In May of this year, the long-running fantasy program, Game of Thrones, came to an end. Whether it was a good program, or a bad program, or an indifferent program we leave to the show’s fans and detractors respectively. But we were startled when we came across this story in The Intercept, The Rise of “Game of Thrones” Was Part of the Fall of America by Jon Schwarz. We can’t tell, really, if Mr. Schwarz enjoyed the program or not. He doesn’t exactly shower it with praise. But, on the other hand, he seems to have watched it pretty closely.
What interested us, though, about Mr. Schwarz’s comments was that he interprets the program as part of our national “decadence.” GOT was fantasy, and he seems to feel that fantasy is, by definition, unhealthy. Grow-ups don’t go in for that sort of thing. And Freud (who disliked fantasy intensely) wouldn’t have approved.
Moreover, it was violent fantasy, and its popularity says very bad things about us.
He concludes that if we were better people, and a healthier civilization, we’d be out doing something better with our lives than watching TV. “HBO knows that we simply don’t have the imagination to care about reality,” he says.
Is he right? Well, honestly, his interpretation seems a bit strong to us. And, we know rather a lot of GOT-fans who managed to go out into the world and do important and benevolent things. And, finally, we get nervous when people start linking certain kinds of fiction or entertainment to the decline and fall of the West. We’ve heard that particularly complaint too many times. We heard it about the Beatles in the 1960s. We heard it about TV in the 1970s. We heard it about hip hop in the 1980s. We heard about the ‘Net in the 1990s. We heard it about social media and cellphones in the 2000s. And we’re hearing it about streaming media now.
Yet, we do agree with him. We agree that our society is decadent and in decline.
But not because ordinary people are interested in fictions about imaginary elites in fantasy countries.
The problem is the real elites, the genuine powers…
Who have lost the skill of governing…and the concept of the social contract.