facebook Fuckerburg, all of them, really do think they are inherently better than the rest of us and we really should do as we’re told.

      And they seldom relinquish or share power voluntarily. Sometimes it takes an election. Sometimes it takes a revolution. Sometimes it takes a dragon.

      It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs

      You can jail a revolutionary, but you can't jail the revolution.--Fred Hampton

    • #69906
      djean111
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      • Total Posts: 6,571

      Great analogy!  Just want to mention that the dragon knew Jon was a Targeryon, even though Jon himself had not known that for very long, and that Jon was always the least likely of all the characters to want anything at all to do with dragons and thrones.  And no one else could have done anything at all with the dragon.  I loved the books, loved Game of Thrones, and loved the ending.

      But yeah, to our government officials, we are not even really human beings, I think.  Except for a very few officials.   And a lot of we the people are so very gullible – people who have shrieked and gibbered for years that Trump committed treason are now all bizarrely aghast that Trump said “treason” – since that can carry the death penalty, which all the fine folks have been flinging around at Trump.  FFS.   Jaime said the crowd would cheer to see Euron’s head on a pike, and Euron replies “Or yours. They just like heads really.”   That pretty much sums up what I see.

       

      America is not a country, it's just a business. (Brad Pitt, Killing Them Softly)

      Everything I post is just my opinion, and, honestly, I would love to be wrong.

      • #70010
        Ohio Barbarian
        Moderator
        • Total Posts: 21,911

        And we serfs and peasants are supposed to, at most, choose which Lord and Master to follow or cheer on to their glory. On a TV show, sure, it’s fun, but it is not a model for real life.

        I liked the ending, too, though a lot of people are complaining about it. The decent characters who survived came out pretty well. Tyrion as the The Hand, so you know who’ll really be running the Six Kingdoms, but Tyrion’s a decent dwarf. Jon Snow escapes any fate who wanted him to have real power and rides off with his wildling buddies to just live, and no doubt find romance. Arya gets to explore. Grey Worm gets to go set up his own kingdom if he wishes, and Sam the kindly democratic bookworm is the only one who got the girl he loved.

        And the dragon? Who knows?

        It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs

        You can jail a revolutionary, but you can't jail the revolution.--Fred Hampton

        • #70025
          djean111
          Participant
          • Total Posts: 6,571

          @ohiobarbarian

          In the books, Naath has big butterflies which carry a disease fatal to anyone who was not born on Naath.  So maybe Grey Worm does not escape unpunished for all of the killing.  At least I hope he does not go unpunished.  GRRM put so much detail into the books it would have been impossible to completely cover everything.  There is a site where two reviews were given for each episode – one for book readers, one for those who had not read the books.

          Interesting, innit, that one would think an elected official was a servant of the people – but here, elected officials act as if they are elevated royalty.  Which is two layers of WTF to me, because I don’t consider royalty any better than anyone else.  No one chooses where they are born.

          America is not a country, it's just a business. (Brad Pitt, Killing Them Softly)

          Everything I post is just my opinion, and, honestly, I would love to be wrong.

    • #70446
      rampart
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      • Total Posts: 589

      how long before our oligarchs start using “titles of nobility?” you know they want to. trump (aka “john baron”) has been thinking in this delusional manner for years.

      “democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others” churchill

       

    • #70563
      eridani
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 10,257

      Michael Moore | What Game of Thrones Can Teach Us About Trump’s America

      https://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/56745-what-game-of-thrones-can-teach-us-about-trumps-america

      But you may have heard a lot of people at work or school or online this week upset over the turn the series’ second-to-last episode took last Sunday night. Things did not go the way most Americans had hoped. And I get it. We are living in a dark, dark time. The cold chill of Trump’s winter envelopes us all now, and we are full of despair. Too many were convinced (or hoped) that at least this fantasy we were watching on TV would relieve us. Give us the ending we desperately need. Remind us that most people are good and that heroes exist. That the boy will get the girl (or the girl will get the girl). That we will all live in peace and prosperity.

      But Game of Thrones last week refused to participate in our fantasy, refused to give us a shot of feel-good and instead reminded us that this is not only a dark time, the people we are clinging to to save us from the madness are not necessarily going to do that. Which puts it back on us.

      And that’s what made last week’s episode so brilliant. At some point, amidst all the carnage, it must have dawned on some viewers that these monarchs were elected by no one and were, in the end, serving their own interests. That’s what those in power do. Give them a powerful military or a weapon that rains fire from the sky and they will use it to gain more power or to seek their revenge. To hell with the peon masses who now run for their lives. The images, which were straight out of Hiroshima and Dresden, were a reminder that the only time in history that nuclear weapons were unleashed on humanity (on civilians and children!) was done by the “good guys” — us! — the Best Nation on Earth! The Breaker of Chains!

      Take last week’s episode for what it was – art imitating life, a reflection of our miserable, inexcusable condition where we seem to hold no power, our lives at the mercy of wealth and white rulers with all their unearned privilege. And when the monarch turns out to not be the monarch what will The People do? Have we had it with the figurative and literal incest in the Leader’s chambers? Will we rise up? Are we still sitting around waiting for the next pretty white boy who’s going to “save” us?

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

      • #70726
        Ohio Barbarian
        Moderator
        • Total Posts: 21,911

        Thanks for sharing that; I had no idea. Moore has a valid point, but what does it say about many Americans when they try to escape the dystopia they are living in through fantasy and then get pissed off when the fantasy doesn’t have the happy or just ending they want? They may not be able to have it in real life, but how dare some television producers and writers deprive them of it in their fantasy, too!

        What Debbie Downers those people are! Again, anyone who has read any series by George RR Martin should not be surprised by this.

        It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs

        You can jail a revolutionary, but you can't jail the revolution.--Fred Hampton

      • #71204
        djean111
        Participant
        • Total Posts: 6,571

        @eridani


        @ohiobarbarian

        Not a fan of Michael Moore.  He is still a hilbot yelling Trump!, IMO.

        Anyway – sometimes a fucking TV show is just a fucking TV show.  People got invested in the characters, and invested in their own ideas of how the show should have ended.  Likely due to the really long time between seasons.  One can go to reddit and find incredibly detailed variations of how the show “should have ended”.

        Tying Game of Thrones into the Trump! stuff is, IMO, just Michael Moore’s imagination.  I really hate it when he thinks he speaks for everybody else.   His keyboard should give him a little poke whenever he types “us”.  And Game of Thrones started years before Trump!  I think MM has confused when he is telling everyone else how HE feels, with knowing or stating how everyone ELSE feels.  Which is different, my dear OhioBarbarian, than when you most excellently draw parallels and make analogies.

        Bah humbug!

        America is not a country, it's just a business. (Brad Pitt, Killing Them Softly)

        Everything I post is just my opinion, and, honestly, I would love to be wrong.

        • #71221
          Ohio Barbarian
          Moderator
          • Total Posts: 21,911

          That may be, that may be. I still like Moore for the most part, but he does show the classic, boomer generation nostalgia for the 50s and 60s when the economy boomed and most white men like him–and me, to be fair–had a greater share of the national wealth than they do now. Moore got lucky with his films, most of which I do like, and I suppose it’s possible that that success swelled his ego just a tad.

          Which is a long way of saying he could be projecting his feelings on everyone else. And you’re right–a fucking TV show is still just a fucking TV show. For example, I love Star Trek, but the people who get all into it and spend thousands on costumes scare me sometimes.

          It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs

          You can jail a revolutionary, but you can't jail the revolution.--Fred Hampton

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