Game of Thrones: Ice Wind and Fire Essay

Game of Thrones: Ice Wind and Fire Essay

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One would be hard-pressed to find a more popular cultural phenomenon than George R.R Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO’s derivative television series Game of Thrones. Between these two media sources, the fantasy epic has spawned a massive fan base. An estimate of 17 million books of the series have been sold around the world, while the most recent episode of the HBO series had 5.4 million TV views, in addition to the estimated one million people viewing it illicitly within twenty-four hours of the first airing11. With such immense popularity in the Western world, whatever emotional connection the fans of the phenomenon have to the epic must represent a wider collective social ethos. Noticeably, the books -with the first volumes being released by November 2000- only gained popularity in the post-9/11 era. The epic is known for its motifs of the application of valar morghulis and the White Walkers- the idea that “All men must die” and an impending zombie doomsday event, respectively. If one were to couple these two observations, one might propose an intrinsic link between post-9/11 emotional tensions and the reasons for the fantasy epic’s recent gain in popularity. One such proposal that will be examined is the idea that the people of the West are collectively suffering from Post-Tramautic Stress Disorder originating from witnessing the events of terrorism on 9/11 so much that they seek to connect with pop culture media that projects their fears and realizations. A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones are these projections, for the application of valar morghulis fulfills the people’s realization of their own mortality as well as the recognition of the mortality of everyone around them, and the constant...

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...bedient wights, reflect society’s collective PTSD from witnessing the events of 9/11. Respectively, one deals with recognizing our mortality and the mortality of those around us, and the other presents our fear of doomsday and a loss of order and structure. These ideas can be seen in other cultural objects. With songs like “YOLO”, by Drake, “Live like we’re dying”, by Kris Allen and others, music is definitely playing a role in our obsession with recognizing our mortality. Similarly, the re-popularization of the zombie and apocalypse genre also recognizes our fear of an end to society. Another object that could supplement this thesis would be The Hunger Games series, which encompasses both the yearly killing of children and a post-apocalyptic world. One should not omit pop-culture phenomena when investigating the collective social ethos of a period in human history.

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