THE ‘REEL’ LESSONS OF LIFE

Global phe­nom­e­non ‘Game of Thrones’ closely re­sem­bles what’s hap­pen­ing around us ev­ery day

New Straits Times - - Opinion - sling@nst.com.my This award-win­ning colum­nist takes a light and breezy look at hot, ev­ery­day top­ics. A law grad turned jour­nal­ist, she is now NST As­so­ciate Ed­i­tor News

AF­TER six years, win­ter is fi­nally here, brought by the sev­enth sea­son of global phe­nom­e­non, the most viewed TV se­ries in his­tory, Game of Thrones (GoT).

An un­prece­dented 16.1 mil­lion view­ers tuned in for the Sea­son 7 pre­miere last month.

Since GoT be­gan its run on April 17, 2011, the lives of fans and fol­low­ers world­wide have not been the same.

Ev­ery spare minute is spent analysing the go­ings-on in Wes­teros and Es­sos, con­ti­nents in the beloved se­ries’ imag­i­nary world of me­dieval lords, grass­land bar­bar­ians and fire-breath­ing dragons.

Fans are ob­sessed and there is noth­ing else they talk about, ex­cept for which fam­ily will get to oc­cupy the most pow­er­ful seat in the Seven King­doms; and whether brood­ing male pro­tag­o­nist Jon Snow will team up with, or worse, fall in love with his aunt, Daen­erys Tar­garyen, the face who launched a thou­sand cos­play­ers.

So be­sot­ted are fans that they, in­spired by the fic­tional “di­re­wolves” of the se­ries, are buy­ing huskies they are ill-pre­pared to care for. These dogs are then aban­doned, to the con­ster­na­tion of an­i­mal ac­tivists.

Oth­ers name their chil­dren af­ter GoT char­ac­ters, caus­ing Khaleesi, Daen­erys, Arya and Tyrion to be re­cently in­tro­duced into baby name lists.

So, why has this tale that de­picts the strug­gle among no­ble fam­i­lies for the cov­eted Iron Throne gar­nered such a tremen­dous fol­low­ing?

There are many rea­sons be­hind its acclaim, aside from the catchy theme song and sala­cious scenes.

Peo­ple can re­late to what’s hap­pen­ing in this myth­i­cal land as they are wit­ness­ing the same thing in the real world — the di­vide be­tween the rich and poor, the ti­tled and com­mon folk, and the strug­gle for con­trol through ma­nip­u­la­tion and back­stab­bing. GoT mir­rors real life and of­fers many re­al­is­tic and im­por­tant lessons for ev­ery­one. Through its many episodes, we are shown how:

BAD things can hap­pen to good peo­ple

In GoT, hon­ourable men and women die un­ex­pect­edly, wan­tonly and cru­elly; their throats slit while at­tend­ing wed­ding feasts, and heads lopped off or crushed like over­ripe plums. Much like real life, the good do not nec­es­sar­ily get what they de­serve, while the evil and cor­rupt lead happy lives steeped in good for­tune;

WOMEN make ex­cel­lent lead­ers

In the se­ries, the women are rarely damsels in dis­tress. They are moth­ers of dragons, who lead hordes of bar­bar­ians and fierce sol­diers into bat­tle, acid-tongued pro­tec­tors of their fam­i­lies, and wily as­sas­sins ca­pa­ble of wip­ing out clans. In the real world, the abil­i­ties of women have been ac­knowl­edged, too. They can strate­gise, man­age and lead as well, if not bet­ter, than men. But sadly, their rep­re­sen­ta­tion re­mains low at de­ci­sion-mak­ing lev­els;

PHYS­I­CAL hand­i­caps are not ob­sta­cles to great achieve­ments

This has been am­ply demon­strated, not just in GoT, but by our Par­a­lympians, for ex­am­ple. The most tal­ented char­ac­ters in GoT are those who are phys­i­cally chal­lenged. Dwarfism has not im­peded Tyrion Lan­nis­ter’s per­for­mance as a po­lit­i­cal strate­gist, while his one-handed brother, Jaime, re­mains adept in the bat­tle­field, and else­where;

INCEST is a heinous act not to be con­doned any­where, not in Wes­teros and Es­sos (ex­cept by the Lan­nis­ter twins, Cer­sei and Jaime), and es­pe­cially in the real world

The re­cent case where a fa­ther was charged in Putrajaya with rap­ing and sodomis­ing his daugh­ter over 600 times right­fully elicited a storm of re­crim­i­na­tion from Malaysians;

CHIL­DREN should not be made to pay for the sins of their par­ents

This is a pre­vail­ing theme through the se­ries, which touches quite a bit on il­le­git­i­mate off­spring, although it uses a more un­savoury name to de­scribe them.

This topic was co­in­ci­den­tally in the spot­light in Malaysia re­cently when the Court of Ap­peal ruled that for Mus­lims, a child who is con­ceived by par­ents out of wed­lock can bear his or her fa­ther’s name; LOVE need not nec­es­sar­ily be re­turned de­spite our most valiant ef­forts

This is called be­ing put in the “friend­zone”, a state of be­ing friends with some­one when you would pre­fer a ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship. Noth­ing is quite as ter­ri­fy­ing as be­ing “friend­zoned”, not even Bran Stark’s odd trans­for­ma­tion into the tele­pathic Three­Eyed Raven. Many can re­late to the un­for­tu­nate Ser Jo­rah Mor­mont, whose love for Daen­erys re­mains un­re­quited, and the schem­ing Pe­tyr Bael­ish’s onesided af­fec­tions for Cate­lyn Stark.

ALL men must die or “Valar Morghulis”

It is a com­mon greet­ing in the se­ries, and demon­strates that death comes for ev­ery­one, in time. No one is ex­empted from its clutches. “Valar Do­haeris” is the re­ply to the greet­ing. It means “all men must serve”, a term that should be du­ti­fully fol­lowed in real life, too, but isn’t. Un­for­tu­nately.

GoT’s sin­gle most re­lat­able truth, how­ever, is this:

MEN and women are will­ing to go to great lengths, carry out ter­ri­ble deeds, lie, cheat, steal, maim, and even kill, for power, po­si­tion and money

We see this hap­pen­ing around us ev­ery day. Just like in the Seven King­doms.

Peo­ple can re­late to what’s hap­pen­ing in this myth­i­cal land as they are wit­ness­ing the same thing in the real world — the di­vide be­tween the rich and poor, the ti­tled and com­mon folk, and the strug­gle for con­trol through ma­nip­u­la­tion and back­stab­bing.

In ‘Game of Thrones’, the women are rarely damsels in dis­tress. They are moth­ers of dragons, who lead hordes of bar­bar­ians and fierce sol­diers into bat­tle, acid-tongued pro­tec­tors of their fam­i­lies and wily as­sas­sins ca­pa­ble of wip­ing out clans. FILE

PIC

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