By Fire and Blood:
A Game of Twisted Fantasies?
The HBO hit, Game of Thrones, has gained numerous fans throughout the time of its production. Viewers are exposed to beautiful landscapes and terrifying death scenes. This world is one of pure fantasy perfectly intertwined with gruesome destruction. While Game of Thrones more closely relates to Harry Potter in the manner of a fantastical universe—rather than the realistic elements of Supernatural, our obsession with this series comes from a vastly different place.
Again, I believe that the audience is well aware of the fact that this universe could not scientifically exist. But, as discussed previously, this is no hindrance on the popularity of the book series or show. The Game of Thrones universe shares the magical element with Harry Potter and loosely shares the realistic feature with Supernatural (if we were in the same time period as the GoT universe). Even though Game of Thrones has magical elements and overtly fictional characters (take the White Walkers, for example, pictured below), there is no sense of childish wonder or cheer whatsoever that can be taken from this show. If set in somewhat medieval times, I could see where some sort of realistic engagement would be able to be applied to this world—but I don’t think that this would be one of the key traits in its popularity.
One of the reasons that makes it difficult to place the reason behind our obsession with this series is the blatant brutality that so frequently adorns both the pages of the books and the scenes of the show. Some of the more popular ways of killing people have been death by extremely painful poison, death by pouring molten liquid gold on top of a character’s head, death by being tied at the hands and shot with a crossbow, death by gorging out the eyes and repeatedly smashing a character’s head into the ground until it was nothing but a bloody pulp, slicing open a pregnant woman’s stomach to cause death by bleeding out, and death by being flayed alive (having one’s skin torn off and then stuck on posts).
As gruesome as it sounds, we are obsessed with the show’s level of bloodiness. Viewers go through this series knowing that there is going to be lots of bloodshed in incredibly painful ways. Yes, fans are drawn to the medieval style world with fierce dragons and sword fighting. But fans are also in it for the blood.
When looking deep into human nature, it is not unreasonable to say that human beings are obsessed with violence. In fact, violence is an essential part of life—even now in the modern era. Sure, bloodshed was more pronounced in the past but we have never really gotten over it. Humans still have these violent instincts. While it may not be through physical force, we are still exposed to this trait in facets of our every day lives (such as video games, movies, tv series). And while these things may not cause us to be violent, they are still satisfying that animalistic need to have violence within our lives.
I find it vastly interesting that humans still today are able to connect with something simply because it has violent aspects. This is not to say that there aren’t other reasons why this series is so popular, in fact there are quite a number of reasons, but I feel that this is one of the traits at the core (outside that of fantasy and pure entertainment) that is able to draw in an audience. I would like to think that viewers understand that the scientific probability of the vast majority of the events that happen on the show actually happening in today’s world are slim to none. In saying this, however, I would be the first in line to buy a baby dragon if it ever hatched out of an ancient egg. Because, despite all of the scientific advancement in the modern world, nothing would be more incredible than being the owner of a dragon.