For more explanation of this month’s theme, “millennials in thirty things,” check out this post.
Why You Should Watch Game of Thrones If You Are Over the Age of Eighteen and of Reasonably Sound Mind and Body
If I could boil down this month’s blog theme into one, concise phrase, it would be this: “Things Millennials Love, Whether They Want to or Not”
I’ve personally enjoyed the daily dissection of my generation’s culture as defined by the objects with which we concern ourselves. I find myself occasionally proud, sometimes ashamed. And, due to the fact that I’ve been experiencing more shame than pride, I’d like to take a moment to personally defend my generation by defending something that I love, along with many of my peers, something I believe to be a current millennial cultural staple: the television series Game of Thrones.
If you’re already a GoT fan-person, feel free to read along and fistpump. I encourage you to yell “Hell yeah, Boersma!” or “Preach!!” as frequently as you feel the urge. If you’re the reserved type, you can simply read to the end, then nod solemnly, “Valar morghulis.”
If you’re new to this whole Game of Thrones mania, or you’re simply tired of your cousin Trenton telling you “it’s wicked sick, dude,” just bear with me. At least skim over my plot points. (I made a nice bulleted list so it’s easy for you to pretend you care.)
And if you’re already signed off on the whole thing because you’ve heard that GoT is chock-full of graphic sex and violence, let me assure you that it is. But you’re also talking to the girl who can’t watch a sex scene for more than seventy-five seconds without wild discomfort. Once more than three shirt buttons get un-buttoned, I’m muttering about indecency and covering the eyes of anyone under the age of forty-three. And I’m physically unable to cope with movie violence. While watching Underworld with some friends in high school, I actually hid behind the couch for seventy-five percent of the film viewing because I couldn’t watch the cinematic carnage without my body going into the early stages of rigor-mortis.
And I watch this show anyway.
Let me begin with stupid reasons to start watching Game of Thrones:
- Because the characters look like this.
Don’t ever watch a television show so you can stare at beautiful people. If ogling is your personal goal, Gifs offer far less of that painfully distracting thing called a “plot.” P.S. to the straight ladies—if you believe entertaining a desire to lick Kit Harrington’s back sweat is somehow less offensive than a straight man going to Transformers 3 just to see Megan Fox, shame on you. Go watch three Joss Whedon films and apologize personally to the nearest dude.
- Because you don’t want to read the books.
I feel a great disturbance in the Song of Ice and Fire subreddit. It’s as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced.
As an English teacher, I’m contractually obligated to include this one, but seriously. You should almost always read the book version along with watching the cinematic interpretation, but George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series is fascinating for a number of reasons, many of them independent of the television show.
His use of point-of-view and narrative structure has mind-blowing thematic implications. Because the sheer volume of the novels allows for more depth than the time constraints of the television show, the books have some of the most powerfully affecting moments of dialogue and character development that I have ever read. I do, in this case, endorse the quickly-skim-through-all-sex-scenes-battle-scenes-and-overlong-descriptions-of-wedding-feasts reading strategy. But when I finished the series’ fifth book, A Dance with Dragons, I ACTUALLY CRIED MYSELF TO SLEEP. TO. SLEEP. I cried for at LEAST twenty-five minutes UNTIL I WAS SLEEPING.
- Because I told you to.
If you just take my word for it without discrimination, you’re clearly operating at the lowest echelons of Bloom’s taxonomy. Grow a pair. Of cerebral hemispheres. And make up your own mind.
Now, for the real reasons I think you should watch Game of Thrones if you aren’t already on the dragon wagon.
- If I sat down to make a list of “Good Guy Characters” and a list of “Bad Guy Characters,” I would quickly get stumped. (Jaime Lannister anyone?? …. heh heh)
Now, this isn’t to say that I couldn’t kick off the “Good Guy” list or the “Bad Guy” list pretty strong. But my two lists would soon devolve into Good Guys Who Have to Do Bad Things and Good Guys Who Run With a Bad Crowd and Good Guys Who Do a Lot of Stupid Impractical Stuff Because They’re Just Too Dang Noble. I’d have to include Bad Guys Who Experience Loss and Redemption and Bad Guys Who Are Deeply Wounded and Bad Guys Who Love Their Families A Whole Heckuvalot.
And, at some point, while I’m attempting to navigate these camps of protagonism and antagonism, I might realize that I really just have a list of a bunch of people. And it’s possible that people can’t really be categorized. I recently watched a really good TED talk about protagonism and The Hero’s Journey that suggests we tend to view ourselves as the protagonists of life, putting other people into the boxes of “antagonist” or “supporting character” or “love interest.” Having experienced so many stories wherein the protagonist is actually “The Chosen One,” we’ve begun to interpret life through that lens; we forget that everyone else is the protagonist of their own story.
The fictional world of Westeros doesn’t have that problem. Many a character thinks he’s the hero. The occasional character will consider himself the villain. But every character is, at some point, wrong. No one is a hero; no one is a villain. And, at the same time, everyone is.
- “Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.”
“There is only one god and his name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to death. Not today.”
“There are no heroes… In life, the monsters win.”
“’Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’ ‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.”
Try to tell me these aren’t quotes worth considering!!
And I don’t even agree with all of them. And, in fact, I don’t want to watch a television show wherein I agree with everything that is said. I tell my students that we read and watch stories to learn more about ourselves and the world. And I mean it. I have a theory that we don’t really learn much of anything by watching a bunch of characters who espouse the same values, worldviews, and ideas that we already believe. I might empathize with a man who has murdered countless people? Great! Sign me up.
Despite the fact that this is a good Christian Reformed buzzword that you can throw in a Calvin paper almost anywhere when you’re gunning for a solid “A,” I actually love and believe wholeheartedly in the concept.
We are fallen, broken, bent. We can be redeemed, re-forged, re-formed. And this concept is ALL OVER THE PLACE in the Game of Thrones universe. Seriously, people. That’s what the show is about. I can’t even talk about this one any further. Just believe.
- “It’s not just for fantasy enthusiasts; they’re telling human stories in a fantasy world.” – Ben Wyatt
Truer words have never been spoken. And Ben Wyatt said them. Done.
- You will laugh. You will cry. You will scream. You will poop your pants.
You think that last one is a joke. I have seen Season 4, and I am sure it has happened to someone.
6-1,367. You will hate me if I continue, but I could.
Game of Thrones. It’s expensive (thanks, HBO), it’s grody, it’s time-consuming, and potentially morally compromising, and yet I’m telling you to watch it. Personally, I think those are all perfectly good reasons to turn and walk away. But here I type, in defense of my generation that has flocked to a show that may appear to be a hotbed of guilty pleasure, but, upon closer inspection, lives up to the hype. I say, good on ya, millenials! Sometimes, you have pretty good taste. (Unlike Ilyn Payne… heh heh. (ok, last one, I promise.))
Lauren (Boersma) Harris (’13) is a spontaneous, idealistic, independent, fierce, over-thinking, damaged, adventurous, ordinary megalomaniac with a healthy sense of self-worth and a high word count. She has been a teacher both indoors and outdoors; she loves improvised comedy, backpacking, and writing, even when it’s required.