The American TV series “Game of Thrones” has become a phenomenon in the realm of cinema and television. Millions of people around the world are waiting for the upcoming sixth season of the show. The series, which started in 2011, in just 5 years has collected an impressive audience. Its heroes are more known to the public than many real politicians, and it has became the source of a plurality of memes and an integral part of the culture of the young generation all over the world.
According to The Guardian, by 2014 it had become both “the biggest drama” and “the most talked about show” on television. The series has received numerous awards and nominations, including 26 Primetime Emmy Awards and 86 nominations. Its influence on the minds and moods of people around the world is undeniable. It remains to be determined what kind of impact and what the phenomenon is that we are dealing with.
An American thing
Game of Thrones is an adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire – George R. R. Martin’s series of fantasy novels. Martin is a typical American; a journalist by education. In his youth, he avoided conscription into the army, choosing not to fight in Vietnam. He is a fan of comics about superheroes. It is significant that Martin did not receive a systematic historical or philological education, though being quite erudite, and that was reflected in “Game of Thrones.”
The fictional world according to the author, who was inspired by the Accursed Kings of Maurice Druon, should resemble historic European Middle Ages, but the heroes, their motivations, and the structure of relationships in the world has a typically American approach – a complete misunderstanding of what traditional Europe and the European Middle Ages were, and what the fundamental difference is between the Middle Ages and the New time of Modernity.
Two types of fantasy
In fact, there are two trends in the literature, which is usually attributed to the fantasy genre. The first may be called a British one. It can be attributed to Inklings – J.RR, Tolkien, CS Lewis, Charles Williams, as well as their predecessors in the 19th century – William Morris with his novels ‘The Wood Beyond the World’ and ‘The Well at the World’s End’, and the Scottish novelist and theologian George MacDonald. Features of this trend are: careful work with the historical and mythological pictures, profound erudition of the author, who received a classical education, and most importantly – the rejection of the ideology of Modernity with its individualism as well as egalitarianism, progress, industrialism, secularism, and rejection of the spiritual dimension of man.
This perception of Modernity was very well described by J.R.R. Tolkien:
I will not walk with your progressive apes,
erect and sapient. Before them gapes
the dark abyss to which their progress tends –
if by God’s mercy progress ever ends,
These authors rebel against the Modern World and look for an alternative to the forms peculiar to the past. They romanticize the middle Ages, and realize that it was based on a fundamentally different basis than Modern civilization.
These are the principles of the European solar male Apollonian civilization: hierarchy, faith, loyalty, honor, family, the primacy of ethics and aesthetics over benefits, theocentrism, and the dominance of the traditional relationship between man and woman. Of course, a lot of deviations from the ideal can be found in the historical middle Ages, but the aforementioned authors inherit the medieval authors in an effort to describe ideal heroes and ideal situations. Like the people of the middle Ages, they were conscious or instinctive Platonists, so for them the “ideal” is real.
What belongs to eternity, which corresponds with the heavenly ideal that in fact really is, belongs to Being and consequently to eternity, while the earthly distortions of ideal, sin, and apostasy will not inherit eternity. C.S. Lewis describes it in ‘The Last battle’, when the protagonists, after their own death, and the Doomsday of Narnia, reveal that real England is also situated in this real Plato’s heavenly world of Being:
You are now looking at the England within England, the real England just as this is the real Narnia. And in that inner England no good thing is destroyed
The second trend is more dominant in modern fantasy – it can be called American. Its pioneers were Robert Howard, together with a number of American authors who created in the middle of the 20th century lots of low-quality literature in the genre of sword and sorcery. The features of this approach are well disclosed in the personality of Howard, as well as in his cycle of novels about Conan the Barbarian: a focus on samples of mass culture, the combination of high self-esteem with the mediocrity of the author, and an eclectic mix of ancient and modern elements.
The objective of this literature is to hit the reader and to stimulate commercial interest. The authors usually share all the myths of modernity including the belief in progress and industrialism. The literature of this kind is a not a form of rebellion against the modern world, but a way of earning money. The authors do not recreate the perfect Middle Ages, but create a fictional world in which they act quite modern, with motivations understandable to any American.
Conan the Barbarian is a typical American, he is almost lacking inner, spiritual dimension and his character is the embodiment of a titanic cult of brutal force, not Apollonian, godly wisdom. He is ambitious, striving for dominance, and almost materialistic.
A Parody of the middle Ages
In other words, in a fabulous and fantastic shell lies a figure that is quite modern and is an American man with his titanic extreme individualism, rebellion, and a rejection of tradition. A vague but noble nostalgia for better times is operated for profit and assertions of power – the inviolability of the principles of modern civilization.
The difference between the two types of fantasy is the fundamental difference between the European and American civilizations. American civilization was created, as was considered, in an empty space; it was a laboratory project of Modernity where Europe exported all of its anti-traditional and anti-European tendencies. Thus, America does not know tradition, and its imitation of the subject turns into a parody.
As Julius Evola once said:
America … has created a ‘civilization’ that represents an exact contradiction of the ancient European tradition. It has introduced the religion of praxis and productivity; it has put the quest for profit, great industrial production, and mechanical, visible, and quantitative achievements over any other interest. It has generated a soulless greatness of a purely technological and collective nature, lacking any background of transcendence, inner light, and true spirituality.”
Game of Thrones is a typical example of such an American approach – a medieval shell with typical modern content. The indicative values of the majority of heroes of the saga includes treachery, greed, corruption, betrayal, a nihilistic attitude to religion, as if this is the main value content of the society, which at the same time is characterized by hierarchy and jousting tournaments. It is mostly about modernity with some modifications, but in order to completely swallow the bitter pill of values of the modern West, it is sweetened by adding romantic traditional surroundings. After all, the modern world is becoming boring and unbearable.
The talented combination of Eros and Thanatos, death and sex, makes the show attractive. Behind the scenes, the authors are imposing, through pop culture, a deliberately distorted image of certain values of the Middle Ages, which is not peculiar to the Middle Ages, but is promoted in the modern West via a process that Patrick Buchanan calls the Death of the West
Game of Thrones is the first mass series that has the theme of sodomite relations, which turns into almost naked gay porn. The series demonstrates the “naturalness” of such contact, and, through the frequent use of such imagery, distorts the perception of homosexuality as something sinful, secret, and ill.
It is significant that homosexual characters are shown in a very positive light. Prince sodomite Renly Baratheon is the most worthy candidate for the royal throne, but he died after refusing to compromise. His lover – Loras Tyrell – a knight without fear and without reproach, is also an extremely positive figure. Oberyn Martell, a bisexual whose sexual attributes are also widely exposed, is a noble revenger. There are no sodomite villains at all.
King-sodomite and his knight
The series also breaks the incest taboo, openly and sympathetically demonstrating incestuous relationship between the knight Jaime Lannister and his twin sister Cercei. Several times in the film they utter the phrase they cannot choose who they love, the most common sentimental excuse used for the advocacy of various perversions.
In turn, the embodiment of pure homophobia becomes a boy tyrant King Joffrey Baratheon, a sadist that is hated by the whole country, as well as by relatives. In Season 3, he proclaims that he will make homosexuality punishable by death. Thus, the traditional values and the struggle with sin begin to be associated with tyranny and cruelty.
It is needless to say that promiscuity is unthinkable, as the historical middle Ages are an integral part of the world created by Martin and the imagination of the creators of the series.
Multiculturalism and illegal migrants
The world of “Game of Thrones” emphasizes multiculturalism. In Westeros you can meet a foreigner who holds a high position (example – the eunuch Varys). In the Essos region, which resembles ancient and medieval Asia, Princess Daenerys Targaryen is fighting against white elites for the liberation of black slaves. Black lives matter! – the authors of the series tell us. In the case of the approval of multiculturalism, the creators of the series courageously go far beyond the literary prototype. Pirate Salladhor Saan, who is white in the novels, became black in the series.
Another multicultural thing is how much attention is paid in the series to the theme of migration. Who are Wildlings? Immigrants. They live behind a wall – a cyclopean structure that separates civilization from barbarism, an embodiment of Donald Trump dream. Residents of the seven kingdoms of Westeros do not welcome savages, because Wildlings behave almost like the hordes of migrants pouring into modern Europe: killing, raping, robbing, and wanting to settle in foreign lands. Soldiers of the “Night Watch”, who keep out wild and inhuman creatures, guard Westeros wall also against them.
So, what do we see in “Game of Thrones”? The positive character Jon Snow is doing everything to allow the savages to settle behind the wall, because they should be saved from the terrible, inhuman danger – almost like Angela Merkel hosting Syrian refugees. Moreover, he undertakes an expedition to transfer part of the migrants in prosperous Westeros (like Pope Francis In Lesbos last week, maybe he watched the series with Angela Merkel together?).
And of course, xenophobes, who do not want to see murderers, robbers, and cannibals standing next to them, do not understand this. This is why Jon Snow is unfortunately killed, and his fate (dead or alive) is unknown. Martin may have wanted this or not, but in a fantasy entourage reproduced with a very modern theme, it is interpreted as being politically correct. How can a person, empathic to John Snow and unhappy Wildlings, advocate for limiting migration?
No God, but death
On the theme of religion, “Game of Thrones” has no qualms. The traditional worshipping of the Old Gods of Westeros and the Seven are ceremonial, and their adherents are not at war with each other – very American-like tolerance. The series shows that all is well as long as religion is a private matter. Problems arise with the appearance of people who really believe in God. The cult of the god of fire and the resurrection of R’hllor is shown definitely negatively. But supporters of the Friars “Sparrows”, who genuinely have faith in the gods, instigate religious terrorism in the capital of Westeros ‘King’s Landing’.
In the Martin’s world there is no organized church, and there is no place for God in its Christian sense, and there is no place for Christ, who explicitly or implicitly is presented in the works of the great Britons Lewis and Tolkien. Martin’s gods manifest themselves either through the pantheistic presence (Old Gods), identified with nature, or through brute force – everything is subject to his will. The latter is the typically Semitic and titanic idea of the divinity inherent in Judaism, Islam, and somewhat in the Calvinist version of Protestantism, overwhelmed by the Christian mystery of divine love and sacrifice of God for man.
God as such in “Game of Thrones” does not exist. Interestingly, all the “theological” moments in Martin’s books are removed in the television series. Their philosophy may be best expressed by a quotation from the fencing teacher of Arya Stark:
There is only one god and his name is death, and there is only one thing we say to death: not today”
Syrio Forel’s theology lesson
This resembles the words of Apostle Paul:
If the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die.
In the world of “Game of Thrones” the dead are raised, but it does not give them or their loved ones happiness or comfort. After all, the Christian resurrection is also a transformation of man, but “Game of Thrones” does not imply that a person can be anything other than what it is now and change its nature in a god-like manner.
The world of “Game of Thrones” is a world without Christ and God, but full of magic in the New Age style. From “God is dead” to ” God is death”.
New Dark Ages?
The distinguishing feature of “Game of Thrones” is its underlined “realism.” This representation is the result of the loss of the traditional perception of politics as a philosophical and aesthetic practice in the spirit of Plato and Aristotle.
Of course, many medieval rulers were not such crown philosophers as Justinian, Frederick II, or Alfred the Great, but this understanding of policy was peculiar to the High Middle Ages and antiquity, and differed it from modernity, where the Machiavellian approach overrides the classic one. Politics in “Game of Thrones” is not classicist, but Machiavellian. It is cynical and is based on the principle of self-interest.
The political dimension of “Game of Thrones” is a very specific one. On the one hand, the authors of the series strongly demonstrate egalitarian, anti-authoritarian tendencies associated primarily with the line of Daeyneris Targaryen, one of the most popular heroines of the series. She rightfully has a claim to the Iron Throne of Westeros, as a representative of a legitimate dynasty ousted by usurpers. But she declares that she will not be another spoke on the wheel of the “game of thrones,” but will “break the wheel”. It means that she is ready to break the old hierarchal order and replace it with more egalitarian one.
Egalitarian totalitarianism of Daeyneris Targaryen
On the other hand, in the series, there are statements related to the topic of honor, order, loyalty, but almost in regards to not a country (except the important theme of the night watch), but specific families.
Mass consciousness is accustomed to the image of the world, where large families of oligarchic clans control everything, like it is in “Game of Thrones”, where family status is determined by their wealth; this is a trait of the modern and globalist world too. It’s a scary, postmodern version of the “New Middle Ages”, which prophetically was promised even by Berdyaev: the fall of the concept of the nation-state, private armies, confrontation between the houses of Rothschild and Rockefeller and other masters of the world.
It is a world of permanent wars and conflicts. A world where the only power is the power of money and brute force, not spiritual authority; a world without God, but without rationality with a lot of sects, new religions, beliefs in magic, and the occult; a world dominated by ecstatic sexuality, aiming to break all possible taboos; a world where between man and beast (hence the theme of the werewolf in “Game of Thrones”) is not too different. It is not only the world of “Game of Thrones”; it is our future that is becoming real. Welcome to the Game of Thrones!