Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that the final season of Game of Thrones has been astoundingly controversial. The penultimate episode titled ‘The Bells’ was particularly divisive. In a situation that brings back memories of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, S8E5 which saw Daenerys of House Targaryen burn King’s Landing to the ground drove a wedge right through its passionate fandom. Since the episode aired a couple of days ago, Game of Thrones fans have been arguing and debating with each other about the quality of writing and the direction the story has taken this season.
To take it a step further, an online petition has gone viral, amassing close to 200 000 signatures (as of this writing) and counting. The petition urges showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss to remake the final six episodes, many of which have been completely polarising. It reads:
“David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have proven themselves to be woefully incompetent writers when they have no source material (i.e. the books) to fall back on. This series deserves a final season that makes sense. Subvert my expectations and make it happen, HBO!”
I have to ask: What has become of geek culture?
Are we so elitist to think that just because we don’t connect with a particular piece of art, we can petition to erase it from existence? Let’s be clear about something. We’re allowed to love a piece of art or hate it. We can also feel indifferent about it. We can vlog about it, write about it, analyse it, make parody videos, celebrate it over booze and heck, punch a hole through our wall in anger. That is our prerogative. No art is above criticism. No art is above critical evaluation.
Whether it’s Game of Thrones or Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings or the Marvel Cinematic Universe, these properties are important to us. To some, film is more meaningful than even religion. They help us escape the world, help us make sense of the world, inspire us and help shape who we are. So, it’s entirely our right to be upset if we believe the writing, direction, editing, music, cinematography, etc. of a particular series/movie hasn’t been up to par.
BUT, we do not own the art. To think that creators have to make something the way we want them to make it is both ignorant and entitled. Creators don’t have to tell stories based on our Reddit posts. Creators don’t have to tell stories based on our Tweets. Creators don’t have to tell stories based on our conversations at bars. Creators have the right to tell stories however they wish to tell it.
It’s more than fair for us to break down all the issues with the latest season of Game of Thrones and talk about it in a public forum. Art should be examined, reviewed and studied. But to think that the entire season should be de-canonized and rewritten just because we have issues with it is such a highbrow way of thinking.
Why don’t we take a second to consider the millions of people who actually still enjoy and love the series? The millions of people who still draw inspiration from Game of Thrones? The millions of fans who cheered when Arya killed the Night King and the millions who teared up when Danerys burned innocent women and children alive. So how about we get down from our high horse, walk it back to its stable, lock the door and throw away the key.
And in case you’re wondering, I’m not just saying this because I’m a fan of season 8. As a hardcore Potterhead, I’m thoroughly disappointed by J.K. Rowling’s writing in the Fantastic Beasts movies. Crimes of Grindelwald was one of the most agonizing experiences I had at movies last year. And I gave the film a scathing review. But did I create a petition asking Ms Rowling to rewrite the film? No, I didn’t. Because it’s her prerogative to put out her art, just as it is my privilege to write about it.