How Game of Thrones got it Wrong: The truth about democracy and nature of power

To say that I was disappointed with the final two episodes of the Game of Thrones would be an understatement. Here they were, the creative minds behind the popular HBO series had set up this really spectacular argument for what generates the nature of power and lust for it only to turn the whole thing into a diatribe for democracy while putting an all seeing eye into the central seat of power. To say that the show missed the mark after essentially 8 years of build up would be an understatement. It took 73 episodes of over an hour each to end with a very cliched metaphor on power that corrupts leaving the ever hopeful and wise character of Daenerys Targaryen to be murdered by the star of the series, Jon Snow. It’s a shame that all those liberal arts majors who work in film, television production, producers and the entertainment media have it all wrong on the nature of power. Shakespeare wrote some good plays on the topic as viewed from his day, but I think we were all hoping that someone noble and good would take the Iron Throne and show how leadership should really look. My thoughts on the Game of Thrones finale are very well represented by Grace in the following video.

This nature that power corrupts is essentially that old sentiment that we all have to provide an excuse for regressing back into the stone age as a civilization and in our entertainment I think it’s safe to say that we all yearn to see our fantasy characters do what real life often fails to give us. Does power have to be corrupt and are we all truly better off in a democracy, where the metaphor didn’t escape me to our current worldly situation. Do we really want cripples and midget philosophers running our world while the bold and brash of us win the wars then are murdered in sleep so that the tag alongs can rule? Is that really a better system? Most of us are not prepared to answer that question, our religions and educations have told us since we could first utter a word that power corrupts and that we should only trust institutions, and at the end of Game of Thrones, that was the conclusion. That the state should be handled by the weak and even the most parasitic while the best always fall to corruption 100% of the time.

I smell a hoax and a line of very bad thinking permeating out of pop culture in quite an audacious way. Ultimately, its just a story, but to us human beings, stories matter. And the trend is that we must walk away from something that usually feels good, like the Game of Thrones and be thrown back to the reality that all people are fallible, and the only protection we have against it is democracy. We don’t want to break the wheel; we want to stay on it perpetually. Even though we may be miserable on it, we are terrified to break from it and its sad that our entertainment culture feels that to be authentic to their art, that they must preserve the wheel.

After all, isn’t that why so many Democrats are upset that Donald Trump won the election for President in 2016. In the United States, we decided to break the wheel and so far, so good, the old myths about everyone who gains power becoming corrupted is being tossed out of the window. Donald Trump is no Daenerys Targaryen going crazy and killing people for no reason, even though her whole life up to that point she behaved nobly in pretty much every situation. We have taught ourselves that such a person doesn’t exist and that when they touch power, they all fall. That was the theme of the Lord of the Rings stories, that the ring corrupted everyone. And that is the story here, that the very nature of an Iron Throne to rule everyone corrupted all who sat on it without exception. But why? An answer is never given, we are just supposed to accept that power corrupts. End of story.

And at the end of the show I couldn’t help but think of Donald Trump. Heroes are supposed to do like Jon Snow and retreat from the world and hide somewhere until danger is about. At that time and those times only, the stragglers are to rule. The stories of corruption are spread by them to keep the best among us hiding away from the seats of power so that there isn’t any competition for the thrones they seek. The people of a democracy who end up in charge then start wars that need people like Jon Snow and they are happy to let them fight. They will even give them awards for their valor on the battlefield. But the manipulators of justice hope in the back of their minds that the heroes will die in combat so that they won’t challenge their lust for power. That was the message of the Game of Thrones in the end and I think most people watching were insulted because they see the scam that is going on. They may not be the powerful warriors themselves that they would like to be, but they’d like to think that we live in a world where such people can exist. Game of Thrones said with a fist punch into the dirt that “NO” the levers of the world belong to the least capable, and here’s why. Because power always corrupts, even the incorruptible Daenerys Targaryen. Not even she could stand up to its powerful call. And the hero that slew her was imprisoned and cast away until needed again. The people really in charge are the ones playing the games quietly while everyone else was fighting.

Yeah, the Game of Thrones was a major let down. And it shows just why the Hollywood types who are mostly Democrats hate the Trump presidency. They assumed that he would sit in the Oval Office and become corrupted into a mad king, that’s what they told us anyway. Instead it was all the Tyrion Lannisters and Bran Starks in the media, the Democrat Party, and the FBI who orchestrated an insurrection against him without any provocation to their suspicions but what they believe themselves about power, that it corrupts all individuals. The only protection any of us have is that of institutional controls governed by the most manipulative of us all in the form of a democracy while the heroes hide in wait to be called upon not by their own action, but for the needs of the many.

In my experience power is not for everyone. But its not for us to surrender ourselves to a democracy run by idiots either. Some people have it, and some don’t, and just because they get power, they aren’t doomed to fall like Daenerys Targaryen did, or Gollum from Lord of the Rings. We tell the stories about our culture that we most believe and this concept of how power comes about and what it does to people is as old as time. But I don’t think we have through art fully understood what it is or why its even needed. And we hope often that the next great stories that come along can put their arms around it and match our hopes and dreams. After all that time we all hoped that the Game of Thrones would unpack that mystery and tell us that power can be captured and wielded justly. Like we are seeing with the presidency of Donald Trump. But in the end they let us down with just another piece of crap concept taken straight out of the pages of the middle ages. The message that power corrupts, when in the back of our minds we hope not and yearn to see an example where it doesn’t.

Rich Hoffman

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