Not to appear behind the curve, or anything, but recently we got around to watching the beginning of Game of Thrones. (Don’t worry, I’ll soon be posting a review of this great new film, Cool Runnings.) Now I don’t need to Google the title to know there’ll be a list of blogs about GoT — both positive and negative — as long as the proverbial, and I don’t particularly want to add to this. I’m just intrigued by the recent upsurge in popularity (or am I imagining it? maybe I am) of pop culture offerings of a…less than amazing quality. (Then again, I may be imagining it: I’ve had something against pop culture phenomena since Harry Potter took off.) So what have I got against poor old (Emmy-winning, multi-million-dollar-grossing) Game of Thrones?
It’s horribly racist (the attitude to the ethnic minority the Dothraki wouldn’t seem out-of-place in 1950s America or pre-1994 South Africa), but that’s not the only reason I’ve got a problem with it. The characters display a resolutely pre-1928 attitude to women, but again that on its own isn’t enough. There’s a cliché-ridden approach to the North/South divide that wouldn’t be unfamiliar in the Victorian Britain of Engels, but th–actually, they’re all the problem. Why is this poorly written (I’ve had a look at one of the books, and it wasn’t pretty), racially and misogynistically offensive drivel so popular?
I have a theory (you’ll be surprised to learn).
With Game of Thrones — along with, among other examples, Fifty Shades of Porn (for an amazing analysis of E.L. James’s literary car-crash, see this brilliant blog) — the quality of the narrative doesn’t really matter: the fact that it’s compelling and fast-paced is enough. Maybe, what with the global financial mess and everything, a bit of escapism is what people want. It’s just a bit sad that said escapism comes in the form of a cultural product that’s such a political throw-back.