Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The strange phenomenon of Game of Thrones

A while back, I pondered (briefly) why most fantasy stories like the ones I read are considered the province of losers and geeks, while somehow Game of Thrones has seemingly taken over the world.

That was a year ago, and it's only grown bigger. 

My first experience with the series was sometime during its early life on HBO, when a friend who was avidly following it told me it would be right up my alley—since it involved princesses and dragons and stuff. Once or twice, I had the privilege of being present while it was playing on his television, and in that time I watched the grisly sight of a girl being forced to stare at her father's head on a stake. In another scene, I witnessed a woman being burned alive. At that point, I decided Game of Thrones was most definitely not right up my alley.

Nonetheless, the rest of the world seems to be enthralled with the show. The majority of my office-mates watch it, gathering regularly to discuss what's going on with the plot. Even the fashion publications I receive in my email regularly devote column space to the topic of GoT (sometimes they even abbreviate it that way, because everyone knows what it means). While the world around me endlessly discusses Game of Thrones, I try my hardest not to get involved—a challenging prospect when my own boyfriend is watching the show very loudly just 4 feet from me.

Yet in the recent past, I've gotten an even stronger incentive to avoid seeing the show that's all around me: spoilers. 

For Christmas, I received a 5-book set of the series that spawned the TV show. The name of the book series is "A Song of Ice and Fire," which I mention only because everyone knows the story as "Game of Thrones," but as a book nerd, I am compelled to represent it accurately. Knowing my opinions on the TV show, I was hesitant to start the book series, but I can't help but read everything that's put in front of me, and besides, while graphic depictions of violence literally make me feel ill, it's a lot easier to skim past violence when it's just words on a page.

So I began reading, and I'm glad I did! I could go into why it's such an excellent tale, but being a member of Goodreads has taught me that whatever I have to say, hundreds of other people have already said it and said it better. Instead, I'll just talk about how odd it is to be reading a story while, simultaneously, bits of its future plot are unfolding through popular culture all around you. 

Thanks to my early experiences with the show, when I began the first book, I knew enough not to get too attached to Ned Stark. As I continue to get exposed to people's opinions, I know enough not to get too attached to anyone. From conversations I've overheard, pictures I've seen, and things I've read, it looks like Jon Snow might not be long for this world, but at least he won't die a virgin. By happenstance, I've gleaned that eventually I might have to feel sorry for Cersei. Yesterday, though I couldn't tell what was happening from what I heard through the bedroom wall, I think I accidentally learned the meaning behind Hodor's name.

And so it goes.  I can't unhear what I've heard, and nor can I, in honesty, resist the temptation to sponge up all these little secrets as they are prematurely revealed to me...but still! Spoilers! I feel like I'm a time traveler. Or more like I'm able to see the future but not quite sure what it means. In the world of Ice and Fire (the book), the ubiquitous Game of Thrones (the show) would be like my own little version of greensight!