Creator vs. audience

Fans of the television series “Game of Thrones” had a pretty upsetting evening Sunday night, and I sympathize with them.

Before we go any further, I have to admit that I haven’t watched any of the series. I have read the first 3 books of the series that the T.V. show is based on, however. I abandoned the series, which is very uncharacteristic for me, because I just couldn’t take another round of finding a new character to root for.

I felt manipulated by the author. He put effort into creating a likable, suitably heroic-sounding patriarch of an interesting family. And shortly thereafter, he begins a long, drawn out process to murder, abuse and denigrate the entire family. And it’s not like the poor Starks ever get a break-just one terrible thing after another. So, when my hopes for the Stark family making a triumphant return from the darkness faded, I grudgingly switched my support to another character. That character died. I then threw in my support to the not-quite-so-bad guy Tyrion, but that left me with a bad taste in my mouth. And I couldn’t shake the feeling that George R.R. Martin was sadistically using my emotions to prove how much control he, as the author, had over readers like me. 

By the time the story switched to some chick overseas who hung out with jerks on horses and had a baby dragon, I checked out. I didn’t have anyone I cared about anymore. Maybe I’m old fashioned or unsophisticated, but I need to have at least one character in a story that I can cheer for. I need a hero of some sort or another. I appreciate that it’s intriguing to explore a fictional world where everyone is morally ambiguous and your favourite person can drop dead at any second, but isn’t that the burden we struggle with in real life? Can’t our stories give us the sense of hope that sometimes, things work out for those who want to do good?

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