We are nearly two weeks away from the Super Bowl. The Big Game. The Final Battle of the latest NFL season.
And while being a fan of the NFL can be trying (see this article from two years ago for more on the topic), this has been a good year to be a good Vikings fan. But rather than keep my Vikings fandom to myself, I would like to take this moment to try to convince all my fellow Game of Thrones fans that they should be Minnesota Vikings fans as well.
Let’s consider a few reasons:
They are the Kings of the North.
This isn’t just something I say, although it is something I do say. During the latest season–upon clinching the NFC North title–shirts began circulating declaring the Vikings to be the “kings of the north.”
The internet loves a good fan theory. The trouble is, the phrase “fan theory” has started to go the way of words like content or hipster or artisan or any of the other words whose definitions are so vague, so all encompassing, that they have very little meaning at this point.
“Fan theory” is currently used as a descriptor for the following things:
A prediction for an upcoming storyline
Analysis of a character’s motivations
Analysis of a storyline
The dissection of a trailer and conclusions drawn from moments in said trailer
Explanation of subtext, predicated on the explainer failing to recognize subtext.
Recognition of dramatic irony or a plot turn before the reveal
None of the above should be considered fan theories, in the opinion of this blogger.
So then, you may ask, what the heck qualifies as a fan theory?
Game of Thrones is Not Sacred. It’s Grateful Dead Fan Fiction
The first episode of the seventh season of HBO’s Game of Thrones sparked a multitude of reactions, but perhaps none more virulent and hysterical than how certain GOT fans responded when Ed Sheeran appeared onscreen. The response was so rabid that some speculated Sheeran had deleted his Twitter account in response to the hatred (Sheeran has since denied it, stating “Why the hell would I worry what people thought about that. It’s clearly fuckin’ awesome.”)
I made my opinion very clear, via a tweet declaring:
If Ed Sheeran's cameo on Game of Thrones upset you, then you are the problem. Not him.
Now, regardless of why Sheeran temporarily deleted his account, it does not change the fact that some Game of Thrones fans really, really hated seeing him on the screen. A top post in the /r/GameofThrones subreddit declared that his cameo had “ruined the Realism (sic).” Others mocked him with YouTube videos, angry tweets, and scornful recaps. Among the responses I received – in response to my “Ed Sheeran isn’t the problem” tweet were people telling me that they “hate him” and that cameos by Beyonce and John Legend would be next.
There are a few good points about why the Ed Sheeran cameo is nothing to be upset about, but I’ve already seen all but one of them already effectively made. These arguments include:
Sheeran is recognizable, yes, but aren’t many of the other actors in the show also recognizable?
Sheeran was cast as a singer with a beautiful voice. Doesn’t it make sense to have a singer with a beautiful voice play a singer with a beautiful voice?
Why are all of you putting so much energy into hating a complete stranger?
But none of these are the articles I’ve come to write.
Sometimes, I don’t want to dedicate a full blog post to an idea, but I still want to share the idea.
Is 2016 the Year of the Feral Child?
First, a fun and simple Jungle Book, which served as both a new adaptation of Kipling and a remake of the classic Disney cartoon. Then, a new Tarzan film. Soon, a remake of Pete’s Dragon, in which apparently Pete is a feral child raised by a dragon. Oh, also, Stranger Things and Eleven, its take on the feral ’80s child.
Why all these narratives suddenly? And does it mean that we will get even more in the coming years? Perhaps a reboot of George of the Jungle? Perhaps a biopic of Victor of Aveyron? Or will we see feral children shoehorned into other narratives, like the Justice League or the Marvel films?
It was hard to tell the difference between the RNC and The Purge: Election Year
In a previous blog post, I investigated the possibility that George R.R. Martin took inspiration for Arya Stark’s storyline from the song “Dire Wolf,” by the Grateful Dead. I’m far from the first person to make connections between Martin’s words and the Dead’s lyrics, as this has been a topic of speculation and deduction for years.
But there is one song that I have never seen discussed, despite it having some very Westerosi imagery: “Uncle John’s Band,” the first track on the 1970 album Workingman’s Dead.
It’s no secret that the Grateful Dead’s music has influenced George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books. He first acknowledged it during a 2014 interview with 927 Plus, including directly admitting that the spiritual Weirwoods in the world of Westeros are named after Bobby Weir.
A number of listicles, variousreddit threads, and blog posts have been written about connections between Martin’s books and the Dead’s songs, including the Weirwoods, The Mountains of the Moon, and Gerold “Darkstar” Dayne.
And of course, the wolf. Yes, the Grateful Dead has a song called “Dire Wolf,” the same beast that serves as the Stark sigil. We know that connection. But is this where the connection ends? Or is there something more linking the Grateful Dead song and the Starks of Winterfell?
“Please Don’t Murder Me”
Listening to the song “Dire Wolf” while contemplating the Stark family, the lyrics initially don’t seem very relevant to Ned Stark and his offspring. While the setting seems Winterfell-esque—the winter was so hard and cold, froze ten feet neath the ground—it’s hard to view the Starks as resembling the wolves of the song, as the song consists of the narrator repeatedly pleading “don’t murder me” to the dire wolf.
Murder is not a crime committed by the honorable Starks. They execute. They kill in war. But they do not murder. Ned, Robb, and Jon Snow each execute criminals and kill enemies in battle. Rickon, Bran, and Sansa never kill at all (at least, not yet).
In a post published on this blog earlier today, I discussed why I “stopped feeling the Bern,” i.e. why Bernie Sanders is a troubling, disappointed candidate, in my opinion. This is a follow-up, companion to that article.
As I pondered Senator Bernard “Bernie” Sanders, he began to remind me of another disappointing character: Lord Eddard “Ned” Stark of Game of Thrones. Let’s look at how these two resemble one another.
It’s what draws you to Sanders. This idea that he is speaking for noble truths that others will not. The idea that he’s above the politicking, the games, the money. That he cannot be bought. That he has honor.
Ned Stark has that same sense of honor. But what one has to ask is, is this honor or is this delusion? Is he a good example, or is he an example of misplaced self-importance, of smug piety?
When one looks closely at Bernie Sanders, some of his arguments that seem so persuasive out of his mouth begin to weaken. He’s an isolationist, and has some bizarre history with guns, including odd, questionable statements very recently. Bernie believes that violent television is to blame for mass shootings; Ned believes that children should watch beheadings, and that all beheadings should be performed by the lord who passed the sentence.
He won’t win.
Cersei Lannister is one of the many people who try to get real with Ned Stark, telling him “when you play the Game of Thrones, you either win or you die.” In Ned’s case, he dies.
This isn’t to say that Bernie’s run will have a fatal end. But he certainly won’t win. It’s a winless war, being waged by a naive man living to his own sense of honor, fighting for ideals from ages past.
He’s a hero…
It’s worth noting that Ned Stark is a man worth admiring. Bernie Sanders is too. But neither belongs on the throne.
The question is whether Bernie can inspire a generation of politicians and citizens and leaders with more honor, through his gestures and efforts. In his failure, Ned inspired people to do better. Perhaps Bernie will do the same.
You should avoid reading this unless you’ve seen seasons one through five of Game of Thrones.
It’s obvious. I know. It’s cheap and easy. It’s the cheapest joke this blog has ever made. It’s so obvious that when you google “Jeb Bush Stannis Baratheon,” the first thing you see are articles like this and this and this and each of them even apologize for how cheap and obvious this joke is.
But here’s the thing: Jeb Bush is becoming Stannis Baratheon, and it’s looking to be painfully accurate. In two distinct ways.
In a previous post, I published a dialogue between a relative and me, regarding Dorne and the wild Sand Snakes. We asked a number of questions, the main one being whether there is anyway that the Sand Snakes can be compelling on the show, or if they are doomed to begin with.
After last night’s episode, I’m afraid the answer is no. No, the Sand Snakes cannot and will not be a compelling storyline.
Saddest of all, I was very excited about the idea of Jaime and Bronn going on a trip to Dorne. I thought it made for better story than the plodding tedium that made up the Dorne storyline in the novels.
Is there still hope? Perhaps. I think the way that this story can be corrected is via Prince Doran and his tough enforcer.
But it’s hard to say how disappointed I am by the scene. If you don’t get why I didn’t like it, my reason is basically that a) apparently Jaime had no plan other than “let’s wear disguises and tell her to leave, and b) the Sand Snakes coincidentally attempted their cheesy assassination at the exact moment that Bronn and Jaime snuck in, in their disguises?
Let’s see if Prince Doran can get things back on track. But for now, I’m not too thrilled with this storyline. Just like in the books. At least we haven’t had hours dedicated to one character (who isn’t in the show… yet?) just so his story can end with “and then a dragon ate him.”
The following is a conversation regarding both the A Song of Ice and Fire books and the Game of Thrones television show. It contains spoilers for the five ASOIAF books and the show through Season Five, Episode Four.
DF: Did you watch last night?
TEB: I did. It felt like it was just a murder montage.
DF: Bronn and Jaime were fun
TEB: They were. And I’m totally fine with the book and show being different. They are separate in my mind. And maybe there is no way to make the Sand Snakes not suck, but do they have to suck that much?
DF: I’ve always considered the sand snakes to be the worst plotline in the novels.
TEB: It was just: “Here we are. In our desert tent. With, uh, a carpet. And no shovels. But we buried this guy up to his head. And apparently we don’t need food or anything? Do we live here? How did our step-mother find us?”