Wednesday

November 20th, 2019

Insight

And now our watch has ended: 'Game of Thrones' revealed as conservative epic

John Kass

By John Kass

Published May 24, 2019

I loved "Game of Thrones" when it was a left-leaning political fantasy, as creator George R.R. Martin admitted when he told The New York Times -- while feeding the appetites of the Beltway media collective -- that the mad boy king Joffrey was indeed the mad king Donald Trump.

I loved "GoT" when it was the most popular program in the blue liberal states and less so in conservative red states. The inner, hidden nerd in me (perhaps the nerd is no longer hidden) loved it even as HBO prudently herded its cash cow away from a sexist mashup of female breasts and dragons and political revenge in tights into something else again: an epic feminist saga with strong, proud and ethical women (OK, forget Cersei) dealing with the world not as they wished it would be but as it was. And most of the men were either too narcissistically evil, stupid, venal or cowardly to do much good.

Oh, men!

But now our watch has ended.

And it's obvious that as it ended, "Game of Thrones" was not the fantasy of the socialist left that it started out as, but a reaffirmation of conservative/libertarian beliefs.

It rejected the left's cult of personality and worship of central authority that would decide what was best for us whether we liked it or not.

And it transformed itself into a show that William F. Buckley would have loved.

It revered a strong family. It celebrated the individual, going off the grid to explore the unknown. And it displayed excellent taste in costumes and an appreciation of the Scots/Irish folk ballad.

But the main thing is that "GoT" got rid of its mad queen -- or was that Bernie Sanders in a blond wig on the dragon? -- who was eager to burn us all to cinders for our own good and bring the survivors to her utopia.

One monarch to sit on that Iron Throne, one queen to rule them all. And what if the people had different ideas?

"They don't get to choose," says Daenerys Targaryen, sweetly, as if she were Debbie Wasserman Schultz conspiring with Hillary Clinton on how to rig a presidential nomination.

Yet I hated the ending as much as the next guy.

There were many holes in the show, from that mysterious water bottle on the ground in the Game of Thrones at Yalta conference, to the exiling of Jon Snow to the warrior monks of the Night's Watch -- with the zombies all gone, there was no longer any need of a Night's Watch.

Arya Stark, the vengeful daughter I never had, who could kill her family's enemies without a blink of an eye, went off to explore unknown waters and unknown lands. She had no real experience at sea. But she pointed her ship to the West, and that she wanted to visit the West was enough for me.

And it reinforced the human desire for liberty, particularly if the alternative is utopia at the point of a gun (or a fire-breathing dragon,) which was the way of Lenin, Stalin, Castro, Maduro and others.

All communist utopias have ended badly, with untold misery and the deaths of some 100 million people in this, our real world -- not to mention the zoo animals eaten when the food is gone.

I acknowledge I'm of the minority opinion and the Twittersphere, which leans even more leftward than mainstream media, will reject my theory that "GoT" was at its heart, a conservative saga. And, many Republicans have hated the show because they fear dynamic women riding dragons.

I gladly bear this cross.

When "Game of Thrones" ended this week, tens of millions of fans went stark raving mad, just as I'd predicted. And unscrupulous psych counselors were already selling their soothing bromides online to those, who, as in the 2016 election, couldn't or wouldn't accept reality.

I joined them, also refusing to accept reality. And I publicly hated on the show on "The Chicago Way" podcast, like some spoiled child.

Later, though, I sat quietly in a big comfy leather chair, lit a fine Maduro cigar and questioned my beliefs while pondering the amazing politics of this cultural phenomenon called "Game of Thrones."

It was a great show.


But thousands of cultish "GoT" podcasters and bloggers and writers were in a frenzy. The high priests of the church of "GoT" -- with their internecine feuds and conspiracies and jealousies, like high priests in any age -- couldn't stand the magic ending and the loss of their power.

So they stoked the rage and anxiety of the fans for computer clicks and ratings. And many of their followers turned on the show that they had followed religiously for almost a decade, seething with rage, insisting that the "Game of Thrones" ending wasn't one they had envisioned.

They might as well have been chanting, "Not my 'Game of Thrones!' Not my 'Game of Thrones'!"

But Tyrion the dwarf, brilliantly played with a passable British accent by the great American actor Peter Dinklage, said it best.

"What unites people? Armies? Gold? Flags? Stories. There's nothing more powerful in the world than a good story," Tyrion said. "Nothing can stop it. No enemy can defeat it."

Except, perhaps, network executives and producers.

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John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune who also hosts a radio show on WLS-AM.

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