Let’s talk about something we don’t know about!
Oh, to be as carefree and unconcerned about the truth as our president. What an imaginative life he leads, while I’m stuck week after week trying to say at least one or two things that are true.
I wouldn’t want to mislead people about subjects that matter to me. I only want to mislead about subjects I don’t care about.
For example, I could write an entire column about everything I don’t know about a certain TV series that I’ve never seen. Not one episode.
So, I’ll just start talking about “Dallas,” then. How about that J. R. Ewing? Don’t you just hate him? And he was so nice on “I Dream of Jeannie.”
Ha! See that? I already started misleading. No. I saw one episode of “Dallas.” I’m going to talk about “Game of Thrones.” I’ve only seen ads for it. I never read the books it’s based on. My entire connection with the series is my fascination with the fact that other people are gripped by it.
I’m fascinated by grippedness. I’ve experienced grippedness myself. I’m not immune. For instance, I’m a “Red Dwarf” fanatic. I used to have a big box full of VCR tapes of every episode through season six. I had text transcripts of every one and would read the transcripts imagining the scenes the passages were from. When watching a taped episode, I’d recite the lines just before they were said. What caused me to do that?
I’d worry greatly about myself, seeing as I do things like that, except for the fact everyone else does equivalent things. I’ve never known anyone who doesn’t geek out from time to time about something. Sports, for example. People geek out so much about the Seahawks they wear replicas of the players clothing. In public.
A guy I knew, who I’d never accept as a friend, knew every show tune of every Broadway musical ever, and drove people nuts by challenging people to name one he didn’t know, and then prove he did know it. Not by singing one line from it, but by singing the whole song. A friendship killer if there ever was one. Sometimes, geekdom isn’t pretty.
So, let’s see, what do I know about “Game of Thrones?” It’s based on books by George R.R. Martin. George took an interest in The War of the Roses, The Hundred Years War, The Italian Renaissance and various Mongol Hordes, and packed it all into fiction where every character has ample opportunity to be killed off in the ugliest way imaginable. Oh, and Sex. Sex, knives, death, maiming, tra-la-la. It’s been on HBO because if it was on a broadcast network, the FCC would have a fit.
One episode featuring something called “The Red Wedding” made headlines as some viewers seeing it had such severe reactions to the violence they needed trauma counseling. I guess all the mayhem before that was just fun and games, but when you slit someone’s throat in front of your audience, it’s crossing a line.
I also know that George never was a fan of good-versus-evil fantasy fiction. He likes his characters to have ambiguous morals.
The question to me is, for every kind of grippedness, what’s doing the gripping? Why do people keep watching something after they’ve been traumatized by it?
As I was saying at the outset of this, the beauty of asking this question now in connection with “Game Of Thrones,” as opposed to something like, say, “Why are people homeless?” or “How bad is global warming?” is that I feel absolutely no obligation to answer it correctly. I can just toss out ideas and if they’re wrong, so what?
I’m going to suggest that it’s that epic moral ambiguity that’s the main gripper in this case. Look at the world of politics around us and look at how everything is presented in stark good-versus-evil terms. In a world like this, a fantasy like “Star Wars,” where everything is good-versus -evil, is not an escape. It’s just more of the same thing we’re fed all the time, day after day.
It’s a relief not to have everything in sharp relief.
Another gripper is the community aspect. You know you’re among your people if they’re wondering out loud who’s going to die in Sunday’s episode.
Speaking of homelessness, one of its causes is lack of community. Most of them don’t get HBO. I’m not making that up.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd.
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