Monday, March 21, 2016

Game Of Thrones: Is it Toxic?

Peter Dinklage
My wife and I watched this series, all five available seasons, in one big gory splurge.  Maybe that was our mistake.  It is addictive viewing, it has memorable characters and every episode ends with a cliff-hanger.
            I'll be candid and admit that we have been in an emotional slump.  My wife and I have had a difficult year.  That being said, perhaps it wasn't a good idea to expose ourselves to such villainy and gore.  I can imagine that viewing this series one episode at a time might be less harrowing.  But who does that?  Are you kidding?  In this age of Streaming?
            Nah!  Binge viewing is the thing we do.  Doesn't everybody grab a series and watch every episode, one after another?  Don't deny it.  TV isn't a guilty pleasure any more. TV is survival, an alternate reality in which to hide from our terrifying world.
            Game of Thrones is High Fantasy.  It has the medieval world-set, the armor, weapons, horses, castles, all that stuff that goes into High Fantasy.  It has dragons, magical creatures and a looming menace that evokes our own present-day world with its apocalyptic terrors.  As we watched we found that our depression began taking on a more vicious edge.  Our dreams were disturbed.  My wife muttered curses in the night and I went on a sleepwalking excursion, standing at the window waiting for some demon to creep into our home to steal our souls.
            As a writer I must always ask a question of the story I'm writing: Is this story worth being told?  If I apply that yardstick to Game of Thrones, I'm not sure it passes muster.  Without the genius of Peter Dinklage playing "the imp" I wouldn't have gotten sucked into the plot.  Acting is an interesting process to watch.  Great actors take good roles and define them for all history.  Dinklage will hereafter always be known for his Tyrion Lannister role.  Before Tyrion he was a famous dwarf and an actor.  Now he is far more famous and completely identified with his character.  No one cares that he has short legs.  He has earned RESPECT.  He carried Game of Thrones on his talent.  The series is unimaginable without the work of Peter Dinklage. 
            There were so many beheadings, throat slittings, impalings, knives to the gut, arrows through the throat, squished eyeballs, spear thrusts through-and-through that it became like a creeping poison, leaking from the TV screen and crawling along the margins of the room, heading straight for our vulnerable psyches.  We have no one to blame but ourselves.  No one forced us to watch this wretched excess of medieval mayhem.  We watched.  We were sick with flu, flattened with fibro, fucked up with gastric distress, hamstrung with hernia....and we watched ten thousand extras get squashed by rocks and broiled with flaming oil.  Oh, what a violent series!  Add a healthy dollop of perfect naked titties and asses, muscular adolescent boys all frolicking with one another and whaddayaknow?  It's really all sex and violence, tits and ass.  I can imagine the producer shouting on the set:  "Did we book enough tits today?  We're running out of tits!  You, boy!" he points to a Production Assistant.  "Go find some asses, get out there on Sunset and round up a few dozen nice tits.  Get some handsome boys while you'r'e at it...make sure they're eighteen and have them sign their releases."
            Game Of Thrones.  It was a relief when Season Five ended.  We'd had enough.  It was like eating a whole bag of miniature Reeses Pieces.  It made us sick.
It was delicious when we started.  Then it got a little cloying but we couldn't stop.  Then we wanted to puke and still we couldn't stop.  It was crazy!  Get us to some Hallmark Entertainment, or....some Disney.  No, wait.  When you look deeply enough into Disney you find shit that's even more creepy than Game Of Thrones.

7 comments:

  1. It's interesting because I have a couple of friends who seem to keep watching while they do agree with me that it IS too boring/violent/confusing. And the EXPLANATION usually goes something like "well, I *started* watching it ... " and then it trail's off! One of my friends even berated himself that he was watching it, but would not stop!

    The explanation must be addiction, nothing more really. Okay, of course, there ARE the T&A but still ... It seems like there's also, as with other series and esp. social media, some kind of primeval satisfaction at play here - something that creates this addiction - from watching how this and that character may or may not make it, even if another part of you may not really care deep down, or may think it should be too violent or too xxx or too whatever and hence not worth it, on balance.
    But the primeval addictive mind doesn't care about "balance". WTF is that? It wants its fix! LOL

    Well, to be honest, it sounds like there was also plenty of room for an addiction for you guys, since you had all these other problems to 'escape' from - and that is perfectly OK in my book. Nothing special, just very human. I can't keep count of all the times I've watched, surfed or read something just to get that 'escape-fix'.

    Problem is of course that GoT, as you point out, isn't *just* another escape. It is a Very Violent, Very Gory, Very Thinly Veiled X-Rated kind of escape. It's not like watching the Simpsons! I'm glad you seem to have realized the effect it has been having on you, and - so it sounds like - have been able to put a bit of distance in between.
    *
    I bought the books some years ago and raved about them first, but I soon tired of the whole concept. It wasn't that I felt the Red Wedding was too shocking. It WAS shocking, but I just didn't feel it was part of a meaningful overall story to keep leading us to follow these characters and take an interest in them only to have them killed off just like that. For George R R Martin the point may have been to 'show it like it really is', but I get enough reality on TV News and in real history books.

    I have studied the Hundred Years War and the War of the Roses rather intensely these past few years to be able to give live-talks about them. You want blood and gore and reality - well, let me just say these real life wars, which are described in the best history books in quite a narrative, they all make GoT look like a kindergarten game!
    Anyway, I saw a few episodes of the TV-show and felt I couldn't really invest myself in it for the same reasons as with the books. There were just too many persons and storylines, which in both cases dragged things down for me. Why would I want to read about/see 13 other characters before I get to Tyrion and Daenerys and Jaime, for example? So I stopped somewhere in book 3 and, as said, only gave the show a handful of episodes before I called it a day with *that* as well.

    After reading your post, I felt again that I made the right choice for myself - but for different reasons. I hadn't really thought about the 'side-effect' of watching - well, binge-watching - this kind of show. And I'm quite a sensitive mind myself.

    So when I watch TV or go to the movies I prefer something lighter, although not necessarily superficial. I do want to watch "Spotlight" for example, even though I think it is a very tough film with a deadly serious topic (pedophilia among priests), but the actors interest and attract me - like they did for you in GoT, and hey - sometimes it *is* fine to watch tough realistic films *if* there is a point to them.

    Maybe George R R had a point with his books, but I fear the TV-producers' 'point' is mostly about not "running out of tits" ... and blood.
    Thanks for another good read, Art. I hope you and the soul mate sleep a little better from now on. :-)


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  2. Christopher, my gizmo did not notify me I had a comment. I get so few, probably because I don't start discussions, I just write my essay and move on. Your take is refreshing and intelligent. I anticipated I'd get death threats. People are passionate in their fan-dom. GoT just isn't (quite) the Story Worth Telling. It seems more like a lift straight out of English History plopped down into an alter-world with some magical elements (Oooooo!). I doubt that I would enjoy George R.R. as a dinner companion. You nailed it. Hundred Years War and W of the Roses. That's it. Family ambition and ego yucks it up with beheadings, hostage taking, collateral damage to the peasants, all that good stuff! George lifted this material and fit it onto his template. Even the geography is suggestive of period Europe.
    Except there be Dragons. Read "reference to modern times apocalyptic super-weapons", that's what the dragons are for. No one believes they even exist but this charismatic queen across the Narrow Sea has a few dangerous pets. Awww, aren't they cute.

    Thanks for writing to me, I really appreciate it. Keep up with my adventures-in-the-impossible, that is my attempts to get my novels and memoir into the mainstream. It's hard to give them away! roschbooks.com. Download something and leave a review. I really don't know whether or not they're readable. But they are stories worth telling.

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  3. Christopher, my gizmo did not notify me I had a comment. I get so few, probably because I don't start discussions, I just write my essay and move on. Your take is refreshing and intelligent. I anticipated I'd get death threats. People are passionate in their fan-dom. GoT just isn't (quite) the Story Worth Telling. It seems more like a lift straight out of English History plopped down into an alter-world with some magical elements (Oooooo!). I doubt that I would enjoy George R.R. as a dinner companion. You nailed it. Hundred Years War and W of the Roses. That's it. Family ambition and ego yucks it up with beheadings, hostage taking, collateral damage to the peasants, all that good stuff! George lifted this material and fit it onto his template. Even the geography is suggestive of period Europe.
    Except there be Dragons. Read "reference to modern times apocalyptic super-weapons", that's what the dragons are for. No one believes they even exist but this charismatic queen across the Narrow Sea has a few dangerous pets. Awww, aren't they cute.

    Thanks for writing to me, I really appreciate it. Keep up with my adventures-in-the-impossible, that is my attempts to get my novels and memoir into the mainstream. It's hard to give them away! roschbooks.com. Download something and leave a review. I really don't know whether or not they're readable. But they are stories worth telling.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for the returned thoughts, Art! I think you nailed it, too - in so many ways. I often wonder what is going on in GRRM's head, but I think he genuinely wants to write this and believe THIS is how a story in this genre should be told! Of course he sees it this way - what else? It's an ideal for him. I'm more skeptical about the movie producers' ideals, as already mentioned LOL

    Nice thought about the role of the dragons - that had not occurred to me! Daenerys is one of my fav characters, but I would have liked someone a little less 'cute' to play her in the TV-show - no offense to Emilia Clarke. But in a perfect world, at least according to me, they would have dared to go with someone a bit more naturally gritty but also with an uncanny beauty of her own ... a young Linda Hamilton-type perchance? (Dunno why I thought of this one ... )

    I've just dowloaded Confessions of an Honest Man and The Gods of the Gift and depending on which one I finish first, I'll do a review on my own blog and share it with you - free to distribute elsewhere. I'm terribly busy with all sorts of un-adventurous activities, like trying to earn money, but I think there's a good chance I might manage it before the summer holidays. I'm looking forward to diving in - especially Gods. Looks intriguing and wonderfully acid-headed LOL (That was meant in the *good* way, mind you!)

    Stay well and writing and dreamin' ...

    Chris

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  5. I'm enjoying our exchange,Chris. You're right, Gods is an acid-head vision. I need, almost desperately, a review of Confessions on the Amazon site. I'll see if I can arrange a gift copy for you. I'm hamstrung w/r/t a certain promotion that can't start without reviews on Kindle. In many senses you are the ideal reader for my work. They say it takes genius to recognize genius. That's a compliment, not a boast. Can you email me at arthur@roschbooks.com. Just a blank, so I can have you in my Contacts. I may need your email in order to get the DL from Amazon Kindle.

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  6. I've emailed you!

    And shelled out the enormous sum for "Gods" on Kindle ... since I have to be an unbiased reviewer - when I get around to reviewing - I prefer to pay for it. Hey, I'm a genius, right - so you knew I'd come up with this LOL

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  7. This book has been gestating since 1980. I have no objectivity. I hope you enjoy it, and thanks. I've been reading at your site.

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