What we learned from Game of Thrones (spoiler alert)
Writer’s note: Again, if you plan on watching the popular series, this is where you turn away from this page (not before saving it for later, though). This article is crawling with spoilers, which a lot of people hate with passion these days.
"Game of Thrones” is popular because of the explosive plot twists, but its final season has drawn considerable criticism. And understandably so. You simply can’t tie up the tangled plot lines of so many key characters in just six episodes. It’s not humanly possible, no matter how good the director or screenwriter is.
This article, however, does not discuss filmmaking issues. Instead, it addresses how the political fantasy involving terrifying dragons breathing awesome firepower, a sexy witch and an army of seemingly formidable zombies mirrors the realities of we human beings.
Here is what “Game of Thrones” tries to teach us:
In politics, the higher you are, the more paranoid you feel. Daenerys Targaryen is the archetype for practically every politician out there. No matter how noble, ideological and compassionate, fear of falling from power dominates their actions when they reach a certain height. Cersei Lannister is paranoid throughout the series because a villain is supposed to be so, but the Daenerys character is extremely realistic.
So, when a politician tells us they have only good intentions for the public, we are looking at a Cersei at worst or a Daenerys at best.
1. In politics, it’s hard to “check out”, and decency may effectively equal weakness. Jon Snow, an extremely rare breed of politician, is Exhibit A. There are reasons why he runs around looking like an idiot all the time, letting Arya Stark steal the show in the process. He is meant to be “good”, but you could argue that his character is the most unrealistic in the series.
2. In politics, we need to be careful who we root for, because they can become the exact opposite of what made you like them in the first place. In other words, don’t cheer too loud too soon. The dragons are the saviours, until their fire wipes out an entire city. Their “mother” is the heroine until she goes murderously crazy. Wars are won not when the war-makers get scared, but when innocent people die.
3. One viewer’s traitor is another viewer’s hero. “Game of Thrones” drips with back-stabbing from start to finish. Some traitors are repulsive, while others are likeable with understandable motives. There are also borderline cases which are difficult to judge.
4. The real casualties of wars are those who could not care less. People who sacrifice themselves for ideological causes are martyrs, but the problem is, in every war they are far outnumbered by slain victims who were not involved and never wanted to be.
5. Innocent bystanders find themselves dragged into the fray. Cersei tries to protect herself with a human shield – just like President Snow in “The Hunger Games”. There is no surprise here; this is what politicians do: When in trouble, hide behind the people.
6. If you enter the political arena, it’s impossible to keep blood off your hands. In “Game of Thrones” the biggest slaughter of the innocents occurs when the “good guys” attack an evil queen. Some of the good guys have misgivings, but the slaughter happens anyway.
7. Death is the ultimate conqueror, but humans keep forgetting about it. The Night King represents the biggest threat to everyone fighting for political power. When people stare death in the face, they are united, but when the threat still seems far away, they return to fighting one another, with the spirit of harmony and noble sacrifice replaced by greed, anger and fear.
8. Is eradicating an evil person worth an innocent life, or more? This question has been asked throughout history in the real world. The answer is no. But it’s an answer disputed by ideological and religious fanatics or political manipulators who hide behind ideological or religious causes. However, the answer is ignored not because of fanaticism or manipulation, but because in politics, people do “whatever is necessary”.
9. For politicians, winning the throne is hard, but keeping it is a lot harder. It’s not the dragon fire (enemies’ weapons) that destroys political eras. Most rulers or wannabes self-destruct. Their downfall is caused by paranoia, or greed, or desire for absolute power, or a bit of everything.
People like you and me may wish to be ruled by Jon Snow – but chances are we will get Daenerys.