Game Of Thrones not just a bad story – it’s because the story genre has changed from social cultural to psychological
Game of Thrones, in its eighth and final season, is as big as television these days. More than 17 million people watched the opening of the season. However, given the reaction from fan and critics, it seems that a large proportion of those millions are down this season. Indeed, most reviews and fan discussions seem to suggest that the acclaimed series has gone wrong, with many theories as to why it went down.
The show actually took a turn for the worse, but the reasons for that slowdown are more deeply identified than the usual suspects that have been identified as new (inferior writers, shorter seasons, too many plot holes). It is not that they are wrong, but they are just superficial changes. In fact, the sourness of Game of Thrones in general exposes a fundamental lack of our storytelling culture: we don’t really know how to tell sociological stories.
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At its best, the GOT was a rare beast in King’s Landing as a friendly dragon: it was a sociopolitical and institutional story in a medium dominated by psychologists and individuals. This structural storytelling of the show took place during the eras when it was based on the novels of George RR Martin, an expert on characters that evolved in response to the wider institutional settings, encouragement, and norms around them.
After the show moved on to the novels, however, it was handled by powerful Hollywood showers David Benioff and DB Weiss. Some fans and critics believe the pair changed the narrative to fit Hollywood tropes or speed things up, but this is unlikely. In fact, they probably cling to the original points that were given to them by the original author only as an outline. What he did is somewhat different, but in many ways more fundamental: Lane running the Benioff and Weiss narrative shifted away from sociological and psychological. This is the main, and often only, way Hollywood and most television writers tell stories.
This is an important change to dissect because whether we tell our stories primarily from a sociological or psychological viewpoint of how we deal with our world and the problems we face has great consequences.
I am facing this deficiency in my field of writing – technology and society. Our inability to understand and tell sociological stories is one of the major reasons why we are struggling with how we are responding to the historical technological transition we are currently experiencing with digital technology and machine intelligence – but More later. Let’s first look at what happened to Game of Thrones.
What was this story and did it go (Game of thrones)
It is easy to blame the series meltdown by Benioff and Weiss, partly on the old bad writing, and this partly because they are partly bad. Not only did he change the interpretive dynamics of the story, he also did a terrible job in New Lane.
For example, the abundance of plot holes can be easily focused. For example, dragons begin to weaken from one episode to another to switch between comic-book indestructible. And it was hard to keep a straight face when Jaime Lannister ended up on a small cove with a huge, vast shoreline at the exact moment that the villain Euron Greyjoy wrapped up to the very point to face him from his sinking ship for. How convenient!
Likewise, in many seasons, characters that have been drawn in characterlessly seem to have been left to a personality, turning players into caricatures rather than personalities. For example, Tarath’s Bryan seems to exist without reason; Tyrion Lannister is suddenly transformed into a murderous nest, while he has lost all his intellectual gifts (he has not made a single right decision throughout the season). And who knows what on Earth is with Bran Stark, except that they are kept as some kind of extra Stark?
But all this is surface stuff. Even though the new season has managed to narrow the plot hole and avoid clunky coincidences and a clumsy Arya former Micina as a story device, they could not survive the narrative lane of the previous season. For Benoff and Weiss, trying to continue the Game of Thrones would be like telling a fascinating sociopolitical story, trying to eat melting ice cream with a fork. Hollywood knows to tell mostly psychological, personal stories. They do not have the right tools for sociopolitical stories, nor do they understand the job.
To understand the narrative lane shift, let’s return to an important question: Why did Game of Thrones give so much love in the first place? What makes critics of one era stand out from so many shows during the Second Golden Age of television because there are so many high quality productions?
Initial fan interest and ensuing loyalty was not just about superb acting and superb cinematography, sound, editing and directing. None of them are unique to GOT, and all of them remain outstanding through this otherwise previous season.
One clue is clearly the show’s desire to kill key characters early and often, without losing the thread of the story. TV shows that journeys in psychiatric lanes rarely occur, as they depend on investing in the audience to identify with the characters and advance the story, rather than allowing us to see the larger picture of society and institutions See, who we interact with and shape us. They can’t just kill the major characters because they are the major tools with which they are building the story and using hooks to capture the audience.
Conversely, Game of Thrones killed Ned Stark abruptly at the end of the first season, after the entire season was created and, by implication, the entire series around him. The second season developed a replacement stark heir, which appeared like a more traditional continuation of the narrative. However, he and his pregnant wife were killed in a particularly bloody manner in the third season. And so it went. The story moved forward; Many characters did not.
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The appeal of a show that regularly kills the main characters indicates a different kind of storyline, where a single charismatic and / or powerful person does not carry the entire narrative and interpretive burden, along with its internal dynamics . Given the lack of such narratives in fiction and TV, this approach clearly resonated with a large fan base that came on the show.
In sociopolitical storytelling, characters have personal stories and agency, but they are also greatly shaped by institutions and events around them. The impetus for the behavior of the characters is largely met by these external forces, and even strongly influences their inner lives.
People are fit to align their internal narrative with their encouragement, the way their behavior is justified and rationalized. (Thus the famous Upton Sinclair quip: “It is difficult for a person to understand something when his salary depends on what he does not understand.”)
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A highly personal mode of story or analysis leaves us with a deep understanding of events and history. Understanding Hitler’s lone personality will not tell us much about the rise of fascism, for example. It is not that it did not make any difference, but between two bloody world wars in the 20th century, a separate democracy in Germany could possibly replace them. Therefore, “Will you kill the child Hitler?” The answer is sometimes presented as a moral time-travel challenge, it should be “no”, as it would not be very likely. This is not a true dilemma.
We also have a predisposition for the individual as a place of agency to interpret our everyday lives and the behavior of others. We seek internal, psychological explanations for the behavior of those around us, making situational excuses for ourselves. It is such a common way of looking at the world that social psychologists have a term for it: fundamental implicit error.
When someone does wrong to us, we think that they are evil, misguided or selfish: a personal explanation. But when we misbehave, we are better at recognizing the external pressures that shape our actions: a situational understanding. If you snap at a coworker, for example, you can rationalize your behavior by remembering that you had difficulty sleeping last night and a financial struggle this month.
You’re not evil, just stressed! The coworker who naps at you, however, is more likely to be interpreted as a jerk, without going through the same kind of rationalization. It is convenient for our peace of mind, and also fits with our field of knowledge. We know what pressure is on us, but not necessarily on others.
The tension between internal stories and desires, psychology and external pressures, institutions, norms, and events was exactly what Game of Thrones showed us for many of its characters, creating rich tapestraces of psychology, but also behavior that neither saint would. Nor was it completely bad at any point. It was more than that: you can understand why characters who do bad things are also doing what they did, how their good intentions are forgotten, and how structured behavior is encouraged. The complexity made it much richer than a simple morality tale, where there are uneven good fights with evil.
The hallmark of sociopolitical storytelling is that it can encourage us to place ourselves as the main protagonist / heroine in place of any character, and imagine ourselves to make similar choices. “Yes, I can see myself doing that in such circumstances” is a way of a broader, deeper understanding. It is not just sympathy: we certainly sympathize with victims and good people, not with unholy people.
But if we can better understand how and why characters make their choices, then we can also think about how to structure our world that encourages better choices for all. The alternative is the often pointless appeal to the better angels of our nature. It is not that they do not exist, but they exist with baser and lesser objectives. This question is not meant to identify some angels, but to make choices easier for all, which will collectively take us all to a better place.
Another example of a sociopolitical TV drama with a similarly enthusiastic fanbase is David Simon’s The Wire, which followed the trajectory of a wide variety of actors in Baltimore, ranging from vulnerable and neglected inner city to African-Americans to police officers K was trying to survive. Journalists unionized city officials and teachers to dock workers.
That show also regularly killed its main characters without losing its audience. Interestingly, the star of each season was an institution more than a person. The second season, for example, focused on the demise of the unionized working class in America; Fourth highlighted schools; And the last season focused on the role of journalism and mass media.
Fortunately for The Wire, creative control never shifted to the standard Hollywood fiction writers who would have given us individuals to root or loathe them without being able to fully understand or understand those situations. One thing that The Wire is all about is how all the characters can be understood, not just the good ones (and in fact, none of them were good or bad). When this happens, you know that you are watching a sociological story.
Why GOT killed Major Characters
Remarkably, season eight shocked many viewers … not initially killing the main characters. This was the first major indicator of their innings – that they were putting the weight of the story on the person and abandoning the sociologist. In that vein, they were fan-favorite characters who could pull off stunts, we could root and be happy, as if Arya Stark was killing the Night King somewhat unfairly.
For seven seasons, the show focused on sociology as to what external, other threats – such as the Night King, the army of the underdeeds and the coming winter – would do to rivalry within the opposing camp. Killed one of the main sociopolitical tensions, which had animated the entire series with a well-placed knife-stab, Benioff and Weiss, then turned to ruin another sociopolitical tension: the story of corruption of power.
This corruption of power was clearly depicted for the bad actor in Cranny Lannister’s rise and victim-to-development (if a selfish one), and it also clearly meant that his main challenge, Daenerys Targaryen. Danny had started becoming a chain breaker, weighing heavily on him with moral choices and weather wise, we have seen him, but reluctantly, being shaped by the tools that were available to him and he Embraced, war dragons, fire.
Okay, this will be a fascinating and dynamic story: the contestants are turning into each other as they seek absolute power with murderous tools, starting from a selfish point of view (his desire to rule his own children) and Another from a philanthropist (his desire to free slaves and captives, of which he was once one).
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Corruption of power is one of the most important psychological dynamics behind many important turning points in history, and how ideology arises in society. In response, we have created elections, checks and balances, and laws and mechanisms that compel the executive.
Destructive historical figures often believe that they should remain in power because it is they, and only those, who can lead the people – and that any alternative will be catastrophic. Leaders are isolated, surrounded by smoothies, and easily abandon the human tendency to be self-sufficient. There are many examples in the history of a leader who start in protest with the best of intentions, such as Dani, and act ruthlessly and turn into tyrannical if they take power.
Socially stated, Denny’s descent into a mass murder-killer would be a strong and sizzling story. Yet in the hands of two writers who do not understand how to advance the story in that street, it became ridiculous. He attacks King’s Landing with the dragons, his dragon, and wins, ringing the city’s bells in surrender. Then, suddenly, he goes on a rampage because, somehow, his tortured genes are on.
Varyus, an advisor who died trying to stop Danny, tells Tyrion that “every time a Targaryen is born, tosses a coin in the air and the world breathes to see how it will land.” This is a direct and simplified genetic determinism compared to the previous seven seasons we were looking at.
Again, sociopolitical stories do not discount personal, psychological, and even genetic ones, but the important thing is that they are more than “coin tosses” – they are complex interactions with accidental consequences: the way the world really is. Works in
In subsequent interviews for that episode, Benioff and Weiss admitted that they turned it into a spontaneous moment. Weiss says, “I don’t think she decided ahead of time what she was going to do. And then she sees Red Keep, who is in her house, which her family built when they first 300 Came to this country years ago. It is in that moment when on the walls of King’s Landing, when she sees the symbol of something that was taken from her, when
She decides to make this personal. “
Benioff and Weiss were almost certainly given the “Mad Queen” by original writer George RR Martin to finish Game of Thrones. For him, however, it was a fork problem with the above-mentioned eat-ice cream. They could keep the story, but not the way of telling the story. They could only turn it into a momentary twist that is innate psychology and part deterministic genetics.
Why Sociological Storytelling Matters
When done well or badly, the psychological / internal style leaves us unable to understand and react to social change. Arguably, the dominance of psychological and hero / antihero narrative is also the reason why we are spending such a hard time dealing with the current historical technology transition. So this essay is almost more than a TV show with dragons.
In my field of research and writing, digital technology and the impact of machine intelligence on society, I face this hurdle all the time. There are a significant number of stories, books, fiction and journalistic accounts focusing on the personalities of key players such as Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Jack Dorsey, and Jeff Bezos.
Of course, their personality matters, but only in terms of business model, technological development, political environment, (meaningful lack), existing economic and political forces that meet inequality of wealth and lack of accountability for powerful actors, Political mobility. , Social characteristics and more.
It is appropriate, for example, for a corporation to consider who would be the best CEO or COO, but it is not reasonable for us to expect that we can take one of those actors and give them to another person Can change with and get different results without changing the structures, incentives and forces that shape how they and their companies function in this world .
The preference for personal and psychological narrative is understandable: the story is easy to tell because we are on a personal level toward identifying with the protagonist or hating the antero. We are individuals, after all!
In the German playwright Bertolt Brecht’s classic play, Life of Galileo, Andrea, a former disciple of Galileo, visits him after reading his semen extracts under pressure from the Catholic Church. Galileo gives Andrea his notebooks, asking him to spread the knowledge he possesses. Andrea celebrates it, saying, “Sad is the land that produces no heroes.” Galileo corrected her: “Unhappiness is the land that needs a hero.”
Well-run societies do not need heroes, and the way to stop terrible impulses is to disassociate antiheroses and replace them with good ones. Unfortunately, most of our fiction and mass media are stuck in nonfiction-hero / antihero story as well. It is a pity that Game of Thrones did not manage to end its final season in its original vein.
In a historical moment that requires a lot of institution building and encouragement (technological challenges, climate change, inequality and accountability) we need all the social imagination we can get, and imaginary dragons or not, to show Was good for: just as long as it lasted.